McNeill presents check to Communities That Care group
State Rep. Jeanne McNeill, D-133rd, presented Whitehall-Coplay Communities That Care (CTC) with a check for $1,335 at the April 20 meeting, held at Faith Evangelical Lutheran Church. CTC is this year’s recipient of the fundraising from McNeill’s annual St. Patrick’s Day party, started by her husband, the late Daniel McNeill. Every year, the proceeds from the Chinese auction and 50/50 raffle go toward a worthy cause or prevention program. McNeill believes strongly in the work that CTC does year-round and wanted to show her support.
“Keep doing what you’re doing,” McNeill said during the check presentation.
Denise Continenza, CTC coordinator, reported the money will go toward continuing the Botvin LifeSkills Training (LST) for sixth- and seventh-grade students for the next school year. The LST program is an in-school substance abuse prevention program that targets various social and psychological stressors. Students are actively engaged in an effort to build confidence skills and a strong knowledge base on how to react in challenging situations.
Continenza informed the group that Catasauqua Borough is looking to start its own CTC group and is looking at Whitehall’s program as the model. Members of the Whitehall-Coplay CTC are working with Catasauqua to help make it a possibility.
Shari Noctor, chair of Whitehall-Coplay Hunger Initiative, reported that the Snack Pack Pals program is also being used as a model for other school districts. According to Noctor, Parkland and Northwestern Lehigh school districts have already implemented similar programs, using Whitehall as the example. Catasauqua Area School District is also interested in starting its own program.
Noctor was thrilled to inform the group that progress has been made in finding a potential location in Coplay for the community meals. She has been working to expand that program to reach a wider group of people and children who may need the extra help. According to Noctor, there are currently 18 faith-based organizations that assist with the community meals program.
One of the benefits of the Hunger Initiative’s summer breakfast camp is the children who attend are treated to special educational activities and reading time. Continenza reported CTC will do some exploration into how these extra efforts help battle the “summer slide.” The group wants to look into the reading proficiency of the students who attend the program to see if these efforts truly make a difference in the upkeep of the students’ abilities over the summer months.
As prom and graduation approach, CTC members are stepping up their efforts to educate parents on the dangers of social hosting. There is a presentation scheduled for May 3 in the Whitehall High School auditorium to share information with parents about the dangers of underage drinking, not just to the children, but to themselves as well. There is a lot to lose on both sides. The presentation starts 7 p.m. and will be videotaped and posted to the high school’s website for those parents who cannot attend the event.
Continenza distributed a handout listing all of the preventive programs the school district takes part in to spread awareness and to educate the students. There are approximately 16 programs available. Christopher Schiffert, Whitehall-Coplay School District assistant superintendent, spoke in support of the resources and how important it is to reach the students in different ways.
“It’s prevention and intervention that makes the difference,” Schiffert said.
CTC next meets 8:30-10 a.m. May 18 at Faith Evangelical Lutheran Church, 3355 MacArthur Road, Whitehall.