Effingham Resident Wins $10,000 for Illinois Drug Prevention Volunteer Work

IADDA CEO Sara Moscato Howe

(Chicago) – Effingham resident Rob Grupe was awarded $10,000 in Chicago last Friday for his long-time volunteer work on substance abuse prevention.

Grupe received the honor from the Lillian and Larry Goodman Award for Excellence in Drug Abuse Prevention program during a symposium at Roosevelt University. The $10,000 is a gift from the Goodman Foundations.

The event was attended by Governor Pat Quinn.

Grupe, who has worked at Heartland Human Services as a prevention coordinator and a mental health counselor, volunteers with the Cebrin Goodman Teen Institute and Operation Snowball, serving as a chapter leader, for 17 years.

“Rob has dedicated his entire career to preventing young people from using alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs,” said Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association CEO Sara Moscato Howe. “He has been serving young people for 17 years, and he deserves this recognition for his commitment and dedication.”

“Being a positive role model is one of the core values of the Cebrin Goodman Teen Institute,” said the program director Sarah Potter. “Rob is nothing short of just that. The time, energy, and effort that he gives is a perfect illustration of his selfless and giving personality.”

The private, volunteer substance abuse prevention sector is shouldering a greater burden as Illinois state government drug prevention funding has been decreased in recent years.

In fact, last year Governor Quinn proposed eliminating the entire $2.7 million state substance abuse prevention budget, but the Illinois General Assembly restored $1 million. The number of Illinois teens served by drug prevention services this year will shrink from 223,556 in fiscal year 2012 to 200,152 in fiscal year 2013, according to Howe.

“As a result of Governor Quinn’s cuts, more than 23,000 fewer Illinois teens will have access to drug prevention services and fall into the grip of drug abuse,” said Howe. “That’s just the reality.”

The founder of the Lillian and Larry Goodman Foundations, Larry Goodman, said, “Our State should be a model for keeping children healthy by funding drug prevention programs. It’s an investment in the safety and lives of our children.”

Howe noted that only five years ago Illinois spent over $7 million on youth substance abuse prevention, and state’s shrinking role is fueling a youth drug abuse epidemic.

“Illinois is in full retreat as far as Illinois teen drug prevention is concerned, and that retreat has unleashed a youth heroin epidemic in the suburbs and a crystal meth wildfire in downstate Illinois,” said Howe. “That’s the painful truth.”

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