The Municipal Alliance Committee of the Chathams (MACC) is a community group devoted to educating and building awareness of the dangers of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs and to promoting healthy alternative activities for all segments of the Chatham population, including children, adults, and senior citizens.
MACC was created by resolutions of the Chatham Township Committee and the Chatham Borough Council in 1992. Municipal Alliance Committees were created in over 500 communities by the State of New Jersey to enable community volunteers to address issues of substance abuse on a local level. This statewide network of alliances is administered through the Governor’s Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse (GCADA). The Alliances do not provide or fund treatment services, but rather assist the community in areas of education, awareness, and activities free of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs.
MACC is an all-volunteer organization. Membership draws from The School District of the Chathams, the school PTOs, the Health Department, religious congregations, local law enforcement, and the community at large. The Student Assistance Coordinator for the Chatham School District serves as advisor to MACC and implements MACC-sponsored programs in the school district.
Prevention efforts of the state, county and municipalities are integrated with regard to planning and funding. Funds are provided by the State of New Jersey Governor’s Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse (GCADA) , the Morris County Freeholders, and Chatham Borough and Chatham Township.
At the state level, GCADA provides funding through the Drug Enforcement and Demand Reduction Fund (DEDR funds), which comes from fines levied on convicted drug users and sellers. The Morris County Freeholders provide Supplemental Funding grants to the municipal alliances, and local governments provide a percentage of matched funding. In-kind donations are provided by the local community. In-kind donations are a required form of funding that comes from the value of volunteer time and goods and services provided by the community.
Programs and Activities
MACC sponsors assemblies, which stress a healthy lifestyle free of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs (ATOD), and socially-appropriate behavior for teens and pre-teens at the Chatham public schools. Encouraging healthy alternative activities for Chatham’s teens is a primary goal of MACC. By supporting activities such as the Youth Interfaith Council (YIC) dances, Open Gyms at Corpus Christi Roman Catholic Church and Hang Time at the Chatham Methodist Church,MACC works with these organizations to keep Chatham’s youth safe and active. Other programs supported by MACCinclude, Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE), the Helping Hand Newsletter, and the high school groups Teens Against Tobacco Use (TATU) and Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD).
MACC reaches out to seniors by holding two wellness lunches each year at local churches. These lunches serve to enhance the social lives of Chatham seniors as well as to educate them on topics and issues about wellness and healthy living. Additionally, an intergenerational event, the “Senior Prom”, an annual dinner dance at Corpus Christi Church for senior citizens, is organized and prepared by teens.
Specific programs and activities provided by MACC include the following:
- Parenting Awareness – Various programs are presented annually by educators, health-care experts, drug enforcement officials, and other drug prevention professionals to provide specific, detailed information on alcohol, tobacco and drug use. Programs have included topics on internet safety, the legal ramifications of alcohol and drug use, and recent research into brain chemistry and the impact of substance abuse on teen brain development. Another valued program is the presentation by a panel of Daytop Village teenage residents who are receiving therapy for substance abuse and their parents.
- Helping Hand Newsletter – Helping Hand is an educational and informational newsletter made available to parents of children in grades 4 through 12. It is also available on the MACC website. Articles address issues of substance abuse prevention, recognition of ATOD use, internet safety, bullying, and the relationship between substance abuse and other physical and psychological problems.
- Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) and Teens Against Tobacco Use (TATU) – These student groups at Chatham High School are part of national organizations. The purpose of SADD is to promote healthy life styles and positive decisions. TATU presents a non-smoking program to fifth and eighth grade students for the “Great American Smokeout.” Both groups are counseled by the Student Assistance Coordinator.
- Community and School Library Family Resource Collection – Books and other resource materials are selected by librarians assisted by the Student Assistance Coordinator of the Chatham School District, health teachers, and guidance counselors. The materials, which are placed in the Library of the Chathams and the school libraries, address a variety of issues facing parents and youth and are used for instruction in alcohol, tobacco and other drugs (ATOD) abuse prevention.
- Youth Dances – The Youth Interfaith Council (YIC) sponsors monthly dances for 7th and 8th grade students who live in Chatham. These are substance-free events chaperoned by parents and held at various Chatham churches.MACC funds provide for police presence for safety and security purposes.
- Senior Citizen Programs – Twice a year a luncheon is hosted for senior citizens at the Presbyterian Church of Chatham Township and includes a presentation focusing on wellness topics with emphasis on issues such as the use and abuse of prescription medications. Issues are discussed in terms of their direct relationship to senior citizens and the impact on their children and grandchildren. MACC has also provided funds to purchase handheld exercise equipment and music CDs for use at the Senior Center.
- Substance Abuse Awareness Week –Also known as Red Ribbon Week, Substance Abuse Awareness Week takes place during the third week of October nationally. Assembly programs are presented at each of the schools. Cross-curriculum activities help students connect with others throughout Chatham and in neighboring communities.