The Allston Brighton Substance Abuse Task Force is a coalition of community agencies and residents that mobilizes youth, families, community members and leaders to prevent and reduce substance abuse among youth and adults in our community. ABCDC works with ABSATF and acts as its fiscal sponsor and we recently spoke with the Director, Helen Connolly, to discuss their goals and priorities for the new year.
What is the mission of ABSATF?
Our main goal is to mobilize community members including youth and adults to prevent and reduce substance use in Allston Brighton. We aim to:
- Educate youth, families, community leaders and members
- Raise awareness about substance prevention and treatment
- Provide resources and support to families and community members
- Change community norms around substance abuse
- Support the goals of treatment and recovery services
What are your main programs that you and other staff run?
- The Allston Brighton Youth Coalition: This is a peer driven leadership and public health education program for high school students who live in or attend school in Allston Brighton. Youth Coalition members learn about and identify local public health issues related to substance, conduct research, raise awareness, and lead hands-on projects to promote youth health. Some examples of their past projects were facilitating a virtual marijuana and vaping prevention workshops for their peers.
- Youth Substance Use Prevention Peer Education Workshops: In partnership with our Youth Coalition members, we developed and implemented workshops on topics such as How to Help a Friend, Vaping, Marijuana, Coping with Anxiety, Prescription Drug Abuse and more. Workshops are adapted from best-practice and evidence-based strategies: Botvin Life skills, Above the Influence, and Catch My Breath curricula. Workshops are designed for Allston Brighton youth ages 11-17.
- Recovery -Annual Walk for Recovery: Each year, since 2005, an Annual Walk for Recovery is organized in Brighton, MA through support from the Boston College Neighborhood Fund and St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center, Granada House, Addiction Treatment Center of New England, MOAR, and the Gavin Foundation. The Walk raises awareness about substance use treatment and recovery in this community and across the City of Boston. By collaborating with multiple stakeholders, the Walk is also a forum to celebrate those who are in recovery and support those who are seeking recovery as well as their families and friends.
- Parent Workshops
- Narcan Trainings
- Resources for Prevention, Treatment and Recovery
- Social Host Liability Program at Boston College
- Community Forums
How long have you worked for your organization?
I have been working at ABSATF since 2006!
What are some of the accomplishments from 2020 that you are most proud of?
This past year, I am proud that we were able to transition our youth workshops to a virtual format. We were able to maintain our Youth Coalition programming virtually with an 80% attendance rate. Our Youth Coalition was also selected to present their Coping with Stress Workshop at the 84.org Youth Power Summit this past November. We were also able to offer multiple virtual workshops for youth on coping with stress, marijuana, alcohol, and vaping.
Another exciting thing that happened in 2020 was that we received a COVID relief grant from both Harvard University and Charlesview Charitable Fund. With these grants, we were able to offer incentives to youth who attended our workshops including gift certificates to local businesses in Allston Brighton. We are certainly very thankful for the support!
What goals are you excited to accomplish in 2021?
There is a lot that we want to accomplish this year. We want to continue growing our Youth Coalition membership and improve prevention strategies aimed at Allston Brighton and Boston youth. We also want to enhance our focus to include Behavioral Health strategies. This year, we are also focusing on diversifying our membership, and changing our name to better reflect our values as an organization.
Do you think your organization has benefitted from having ABCDC as a fiscal sponsor?
ABSATF has greatly benefitted from having ABCDC as our fiscal sponsor! ABCDC provides financial systems which resulted in improved fund management and allows for increased capacity to research, write and grow grant funding.