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Recent Blue Ribbon Foundation Grants Address Alcohol Awareness

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April 1, 2010

More Than 3,200 Area Residents Receive Prevention Services

April is Alcohol Awareness Month 

April 1, 2010 Wilkes-Barre, PA — The abuse of alcohol can have far-reaching consequences that affect work life, home life, student life, and safety on the roads.  But alcohol use and abuse is also a health issue that takes a serious toll on one’s body.  That’s why The Blue Ribbon Foundation of Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania (BCNEPA) partners with local agencies in support of alcohol prevention education efforts.

“Understanding how alcohol affects your health is very important,” says Dr. Leo M. Hartz, chief medical officer for BCNEPA.  “Our Blue Ribbon Foundation regularly makes grants to local non-profit agencies that provide community education to all ages about the health risks of alcohol use and abuse and underage alcohol use.  Heart disease, diabetes and obesity are costly diseases to treat, but they are preventable.  Alcohol is a risk factor in all of those diseases, so limiting alcohol can limit your risk.”

April marks the 23rd annual Alcohol Awareness Month, which is sponsored by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc.

Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania is marking Alcohol Awareness Month by recognizing area nonprofits that are using funds from The Blue Ribbon Foundation to help more than 3,200 residents choose healthy behaviors.  The Foundation awarded grants totaling $172,715 to nine agencies in 2009 to support their prevention efforts.

These agencies include:

The Boys and Girls Clubs of Northeastern Pennsylvania, which is partnering with Lackawanna and Luzerne County authorities to offer substance abuse prevention and life skills training to 130 youngsters. With Foundation funding, the children, ages 6 through 13, are participating in the “Get Real About Violence” training program.

The Circle of Care at Community Medical Center, which brings together Maternal and Family Health Services (MFHS) and other community health partners to promote healthy birth outcomes for un/underinsured pregnant women and new moms. The Foundation’s funding is being used to provide intensive prenatal case management services, including alcohol and substance abuse intervention, to an estimated 300 high-risk patients.

Diakon Lutheran Social Ministries, which works with elementary and middle schools in Lycoming County to offer Girls on the Run (GOTR) Life Skills Training. With Foundation funding, 224 young females in the 3rd through 8th grades are participating in GOTR, which encourages pre-teen girls to develop self-respect and healthy lifestyles by eliminating high-risk behaviors such as alcohol and substance use.

Partners in Family and Community Development, which administers the Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) Program in Bradford and Sullivan Counties.  NFP provides health education, life skills training, developmental screenings and other services to low-income expectant mothers and new moms and their babies. The Bradford County NFP is at capacity and has a waiting list for services. Through The Foundation’s funding, 20 new families will be served this year.

Ruth’s Place, a shelter for homeless women in Wilkes-Barre, which is starting a behavioral health screening program to increase early detection and intervention services for its clients. The Foundation’s funding will provide on-site psychiatric screenings to no less than 88 women at the shelter, and follow-up support services as needed.

Serento Gardens, which is using Foundation funds to offer free medication safety workshops to seniors and their caregivers in the Greater Hazleton area. Topics at these MED-ED workshops include safe and appropriate medication practices, how to recognize and manage common side effects, and how to identify the signs of alcohol abuse, which are often hidden in seniors. At least 150 seniors will be reached by this program.

TREHAB, Inc., which has launched a community workshop series addressing substance abuse and its connection to health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and lung disease. With Foundation support, 400 at-risk individuals and 250 health care professionals throughout Susquehanna County will participate.

United Neighborhood Centers, Inc., which is using Foundation funds to expand its ropes course into a comprehensive healthy lifestyles program for 45 at-risk youth, ages 13 to 18, in Lackawanna County. The program uses structured physical activity, nutrition education and exercises in problem-solving to help these teens develop and maintain healthy behaviors.

Finally, Wyoming Valley Alcohol and Drug Services, Inc., which is partnering with middle schools in 12 school districts across two counties to provide substance abuse prevention education to 55 teachers and 1,800 students in the 5th through 8th grades.

“Alcohol abuse is a serious health issue in northeastern and north central Pennsylvania,” says Cynthia A. Yevich, executive director of The Blue Ribbon Foundation.  “These grants will help our community health partners reach more than 3,200 people in our service area with the tools they need to reduce the health risks associated with alcohol.  By addressing preventable diseases early, we not only improve people’s health and quality of life, but we can also lower healthcare costs, which benefits everyone.”

Find out More

The Blue Ribbon Foundation’s funding cycles run quarterly. For more information on funding priorities, application deadlines and eligibility criteria, please visit www.bcnepa.com, and click on The Blue Ribbon Foundation tab.

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About Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania

Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association headquartered in Wilkes-Barre.  It offers a comprehensive portfolio of health insurance products and administrative services to approximately 600,000 individuals in 13 counties in northeastern and north central Pennsylvania. The company’s mission is to provide innovative solutions that support more affordable health care, promote personal accountability for health and wellness, and offer superior service and partnership to employers, members, and providers.

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Phone: 570-200-6310

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