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Eastchester Coalition Prepares To Lose Financial Backing

EASTCHESTER, N.Y. – An Eastchester community group dedicated to reducing substance abuse among local youth is bracing for a major transition as it prepares to lose federal funding on July 1.

The Eastchester Communities that Care (ECTC) has been working in the area for seven years, educating teens and their parents about the risks of substance abuse. The group had been operating under a $100,000 federal grant, which was not renewed in September.

James Genova, one of four former part-time employees of the ECTC, said that the group had to cut all of its staff and is now an all-volunteer coalition.

“It certainly affects some of what we’re able to do,” he said. “We’ll have to change some of the services we provide. Without a paid staff, it will change a little bit of what we’re able to do. Without the funding, we don’t have the same resources for programs.”

The ECTC conducted an annual survey every two years to gauge progress in how many youths were in danger of falling into high-risk situations and tallied long and short-term alcohol and drug use.  The ECTC also attempted to find correlations between teens with anti-social tendencies and gambling.

“In seven years, through the efforts of our coalition and the community, we’ve brought usage rates down in the community,” Genova said. “We hold our numbers against the national average and we’ve seen a decrease. There’s also been a reduction in marijuana use, which bucks a trend because those numbers are going up around the nation.”

Genova said that binge drinking has seen a significant reduction among the Eastchester teens. Most students in grades nine through 12 have seen positive changes, he said, and usage rates have steadily decreased since the first survey in 2005.

“Prevention is a community responsibility. I think it’s very important that even though the coalition is going through a transitional period, people never become complacent,” he said. “There’s a lot of pride and good feelings to know some of the inroads we’ve made.”

Although Genova said budget cuts have crippled some of the ECTC’s ability to aid Eastchester’s youth, volunteers will continue to keep the organization functioning. Genova said that the coalition can apply for another grant in the future.

“With funding streams being what they are, these are just some changes we have to go through now,” he said.

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