By DOUG WILSON
Herald-Whig Senior Writer
An anti-drug and alcohol education program that lost $47,000 in state funding this budget year will survive thanks to a donation from Blessing Hospital.
Great River Recovery Resources received $20,800 from Blessing. The money will keep Operation Snowball and the Too Good for Drugs program going in Adams County schools. Now, Recovery Resources is looking for other donors to help fill the remaining shortfall.
"The youth in our community are at risk today," said Recovery Resources Executive Director Ron Howell.
During a check passing presentation Tuesday, Howell held up a page from The Quincy Herald-Whig that was filled with stories involving methamphetamine arrests and convictions. He said drugs are a clear threat to children.
"The Too Good for Drugs program is under threat, too," Howell said.
Pam Foster, a prevention specialist, said the Too Good for Drugs curriculum is an evidence-based model program that has proved effective. According to state testing, 91 percent of Adams County students in the sixth through 12th grades are not using tobacco and 79 percent do not drink alcohol. Foster said that's better than at any time in her 10 years as a drug and alcohol awareness educator.
Too Good for Drugs targets children in the fourth, fifth, seventh and eighth grades. It involves 45-minute programs brought to county schools once a week for 10 weeks. The program reaches nearly 1,000 students every year.
"It's making a difference," Foster said.
Maureen Kahn, the president and CEO of Blessing Hospital, said the awareness program was too important to let lapse.
"Blessing's mission is to improve the health of the community," Kahn said.
She believes that failing to prepare young people to make wise decisions and avoid drugs and alcohol would exact a heavy toll in the community over time. Traffic accidents or acts of violence by people under the influence would be the penalty, Kahn said.
"Earlier this year, we partnered with the United Way and Adams County Health Department to do a community needs assessment. Drug and alcohol awareness was seen as a need," she said.
Howell thanked Blessing for the donation and praised members of the Recovery Resources Board who voted to keep the program going while support was sought elsewhere.
"We hope this (donation) is a springboard, and we would very much welcome the business or church community to get involved," Howell said.
Tim Moore, Blessing's vice president of finances, said hospital officials understood the pressure put on Recovery Resources by state funding cuts. Blessing is owed millions of dollars from the state for services provided to Medicaid patients. Millions more are owed by the state's employee insurance program, which is going to run 10 months behind on payments.