CASA Seeks to Continue Programs in Town

Community Action for Safe Alternatives (CASA) has been in existence since 1997 and needs to restructure itself to be able to continue to provide the residents of Winthrop with a primary prevention coalition.

“We thought it is important to give the community an update on CASA,” said LeighAnn Eruzione, LICSW, director of diversion, community liaison at CASA.

In March, CASA announced that it was looking for community support and help with fundraising in order to still be able to offer services to the community.

“Since this campaign has kick-started we’ve raised $30,000,” Eruzione said. “We’re happy with the success that we’ve had so far. We still have a ways to go.”

CASA is in the final year of a federal drug and alcohol prevention grant of $125,000 a year that has been the main source of funding for the last 10 years.

CASA is currently looking for future grants but realize those wouldn’t be available for another year, because of the process.

CASA will need to restructure its operations in order to sustain the organization, including the director’s position. Amy Epstein, director, will be pursuing other opportunities outside of her current role at the end of the summer.

“I basically wrote myself out of the grant,” Epstein said. “In order to sustain CASA it can’t sustain a full-time director now. Part of the restructuring is no more full-time director. It’s just not in the budget.”

“Amy’s role and CASA’s programming may be shifting, the Board is committed to continuing the work of our coalition,” said Board President Mary Lou Osborne.

“We will continue to implement youth programing. Our Youth Advisory Board is very active and the diversion program will continue,” Epstein said. “Direct service for youth is happening but scaling back.”

Anyone wishing to make a donation to CASA can mail it to 45 Pauline St., second floor, in Winthrop.

“When we look at the data we are seeing decreased rates of substance use in youth,” Eruzione said. “And we’re seeing higher rates of kids connected to their community.”

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