The organization focuses on preventing alcohol and drug use among students
By Adam Hocking
MARSHFIELD — Marshfield Area Coalition for Youth (MACY) was founded in 1990 with the original mission of addressing the issue of teen pregnancy. As the community has changed and evolved, so has the mission of MACY, which now puts a primary focus on the use of alcohol and drugs among Marshfield’s youth population.
MACY is staffed, organized, and coordinated by the Marshfield Clinic Center for Community Outreach. Danielle Luther, who is a manager for substance abuse prevention at the Marshfield Clinic Center for Community Outreach, works closely with MACY. Community members and multiple organizations also combine to comprise the full MACY coalition.
“We probably have almost 90 members representing probably about 20 different organizations or so,” Luther said. She added that MACY has members from multiple sectors of society, including law enforcement, media, business leaders, education, parents, youth, and more.
Luther said that while substance abuse is a key focus of MACY, the organization has also worked on anti-bullying campaigns and with mental health issues. MACY as a full coalition meets on the third Monday of every other month, but it has multiple subcommittees, which each have a specific focus.
MACY’s Data Committee collects and analyzes information to assist the MACY steering committee in selecting areas of focus. One of the initiatives of the Data Committee is supporting the administration of the annual Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which collects data from private and public middle and high school students in Marshfield on the following topics: alcohol use, drug use, tobacco use, bullying trends, dietary behaviors, physical activity, sexual and mental health, safety, and violence.
The Youth Risk Behavior Survey is confidential and voluntary for students. Luther said that MACY and Marshfield Clinic have compiled trend data over many years and have checks and balances in place to make sure that, to the extent possible, the data they receive from students reflect honest responses. In 2015, 285 students from Marshfield middle schools and 567 high school students took the survey.
“It’s community feedback and data that showed that we have high rates of underage drinking, drug use, and so we began to prioritize (that), and then every year we do that same process where we do a needs assessment, and we look at the data, and we see where we’re at. That’s one of the best tools that we use,” Luther said.
MACY also has a Drug Task Force that works to develop an annual plan to deal with prescription drug and heroin abuse. This committee assists the Marshfield Police Department with prescription drug take-back efforts and works with the medical community to influence positive changes in policies regarding prescription drugs.
Later this year MACY will present a plan for an anti-heroin public education campaign to the Marshfield Common Council. MACY hopes the city will allocate $25,000 to the project.
Marshfield Police Chief and Chair of MACY Rick Gramza said that MACY is a good partnership for the police department.
“We’re big into community policing and being one with the community. We don’t want to be the authority figure of the community. We want to be a member of the community,” Gramza said. “It’s (MACY is) beneficial to us because we can’t keep the community safe by ourselves.”
Gramza added, “You’re not going to arrest your way out of a drug problem. We’re not going to arrest our way out of any problem. We’re not going to be able to do it by ourselves without that support of MACY, without that support of the common council, the community,” Gramza said.
Marshfield CARES (Community Alcohol Resources for Establishments and Servers) is an underage drinking prevention program run by MACY, which works with local establishments to prohibit youth from having access to alcohol and promotes responsible alcohol consumption among adults.
“In Marshfield we have about 66 places in 11 miles that sell alcohol,” Luther said. “We’re providing resources and education to those establishments.” She added that MACY provides responsible beverage server training to any establishment that is a member of Marshfield CARES.
MACY’s Marshfield Area Parent Network brings together nearly 1,000 parents, the community, and schools to “promote and maintain a safe and healthy, alcohol- and drug-free environment for youth.” This network provides parents a directory of other parents so they can network and collaborate to make sure children have safe environments.
The Youth Initiative Committee overseen by MACY is made up of students from public and private area high schools and works to “develop and implement an annual substance abuse prevention plan in their respective schools.”
MACY receives funding from multiple sources, including several grants, donations, Marshfield Clinic, Ministry Saint Joseph’s Hospital, and United Way. For more information on MACY, visit marshfield4youth.org or email Danielle Luther at email@example.com. Donations to MACY can be sent to Marshfield Clinic Center for Community Outreach, Attention: Danielle Luther, 1000 N. Oak Ave. (F1C), Marshfield, WI 54449. Specify “MACY” in the check memo line.