WALL TOWNSHIP — It has been a long 14 months for the Wall Community Alliance for the Prevention of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, which has been unable to host its main fundraising events and has had its state aid cut over the last year.
Now, as the world begins to slowly reopen, and with mental health and drug and alcohol abuse cases on the rise, the alliance is as important to the community as ever and plans on a full-fledged return.
During the pandemic, the community alliance pivoted its programs from in-person to virtual, as most organizations did.
Alliance Director Kristin Meyler said a silver lining of the pandemic has actually been the participation in some of the alliance’s webinars, as it is able to reach more people in the comfort of their own homes to discuss difficult topics such as mental health and drug-and-alcohol abuse.
“It’s been kind of good for us. We’ve been able to do some parent webinars every Monday for the past month and it’s almost a better way to reach parents and community members because they can just go on the webinar and listen to our speakers. They don’t have to show up somewhere,” Ms. Meyler told The Coast Star.
The community alliance began in 1980, and operates as part of the Monmouth County Board of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse. The organization is funded by the Governor’s Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse with fines collected from the Drug Enforcement Demand Reduction [DEDR] program, local municipalities and by donations from residents and businesses.
This year’s funding has been cut by the state, but not in a way that will negatively impact or affect the alliance, Ms. Meyler said.
“We have a little [funding] that’s been slashed, but it’s nothing that’s going to impact us,” she said. “We’re going to be able to be on track and run all of our programs.”
“It’s really the heart of the community that keeps us going and some of the things we do. There’s a ton of ways to reach the community without spending tons of money.”
Typically, the alliance hosts two pancake breakfast fundraisers each year around Christmas and Easter in the basement of the municipal building, canceled in 2020.
“We like to call it a ‘friendraiser’ because it gets people to come out and we show them what we do, our resources and just talk to the community members to let them know we’re here,” Ms. Meyler said.
This year, instead, the alliance has moved the pancake breakfast to a curbside breakfast pickup, to be held on Saturday, June 5.
The breakfast pickup will be in the courtyard of the municipal complex from 8:30 to 11 a.m. Those interested can pull up and park while staff take the order and cook it up for you. The deal of the day is a pork roll, egg and cheese or sausage, egg and cheese with a coffee for $5.
Bagels, donuts and juices will also be available.
“It’s going to be really fun and different and be something that we stick to doing for a long time,” she said.
The next big project for the alliance is to get local municipalities to go “stigma-free” by signing onto the county’s pledge to commit to reducing stigma surrounding mental illness and substance abuse problems, Ms. Meyler said.
“I think with mental health and drug and alcohol abuse, the numbers have skyrocketed, unfortunately. With mental health really, it’s something we’re definitely focusing on in the community. We’re trying to get as many municipalities as we can to go stigma free and sign the stigma-free pledge.”
To learn more information about the community alliance, visit the group’s Facebook page or its page on the township website.
The alliance has an upcoming webinar “High in Plain Sight,” on Monday, May 24 with speaker Tim Shoemaker discussing signs of drug use in a teenager’s bedroom.
Subscribe today! If you're not already an annual subscriber to The Coast Star, get your subscription today! For just $34 per year, you will receive local mail delivery weekly, with pages and pages of local news and online access to our e-edition on Starnewsgroup.com.–>