SOMERVILLE, NJ – Empower Somerset, dedicated to helping individuals and families make positive lifestyle choices and foster healthy drug-free communities through education, collaboration and linkages to resources, has been awarded a $125,000 grant.

Sponsored by the Drug-Free Communities Support Program and the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy Congressman, the grant is designed to assist communities to address the problem of opioid and heroin abuse, provide education and implement prevention measures, according to Rep. Leonard Lance, R-7th.

Community in Crisis, Inc. and Hunterdon Prevention Resource were also recipients of $125,000 grants.

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“Too often we are hearing about another life cut short from the scourge of drug addiction.  This is not just a New Jersey problem, but an epidemic facing the entire country,” Lance said.  “We need to be working together and empowering the groups and organizations that are succeeding in turning the tide against drug abuse,” he added. “These investments are not only the right thing to do, but help lessen the significant strain on law enforcement resources.  I commend each group on its important work.” 

Empower Somerset, located at 34 W. Main St. in Somerville, works with a broad range of the community through its programs, from preschool to retirement. Programs are customized to fit the needs of each population and community, with sensitivity to special needs groups such as those with disabilities or in recovery.

The professional staff delivers high-quality educational programs in various settings throughout the community and also provides technical assistance to educators, therapists, faith-based leaders, and other community partners to help these groups enhance their own prevention education efforts.

The resource center is open to the public, providing free access to hundreds of pamphlets, books, DVDs and more on alcohol tobacco and other drugs as well as a wide range of related social and mental health issues.

The Drug-Free Communities Support Program, created by the Drug-Free Communities Act of 1997, is the Nation’s leading effort to mobilize communities to prevent youth substance use.  Directed by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy in partnership with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the DFC Program provides grants to community coalitions to strengthen the infrastructure among local partners to create and sustain a reduction in local youth substance use.

“We’re losing more than 60,000 people per year to a drug overdose, but if we can stop young people from starting to use drugs in the first place, we can save lives,” said Richard Baum, Acting Director of National Drug Control Policy. “Our local DFC coalitions are a key part of this effort because they are bringing together parents groups, schools, healthcare professionals, law enforcement, businesses, and others to prevent drug use and improve the health of the community.”

Lance served on the conference committee charged with assembling the federal legislation to combat the nation’s opioid epidemic. That measure was signed into law last year.  Lance also worked with Hunterdon County Prosecutor Anthony P. Kearns, III, on legislation that improves the medical drug approval and label process for prescription drugs, a major contributing factor to drug abuse.

Empower Somerset can be reached at (908) 722-4900.