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Published: Wednesday, 11/12/2008

Sylvania antidrug group in jeopardy with loss of U.S. grant


A Sylvania organization devoted to preventing youth drug and alcohol use is attempting to recover some of its financial footing after the loss of an important grant.

The Sylvania Community Action Team, or SCAT, is hosting its third annual "SCATACULAR" fund-raiser, an informational breakfast, at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Sylvania Senior Center, 7140 Sylvania Ave.

The event comes shortly after the organization lost 62.5 percent of its funding when it did not win renewal for a $100,000 federal Drug Free Communities Grant this year. The community action team has benefitted from the $100,000 grant every year since 2003. Its total budget last year was $160,000.

Executive Director Deb Chany said the organization has cut the hours of all its employees and has eliminated money-losing programs, such as Bubba Ray's Auto-Rama, a social event designed to encourage safe driving decisions. "It was a good event. Kids loved it," Ms. Chany said. "We just couldn't afford it without the money."

The group's efforts are aimed at increasing awareness of the risks associated with underage drinking and drug use.

Since it began in 1985, SCAT has helped organize an annual Red Ribbon Week event at Sylvania schools to promote drug-free lifestyles. But its contribution to the event was scaled back considerably this year, Ms. Chany said.

But funding issues are taking their toll. The organization has made its fiscal officer a volunteer position, reduced the hours of its youth coordinator by half and reduced Ms. Chany's hours from 40 to 32 weekly.

Southview junior Mallory Gebers, 16, said between 16 and 20 youth volunteers take part in the organization. Miss Gebers said she was disappointed that the car safety event was canceled after volunteers spent time planning.

"We're working to make a difference and we're not going to stop just because we don't have enough money," she said..

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