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Wellspring. Celebrating 40 Years of Community Service.

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Quick. What do you give someone on the occasion of a 40th anniversary?

Well, it would seem that the traditional 40th wedding anniversary has always been synonymous with the ruby. Why? With the stone's bright red hue, it's only fitting that rubies symbolize the strong love that's lasted for 40 years. If you want to go the "nontraditional" way, then you opt for something red – red candles, red glasses or red cards.

I was wondering about this topic this morning when I thought about the fact that our agency is celebrating its 40th anniversary this February. Yap, 40 years.But our history actually predates the year we were formally incorporated.

So with that in mind, allow me to take you down memory lane this month.

Wellspring Center for Prevention (formerly NCADD of Middlesex County, Inc.,) has its roots in a solid history of education/prevention activities in the county starting back in the mid-1970s. At that time, an outreach movement began by the National Council on Alcoholism of Monmouth County, 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, our 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.

1979 was a rebirth of the community's concern that alcoholism education/prevention services were needed in the county. 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.

The Council was incorporated in the spring of 1980. Since then, Wellspring has identified community needs and met those needs with creativity and persistence. We have served hundreds of thousands of individuals through the wide array of programs we provide.

The agency is identified by the NJ Department of Human Services as the local prevention resource center. We are a leader in providing quality prevention education programs, community presentations, leading advocacy efforts, and establishing coalitions to address specific needs in the community.

Along the way the agency started to establish itself as an innovator in the prevention field. That started in 1996 when the agency introduced two new programs: Forest Friends, a violence prevention program for elementary school; and WISE (Wellness Initiative for Senior Educators), which in introduced together withthe New Jersey Prevention Network, to train older adults to develop and present prevention programs in the community.

20 years ago we introduced We're Not Buying It!, The Alcohol & Tobacco Connection to middle schools, teaching students about the methods used to market these products to young people. Three years later we introduced Footprints for Life, a new prevention curriculum developed by NCADD of Middlesex County, Inc. and in 2003 we introduced yet another innovative program, Keys to InnerVisions (KIV).

One of our most innovative efforts occurred in 2006 when we partnered with Carteret Public Schools to create PATHWAYS, Carteret's School-Based Youth Services Program, a safe, structured environment within the school to address the social and health needs of students. In 2008, we added two programs to our roster of offerings for the communities we service in Middlesex County -- Safe Dates and Acts of Prevention.

A year later we launched a unique program offering a series of online training courses geared towards teachers and other educators.

And today, we continue that tradition by launching The PATH, our School-Based Clinical Services program.

Every day, 25 professionals continue to work in area schools, older adult communities, state, county, local governments and professionals nationwide, individuals and groups. We continue to be passionate about our efforts and we continue to innovate. We touch tens of thousands of individuals and, I believe, affect the lives of many of them.

I don't except a gift of rubies, although if you feel generous a small donation would be great. I just want you to know that for 40 years we have been here to help you, your family, your school, your community. And we plan to continue doing so for years to come.

If you want to learn more about who we are, take a moment to stroll through our website (https://wellspringprevention.org.) And if you DO feel generous, make a donation here: https://wellspringprevention.org/donate.

Thank you!

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