Nonprofits – Peck leads Glove City Coalition aimed at reducing youth substance use

Glove City Coalition Director Bonnie Peck takes time for a photo in downtown Gloversville
PHOTOGRAPHER:
Glove City Coalition Director Bonnie Peck takes time for a photo in downtown Gloversville

Serving the community has been a big part of Bonnie Peck’s career.

Her latest involvement comes as director/project coordinator for Glove City Coalition, a group that was established in 2018.

“They had a position opening for the director/project coordinator. The job description was forwarded to me as I was finishing up a grant-funded position at Catholic Charities of Fulton and Montgomery Counties,” Peck said. “Prior to that, I was not aware the coalition existed. I was excited to be hired for this position in April of this year.”

Despite her unfamiliarity with the organization, Peck has jumped into the role and has spent the past several months both learning about the group and looking to increase its visibility. “Our goal is to increase engagement and try to make the coalition more visible,” Peck said. “The more people that know about us, the better.”

According to the Glove City Coalition website, its mission is “promoting healthy futures through collaboration and education. Glove City Coalition strives to reduce youth substance use by engaging and supporting the community through education and collaboration to promote and sustain healthy lifestyles.”

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“We really look at ways to get kids to stay away from alcohol and tobacco use,” Peck said. “If there are things we can do as a community to do that, that’s what we’re focused on doing.”

Prior to taking the job with the coalition, Peck spent 30 years with Cornell Cooperative Extension 4-H.

After her time with Cornell Cooperative Extension ended, Peck worked with Advancing Tobacco Free Communities: Delaware, Otsego & Schoharie Counties as a Reality Check coordinator; and as a PAX coordinator for Catholic Charities of Fulton and Montgomery Counties.

Peck holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from SUNY Cortland and a master’s in liberal studies from Empire State College. She resides in Gloversville with her husband, Dayne. Peck has three daughters who have all graduated from Gloversville High School.

“I have a long career path as a youth development educator. I have a passion for youth and developing their leadership skills, and promoting youth community service. I have seen what young people can do to help improve the world we live in,” Peck said. “The Glove City Coalition has a mission of reducing youth substance use [alcohol, tobacco, e-cigarettes, marijuana, etc.] by engaging and supporting the community through education and collaboration. It is so important to involve young people in this effort to reach their peers and reduce the risks associated with substance use, as well as support healthy lifestyles. Our community depends on a healthy citizenry.

Having community decision-makers, organizations and caring citizens working together with youth to advance healthier norms is one way to reach our goals.”

In its efforts to achieve its goals, Glove City Coalition has looked to include representation from all areas of the community.

Among the sectors the coalition looks to engage are:

- State/local government
- Business
- Civic/volunteer organizations
- Health care professionals
- Law enforcement
- Parents
- Media
- Religious/fraternal organizations
- Schools
- Youth
- Youth-serving organizations
- Substance-abuse organizations

“By having all of the 12 sectors represented, it covers all aspects of the community,” Peck said.

In just its fourth year, the coalition has been active in its efforts to rally the community to reduce substance abuse among young people.

“We are just finishing the second year of a five-year Drug Free Communities Grant from the CDC. We have been working on building our coalition’s capacity through engaging partners, recruiting active members and determining what readiness the community has for change,” Peck said. “A lot of the cultural norms in our community tend to support kids drinking and using other substances at a young age. We need to figure out how to change that pervasive mindset. In addition, those who can make a difference have to begin to work together toward a common goal.”

This summer, the coalition and the Gloversville Police Department unveiled a Neighborhood Engagement Unit.

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“The Gloversville Police Department is extremely engaged in the work of the coalition and the events that have taken place in each ward the past few months have been a great product of that. Chief [Anthony] Clay has been a great partner of ours,” Peck said. “Residents are learning about the vast resources available to them to help them with whatever needs they have. As you may know, we have had a growing problem with drug overdose deaths that are related to opioids, heroin and fentanyl. At the NEU events, coalition member organizations have been able to provide a significant amount of training on the use of Narcan, which has helped save several lives already.”

Other organizations that are a part of the coalition are involved in prevention education through the school system.

“Now that we are moving into the third year of the grant, we are determining our goals in regard to youth substance use and setting forth projects to educate parents about their role in reducing substance use,” Peck said. “Some of the effort is through media campaigns and some will be through other ways of connecting with them, such as through the schools.”

The coalition also carried out a retail compliance campaign with the Gloversville Police Department in an effort to encourage alcohol, tobacco and CBD retailers to prevent sales to underage youth.

“In preparation for that this summer, we visited all 20 city retail establishments that sell age-restricted products, and educated them on the law and ways to prevent youth access. Unfortunately we still had three out of the 15 who had compliance checks carried out that did not comply. So the coalition will continue to work with retailers to reduce sales to underage customers,” Peck said. “Over the next three years, we will continue to work collectively to develop and implement interventions that can lead to further reduction in substance use. Finally, one critical part of the coalition that is still being developed is the Glove City Youth Coalition. We are working to involve young people from sixth through 12th grade in developing strategies, educating their peers and decision-makers, to bring about change.”

Peck said she’s always looking for more involvement from anyone who is interested.

“If we can get more young people engaged in what we’re doing, we can do more in the community,” Peck said. “We also need parents who care a lot about kids’ access to substances to join us. That’s a target for us. If they’re engaged, it’s worth more than any amount of ads we could have.”

The Glove City Coalition meets on the third Thursday of each month at 10 a.m.

“Currently, we are meeting in a hybrid format. Some in-person at Gloversville High School and others joining us via Zoom,” Peck said.

“The meetings are open to anyone who is interested in being involved. There are some smaller work groups that meet at other times as well. The best way to engage with us would be to reach out to myself either through our website (www.GloveCityCoalition.org), Facebook page or by phone at 518-762-8215, or email at [email protected]

Glove City Coalition
Year founded: 2018
Mission: Promoting healthy futures through collaboration and education. Glove City
Coalition strives to reduce youth substance use by engaging and supporting the
community through education and
collaboration to promote and sustain
healthy lifestyles.
Area served: Gloversville
Note from Director Bonnie Peck:
“If we can get more young people engaged in what we’re doing we can do more in the community,” Peck said. “We also need parents who care a lot about kids’ access to substances to join us. That’s a target for us. If they’re engaged, it’s worth more than any amount of ads we could have.”

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Categories: Life and Arts, Nonprofits 2021

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