The All on Board coalition shouldn’t have to disband because of a routine bookkeeping error. Contributions from the community can ensure that this organization continues its valuable work until it can reapply for federal funding.
The coalition formed a decade ago in response to the death of a high school student in an alcohol-related car accident. Initially, the group focused on alcohol abuse in the community, helping raise awareness of the issue and enlisting a variety of different people and organizations to find solutions.
In 2008, the coalition changed its name to All on Board and began tackling other substance abuse concerns. Over the years, it has collaborated with Keystone, the local drug prevention and counseling service, a variety of law enforcement agencies, schools and concerned parents and students to further the cause.
All on Board worked with the York County Multijurisdictional Drug Enforcement Unit to train officers to conduct undercover sweeps of area businesses to find out if they are illegally selling alcohol to minors. The coalition’s Alcohol Enforcement Team hires off-duty officers to oversee these operations.
The coalition also has partnered with the State Law Enforcement Division to address the problem of methamphetamine production and trafficking. And All on Board helped initiate Operate Medicine Drop, which provides dropoffs where parents can safely dispose of unused prescription drugs that might otherwise be abused.
But the overlying mission of All on Board is public education. Much of of the organization’s operating costs go to speaker engagement fees, anti-drug events and other efforts to inform people about the dangers of substance abuse.
All on Board lost its federal grant earlier this year after it failed to subjmit proper documentation in a renewal application. Once staff members realized the error, the application already had been rejected.
Executive Director and founding member Bob Norwood has set a fundraising target of $125,000 by Sept. 30, which he thinks will be enough to keep the coalition open for a year. Then, next year he will reapply for federal money.
We hope members of the community will step up and help keep this effort going. We know of no other single organization that touches so many bases, interacts with so many other agencies and provides so many diverse services to battle drug and alcohol abuse in the community.
The coalition has evolved and expanded its scope since it was founded 10 years ago. If it is allowed to fall apart because of lack of funding, there is no guarantee it could be pieced back together later or that some other organization could replace it.
That would be a sad loss and a step backwards for the community, which has benefitted substantially from All on Board’s work over the years. Almost everyone has been touched or knows someone who has been touched by the scourge of substance abuse.
We don’t need to reinvent a successful, dedicated drug-free coalition. We need to help keep the one we have in business.