Soundview Drug Free Coalition elects leaders, sets priorities

The Soundview Community Drug Free Coalition has elected Michelle Watt as chairwoman and Minister Swami Thompson as vice chairman.
Photo by Silvio Pacifico

The Soundview Community Drug Free Coalition is revving up its efforts to educate people on the dangerous of drug abuse.

During their Tuesday, September 15 meeting held at Community Board 9’s office, the SCDFC elected officers Michelle Watt, LMSW, Odyssey House program director and Chaplain Kwame Thompson from Urban Youth Alliance to lead the organization in its mission.

Watt was elected to serve as the Coalition’s chairwoman and described her election as “a honor topped with a challenge – a challenge to bring a community together to develop a community centered comprehensive plan for drug, alcohol and tobacco prevention.”

As chair, Watt will serve the Coalition as a leader presiding over all meetings and will be responsible in appointing all subcommittee chairs.

Thompson was elected to serve as the Coalition’s vice chairman and is very enthusiastic to help serve the Coalition and the community.

“I am very humbled being given this great responsibility as vice chair and I pray before God so that I can be effective in the position,” he said.

“Being from Soundview, I have seen the need to help educate the youth and the community here about the dangers posed by drug and alcohol abuse.”

SCDFC announced its three priorities for next year which include campaigns to educate people on drug abuse and ways of combating this ongoing issue.

SCDFC will initiate a campaign to block the sale of “loosies” referring to cigarettes sold individually from the pack at local grocery stores and bodegas.

The Coalition plans to establish an education and awareness program focusing on seniors and young people to educate them on prescription drug misuse.

The group is committed to wage war against ‘K2’ synthetic marijuana products which are created from herbs and spices sprayed with the chemical TCH, an active ingredient found in marijuana.

“While these priorities appear ambitious, the truth is that loosies and prescription drug abuse are plaguing our schools,” said Thompson.

He added, “K2 is simply a war that must be fought now before it becomes ingrained in our community.”

Led by the Soundview Resident Council, Inc., Soundview community leaders have formed a federally-sponsored Drug Free Coalition to address substance abuse among youth, particularly focusing on children in grades six to 12.

Under the Drug-Free Communities Support Program, communities can establish locally based strategies meant to reduce the use, abuse and sale of illegal drugs, alcohol and cigarettes.

“We wanted to do something to help our young people resist the temptations associated with cigarette, alcohol and prescription drug use,” said Anne Johnson, Soundview Resident Council president.

“Many of our public housing residents have no idea that ‘pharm parties’, where kids bring pills to a party, are getting these pills from their medicine chest at home,” Johnson added.

SCDFC will file an application next March and if successful, the Coalition will receive a grant from the Federal Center for Substance Abuse Prevention in the amount of $125,000 per year for five years.

Johnson explained if SCDFC receives this grant, the Coalition will devise a strategic plan emphasizing a thorough needs assessment and achievable goals and steps necessary in fulfilling their mission.

SCDFC will meet Tuesday, October 13 at 11 a.m at the Bronx District Attorney’s Office located at 198 E. 161st Street.

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