Norwalk, CT — Last week, Congressman Jim Himes hosted a roundtable discussion at the Norwalk Community Health Center focused on reducing youth substance abuse and announced $1.875 million in federal grant funding for three local organizations.

The Partnership (Positive Directions), the Trumbull Partnership Against Underage Drinking & Drugs (TPAUD) and Kids in Crisis received the combined $1.875 million over the next five years, $125,000 a year per organization, in Drug-Free Communities federal grants.

A group of people posing for a photo

Description automatically generated

Panelists for the roundtable included:

  • Denique Weidema-Lewis, Director of Prevention at The Partnership (Positive Directions)
  • Kiersten Naumann, Program Coordinator at the Trumbull Partnership Against Underage Drinking (TPAUD, Trumbull’s Prevention Partnership)
  • Dr. Alan Barry, Commissioner of Greenwich’s Department of Human Services and representative for Kids in Crisis
  • James Walsh, Norwalk Deputy Police Chief
  • Harry Rilling, Mayor of Norwalk

The grant recipient panelists each gave an overview of their organizations, announced how their organizations intended to utilize the federal grant funding to implement prevention framework and support recovery and addiction treatment and discussed measures to reduce and prevent substance youth abuse and addiction in our communities.

“Positive Directions is thankful for Rep. Jim Himes strong support for the Drug-Free Communities Support Program grant we were awarded. Local problems require local solutions and this funding will have a positive impact for our community. We look forward to continuing our existing collaborations and welcome the community-at-large to partner with us as we continue our work towards our shared goal of a substance-free Norwalk,” said Denique Weidema-Lewis, Director of Prevention at Positive Directions.

“The Drug Free Communities Grant will help sustain Greenwich Together’s collaborative effort to decrease substance abuse by employing a Prevention Coordinator who will work to ensure the goals of public education, expanding communication and improving outcomes through data collection are achieved.  We are thankful to Congressman Himes for his leadership and support in securing this grant. Greenwich Together will now be able to organize local prevention initiatives to reduce substance abuse, focusing on youth, in our community,” noted Dr. Alan Barry, Commissioner of Greenwich’s Department of Human Services and representative for Kids in Crisis

The importance of early intervention programs and educational programs at schools, addressing stigmas and training more community members, leaders and police offers to use Narcan were topics of discussion from panelists and audience members. The panelists presented their perspectives on the impact of the opioid crisis and also discussed measures to reduce opioid use and treat addiction in Connecticut’s Fourth District.

“I am proud to support federal grants for essential programs and preventative measures in the district to address and combat youth substance abuse and the opioid crisis. These are issues that affect every family across Connecticut and across the country,” said Himes. “I will continue fighting in Congress to support prevention programs and Connecticut families struggling with addiction, and will continue to work with my staff to identify federal grants opportunities for local organizations.”