By Jill Penley
Children, teens and adolescents in Johnson County face many risks almost unknown to past generations including widespread drug availability. Responding to these risks before they become problematic and pervasive can be difficult, but it is the continuing mission of at least one local non-profit organization to do so, and that organization now has a new director and many innovative ideas in the works.
“I am very excited to be able to come back to work to my hometown,” said Trish Burchette, new executive director at the A.C.T.I.O.N. Coalition, “and be an active part of this great community.”
To officially welcome the new director and showcase the many resources available to the community, the A.C.T.I.O.N. Coalition will host an “Open House” on Friday, August 10 from 1-3pm at 138 East Main Street in Mountain City.
After working in Bristol for the past seven years in sales, marketing and project management, Burchette, a Johnson County native with deep roots in the community, is now getting settled in at the agency. Many locals will remember her from the many years she owned and taught at Tricia’s School of Dance/Twirl and Modeling and she remains a Women’s Ministry leader at First Christian Church of Mountain City.
She joins a dynamic staff ready to unveil some exciting events aimed at keeping children safe and teaching them how to make wise decisions. “We are also working on some great new projects for the community that we hope will be very beneficial to everyone,” said Burchette. “Our main focus at this time is to reconnect with the community and focus on education and prevention of drug/alcohol and tobacco use.”
One of the most recent focuses of the A.C.T.I.O.N. Coalition involves student leadership. A newly formed Youth Coalition is looking to open new doors at Johnson County High School. “We are excited to be able to work with the young people in our community through the direction of a Youth Coalition,” said Burchette, “and hope many of our young people will be excited about making significant change in their future and community.”
“A.C.T.I.O.N is here to serve the community of Johnson County by connecting individuals with information on various drugs resources such as information on treatment facilities within 100 miles of Johnson County in every direction; medication lock boxes and proper disposal; recovery resources with times and locations; and community service options for youth and adults,” said Denise Woods, Prevention Coordinator, who explained the organization provides a gamut of campaigns and programs which can be utilized by community members “Our mission is to help Johnson County become free of substance abuse and provide a pathway from addiction to a healthier lifestyle,” she said. Woods is responsible for implementing substance use education and coordinating programs and campaigns for the community at large. “My community is important to me as well as the health and well-being of our youth and their future,” said Woods.
Program coordinator, Kandas Motsinger, also remains concerned about the future of the area’s youth.
“As a mother, I want to raise my son in a healthy and drug-free community,” said Motsinger. “This is why I do what I do. To grow healthy, drug-free children and to provide support to my fellow community members struggling with substance use or addiction.”
Another program coordinator with the A.C.T.I.O.N. Coalition, Ryan Fletcher, works primarily in tobacco education and underage drinking prevention. He also facilitates Moral Reconation Therapy at the Johnson County Sheriff’s Department for local inmates along with Ms.Woods. “Every life matters,” said Fletcher, “and my goal is to always show kindness and love by reaching out to those in need. By doing a small part, I want to help continue to make Johnson County the great community that I’ve always known and loved.”
Established in 2005, the A.C.T.I.O.N. Coalition (Alliance of Citizens Together Improving Our Neighborhoods) was initially a product of an HRSA (Human Resource and Service Administration) grant, aimed at increasing mental health services in the county and America’s Promise movement. Funding also comes through various state and federal grants.
Since its inception, the A.C.T.I.O.N. Coalition has expanded, and with the assistance of state and federal grant funding, supports and sponsors several youth development programs such as SADD (Students Against Drunk Driving) and MTC (Mobile Team Challenge). They also host RBS (Responsible Beverage Server) training and numerous sobriety checkpoints in partnership with law enforcement in addition to mentoring and facilitating new coalitions Throughout Northeast TN.Roxanne Roedel handles the administrative duties for the coalition and rounds out the staff.
For more information visit the A.C.T.I.O.N Coalition office at 138 East Main Street in Mountain City. TN, or call 423-727-0780.