NEWBURGH – With the news each day filled with story after story of drug busts, substance abuse, and death from overdose – even here in Orange County – substance abuse prevention and treatment can feel like an uphill battle for those who provide services. Despite the challenges, the Prevention Services programs at Catholic Charities Community Services of Orange County are more committed than ever to ensure that those in need of substance abuse prevention and treatment assistance are receiving the care and support they need.
Under the leadership of Martin Colavito, Director of Prevention Services at Catholic Charities Gateway Center for Adolescent Substance Abuse Services on the grounds of Newburgh Free Academy, Catholic Charities is the lead agency for TEAM Newburgh, a SAMHSA-funded prevention project operating in the City of Newburgh. TEAM Newburgh is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative approach to addressing the issues of drug abuse and gang violence in the City of Newburgh. Using his experience as a community organizer, Colavito and his team have developed a highly effective partnership of human service agencies, businesses, school personnel, community members, and elected officials in order to combat substance abuse issues in our community. His colleague Dawn Wilkin, Coordinator of Prevention Services, serves as Catholic Charities’ primary contact for TEAM Newburgh.
"TEAM Newburgh has proven itself as a highly effective collaboration," said Colavito. "Dawn has laid a great foundation for the effort and I am fortunate to be able to utilize her input, as well as the guidance from the coalition leadership as we develop our community outreach initiatives."
Testament to the effectiveness of TEAM Newburgh and Catholic Charities’ prevention services, Colavito and Wilkin were invited to present TEAM Newburgh at the National Leadership Forum of the Community Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) in Washington, DC.
"Martin and Dawn and the entire TEAM Newburgh, have brought light and hope to those most in need in the City of Newburgh," said Dr. Dean Scher, Executive Director, Catholic Charities Community Services of Orange County. "Their passion, enthusiasm, and determination to improve the quality of life for the marginalized youth in Orange County’s biggest city is contagious. I am so proud that their commitment, along with the success of TEAM Newburgh has been recognized on a national level so that others may benefit from their hard work and leadership," added Scher.
CADCA’s National Leadership Forum is a four day conference that provides multiple opportunities for those in the field to learn the latest strategies to fight substance abuse and hear from nationally-known experts and policymakers. The Forum brings together more than 2,500 participants representing community anti-drug coalitions from all regions of the country, government leaders, youth, addiction treatment professionals, researchers, educators, law enforcement professionals and faith-based leaders.
"I’ve worked in the substance abuse field for nearly 35 years and it can be difficult work," said Colavito. "But we do it because we love the work, care about people, and want to help people make a difference in their lives. When something works we want to share it with everyone who will listen so that they can help others as well. Being able to work with Dawn to present TEAM Newburgh at a national conference like CADCA was an amazing opportunity to do just that. Since our return from the conference, we’ve received calls from service providers across the U.S. who are interested in learning more," continued Colavito.
Gateway Center is the fiscal agent for TEAM Newburgh. The community coalition currently has 114 members and is located in the City of Newburgh. Anyone interested in addressing substance abuse issues in our community is invited to get involved. For more information, contact Martin or Dawn at 845.569.0034 and follow TEAM Newburgh on Facebook.