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Grant to help combat youth alcohol abuse
Dawson County Family Connection is recipient
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Nancy Stites and Bindy Auvermann spent the summer working on a grant application that could help fund community projects such as the mentoring program. - photo by By Michele Hester

 A local partnership recently learned it will receive more than $121,000 to help fund its efforts to improve the lives of young people.

The Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities Office of Prevention Services has awarded Dawson County Family Connection a grant to focus on underage alcohol prevention.

Nancy Stites, director of Family Connection, and Bindy Auvermann, executive director of the Dawson County Mentoring Program, spent the summer writing the grant application on behalf of numerous partner agencies.

“The purpose of the application is to show your community is interested in and willing to create this initiative in their own community,” Stites said.

Results from a public health survey of local middle and high school students showed underage alcohol is a problem, according to Stites.

“Thirty percent of high schoolers are drinking at least once every 30 days, and to us that was high,” she said. “We hope this will improve that.”

The application highlighted projects such as Red Ribbon Week with partners such as the local sheriff’s office, school system, churches and drug prevention groups.

The partner agencies will spend the next three months working together in committees to focus on initiative data, planning, evaluations and sustainability, Stites said.

How the grant funds will be used is not clear at this point.

“We have some ideas, but we don’t have specifics yet,” Stites said.

While Family Connection has received the grant for the last six years, the focus shifted and the department requested grant proposals this time.

In the past, the grant was used to fund the county’s mentoring program.

“We hope it will continue to fund the mentoring program and fund a director for Dawson Against Substance Abuse,” Stites said.

“That board is all volunteers now and if we had a paid employee that would just strengthen that board and be able to reach out to much more into the community.”

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