Several community coalitions in Babylon Town will join together through a new project to create diversion programs and motivational recovery environments for the town’s children, teens and adults to combat drug and alcohol abuse.
The Town of Babylon Cares Collaborative Project, known as Babylon Cares, had a virtual launch party Feb. 2. The project was created by the nonprofit Lindenhurst Community Cares Coalition, known as Lindy Cares. In addition to Lindenhurst, coalitions from Deer Park, Copiague and Wyandanch will use their resources to help the community at large, which local leaders stressed was needed.
"The premise of this is terrific because what you’re looking to do is break down the walls [and] make sure that we are not hanging out in our silos," Babylon Town Supervisor Rich Schaffer said during the event.
The launch of the Babylon Cares website provides information on becoming an advocate to connect with local businesses to promote responsible beverage service training and learning how to identify at-risk patients who use alcohol and drugs. The site has a 3-minute video that features Lori Novello, executive director of Lindy Cares, students and local officials, using the Babylon train station to incorporate the theme of getting on board to help others.
"We hope to create an expedited pathway to behavioral and treatment services to take a more therapeutic and less punitive approach to infractions [with regards] to school policies," Novello said, while "maximizing the use of local [town] resources like the Beacon Family Wellness Center" in North Babylon for all.
The project is part of a $1.5 million Partnership for Success grant, awarded to Lindy Cares, from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The initiative will be funded at $300,000 a year until August 2025, and afterward officials hope to find a sustainable partnership within the town.
During the virtual launch, Daniel Giordano, superintendent of Lindenhurst Public Schools, recalled in 2017 that Lindy Cares led the district to get space at the high school to house a wellness center satellite office. There the town provided a counselor from its drug and alcohol department to support students in need.
"For the youth of Lindenhurst and now for the youth represented by the Town of Babylon, the Community Cares coalitions make the point highlighting the need to work together and passionately dedicate themselves to the idea of collaboration and strengthening the bonds," Giordano said.
Kisha Carter, vice president of the Concerned Citizens of the Wyandanch Civic Association, said she joined the project because she wants to bring preventive drug and mental health programs to the hamlet. In turn, Carter said the association could provide a variety of connections, including faith-based resources, to help the community at large.
Steve Chassman, executive director of the Long Island Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence, which operates a 24-hour drug and alcohol hotline, said a project such as Babylon Cares that uses coping strategies is important to have in all communities.
"All communities deserve to have prevention models that not only prevent drugs, right, but also give people healthy coping strategies so they can make healthier choices, which is really the mission of Babylon Cares," he said.
The Town of Babylon Care Project is looking for volunteers who want to help reduce youth drug and alcohol use. If you’re interested visit babyloncares.org