September 28, 2017

The 2017 ECS Coalition Retreat brought together over 40 participants from coalitions and communities large and small. We began and ended with the idea that our retreat time is a set-apart renewal experience so that leaders can return to work supported through new connections and energized with new resources.

Deacon Dzierzawski, President of Epiphany Community Services, shared his message, From Awesome to Amazing. He challenged us to put our state of mind into practice to achieve our outcomes.

[testimonial author=”Anonymous Review”]“I ALWAYS enjoy this retreat. It is such a great opportunity to meet with other ECS clients and share successes and challenges. It feels like a family gathering!”


Unique Stories from the Field: A Conversation featured Sara McGregor-Okroi, Aliive Roberts County and Aerielle Waters, Delaware County Heroin Task Force. From rural South Dakota (over an hour to get to the nearest Wal-mart!) to densely populated Delaware County, PA, our coalition leaders face interesting challenges based on their local conditions, coalition structure, and cultural norms. 
Erin Hachtel, Epiphany Community Services’ new director of Outreach and Education, led several hands-on sessions, including Qualitative Data Collection using World Café.  Participants discussed three questions related to coalition sustainability, interacting with peers, and learning to engage with community conversations in a locally-defined and meaningful way.

In our Mobile Take Back Panel, Ivy Schmalzried from the Arlington Youth Health and Safety Coalition and Felicia Scocozza & Kelly Miloski from Riverhead CAP Community Coalition for Safe and Drug Free Youth shared their innovative strategies and best practices for engaging law enforcement and community partners in creating community based opportunities for prescription drug take back events.

During Incorporating Vaping and ENDS in School and Local Policies, Hope Burch & Jenni Irwin of Coalition for a Safe and Drug Free Cherokee County talked about including e-cigarette use in school and local tobacco use policy. They highlighted the challenges of addressing tobacco and vaping use in a state where tobacco has been a major driver of the economy for many years; they have also had some remarkable successes in implementing signage and changing behaviors on school campuses in their area.

Aisha Alayande, Drug Free Highlands closed our first day of training with her session on A Pop of Culture in Prevention. This presentation encouraged participants to examine how we use our media through our own cultural lenses, and then to use those perspectives in creative ways to engage with our community. For example, Aisha leveraged the popular hashtag #mcm (Man Crush Monday) on her coalition’s posts about prescription drugs: #mcm = #MedicineCabinetMonday. By including a common pop culture term in her social media posts, she reached a new audience with a message about safe storage of medication.

Amy Macechko from Coalition for a Healthy Community – Oxford Area and Sarah White from Campbell County Drug Free Alliance presented their experiences developing and implementing holistic school-based health curriculum in their session on Comprehensive School Curriculum Interventions. Alignment and buy-in are both critical aspects of their coalitions’ work in fitting these important pieces into teachers’ schedules. 
[testimonial author=”Anonymous Review”]“It was refreshing to be in a relaxed environment with coalition members and professionals speaking honestly about experiencing many of the same things our coalition has encountered. It was good to hear the victories, the setbacks, and how they keep pressing on to make community level change. It was a great training opportunity and retreat!”[/testimonial]

Wondering how to use a logic model in efforts beyond prevention?  SPF Beyond Substance Abuse, presented by Becky Squiers from Be Well Buffalo County/Buffalo County Community Partners discussed applying the same process many of our prevention coalitions use to determine and prioritize local conditions in health and wellness efforts. Her coalition’s work is an excellent example of a collective impact model for addressing a broad range of health-related issues.

Recruiting, motivating, and retaining the right people for community change is a key concern in any coalition. Deacon challenged participants with a practical session on Coalition Engagement, showing tools like a skills inventory, and discussing how leaders can best position themselves to ensure that everyone who needs to be at the table has a place that allows them to leverage their talents and resources to make a lasting difference.

Thank you to our presenters and participants; 2017 was a great experience! 

We hope to see many of you next year, so save the date for the 2018 retreat in New Orleans!