The year 2019 has been especially fruitful for ASAP of Anderson. From a sustainability perspective, as well as an outcomes perspective, good news has come from many directions. In June, the ASAP office moved from the Jolley Building down the street to our new home provided by the Anderson County Board of Education. Being able to occupy our own space has had a significant impact on coalition capacity. First, we are able to host our own meetings and training events; not only is this convenient, it maximizes our efficiency. Second, we have our own storage space and each staff member has their own work space; both are maximizing staff productivity. Third, having a physical presence in the community has drawn more community members to come access prevention resources and services at a higher rate.
ASAP of Anderson also engaged in a comprehensive organizational assessment in collaboration with the Alliance for Better Nonprofits. The coalition completed the Standards for Excellence Assessment, pioneered by the Standards for Excellence Institute for Nonprofits. ASAP has been rated as High Performing, the highest rating, in all Tier I domains, including Strategic Planning, Board Governance, Legal Compliance and Ethics. Board members, volunteers, and staff all participated in the assessment, to give a thorough review.
Not only has there been success with sustainability and infrastructure, drug overdose deaths in Anderson County have also decreased. Even though overdose deaths have steadily increased across Tennessee (2017: 1,776 all drugs/1,268 opioids; 2018: 1,818 all drugs/1,304 opioids), the overdose death rate in Anderson County dropped 38 percent between 2017 and 2018 (2017: 47 all drugs/34 opioids/7 heroin; 2018: 29 all drugs/18 opioids/3 heroin).
Source: Data Dashboard, Tennessee Department of Health, 2019
Finally, an important resolution passed at the November County Commission meeting, extending indefinitely the local litigation tax that funds prevention. The resolution adds a five-dollar fee onto court cases: passage of this resolution is critical to the sustainability of prevention in our county and we are exceedingly grateful to each of our county elected officials, as well as Jay Yeager and Rex Lynch who assisted with a formal analysis to ensure an effective policy was established. This policy passed as we position ourselves to prepare for the 2020 Tennessee General Assembly. The 2020 session has the opportunity to address some important issues relevant to substance use prevention, including funding for prevention activities at the local level, repeal of tobacco preemption to allow local control for smoking in parks, and efforts to curb youth vaping of nicotine products. The ASAP Youth Ambassadors Coalition has been particularly involved in policy related to vaping and smoking prevention. They will travel to both Nashville and Washington, D.C. in February to meet with our elected officials to continue their work in this arena.
If you are interested in staying up-to-date on policy initiatives or being involved in advocacy, please let us know. We will find a way to get you connected to an issue that matches your priorities.
As we close out this very successful 2019, please join us in celebrating these accomplishments and recognize the coalition volunteers who have made these milestones a reality.