A Community Against Substance Abuse
The RVC Youth Council, Inc., brings together Rockville Centre teens with dedicated adults to prevent substance abuse by highlighting the dangers of underage drinking and illegal drug use. In doing this, the Youth Council provides prevention educational programs, awareness campaigns, substance-free social events, community service opportunities, and social action activities.
In 2008 the first Community Leaders Forum of the Rockville Centre Community Council met at the Fire Station at Maple Avenue to discuss ways to enhance the quality of life for youth, adults, and families in the village. It was attended by village police, fire, health, education, religious, housing, and social services officials as well as representatives of community groups and county services. While many topics were brainstormed at that meeting, two areas of concern seemed to surface – 1) youth problems and related family issues and attitudes and 2) access to services and the need for a database of available services.
Members present voiced their concerns on social issues, peer pressure and substance abuse, which were on the rise among Rockville Centre, and Long Island high-school youth. Adults expressed repeated frustration that underage drinking and drug use was endangering their children. Evidence of gatherings of high school-aged children was rampant in the Village, with bags of beer cans and other debris from late-night carousing by teenagers a continued complaint in an otherwise quiet nighttime neighborhood. The RVC Police Department responded to calls about teens gathering in parks, on dead-ends and street corners, and residents found evidence that substance abuse was involved. In the month following this first Forum, a Steering Committee of interested attendees developed and met for over a year. It was a long hard year with a lot of dedication put forth by its all-volunteer members. During that first year, a lot of time was spent getting organized – figuring out who was actually on the Steering Committee, what was its purpose, who did it report to, what was its relationship to the Village, what was the Community Council and the Leaders Forum and would they ever meet again, etc. Then there were the basics that took time - a usable roster with names, addresses, phone numbers, and emails! It seemed that the Steering Committee would be like the leadership to oversee two committees under it, Youth and Families (which had been meeting), and Resources (which actually never got off the ground).
Through the efforts of representatives of the Nassau County Youth Board, the Steering Committee was educated on the empowerment of the youth. The need for us to listen to the youth, rather than for us to think we knew what they wanted or needed and then to develop a program around our beliefs. As a result, we reached out to get the youth involved. Letters and phone calls went out to South Side High School as well as the parochial high schools, Hispanic Brotherhood, Martin Luther King Center, Recreation Center, and various other community organizations in town, inviting the youth to participate in one of several focus groups being conducted. The focus groups revealed that young people were concerned that there was not enough opportunity in our community for unstructured socializing for their age group, which would emphasize substance-free activities. What was important to the youth was perhaps the creation of a coffee house in town, a place they believe will get the kids off the streets and off the bridge, giving them somewhere “youth-friendly” to go in the evenings.
After the focus groups met, a Youth and Families Committee was put together in 2009 including both youth and adults and has been meeting ever since. now celebrating it's 10 year anniversary in 2019. This Committee changed its name to the RVC Youth Council. It was a partnership with Rockville Centre adults and teens to address substance abuse issues and means of prevention. With the help of a pro bono attorney and accountant, Articles of Incorporation and By-Laws were created. These were filed and adopted in the Fall of 2009 at which time the RVC Youth Council became incorporated and in May 2010 was granted approval by the IRS as a tax-exempt 501c3 public charity.
New York National Guard
The New York National Guard Counterdrug Task Force partners with Law Enforcement Agencies and Community Based Organizations such as the RVC Youth Council and the Rockville Centre Coalition for Youth, to implement substance abuse prevention strategies.
They recognize that changing a culture of drug use and addiction requires the efforts of the entire community. The Task Force has partnered with us to fight the spread of illicit drugs through community outreach and education. Currently, these three individuals, SGT Sean Cassidy, TSgt Carissa Siry and SSgt Gabriel Manzueta have helped the RVC Youth Council in many ways:
Attended many of our monthly meetings and given updates on the drug use situation in Nassau County
Given presentations on the dangers of vaping
Organized obstacle courses for our students as part of a drug-free social event on a Friday night
Worked with our youth on a program to get local businesses such as bars to sign pledge cards and mount them at their business indicating that they agree not to sell alcohol or tobacco products to minors.
Conducted an exercise with students known as GIS (Geographic Information System) where based on student input, they mapped where hot spots were located in RVC, known areas that they considered not safe due to underage drugs and alcohol use.
Provided overall support in attending community-wide programs and tabling with the RVC Youth Council to spread the prevention message.
SGT Sean Cassidy
SGT Carissa Siry
SGT Gabriel Manzueta
The Rockville Centre Coalition For Youth
The Rockville Centre Coalition for Youth has as its principal mission the reduction of substance abuse, with a primary focus on reducing youth substance abuse. Its mission is to plan and implement strategies to prevent and reduce youth substance use and its associated consequences.
In August of 2014 many Rockville Centre community groups, after working together for years to address the problems with teen substance abuse, formally became a Coalition, literally “an alliance for combined action,” and together filed a grant application to bring federal funding from the Drug-Free Communities grant program into the Village of Rockville Centre.
Members of the RVC Youth Council, Inc., wrote the grant and in September of 2015 the RVC Youth Council, Inc., as legal representative for the Rockville Centre Coalition for Youth, was awarded a Drug-Free Communities grant worth $125,000 every year for five years, contingent on quarterly outcome measurement reports being written and approved.
Working with more than a dozen community sectors, the grant has funded and will continue to fund, community-wide anti-drug initiatives including billboards, media blitzes, drug-free events for our teens, presentations to parents and teens from nationally known anti-drug professionals, and in-school workshops aimed at educating our young people about the real dangers of underage drug and alcohol abuse.
For more information, see https://www.rvccoalitionforyouth.org
Arlene and Paul Arden
Adelphi University Recognizes the RVCYC as a Leader in Health Innovation
On November 29, 2017, Adelphi University's Center for Health Innovation (CHI) held its first-ever Health Innovation Awards to recognize individuals or organizations in the community who have contributed to advancing innovation in the healthcare field. The Rockville Centre Youth Council was chosen for the Adelphi University Health Innovation Award in Community-Engaged Arts and Health. This award recognizes an individual or organization that has created a community program or initiative that recognizes or celebrates the role of Arts in the health and well-being of communities.
The Rockville Centre Education Foundation Honors the RVCYC
On April 1, 2017, the Rockville Centre Education Foundation was proud to honor the RVC Youth Council as their Gala Honoree at their 27th Fundraising Gala.
The Rockville Centre Chamber of Commerce
In October 2012 the Chamber of Commerce honored the RVC Youth Council at their Taste of Elegance fundraiser and donated $2,500 to the Youth Council.