America’s drug czar will help Operation UNITE recognize and “Celebrate Successes in Prevention and Education” throughout southern and eastern Kentucky at a luncheon on Tuesday, May 5.
Michael Botticelli, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), will join Kentucky’s Fifth District Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers and Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), at the celebration, which begins at 11 a.m. at Eastern Kentucky University’s Manchester Campus.
“Kentucky has experienced more than its fair share of prescription drug abuse and diversion-related problems for more than a decade. Overdose death rates were climbing and families were being torn apart at unacceptable rates,” said Nancy Hale, UNITE president/CEO. “Through prevention and awareness initiatives, UNITE has been able to slow the problem and engage thousands of citizens to address substance abuse-related issues within their own communities.”
“The volunteers working with UNITE Coalitions in each of our 32 counties are having an impact, although we know there’s much more to accomplish,” Hale continued. “This celebration is an opportunity to pause and thank these folks at the grassroots level who are making a difference and recognize a few of their most successful initiatives.”
Originally scheduled for February, this event had to be postponed due to weather.
The public is invited to participate in the celebration. There is no charge to attend, but because lunch will be served an RSVP is requested by Wednesday, April 29, to Cheryl Keaton at firstname.lastname@example.org. On-site check-in will begin at 10:30 a.m.
As ONDCP director, Botticelli is responsible for the National Drug Control Strategy, which outlines efforts to reduce drug use, manufacturing and trafficking, drug-related crime and violence, and drug-related health consequences. This strategy places an emphasis on community-based prevention programs, diverting non-violent drug offenders into treatment instead of jail, and expanding access to substance abuse treatment.
At CNCS, Spencer oversees the administration of AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, the Social Innovation Fund, and other programs that engage millions of Americans in service and volunteering to improve lives, strengthen communities, and foster civic engagement. UNITE’s Service Corps initiative provides 44 AmeriCorps members this school year.
Congressman Rogers, whose vision created UNITE in 2003, is recognized as a national leader on drug-related issues.
“UNITE’s unique approach to place equal emphasis on education, treatment and enforcement has been heralded as a model for the nation,” Smoot said, noting an annual National Rx Drug Abuse Summit, hosted by UNITE, is regarded as the largest collaboration of professionals and stakeholders addressing substance abuse issues.