February, 2010

Dear Fellow Collaborator,

 The Community Coalition for Rhinebeck Youth wishes to sincerely thank you for participating in our Leadership Event and for working within the ambiguity and complexity inherent to addressing the problem of underage substance use.  We brought together diverse community leaders, and were inspired to see how deeply people care about this issue. 

We view our Coalition not as another new program, but as a new approach to change, one which may take years for its impact to be fully realized, but which eventually has the potential to yield benefits far beyond the scope of this single issue. 

In the months to come, we anticipate new leaders emerging who will progressively assume areas of responsibility within this initiative.  We are prepared for controversy and know that resolution can be challenging, but ultimately is a reflection of how passionate people are about the health and safety of young people in our community.

The top three goals which emerged on Saturday were 1)Educate Parents 2) Develop Community Networks (safe homes, safe rides, hotline, resource sharing and 3)Create Opportunities for Community Dialogue.  We will be establishing committees to focus on each of these areas and welcome your participation.

The themes identified included:

  • Drugs and alcohol easily accessible
  • Prescription drug use on the rise
  • Unsuspecting parents missing warning signs
  • Need for consistent messages within homes, school, & community
  • Importance of  recognizing this as a community problem
  • Dealers seen as cool and acceptable
  • Social hosting laws controversial
  • Need mentorship opportunities
  • Need alternatives to drugs and drinking
  • Importance of maintaining independent social opportunities for teens


Potential barriers to change included:

  • Denial – people not wanting to hear it
  • Parents want to be a buddy & not the bad guy
  • Parents have their own issues with drug/alcohol use
  • Kids can carry a label once in trouble and hard to reinvent themselves
  • Negative social stigma keeps the problem silent
  • No forum for honest discussion

Thank you again for sharing your time and ideas in this collaboration. A “community buzz” is replacing the silence that surrounded this issue prior to last Saturday.

 With Warm Appreciation,

 Anne McGrath, Coalition Organizer

A special thanks to our presenters, Pierette Farber, Elaine Trumpetto, and Mary O’Haire.  Also thank you to Frank Cutolo for setting the right tone and for keeping us on schedule.

Newsletter 4/28/10

 Greetings Friends and Supporters,

The Coalition Steering Committee has been busy preparing for the Community Forum to raise awareness of teen alcohol and drug use in Rhinebeck, and to introduce the community to our efforts.  The new date for the forum is SATURDAY, JUNE 12, 10AM-12PM,  at the Church of the Messiah, Parish Hall.  We hope you, the leaders of our town, will be in attendance and show your support for this important issue affecting us all.   

Disturbing stories of teen drug use have been prevalent in the news, with overdoses and complications from addiction rising at an alarming rate across the nation.  There are substances, easily available and highly addictive, which can be bought with a student’s lunch money.  DEA wiretaps recorded New York drug traffickers targeting towns such as Rhinebeck, and giving away heroin for free without telling children what it was.  They called it “feeding the birdies” because these young people will “flock back”.  The drug then owns the lives of those unlucky enough to become addicted.  Three recent news clips are provided in the links below.

  “New Teen Craze: Heroin”
Heroin is the latest drug to achieve widespread popularity among teenagers.
Click Here to Watch 

  “Heroin in the Suburbs”
Teenager Justin Veatch's life was cut short by a heroin overdose.
Click Here to Watch

Thanks for the Support

We have received enthusiastic support from much of the community. NYC designer Graham Hanson, a Rhinebeck parent, offered to help design a logo and web site for us.  Jay Dorin, Kingston Educator, provided Superintendent Joe Phelan with an overview of a Life Skills Training Program which will be considered for implementation in the middle school.  Catherine Pietrow informed us that the PTSO would like to fund drug prevention efforts in the middle school.  David Tellerday  of M&T Bank offered our use of the conference room as needed. Tom Traudt, Town Supervisor, is checking with the Town Attorney to see how the Town might assist with our administrative needs.  Drayton Grant would like to discuss how Northern Dutchess Hospital might work with us, and Steve Jenkins, Financial Analyst, offered to act as our Treasurer.  And finally, Frank Cutolo offered to help design our web site, if we can finally decide upon a name!

Elaine Trumpetto of the Council on Addiction, Prevention, and Education invited our Chair Person, Anne McGrath, to meet with the Commissioner of the New York State Office of Alcoholism & Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) next month.  Ms. Trumpetto expressed admiration for how quickly our coalition has made strides to address the issues of substance use in our community and to promote the health and safety of residents, particularly the community’s young people.

Pierette Farber, Associate Director Regional Services, Liberty Behavioral Management, Arms Acres, offered to help us apply for grants when we are ready to look ahead to funding initiatives.  She said we should be very proud of our accomplishments and that she has rarely seen the level of participation which we have experienced so early in the development of our Coalition.

Anne presented our Coalition to the Rotary Club last month, and together with Elissa Cascio, to the High School Building Level Planning Team, and student representatives this month. 

We have been pleased to see that our grass roots community organizing strategies have paid off.  With “summer fever” building and our concerns regarding use increasingly justified, more parents are requesting honest education and fewer are willing to turn a blind eye, or hope the problems of drugs that affect the nation will somehow bypass our town and our young people.

Check it Out

Attached, please find the compiled responses to Open Ended Questions from participants at the Leadership Event.

Coming Up

Anne will address Rhinebeck High School students 4/30, in student sessions in the auditorium.  Students will see one or more of the news clips above, and hear a brief introduction to the work of the Coalition.

We are expecting the county wide results of student surveys, revealing students’ perceptions and attitudes towards substance use, in May.  This information will help inform our goals for the year.

Several parents have expressed an interest in joining efforts to provide Parent Education this Fall.  We will have a sign up sheet at the Community Forum.

June 15, 2010

Dear Friends,

Individuals across the Hudson Valley are hearing a bugle call to action, and coalitions such as ours are forming to capture the energy and enthusiasm to confront the controversial issue of underage substance use.  Our June 12th Community Forum wildly exceeded all expectations, with over 80 community members coming together to learn about issues related to drug use by teens in the Rhinebeck-area community.  We received overwhelmingly positive e-mail feedback, including:  “You got a wonderful diverse group of parents with elementary, middle & high school students as well as older residents.  I even saw a few teens.”;  “I liked focusing on the issues from different angles (medical, psychological, law enforcement).”;  “For all the challenges you have dealt with on this…you have done an incredible job organizing it.”; “This is a very worthwhile enterprise.”; “I thank you for creating such a professional event…the venue, along with the people who spoke, made for a great event.”; ”There was such a positive energy and feeling of community.”;  and, “You are reaching many families with younger children –which means we will be better equipped to address the issues yet to confront us…you are also creating a safe place for parents who have older children to begin to learn what to watch for and to know they are not alone.”

We are confident we met our goal, i.e. to raise awareness of the issue, despite having to forego the Q&A/discussion portion of the forum due to time constraints.  This was only the launching pad for increased attention and action on the issue, and we need your continued involvement to keep the momentum going. Our Steering Committee plans to meet this summer to design an infrastructure to sustain and support:

  • Ongoing public information and education to inform the community on the health and safety hazards of drug and alcohol use on the developing brain;
  • Development of strategies that reduce the promotion of drugs and alcohol to teens in our community;
  • Mentoring and role modeling opportunities;
  • Alternatives to drug and alcohol use;
  • Prevention efforts; and
  • Honest and respectful dialogue about drug and alcohol use.

Please consider joining our efforts in whatever ways appeals to you, such as:

  • Host small group meetings to have more in-depth conversations;
  • Help gather information on best practices from surrounding communities;
  • Attend our Steering Committee Meetings (to be announced);
  • Share your skill set or expertise (web site design, legal services, etc.);
  • Join us in planning for a parent education workshop in the fall;
  • Assist us in linking follow up efforts with other activities in the community focused on similar issues.

Thanks to the Rhinebeck High School Audio Visual Club for taping the forum, which will be aired on PANDA and also made available for training and educational purposes upon request.  Many thanks also to our presenters for working within a tight time frame to provide a well-rounded overview of the issue of teen substance use.   And thanks to you, an active community member or leader who wants to make a difference in the health and safety of our town.  We will be in touch and look forward to working with you.

With Warm Regards,

Anne McGrath, Chair Person, Community Coalition for Rhinebeck Youth

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