$25,000 grant to aid drug addicts

Counseling to start in HotSpot area along Pioneer Drive

April 25, 2000|By TaNoah Morgan | TaNoah Morgan,SUN STAFF

Neighborhoods along Pioneer Drive will get the substance abuse counseling residents hope will make a difference in their community through a state grant to be awarded to the county Health Department.

The Maryland HotSpots Program is expected to announce the $25,000 grant within a week, officials said. It will provide a part-time counselor to the Severn community to help offenders on parole and probation and poor residents with drug and alcohol abuse problems.

The money is in addition to the $79,212 received this year for increased police patrols and crime prevention programs in the neighborhood through the same program.

Residents pushed for the additional money to help offenders with drug problems stop the cycle of crime and substance abuse.

"When people keep going through the system, they get arrested, they get back out and there's no program for them in the community," said Yvonne Johnson, a longtime community activist.

"This would help if there's a support system," she said. "It's not going to solve all our problems, but it would change the condition of that revolving circle. When word gets out about how well the program is operating, maybe people who are not in the system will come and say, `I need help too,' and they will not be turned away."

Pioneer Drive was named a HotSpot in 1997 when the program to concentrate state and local resources in crime-ridden areas began. Over the past three years, residents have used the state grant to focus on crime in the neighborhood.

Drug counseling has been a need, but it became more of a concern when a parole officer who'd been working in the community with the HotSpots program noted that many of the clients who needed counseling weren't getting it because of a lack of public transportation in the area. Although counseling may be available in Glen Burnie or Annapolis, many of the residents along Pioneer Drive don't have cars.

"We need something right here where people can walk to, where they don't have to get money for a taxi or ride a bus," Johnson said.

Organizers said they hope the counseling will have an effect.

"The majority of my caseload could benefit from substance abuse counseling," said Linda Anderson, the primary parole officer for adults in the neighborhood. "It's very needed. A lot of issues there are a result of drug-related problems."

Although the counseling will focus on offenders, it will be available to anyone in the community without insurance who may need it, a Health Department official said.

The counseling is similar to the part-time services offered through the Health Department in Brooklyn Heights, another county HotSpot, said Marty Burns, spokeswoman for the Governor's Office of Crime Control and Prevention, which administers the HotSpots program.

The counseling will be in addition to the drug prevention program for middle school pupils offered by the Health Department through HotSpots.

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