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Central City Weed & Seed, SouthTown Residents Host Forum on Alcohol

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As a core part of its “weeding” and “seeding” mission, Central City Weed & Seed is launching a new initiative to curb excessive alcohol use in the SouthTown area. Together with local residents and the Kent County Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition; this community-led initiative, Communities Mobilizing for Change on Alcohol, is hosting a place-based conversation on the use of alcohol in their neighborhoods.

“From the past several years of engaging in community change work in Central City, Weed & Seed knows that underage drinking, as well as excessive binge drinking and alcohol-related incidents of violence, is a concern with our community residents,” says Kristine Jaros, program director for Weed & Seed.

This initiative is being chaired by young woman and local resident, Jessica Woodward. Woodward describes her personal stake in chairing the committee, “I myself am a resident of SouthTown, so I can personally testify to what is going on in this community. Having abused alcohol as an adolescent, I was able to see firsthand how detrimental this can be.”

Woodward values the role of the community residents to drive this initiative, “My personal philosophy is that to be effective in correcting local problem, we need to have local involvement; we are therefore urging community members and leaders to be committed to helping us resolve these issues.” And as part of her leadership, Woodward is inviting the community to be a part of the first of several forums to discuss the issues of alcohol consumption.

The event, funded by The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Center for Substance Abuse Prevention and Network 180, will be held on Tuesday, May 4, 2010, and located at Messiah Missionary Baptist Church (513 Henry Ave SE) from 6-8pm. Dinner will be offered at the event, and while there is no cost for participating, reservations are requested.

Jaros hopes that through this first forum, Weed & Seed will recruit volunteers from all aspects of the community to help reduce underage drinking, excessive adult drinking habits and incidents of violence. “We are inviting parents, business owners, youth leaders, teachers, churches & other community members to be a part of this effort.” Jaros continues, “We need to build a network of people in our community that all understand why it is important to reduce youth's access to and consumption of alcohol.”

Community partner and organizer, Joshua Hansen of Wedgewood Christian Services, speaks to the value of Weed & Seed's efforts, “As a community partner, we see that Weed & Seed continues to grow and have an impact in the Baxter and SouthTown community.”

Hansen gives testimony to their sound approach to community capacity building, “Weed & Seed is using best practices to help systematically address the issue of underage drinking, and in partnership with the residents and the Kent County Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition, they are building capacity in the neighborhoods to deal with these crucial issues of alcohol consumption at the citizen level.”

According to Jaros, “Weed & Seed was launched in June 2004 and since that time, we have worked collaboratively with to reduce incidents of narcotics-related crime, aggravated assaults and gun-related crime. This community-led task force on alcohol is just one aspect of our work.”

Weed & Seed is a community-based multi-agency approach to law enforcement, crime prevention, and neighborhood restoration. Weed & Seed links federal, state and local social services, private sector plus community efforts, to maximize the impact of existing community programs and resources.

Weed & Seed's overall strategy is to "Weed" out drug trafficking, gangs, violent crimes and related offenses through coordinated law enforcement and community policing; and "Seed" the designated areas with prevention, intervention and treatment programs and neighborhood restoration programs designed to meet the communities' needs. For more information on this program or to volunteer, please visit the Weed & Seed website, e-mail Site Director Kristine Jaros at [email protected], or call 616-331-7247.

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