Tuesday, February 21, 2012

From the Ulster Prevention Council Blog: Whitney Houston’s Death Provides an Opportunity to Talk to Youth

Youth today are so connected through Facebook and Twitter that word travels quite quickly in their world. My 18 year old daughter, Liz, informed me of the death of Whitney Houston as soon as the news was released to the press. We speculated that cocaine may have played a role in her death, but at the time of this writing speculation is that she died from a combination of alcohol and prescription drugs.

Unfortunately, our sons and daughters are becoming accustomed to drug and alcohol overdose deaths. As we talked, she mentioned Heath Ledger, Michael Jackson and Amy Winehouse.

For my generation, celebrity deaths were more often tied to illicit drugs, especially heroin. John Belushi, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison come to mind. For me, these deaths were a cautionary tale against a lifestyle much removed from my personal experiences. For Liz and her peers, however, overdose deaths are more likely to be attributed to prescription drugs, particularly when substances are mixed together or mixed with alcohol, and often strike much closer to home.

Such tragedies provide prime opportunities to talk with teens and young adults about alcohol and drugs. Ask open ended questions such as “What do you think about that?” One in three teens surveyed say there is “nothing wrong” with abusing prescription drugs “every once in a while”. Talk to your teen about the dangers of abusing alcohol, prescription and over-the-counter drugs. These are powerful drugs that, when abused, can be just as dangerous as street drugs.

Make sure that teens know that they can come to you as a trusted adult if they need help or know someone who needs help. Keep the lines of communication open, and use the news to start meaningful conversations.

Cheryl DePaolo

Ulster Prevention Council

Program Director

Monday, February 13, 2012

Advocacy Alert: Violence Against Women Act

Some of our allies in the struggle to end violence against women are concerned about the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act and are requesting our support.

The Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (VAWA) is a United States federal law. It was passed by President Bill Clinton on September 13, 1994. It provided $1.6 billion to enhance investigation and prosecution of violent crimes perpetrated against women, imposed automatic and mandatory restitution on those convicted, and allowed civil redress in cases prosecutors chose to leave unprosecuted.

VAWA was drafted by then U.S. Senator Joseph R. Biden's office with support from a number of advocacy organizations including the National Network to End Domestic Violence, the Texas Council on Family Violence, Futures Without Violence, National Coalition Against Sexual Assault, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Legal Momentum and The National Organization for Women, which described the bill as "the greatest breakthrough in civil rights for women in nearly two decades.”

VAWA was reauthorized by Congress in 2000, and again in December 2005. VAWA is up for reauthorization in 2012.

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) gives law enforcement, prosecutors and judges the resources they need to hold offenders accountable, keeps communities safe while supporting victims, and provides critical funding for prevention and education. It is absolutely essential to the work we do.

The Futures Without Violence organization has asked for our help advocating for reauthorization. Please see their request below:

Here's how you can help today:
There are several prior sponsors who are not on board yet: If any of these senators are from your home state, please ask them to re-commit:

Carper, Thomas R. - (D - DE)
Cochran, Thad - (R)
Cornyn, John - (R - TX)
Grassley, Chuck - (R - IA)
Hatch, Orrin G. - (R - UT)
Hutchison, Kay Bailey - (R - TX)
Inouye, Daniel K. - (D - HI)
Nelson, Ben - (D - NE)
Pryor, Mark L. - (D - AR)
Snowe, Olympia J. - (R - ME)

Here’s a quick and easy way to write to your Senators about S. 1925 (VAWA): http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

And here’s suggested text for your note:

Dear Senator _____________,

VAWA reauthorization legislation, S. 1925 by Senators Leahy and Crapo, was developed with the input of advocates from around the country and addresses the real and most important needs of victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking. It also invests in small prevention programs to stop the lifetime cycle of abuse and engages more stakeholders in the work to prevent and respond to violence. It is responsive, streamlined, and constitutionally and fiscally sound, while providing strong accountability measures and appropriate federal government oversight. This legislation represents our voices—the voices of victims and advocates. I ask you to wholeheartedly support the swift passage of S. 1925.

Ulster Prevention Council News

Community Coalitions Work!

I had the privilege of spending this week in National Harbor, Maryland at the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) Conference. The message this week has consistently been that community coalitions are effective in reducing local substance use rates among youth and in creating safer and healthier communities. Alcohol and drug problems manifest in local communities and show up in our schools, churches, health centers, and in our homes. Coalition work helps local leaders and community partners organize to identify the youth drug issues unique to their communities and develop the infrastructures necessary to effectively prevent and respond to the these issues to target the prevention needs of youth, their families, and surrounding communities.

The Drug Free Communities Support Program (DFC) is a Federal grant program that provides funding to community-based coalitions that organize to prevent youth substance use. The DFC program has funded nearly 2,000 coalitions and currently mobilizes nearly 9,000 community volunteers across the country. In Ulster County, Kingston Cares and the Community Partnership for a Safer New Paltz have received DFC funding. Recent evaluation data indicate that where DFC dollars are invested, youth substance use is lower.

Over the past five years, DFC-funded communities have achieved significant reductions in youth alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana use. For middle school youth living in DFC-funded communities, data from the 2011 DFC National Evaluation indicate a 12% reduction in alcohol use, 28% reduction in tobacco use, and 24% reduction in marijuana use. High school-aged youth have reduced their use of alcohol by 8%, tobacco by 17%, and marijuana by 11% in DFC-funded communities. Even when communities start their coalition work with substance use rates higher than the national average, they were able to reduce to rates lower than the national average through organized and effective coalition work.

Recent data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) as well as local data indicate increases in youth prescription drug abuse, as well as marijuana and ecstasy. Now, more than ever, coalitions are needed in local communities to help prevent drug use and reduce its consequences.

In the coming months, the Ulster Prevention Council will be hosting community meetings throughout the county to raise awareness about local youth substance use issues and the importance of engaging all sectors of the community in addressing these issues. To host a community meeting or find out about organizing a coalition in your area, please contact me at the UPC, 458-7406 or email cdepaolo@familyservicesny.org. Coalitions work!


Cheryl DePaolo
Director, Ulster Prevention Council

Find Ulster Prevention Council on Facebook. Visit them at ulsterpreventioncouncil.org

Family Services' CEO Speaks in Support of the Expansion of the NYS DNA Databank

Family Services' CEO Brian Doyle, along with Dutchess County elected officials and law enforcement representatives, spoke at a press conference at the Dutchess County Sheriff's Office on February 10, 2012 in support of Governor Cuomo's expansion of New York State's DNA Databank.

For more information about this initiative please visit

Monday, February 6, 2012

2012 Walk A Mile in Her Shoes

Save the Date!

Saturday April 21, 2012
Time: 10:30 - 11:30 Registration 11:30 - 12:00 Walk
Location: Marist College McCann Center

Registration Fees:
    • Individual $20
    • Team of 3 $30
    • Youth (12 – 18 years of age) $5
    • Women – Free
    • Youth under 12 - Free
Please check back for more registration information. For questions or more information please contact Whitney Bonura, Prevention Educator, at 845-452-1110 ext. 3531 or wbonura@familyservicesny.org

Free Workshop!

Parents as Partners- Taking the Lead

Workshop/conference for parents and professionals who have children or work with children in schools and/or agencies. This workshop is presented by Ulster County SYSTEM OF CARE. The keynote speaker is Carol Hardesty from Westchester County Family Ties. Ms. Hardesty will speak about parent empowerment with a focus on leadership and communication skills.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012*
George Washington Elementary School
67 Wall Street, Kingston, NY

Free pizza, Free childcare, Free raffle!

*Snow date is Wednesday, March 21st, from 4:00-7:30pm.

Friday, February 3, 2012

From the Ulster Prevention Council Blog: Alcohol and the Superbowl

On February 5, millions of Americans will drive to a friend or family member's house to watch the Giants meet the Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI. While the big game is one of the most exciting events of the football season, it is also one of the most dangerous as roads are filled with too many impaired drivers wending their way back home after the parties. Contributing to the inherent dangers of drinking and driving is the relatively late kickoff (6:30 p.m., ET) and the fact that the game may go on for hours.

Last year approximately 151.6 million people viewed at least part of the Super Bowl. Americans consume more than 325.5 million gallons of beer during the Super Bowl, which is approximately 17 times the amount consumed on the average any other day of the year (Nielsen Research).

According to the most recent figures from the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2010, alcohol-impaired-driving crashes accounted for 31 percent of the total motor vehicle traffic fatalities. On Super Bowl Sunday, 48 percent of the fatalities occurred in crashes in which a driver or motorcycle rider had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of .08 or higher. In fact, more than 13,000 Americans died that year in crashes involving an impaired driver.

The U.S. Department of Transportation and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), with support from the National Football League (NFL) have joined forces with local highway safety and law enforcement officials to spread an important safety message to the public about designating a sober driver on Super Bowl Sunday – Fans Don’t Let Fans Drive Drunk.

“This message is for everyone who will be drinking during the big game. Make the right play and pass your keys to a designated driver so they can get you home safely,” said Captain Ivan Minsal. “There is no excuse to get flagged for a false start.”

Driving while impaired could result in a loss of your driver’s license or even possibly the loss of your or someone else’s life. On Super Bowl Sunday, make it a team effort to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe. If you plan on driving, plan not to drink alcohol.

If you are hosting a Super Bowl party:
• Make sure all of your guests designate their sober drivers before kick-off or help arrange ride-sharing with sober drivers.
• Find unique ways to recognize the designated drivers at your party:
-Give them a great spot to watch the game.
-Whatever non-alcoholic beverage they are drinking, make sure their glass is always full.
- Let them have the first pass at the buffet table.
- Make sure their cars are easy to access when it is time to start driving people home.
• Serve plenty of food.
• Offer a variety of non-alcoholic choices like soft drinks, juice, and water.
• Serve one drink at a time and serve measured drinks.
• Only serve alcohol to guests over 21 years of age.
• Determine ahead of time when you’ll stop serving alcohol, such as one hour before the party ends or at the end of the third quarter (just like NFL stadiums) and begin serving coffee and dessert.
• Add the numbers of local cab companies into your phone so they are just one touch away.
• Take appropriate steps to prevent anyone from drinking and driving.
• Be prepared for guests to spend the night if an alternative way home is not available.
• Remember, you can be held liable and prosecuted if someone you served ends up in a drunk-driving crash.

If you are attending a Super Bowl party or watching at a sports bar or restaurant, please follow these guidelines to make sure you enjoy Super Bowl XLVI responsibly:
• Designate your sober driver before the party begins.
• Avoid drinking too much alcohol too fast. Pace yourself—eat enough food, take breaks, and alternate with non-alcoholic drinks.
• If you don’t have a designated driver, ask a sober friend for a ride home; call a cab, friend, or family member to come and get you; or just stay where you are and sleep it off until you are sober.
• Use your community’s sober ride program.
• Always buckle up – it’s the best defense against other drunk driving.

Working Together to Cut Out Domestic Violence

Come Get Your Hair Cut
to Support Victims of Domestic Violence

Join us at Renee's Hair Salon for haircuts, food, fun, prizes and more! All proceeds support Family Services' Battered Women's Services Program.

When: February 17, 2012
11:00am to 6:00pm

Where: Renee's Hair Salon
2649 East Main Street
Wappingers Falls, NY

For more information please call Renee Serino at 845-297-0069 or Kathy Graham at 845-452-1110 x3202. If you or someone you know is in need of domestic violence services please call our 24 hour hotline at 845-485-5550.