Middlesex County agency helps with drug prevention, other health initiatives

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Nicki Francis from the Wellspring Center for Prevention speaking about drugs and prevention. COURTESY OF THE WELLSPRING CENTER FOR PREVENTION
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Nicki Francis from the Wellspring Center for Prevention speaking about drugs and prevention. COURTESY OF THE WELLSPRING CENTER FOR PREVENTION

EAST BRUNSWICK–Serving the community for more than 35 years, the Wellspring Center for Prevention continues to provide health resources for residents.

The Wellspring Center for Prevention, formerly NCADD of Middlesex County, Inc., is a non-profit, community-based health organization providing prevention, education, information and referral services to county residents, businesses, schools, faith-based organizations, municipal alliances and social service agencies, according to Executive Director Ezra Helfand. Wellspring offers a variety of services including treatment referrals, the Wellspring Web-Based Resource center, prevention services and training.

“We can help individuals and families find treatment for anyone suffering from an addiction problem. We offer a treatment directory on our website. We also make suggested referrals by using our self-administered Screening Tool,” said Helfand, who has worked with the organization for 12 years. “Finally, if someone prefers to speak with one of our professionals, they can call our confidential Referral Helpline. We are available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.”

The organization’s main office is located at 620 Cranbury Road, Suite 105, East Brunswick.

“Our Jason Surks Memorial Prevention Resource Center is a repository of information related to a wide variety of alcohol, tobacco and other drug issues. We offer an extensive online library of downloadable pamphlets, links to authoritative articles and original content related to alcohol, drugs, youth and teens, as well as parents and families,” Helfand said. “We also offer a comprehensive collection of helpful links to national resources regarding treatment, special populations, prevention, government agencies, community-based organizations and 12-step support.”

The organization’s resource center is more than just online or printed information.

Helfand said, “It is also the expertise available to you through our experienced staff of certified prevention specialists. We are here to answer your questions, provide technical assistance so you can develop your own presentation utilizing the information you found here, or even to schedule one of our [specialists] to present to your school or community-based group in person.”

Helfand said the organization is committed to implementing evidence-based programs, providing effective education, helping to support comprehensive environmental strategies, and promoting the health and wellness of individuals and communities.

“We believe that effective alcohol and other drug abuse prevention is everyone’s responsibility [including] adolescents, schools, parents and communities. This is why our programs are designed for a variety of audiences and are delivered daily to organizations and groups throughout Middlesex County,” Helfand said.

The Pathways program is a partnership between Wellspring and a school district designed to provide everything a child needs so that when he/she is in the classroom, all he/she needs to worry about is what is happening in that classroom, according to Helfand.

Currently, the center has a partnership with Carteret High School where “Pathway offers services before, during and after school and throughout the summer. These services are designed to remove the barriers that impede young people from being successful in school and in life,” according to Helfand.

The center also has additional prevention services that include Prevention of Opioid Misuse in Women, the Sober Truth on Preventing Underage Drinking (STOP) Act grant and the Coalition for Healthy Communities initiative.

The agency was founded in February of 1980.

“Wellspring Center for Prevention has its roots in a solid history of education/prevention activities in the county starting back in the mid-1970s,” Helfand said. “At that time, an outreach movement began by the National Council on Alcoholism (NCA) of Monmouth County, which resulted in the establishment of the NCA of Central Jersey, which included an office in Ocean County and one here in Middlesex.”

Housed at Middlesex General Hospital, Helfand said the agency’s county branch began operations without funds, but with a dedicated group of volunteers. The activities of the agency at this time included training events in school settings; seminars at Perth Amboy General, Middlesex General and South Amboy Memorial hospitals; programs for numerous community groups; in-service training for various county agencies; co-sponsorship of the first statewide conference on Alcohol Problems and the Criminal Justice System; and a countywide seminar on alcoholism for the clergy.

“Services continued until funding became scarce and in 1977, the council was forced to close down its operation. [In] 1979 was a rebirth of the community’s concern that alcoholism education/prevention services were needed in the county,” Helfand said. “An ad hoc committee was formed from among members of the South Brunswick Family Services Advisory Group and application was made to the New Jersey Alcoholism Association to establish the Middlesex Council on Alcoholism.”

Helfand said the council was incorporated in the spring of 1980. Since then, Wellspring has identified community needs and met those needs with creativity and persistence. The agency has served hundreds of thousands of individuals through the wide array of programs it provides.

“Wellspring employs 20 full and part-time staff whose mission is to promote the health and well-being of individuals, families and communities through the prevention of addiction-related problems across the lifespan,” Helfand said. “We do this in East Brunswick and each of the other 24 municipalities in the Greatest County in the World. We’re proud of where we came from, what we’ve managed to accomplish since out start, and look forward to promoting substance use prevention, education, recovery and advocacy for years to come.”

Helfand said residents can support Wellspring by attending the agency’s various events.

For more information, visit www.wellspringprevention.org/about-us/overview.

Contact Vashti Harris at vharris@newspapermediagroup.com.