Lindy Cares has actively worked to weave best practices for substance misuse prevention into Lindenhurst, New York’s culture, since 2013. Now in its tenth year, our coalition has evolved from initial capacity building to supporting empowered community members in planning and implementing evidence-based interventions of their own accord.
We’re creating a systematic approach for a smooth transition of community initiative leadership from staff to local stakeholders. Over ten years, we’ve tracked the consistent use of evidence-based practices and identified factors contributing to two key outcomes. Stakeholder involvement in planning and implementing evidence-based strategies contributed to a 12.7% decline (2016-2023) in Lindenhurst, NY, youth who perceived easy access to alcohol.
While our primary goal was reducing youth access to alcohol, our efforts expanded to address safe medicine disposal due to community concerns. Stakeholders drove initiatives such as drug take-back events and community clean-ups/environmental scans. As a result, Lindenhurst, NY, witnessed a significant 31% increase (2016-2023) in youth awareness about safe prescription medication disposal.
Community Clean Up
Dedicated volunteers from multiple sectors come together in a collaborative effort to tackle community concerns regarding litter and drug-related paraphernalia.
Volunteers strategically use maps to conduct their environmental scan to identify areas prone to containing litter and drug-related items. The responses are collectively analyzed to provide the foundation for understanding the extent and patterns of these issues within the community.
The paraphernalia found is forwarded to the National Guard for testing to unveil the community’s specific challenges and provide crucial information for crafting precise interventions and initiatives.
Involving the community in data collection efforts is crucial as it provides them with firsthand exposure to the impact of drug and alcohol misuse within the community. This engagement helps individuals feel more connected and motivated to work towards mitigating these issues.
The coalition places high importance on nurturing connections with community members and leaders founded on trust and mutual support, which builds community ownership over prevention initiatives.
Nurturing these connections provides a secure space for the community to report substance misuse. The coalition monitors and records these reports, forwarding them to local law enforcement to conduct compliance checks.
Community networking events such as Spirit of the Community aid in forging connections between community members and law enforcement, in turn creating a feeling of ease and encouraging self-reporting, which contributes to more effective approaches to tackling substance misuse and other challenges within the community.
Empowering community members to take an active role in creating a safer environment fosters a cohesive and resilient community capable of addressing challenges collectively.
Drugs Take Back
Since 2016, the coalition has organized bi-annual drug take-back events with stakeholders, responding to community concerns about safe medicine disposal. The event adapted to COVID-19 challenges by introducing a “Drive-Thru, Drive the Change” model for safe participation from vehicles. Moreover, to tackle the rising accidental overdoses among seniors, the initiative now offers complimentary medical senior ID cards.
The coalition collaborated with the local government to integrate details about drug take-back and disposal into the FAQ section of the Town of Babylon website.
The coalition participates annually in Prepare-A-Thon and Town of Babylon Earth Day events. These occasions allow volunteers to educate the community about safe drug disposal by providing essential tools like Deterra bags for responsible medication disposal.
Volunteer groups and civic organizations ensure the initiative’s ongoing success. Their extensive experience from years of dedicated involvement in stakeholder planning allows them to understand community needs deeply. This expertise helps the program grow, adapt, and effectively serve the community’s well-being.
NOYL (Not On Your Life)
The Middle School organizes an annual contest for students to develop a design illustrating the adverse consequences of underage drinking. The winning design is converted into a prevention messaging sticker.
The Lindy Cares High School Youth Club distributes the stickers to local restaurants and food establishments, where the businesses affix the stickers to their take-out bags and pizza boxes for their customers to see.
In supplementation with these visits, businesses are encouraged to sign a pledge letter (Coalition Involvement Agreement CIA) showing their commitment to not serving or selling alcohol to underage individuals.
The establishment of the Lindy Cares High School and Middle School Clubs guarantees an annual increase in young people, businesses, and community members exposed to community-designed prevention messages about the consequences of underage drinking.
Peer to Peer
High school students initiate informative peer-to-peer presentations for middle schoolers, covering crucial topics like dosage, safe medicine storage, and proper disposal methods.
The presentations have now expanded to include children aged 4-9, focusing on the environmental effects of prescription drugs and instructing them not to flush or handle medications as toys.
This holistic approach fosters a community culture where responsible medication practices and environmental stewardship are fundamental values passed down through generations.
By embedding these principles in the developmental stages of children, the initiative promotes a sustainable cycle of awareness and responsible behavior, creating a community that prioritizes health-conscious practices and ecological mindfulness.
Cancel the Keg - Social Host Law
Starting in 2016, the Town of Babylon Government has provided the coalition with a complimentary billboard explaining the Social Host Law and the ramifications of breaking the law, generating 12,242,160 impressions annually.
This effort is supported by an informative Social Host article collaboratively authored by Lindy Cares, the Suffolk County Police Commissioner, the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, and the Town of Babylon Supervisor. Local media partners strategically publish this article during high-impact periods like prom and graduation seasons.
A “Cancel the Keg” hotline was created to support the social host law, allowing the community to report underage drinking parties to law enforcement. Police officers visit identified locations before the event and educate adults about the Social Host Law.
Students participate in the Above the Influence Workshop led by the Department of Mental Health & Hygiene at the Lindenhurst Youth Summit, where they learn about Social Host Laws and strategies to prevent underage drinking. This knowledge empowers students
to share it with peers and families, boosting awareness to prevent underage drinking.
Choosing informative prevention over punitive measures creates lasting impacts. Understanding the reasons behind rules increases compliance. It also encourages collective community responsibility, fostering a supportive environment. Facilitating dialogue between youth and adults is crucial for passing knowledge through generations.
Strike Out Drugs
Annual partnership with the Lindenhurst Girls Softball Team for the “Strike Out Drugs Game for a Cause.” Players secure community sponsorships, such as $5 for each home run.
The proceeds from the Softball game are reinvested in the education system to support drug and alcohol prevention activities at the Middle School level.
A connection was established with local real estate businesses after the coalition raised awareness about medication cabinets being targeted by visitors during open houses. As a result, these professionals now proactively distribute Deterra bags at or before open houses to mitigate the issue.
Together, these efforts create a sustainable cycle of support, fundraising, and proactive intervention to address community concerns regarding substance abuse prevention and safe medication disposal.