Drug & Alcohol Abuse Awareness Event

Photo: Participants at Awareness Event

Nearly 25 teens aged 15-17 from the foster care system and those at risk of experiencing adverse, unstable circumstances took part in BCFS Health and Human Services-San Antonio’s Preparation for Adult Living (PAL) program’s No Day But Today drug and alcohol abuse awareness event. The event, organized by BCFS-San Antonio Program Director Deyanira Garcia, welcomed community organizations and the San Antonio Police Department to talk to youth about the pitfalls of drug and alcohol use and abuse, and how the phenomena can have dire consequences for more than just the user.

Garcia, who cultivates BCFS-San Antonio’s relationship with the Texas Workforce Commission to help youth prepare for entry into the workforce with job training, education, resume writing and applying for jobs in a way that is appealing to employers, organized the event in tandem with PAL to help prepare youth for making the right decisions when offered alcohol or drugs.

“Struggling with drugs and alcohol, unfortunately, is part of most of their lives,” Garcia says about the youth in attendance. “No Day But Today gives them access to a safe space to discuss the negative results that can happen from abuse.”

San Antonio DWI Task Force police officer Michael Thornton related how alcohol abuse has affected him personally; physically, mentally and emotionally.

“It’s not just your life that you’re screwing with if you’re out here drinking and driving,” Thornton said to the audience of teens and adults that included his partner, Officer Kimberly Kory. “It’s my life, it’s my partner’s life, it’s our families’ lives.”

Thornton remembered his friend and fellow officer Stephanie Brown, who was on duty when she was killed by a drunk driver in 2011 while he recovered from his own encounter with a drunk driver just two months prior. He recalled how in January of the same year, his late night help of a stranded driver on the highway shoulder ended when a drunk driver plowed through his patrol car, severing his right leg at the knee. He lifted his department-issued trousers to reveal a prosthetic limb while talking candidly about the multilayered and sweeping consequences of driving while intoxicated.

“He is now doing 16 years in the Texas Department of Corrections for intoxication assault on a public servant,” Thornton says of the individual who demolished his patrol car. “He has four kids that don’t see him anymore. His wife got a new boyfriend, and she never takes the kids up to see their daddy.”

BCFS-San Antonio community partners UT Teen Health, Chrysalis Ministries and J.O.V.E.N. joined No Day But Today to encourage the youth to learn more about each nonprofit agency’s programs and services that include health screenings, advocacy, and job and educational training.

Garcia would like to see the event happen annually as a way to reach youth with the message that there are people and places that can help them on their path to a stable and independent adulthood.

“I hope they see that they are not alone,” she says, “and that they know we are here to help them get past any issues they may be facing.”

BCFS-San Antonio’s PAL program provides services to youth aging out of the foster care system to expand their skills and knowledge, strengthen their self-confidence, create healthy community relationships and ultimately learn self-guidance. PAL provides transition services to youth ages 15 to 21 from the foster care system to better prepare young adults for emancipation.

Visit DiscoverBCFS.net/PAL for information.