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Morgan County anti-drug project director left her mark

July 10, 2008|By TRISH RUDDER

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. - Jackie Fischer, who heads up the Morgan County Partnership as the project director, sees a shift in the approach to solving drug problems in the community.

By working in a collaborative effort, the community is more involved.

"We have sown the seeds in the adults," she said.

The Morgan County Partnership Prevention Team was formed in 2006 to develop positive programs to "engage the whole community to create a healthy community" and to learn what contributes to drug abuse, Fischer said.

Fischer, of Berkeley Springs, has been a member of the Oasis Team, which is the "prevention arm" of the partnership.

Fischer's last day of work is Friday. Susan Caperton, a Morgan County Partnership mentoring task force member, was named Oasis supervisor and began her new job on July 7, Fischer said.

Fischer recently accepted a position to head up a similar program in Woodstock, Vt., as the executive director of the Ottauquechee Community Partnership. The program is focused on wellness, Fischer said.

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Fischer's time with the Oasis Team has seen goals established to raise awareness and educate all members of the community, and to increase mentoring through positive relationships with youth, she said.

Drug prevention programs are available to educate youth and families; bullying is being addressed through programs like Rachel's Challenge, which promotes positive relationships through chain reaction teams, and more initiatives are being developed, Fischer said.

A mentoring task force has been established, she said, that is addressing the lack of space in the schools for mentors and students to meet. "Superintendent David Banks is seeking a positive relationship for every child in school," Fischer said.

A long-term goal for the task force is to provide ongoing training for all adults who work with youth from faith-based organizations to 4-H, Fischer said.

"A community can work at its best when it works together by building a network of support," Fischer said.

The partnership is made up of community organizations and the county commission, schools, law enforcement, health sectors, and parks and recreation, and it is growing, she said.

"She is relentless in her quest to involve the entire community in raising our children the best way possible," said Banks, Morgan County's superintendent of schools.

For more than 20 years, Fischer has been an active member of the community.

As the director for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers for Morgan County Schools, in 1999 she helped write grants for after-school and summer programs, she said.

Through 21st Century youth development training with the National Center for Community Education, she learned more about the benefits of partnership building within communities.

Since this was a community issue, Fischer took the suggestion of former schools' superintendent David Temple to take the idea of building a community partnership to the county commissioners for sponsorship, she said, which they did.

The partnership is funded from the Strategic Prevention Framework State Incentive Grants (SPF SIG) that is awarded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The grant is administered by the Morgan County Commission.

She said she looks to help bridge the gap between schools and the community.

"I am passionate about helping kids feel connected to find their spark to feel they have a future and have something to contribute, and that's my mission," Fischer said.

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