The all-volunteer White Mountain Coalition Against Meth Abuse began in Autumn 2003 with Debe Campbell’s vision to educate citizens and raise awareness of the impact of drugs, methamphetamine in particular. A total of $85,000 state grant funds were attained from 2006 to 2009, specifically for coalition building and methamphetamine-awareness.
A part-time Coalition Director was hired in 2007 to structure and oversee the organization. Education, outreach and town halls were the strategy for delivering substance abuse prevention awareness to the community. Barriers to the group efforts included: a) limited resources and limited time contribution from an all-volunteer coalition; b) projects addressed the awareness level of community involvement only in methamphetamines; c) vast differences in the needs of a wide geographic area and d) limited community buy-in to work with the coalition members.
As the Coalition leaders reviewed the results of Arizona Youth Surveys conducted bi-annually by the Arizona Criminal Justice Commission it became clear that a wider focus on youth substance use and abuse was needed. The primary state funding required focus solely on preventing the use and abuse of meth. Through data analysis and working within the community, the Coalition leaders realized that working with youth to reduce drug use also would impact adults, with the desired outcome of adult usage being reduced, also. One way the Coalition responded to changing community situations was with a focus on the emerging and quickly growing occurrences of the abuse of “legal” (synthetics and prescription) drugs among youth and anticipating a community shift in marijuana risk perception with the advent of Medical Marijuana in Arizona in April 2011.
In 2013, the Coalition was awarded a federal Drug Free Communities Grant for five years. This infusion allowed the organization to hire a full-time DFC Program Coordinator. Narrowing the target focus area to the Show Low and Pinetop-Lakeside communities allows the outreach work to be more focused.
Mary Jeanne Munroe