Paulding County Rotary Club president, John Grant, brought the meeting to order. He thanked the Rotary Club members for their participation in Paulding Meadows and provided updates on current activities, including the upcoming golf tournament. As soon as the weekly Rotary Club business was addressed, President Grant handed over the podium to Club member Jason Ragsdale. Mr. Ragsdale introduced and thanked our guest speaker, Mrs. Linda Verscharen. Mrs. Verscharen is the Executive Director for the Family Alliance of Paulding and has made time to share the progress of the Family Alliance here in our County.
Mrs. Verscharen thanked the club members for their continued invitation to speak about the important work done here for Paulding County. Mrs. Verscharen gave an overview of the Family Alliance of Paulding for those new members, who might be unaware of the purpose that the Family Alliance serves in Paulding County. In 2005, the Alliance started as the Meth Alliance of Paulding. It was the first community-based organization to provide education and prevention for drug and alcohol abuse through the state school system in Georgia. The Family Alliance of Paulding provides education, training, and resources for families where addiction, domestic violence, and other behaviors that put children and families in danger. The Family Alliance works in co-operation with the court system to provide supervised visitation for families suffering the legal effects of substance abuse. Last year over 3000 hours of supervised visitation was facilitated by the Family Alliance of Paulding. The Family Alliance works to provide resources to prevent at-risk families from suffering the devastating effects of drugs and alcohol. Where those effects have already taken root, the Family Alliance works to provide skills and education that can help put these families back together.
The Family Alliance of Paulding County can help provide life skills, training, and support for those individuals looking to put their lives back together after suffering the effects of drug and alcohol addiction. While the Family Alliance does not provide treatment, it does locate treatment resources for those seeking it. The Family Alliance does provide mentoring and works with the foster care system to provide resources and support for children and foster parents. The Family Alliance helps to reunite broken families as well as to see child victims through the adoption process. More children are in foster care now been in the past 10 years. This is due to the drug and alcohol epidemic sweeping our nation. There is a desperate need for more foster parents, as they provide the escape for the children impacted by these situations.
The Family Alliance is a member of the Metro Atlanta Heroin Task Force along with other major drug enforcement agencies and the CDC. The heroin epidemic continues to spread across the United States and Paulding County is no exception. The rise in prescription opiate-based medication has transitioned into the sweeping heroin epidemic. This year nine heroin overdoses were treated at Paulding WellStar hospital. While meth-amphetamines still presents the largest danger to families in Paulding, the heroin epidemic is definitely impacting our community. In 1992 George Bush set aside $92 million dollars to promote Drug-Free Communities. This grant money is provided over a 10 year period to communities who meet the criteria. The Family Alliance of Paulding County will be submitting the application in March 2018, to become eligible for the Drug-Free Communities grant program. Steps have been taken to meet the criteria. A youth Council has been formed and the necessary partners have been reached out to in order to form a coalition of government and private entities to combat drug and alcohol abuse on all levels within our community.
One of the greatest threats to our youth is the lack of danger in their perception. Through our school systems, we are learning that our children are not recognizing the dangers that are presented by prescription drugs, marijuana, cigarettes, and alcohol. Educational resources must be focused on creating an awareness of danger in relation to these substances. It's only through education that we can achieve prevention of our youth continuing in this destructive cycle of abuse.
The Family Alliance of Paulding, Inc. is a local non-profit organization that has been operating in Paulding County for 12 years, to provide help to families. Advocacy, vital social services, education and help with prevention of drug abuse in the home and our community, is their unwavering task.
For more information please visit their website: http://familyallianceofpaulding.org