Grand County – New Grand Futures director forges ahead
September 1, 2009
When Amy Tekansik took the reins as Grand County director of Grand Futures in July, mission number one was steering young people into productive lives free of substance abuse.
Then the organization lost about $63,000 in tobacco prevention money from the state.
And then it became clear the two biggest block grants funding the three-county organization would expire in July 2010 while other grant sources also are struggling.
While the mission of the organization remains intact, the way it will be accomplished may change.
Grand Futures is not alone.
“One of the saddest parts of this recession … is that a lot of nonprofits will no longer exist,” Tekansik said.
Grand Youth Adventures, which provides outdoor trips for area youth in a supervised atmosphere, had to let its director go for lack of funding.
“My hope is that we can form some collaborations and keep all these things going,” Tekansik said.
One area being explored, she said, is subletting Grand Future’s Granby office to an agency such as Grand Youth Adventures to help “offset costs.”
She said other creative approaches will be needed to keep the organization viable, “just like everyone else in this economy.”
To augment grant funding, Tekansik foresees staging fundraisers and providing group activities for area youth.
“I see that as really key,” she said.
In the beginning
Grand Futures was founded in the early 1990s in Grand County. It expanded to include the 14th Judicial District, which encompasses Grand, Moffat and Routt counties. Each county has its own director, Tekansik said.
“Now we’re the only prevention agency in the district,” she said. “Our goal is to see that healthy lifestyle choices are the norm.”
While on the surface that goal is about preventing young people from abusing alcohol, drugs or smoking, in reality it is about building “assets” in young people so they are predisposed to avoid unhealthy habits.
Schools, churches, youth groups, parents and children themselves all play key roles in that effort, she said.
As a therapist, Tekansik said she has firsthand knowledge about the consequences of that abuse. Moreover, she said it is ingrained in the Grand County culture.
“I’m not sure there’s a single case that I’ve worked on here that didn’t involve substance abuse,” she said.
She pointed out how important it is to stop abuse when people are young. Statistically, those who abuse tobacco, alcohol or drugs before the age of 15 on up to age 20 are likely to cope with substance abuse problems for the rest of their lives, she said.
“I feel that part of our mission (preventing that) is very important,” she said.
To date, Grand Futures has often operated in the background, providing prevention curriculums in school and funding for efforts such as compliance checks to determine whether Grand County alcohol retailers are selling to underage drinkers.
“It’s not always direct services,” Tekansik said.
She added that she hopes to elevate the profile and functions of the organization through efforts such as lending parents materials to aid them in addressing the issue of substance abuse with their children.
She also wants the organization to be seen as a community resource.
“I want that office to be more than a place where my desk is,” she said.
Despite the funding challenges ahead, Tekansik said she is hopeful.
That’s because Grand County has the “underlying foundations” in support of its youth, she said.
And, Tekansik sees what she calls “an upside to the downside.” Namely, “how can we come together as a community to help each other?”
– Drew can be reached at (970) 887-3334 ext. 19600 or at email@example.com