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Danville organizations win 'People Who Make a Difference' award

Contra Costa County supervisors will recognize two Danville organizations dedicated to combating drug and alcohol abuse as "People Who Make a Difference" at Tuesday's board of supervisors meeting.

Friends of Discovery will be honored in the volunteer group category for their support of the Discovery Counseling Center and Monte Vista High School's branch of Friday Night Live will be awarded for youth group leadership.

"Recognition of volunteers and non volunteers…is important because drugs and alcohol generally have a negative impact in the community. There are a lot of good efforts that go towards reducing or combating that and it often goes unnoticed," said Fatima Matal, program manager with alcohol and other drugs services for Contra Costa County.

Now in it's fifteenth year, the "People who Make a Difference" award winners include students, law enforcement personnel and community volunteers that were nominated by a variety of people. The county received 34 nominations, chose 11 winners and gave 21 certificates of merit.

"We are very excited. We've been working for 35 years and our sole purpose is to fund the Discovery Counseling Center. To be acknowledged by the county is truly and honor," said Julie Liu, president of Friends of Discovery.

Friend of Discovery was chosen for the award because "without the efforts of the Friends of

Discovery, the Counseling Center would not be able to provide additional substance abuse/mental health counseling and prevention services to the community of the San Ramon Valley." For 38 years, Friends of Discovery have operated The Thrift Station, which supports the counseling center and its affordable services.

"There's always been an emphasis (on substance abuse counseling), unfortunately it's getting younger and younger, the ages that they're abusing and using this stuff," Liu said. "We're all parents with our kids going through the school system, so we really see the need."

In a similar vein, Friday Night Live's efforts to curb youth access to alcohol garnered attention from the county. Monte Vista's chapter partnered with the San Ramon Valley Alcohol Policy Working Group to conduct liquor store assessments, including advertisement, product placement and store policy on alcohol sales to minors.

" The store assessments promote a positive relationship between youth and merchants while shifting community norms regarding alcohol sales," a release read.

Supervisor Mary Piepho said Friday Night Live has been recognized in previous years and provides a significant education for area youth.

"They have a very active engagement with students on campus and I think that's critical today because statistics are showing that the youth are increasing their consumption of alcohol. Friday Night Live is active, engaging, and they get in a build relationship with kids," she said.

A presentation of awards will take place at 9:30 a.m. on May 17 at the board of supervisors chambers (651 Pine Street, Room 100, Martinez) and is open to the public. Jerry Laskey, chair of the alcohol and drug advisory panel, will make a presentation to the supervisors followed by recognition of the top awards.

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