Activists go door-to-door to spread the word against drugs Program stresses information ANNAPOLIS/SOUTH COUNTY--Davidsonville * Edgewater * Shady Side * Deale

January 07, 1993|By Deidre Nerreau McCabe | Deidre Nerreau McCabe,Staff Writer

Deneice F. Fisher and Charles G. James approach their door-to-door mission as enthusiastically as a Girl Scout setting out to sell cookies or an Avon Lady preparing to peddle cosmetics.

But the duo, community activists in Annapolis, isn't selling lipstick or Thin Mints. It's pushing a message: Get educated, get involved and help save your neighborhood from substance abuse.

For the past three days, walking some of the city's poorest neighborhoods, Ms. Fisher and Mr. James -- along with a dozen other volunteers -- have pounded on doors, distributing literature and asking people to consider volunteering in a community action group.

Their effort, coordinated by the Annapolis Community Partnership, is the first such community outreach by this umbrella organization, which represents more than 50 city and county agencies, businesses and organizations. And based on the favorable response, Ms. Fisher said, it will not be the last time.

"We plan to do this at least quarterly from now on," she said. "The purpose of this outreach is to spread information. Not everyone is going to look at it, but maybe if they know of a neighbor or relative who could use it, they'll pass it along. The main goal is education, and through that, prevention."

On Wednesday morning, the last day of a three-day effort, Ms. Fisher and Mr. James stuffed bags filled with anti-drug literature into a big box and headed off to College Creek Terrace, a public housing project near downtown Annapolis.

The two Annapolis residents said they targeted familiar neighborhoods -- Mr. James grew up on nearby Clay Street -- hoping residents would be open to their message.

"Hi, hon," Ms. Fisher greeted an elderly woman she knew. "Maybe you can just share this with some one who can use it."

"Hey, my friend," called Mr. Fisher to an acquaintance. "I have something here for you to look at."

Ms. Fisher and Mr. James are active with the Planning Action Committees of Anne Arundel County Inc, a substance abuse prevention organization and member of the Annapolis Community Partnership. Both PAC and the Alliance for a Drug-Free Annapolis, also a member, were instrumental in organizing the literature drop, which reached 1,000 homes throughout Annapolis' eight wards.

"I took areas that I knew," said Mr. James. "In this day and age, most people don't want to open their doors and let you into the house. They're afraid. I take it slow . . . you've got to kind of feel people out."

But in College Creek Terrace -- an area residents say is plagued by an open-air drug market -- most people welcomed Ms. Fisher and Mr. James in. They applauded their efforts, even though some wondered whether they would have any impact.

"I don't think it's going to change," said Kim Blair, who has two young sons. "It's not even safe to let the kids play outside. And it's getting worse."

Ms. Fisher acknowledged that most of the people they were handing literature to were not users. Still, she thought the door-to-door campaign would have an impact.

"Maybe we just need to hit people with information," she said. "People who are addicted to drugs all come from families. Those in treatment will tell you about the support system that helped get them there.

"You can't help anyone if you're not knowledgeable. You can't tell them try this or try that. Maybe this will get the information out there to someone who needs it."

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