Protecting our children and our communities from the risks of drug and alcohol abuse is a full-time job.
Program Manager William E. Collins and the members and partners of Bryan County Drug Free Coalition (BCDFC) are dedicated to their cause. They are striving to raise awareness and foster safe, drug-free environments through their programs and services.
Collins brings years of experience as former Pembroke police chief, as well as a passion for educating and protecting our youth, to his position.
“Our goals are simply to strengthen the collaboration among community partners and implement strategies in order to reduce substance abuse – to achieve these goals, BCDFC will increase awareness of youth, parents and community regarding the risk and liability of drug use,” Collins explained.
BCDFC has a number of major community campaigns, including: the Lock Up Campaign, which seeks to educate the elderly on how to safely secure their medications from children and provides lock boxes; the Host Campaign to educate the public on the consequences of hosting alcohol parties for underage teens; Project Alert, an interactive program taught in the classroom to make children aware of the dangers of alcohol and other drugs and guide them through a healthy decision process; the Year-Round Prescription Drug Take Back program, which partners with local pharmacies to provide safe drop-offs for unused medicines; and the Youth Education and Awareness peer-to-peer training program, a free service provided to parents and at-risk youth.
"We just want to provide the best prevention programs to our community,” said Collins.
The coalition, formed in 2008 and funded through the federal Office of National Drug Control Policy and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), partners with local law enforcement, health care, schools, community, youth, parents and more to achieve their goals.
"The coalition pulls in the community so that they have an opportunity to make decisions when it comes to drug prevention in Bryan County and the programs and the things we do,” said Collins.
When teaching youth, Collins and the BCDFC team implement fun, interactive strategies that they believe are effective.
Children can participate in essay and poster contests each year. Winners are recognized at their city hall in front of the mayor and council.
"If they're going to help us, we want them to be seen community-wide,” said Collins. “We want people to see their accomplishments."
Collins is an advocate of teaching young people to not judge others too quickly, because, he said, you never know what someone else’s situation might be.
He regularly tells students, “If someone is having problems, you might want to talk to them and just see if you can get in their world and maybe help them.”
BCDFC is always seeking new members and input from local residents. Meetings are held on the second Tuesday of each month at 10 a.m. For location and details, visit www.drugfreebryan.org or call (912) 653-5258.