ABN Member Spotlight: ASAP of Anderson County

In 2008, the Anderson County Health Council voted unanimously to establish a substance abuse prevention coalition. In 2010, the program was funded by the Drug-Free Communities Support Program. Now, in 2017, Allies for Substance Abuse Prevention of Anderson County (ASAP) is making a big difference in our communities.

Stephanie Strutner, ASAP’s executive director, says that one of the biggest misconceptions people have when they hear of the organization is the belief that they only work with kids in school. Although that is part of the story, ASAP strives to approach substance abuse from a community infrastructure perspective. ASAP serves as the “community convener,” making sure to articulate to all community members how substance abuse affects them individually. ASAP also brings key players together to create community-wide prevention plans.

The only way to truly grasp the impact ASAP is having in our communities is to hear their stories. In 2015, ASAP identified underage drinking as a priority, alongside the Anderson County Beer Board, when it came to their attention that there were untrained vendors selling alcohol. The coalition then assembled an Underage Drinking Task Force. During a community assessment, it was noted that there is no training requirement for servers. In response, the Underage Drinking Task Force worked to pass a local ordinance requiring training, and went on to offer classes and resources to make age verification easier on vendors. They also collaborated with law enforcement to ensure the consistency of fines and compliance checks. Through this initiative, they increased alcohol outlet compliance with underage drinking laws by 36% and decreased underage drinking by 43%, according to student surveys. In 2015, ASAP was awarded the Coalition of the Year Award by Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America for these efforts.

We can expect big things to come of ASAP in the future. When organization leaders found themselves $33,000 short of a future program budget, they camped at the courthouse in an effort called “Camping for the Community” until they raised the remaining funds. They met their goal in just 97 hours. Stephanie Strutner challenges others with the question, “What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?” Stephanie says that is exactly what they did last week by taking a strong stance about something they believe in and making it happen despite the doubts of others. And that is what they will continue to do.

For more information on Allies for Substance Abuse Prevention of Anderson County, visit their website at www.asapofanderson.org.