A coalition of groups working to prevent drug abuse in Tioga County has received a federal grant to expand its work.

Tioga County Allies in Substance Abuse Prevention, or ASAP, is getting more than $622,000 dollars over five years from the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

ASAP was founded in 2016, bringing together substance abuse treatment providers, educators, law enforcement, school districts and government in Tioga County to address the growing opioid epidemic.

So far, it had relied on private donations from individuals and local businesses.

It has organized a number of events to raise awareness, including a Black Balloon Day event, a Family Fun Day and an overdose awareness vigil.

Pastor Shawn Monclova of Calvary’s Love Owego is Vice Chair of ASAP. “We’ve been able to do a lot of things last year. As we move into 2019, we are excited with this grant because we know the level to which we will be able to engage the community is that much higher, more effective because we are funded now.”

While continuing to hold awareness events, ASAP plans to continue to collect data on substance abuse, conduct advocacy on behalf of the issue and pay for training and partnerships between law enforcement and schools.

The grant has also allowed the organization to hire a full time coordinator who will be tasked with fulfilling the coalition’s action plan.

Christina Olevano isASAP’s Project Director and an employee of Trinity CASA, a major partner in the effort. “The action plan was developed by the coalition, the steering committee and is focused around what we found in the needs assessment data we collected in the schools. So we are really using data to drive what our interventions are going to be. And they are specific to Tioga County.”

ASAP is planning an event called Do One Thing this Thursday morning from 8 until 9 at the Owego Elks Club.