Battling Cambria County’s Drug Epidemic

JOHNSTOWN — The Community Foundation for the Alleghenies is proud to support the United Way of the Laurel Highlands and its partners in taking on Cambria County’s epidemic of drug abuse with the creation of the Cambria County Drug Coalition.

This newly formed task force is made up of county officials, local law enforcement, healthcare workers, community leaders, and local nonprofits. Their Executive Director is Ronna Yablonski, who has worked tirelessly for the last 13 years spearheading drug prevention efforts in Somerset County.

Noting the increasing complexities of the drug abuse crisis, the coalition is developing a comprehensive county-wide plan to reduce drug use, prevent it altogether, and to treat drug addiction. The plan will include education campaigns, training for health care and law enforcement professionals, and programs to successfully lift addicts from their drug spirals.

The Community Foundation is proud to take part in this effort, with a grant to the task force of $20,000 per year for two years. The coalition is also funded by significant contributions from The United Way, the 1889 Foundation, and the Lee Foundation.

In the past year, the Community Foundation has made a concerted effort to direct more grantmaking dollars toward drug prevention education. In addition to the Cambria County Drug Coalition, the CFA has supported programs throughout Bedford, Cambria, and Somerset Counties, including but not limited to:

The Learning Lamp: $7,000 toward a results-based prescription drugs and heroin education/prevention curriculum to be used in area high schools, aimed at increasing knowledge about how use and abuse of prescription opioids can lead to heroin use, addiction, and death.

BottleWorks Ethnic Arts Center: $25,000 from our Youth Philanthropy Interns toward the Mindful Schools curriculum and Project Alert to teach students about drug prevention and to offer Mindful Arts Practices and Art Education as an alternative to drug use.

For more information on our involvement with drug abatement programs, contact Angie Berzonski: aberzonski@cfalleghenies.org.

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