The DeKalb County Partnership for a Safe, Active and Family Environment (DCP/SAFE) originated through a joint effort from NIU’s President John La Tourette and the DeKalb School District. In December of 1989, NIU and the DeKalb School district sponsored a breakfast meeting which initiated discussion about the alcohol and other drug problems in the city of DeKalb. A Task Force aimed at prevention of substance abuse grew out of the discussions at this meeting.
Dr. La Tourette’s office appointed Jim Graves as Task Force Chair. Under his leadership in the Spring of 1990, the scope of the Task Force grew to be county-wide in membership and The DeKalb County Partnership for a Substance Abuse Free Environment (DCP/SAFE) was formed. Initially membership included about forty countywide leaders from school districts, business and industry, law enforcement, government, social services and the community at large.
The group adopted the following original Mission Statement in April of 1990:
The DeKalb County Partnership for Substance Abuse Free Environment (DCP/SAFE) is a community coalition working towards the prevention and elimination of illegal and harmful use of alcohol and other drugs. The Task Force’s commitment is toward a total wellness concept for youth, adults and the community as a whole.
One of the first orders of business was to obtain training for members. Through local financial support and a onetime grant from the Department of Alcohol and Substance Abuse (DASA), this task was accomplished and the First Northern Illinois Assembly was held at Northern Illinois University on September 21, 1990, with 108 people in attendance. As a result of this First Assembly, 5 different Action Groups were developed, each meeting monthly. The Steering Committee, which consists of the Action Group’s chairpersons, Steering Committee co-chairs, and Project Director, also meets monthly.
On October 2, 1991 the Second Annual Assembly was held at the DeKalb County Farm Bureau with over 150 persons in attendance. With the addition of a Public Information/Relation Action Group prior to the Second Annual Assembly, along with the emergence of a Religious Institutions Action Group after the Assembly, DCP/SAFE soon had seven active Action Groups, each developing a list of goals and objectives.
As a result of generating over 10,000 volunteer hours and over $128,000 of in-kind services annually to DeKalb County, DCP/SAFE was honored to be the recipient of the 1992 Governor’s Hometown Award, quite an accomplishment for a group of concerned citizens who had been assembled for less than 2 years.
Each October, an Annual Assembly is held with over 100 participants continuing to show support for DCP/SAFE’s comprehensive prevention efforts. Action Groups continue to meet monthly with each group impacting the community on a different, yet collaborative manner.
Part of DCP/SAFE’s plan is to avoid duplicating structure and activities. Moreover, it works to redirect existent resources toward prevention in order to efficiently impact the problem. This redirection is occurring increasingly and, considered alone, represents a major accomplishment.
In the Spring of 1999, DCP/SAFE broadened its mission and changed its name and logo to be more comprehensive and move the coalition into a more inclusive realm. The DeKalb County Partnership for a Substance Abuse Free Environment became The DeKalb County Partnership for a Safe, Active and Family Environment.
The broadened mission statement was revised again in the Summer of 2006 to be the current DCP/SAFE mission statement:
The DeKalb County Partnership for a Safe, Active and Family Environment (DCP/SAFE) is a community coalition that promotes community based prevention, wellness and healthy lifestyles for youth, adults and the community as a whole.
Additionally the following goals were also established:
- Substance Abuse Free Environments
- Community Activities
- Networking and Collaboration
- Inter-organizational Cooperation
In the Summer of 2009, DCP/SAFE once again underwent changes. It modified the logo, launched a new website, and updated the Strategic Plan.
In November of 2009, DCP/SAFE celebrated its 20th anniversary at the Annual Assembly, a feat that few communities can attest to. This same year DCP/SAFE was also presented the SAMHSA’s 2009 Science and Service Award for Substance Abuse Prevention, one only five organizations nationwide to receive the award. These awards recognize exemplary implementation of evidence-based interventions that have been shown to prevent and/or treat mental illnesses and substance abuse.
In January of 2010, Kris Povlsen, one of the founding members of the community coalition, retired after 28 years of dedicated service in the prevention field. He began his career in the 1980’s with the DeKalb County Operation Snowball, one of the very first chapters in Illinois. He introduced social norms programming into DeKalb County’s public schools. He continues on as an active member of the Steering Committee and KEYS.