The Peoria Community Coalition had its first meeting this week and is beginning its work to educate, communicate and provide guidance for Peorians about alcohol consumption.
The 12-member coalition is a part of the Comprehensive Alcohol Action Plan but it is not just directed toward preventing Bradley students from drinking.
It aims to have community members work together to reduce the misuse of alcohol for minors, college students and adults, coalition member Joyce Shotick said.
Shotick, the executive director for Student Development and Health Services, is one of the six Bradley employees on the coalition and also helped form it.
She said community members seem to think the coalition is a good idea.
“Not a single person hesitated to sign up and agree to be a part of this,” Shotick said.
Members include a high school student, a bar owner, a morning TV show host, health care professionals and a policeman.
Shotick said it does not include a Bradley student because one was not included in the guidelines the members received for who should join.
Shotick and Vice President for Student Affairs Alan Galsky went to Washington, D.C., and got the guidelines for the coalition from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Galsky said.
“When we looked at putting the [Alcohol] Plan together, we knew from other sources and what we know to limit and reduce the abuse of alcohol, that community coalitions are very successful,” he said.
The coalition will apply for a $125,000 grant in January and find out if it receives it in August.
“We think we have a really, really good shot at getting funding for this,” she said. “If not, we’ll have to rethink strategies.”
Among other things, the funding would be used for posters, speakers and publicity, Shotick said.
The coalition plans to reward businesses that are responsible about not allowing underage drinking, she said.
“We’re going to try to get places like Crusen’s to place business ads in the Scout for hamburgers rather than drinks,” Shotick said.
Shotick said the coalition may consider matching the price of ads bars place so bars that advertise responsibly can advertise twice as much.
She said she hopes this positive enforcement will be more effective than negative enforcement such as fines.
Shotick said she thinks the coalition will be effective.
“I’ve lived my entire professional life in Peoria. There’s great people in this town who are really supportive of community efforts,” she said. “I felt working with those people we could collectively tap into the people inside this community.”
Shotick said she has been working on forming the coalition for the last few months, and although some members have met a few times, last week was its first full meeting.
“We didn’t want to have a party and have no one come,” she said.
The coalition will meet about once a month.
“I hope for this to last for at least for the next 10 years,” Shotick said. “It’s all about being safe. When you’re safe you’re more likely to be successful.”