At the Western New York Chemical Dependency Consortium’s 28th Annual Holiday Award Luncheon on November 17, Jane Foster of Literacy West received a 2017 “Gold Key Individual Award” for her outstanding contributions to the cause of substance abuse prevention.
Jane Foster has been employed by Literacy West/C.O.R.E. as the Home to School Coordinator at Belfast Central School since January, 2012. In the school setting, Jane provides character education for Pre-K-6 in a variety of classrooms, is part of the New York State Mentoring Program for grades 4-8, and provides classroom assistance in the 7th grade health class for “Building Blocks of Emotional Health.” She is also involved in Rachel’s Club for bullying prevention in 3rd grade and up, high school writing labs for social and emotional health checks, and the backpack program that supplies food to students over the weekend.
In March of every year, during the school’s Open House, Jane organizes an interactive community health and resource fair for Belfast families. As prom approaches, Jane involves the students in the “Promises” campaign, launched under her direction a few years ago. In collaboration with the Drug-Free Communities Coalition PPAC (Partners for Prevention in Allegany County), the “Cherished, Not Lost, Treasured, Not Tossed” slogan evolved into a media campaign with T-shirts, wristbands, posters, and table tents to bolster public awareness. For the last few years, a substance-free post-prom party has been held, consisting of positive alternatives and breakfast foods and snacks prepared by Allegany County Sheriff Whitney and PPAC Coordinator Jon Chaffee.
During home visits, Jane shares local resources with the families and makes appropriate referrals. She assisted in establishing the Belfast P.T.O. (Parent Teacher Organization), which currently donates a minimum of $5,000.00 yearly to students, families, and community causes.
In October, Jane usually attends the local SADD conference and brings students to Allegany Council’s Bob Weigand Memorial Move-a-Thon. Last year, for Homecoming, Jane’s brainstorm was for elementary, middle, and high school levels to each decorate a particular section of the school with a substance abuse prevention message, with prizes available for the winner. She invited ACASA to judge the messages and the prizes were awarded at the assembly. School spirit and healthy competition were fostered, and Jane was able to motivate staff to encourage student participation. This same month, Jane was the contact for ACASA staff to present current trends to school staff, which was positively received.
Each November, Jane participates in a two-day Natural Helpers retreat with 6th grade students who are selected by their peers. Throughout the year, with assistance from ACASA staff, Jane conducts follow-up sessions with those students. The following May, students attend the PPAC meeting with her, and the students perform healthy lifestyle/prevention skits that they have created, which may include singing and dancing to enhance a prevention message.
As an active member of PPAC, Jane attends movie nights and other positive alternatives. Last year, it was Jane’s idea to interview community members to find out what resources people are aware of, and what the community is lacking. She is also involved with Family Matters, a subcommittee of PPAC which focuses on family rules and supervision.
Until recently, Jane worked part-time for Finger Lakes Parent Network and facilitated teen groups for youth with mental health and/or self-esteem concerns in Belfast and Friendship. At least twice a year, she invited ACASA staff to present substance use information to the groups. Jane also coordinated presentations for parents and continually encouraged them to stay involved.
At community level, Jane assisted in ongoing fundraising efforts until the faith-based Lifeway Youth Center became a reality a couple of years ago. As a Board member and Scholarship Chairperson of the Allegany County Area Foundation, she assists in developing scholarships for youth and awarding civic grants to local organizations.
Jane is an active member on the Allegany County Suicide Prevention Coalition. She attends annual training for Sources of Strength and was awarded the Sources of Strength Train the Trainer certificate in August, 2017. Additional training includes Trauma Informed Care, ASIST, CONNECT, QRP first aid training for suicide prevention and mental health first aid training for working with youth. If you see Jane, please say “Thank You for making our community a better place to live.”
Kudos to Jane for her tireless motivation to spread the message that PREVENTION WORKS!