Levittown fights drug use with coalition

Local solutions for local problems


The Levittown School community is fighting back against drugs - armed by a dedicated coalition of volunteers throughout Levittown and the nearby neighborhoods of Wantagh, Seaford and Island Trees.

The community group, formed a year ago in March, has been working with the school district to prevent underage drinking, prescription drug and heroin use in the area.

The 25-member Levittown Community Action Coalition (LCAC) has already begun to implement substance abuse prevention programs and just applied for a Drug-Free Communities (DFC) grant from the Federal government, which comes to $125,000 a year for five years. The group hopes to use the funds from SAMSHA (the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) to educate residents on how to respond to life’s challenges without resorting to the use and abuse of alcohol, opiates or other drugs.

“It shows the value of communities coming together to make a difference,” said Jamie Bogenshutz, Executive Director of YES Community Counseling in Levittown — the NYS OASAS licensed substance abuse prevention and treatment provider serving the area. “If we are successful in securing the grant, it will mean more resources for the community.”

The Assessment Committee of the LCAC has already put together and is distributing youth and adult surveys, which will help identify problem areas and populations. The youth survey is to be filled out anonymously by 7-12th graders in Levittown and Island Trees school districts, as well as 18-25 year-olds in the area.

The Adult Survey can be taken by any adult with children in the Levittown or Island Trees school districts. It can be found here.

Survey questions include frequency of use and ways illegal substances are obtained.

The LCAC was created in March 2017 when numerous stakeholders, including parents, elected officials, Levittown and Island Trees school officials, business, religious institutions and health care professionals met and recognized that complex issues faced by youth must be embraced as a community wide problem. The group meets monthly and has worked tirelessly to build membership and assess the needs of the Community.

Its Mission Statement: “To create a safe, healthy and secure community for children and adults where untimely deaths and lives affected by addiction are reduced, through prevention, education and engagement.” Its Vision: to continue to support a community where people feel safe, valued, connected and empowered.

LCAC has 3 subcommittees that report to the main body: Assessment, which identifies trouble areas in the community; Media, which will develop and promote information about the coalition’s programs, identify and disseminate resources for getting help in the community; and Youth, which will play a valuable role in helping to identify and respond to problems and issues that they see each day.

The Drug Free Communities Grant

The DFC grant was created out of the Drug-Free Communities Act of 1997 and is awarded to coalitions addressing youth substance use and strengthening collaboration among communities, public and private non-profit agencies and federal, state and local governments. The motto: “local problems need local solutions.” In 2016, all DFCs saw significant drops in their local youth use of alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana, as well as misuse of prescription drugs.

The 2018 DFC grants will be awarded in June and begin in September. The LCAC meets the second Tuesday of each month. The next meeting is April 10 at 9 a.m. Those in the area who wish to volunteer and assist in these efforts are welcome.