BELLOWS FALLS -- New name. New website. New staff member. Similar mission.
The Greater Falls Prevention Coalition relaunched as Greater Falls Connections at a public celebration Friday and staffers explained to their roughly 15 guests the significance of all the changes and their relevance to the organization's cause.
Media Coordinator Chad Simmons said there was an amazing process to rebrand the prevention coalition and it took help from numerous sources to create a new name that signifies the organization's purpose -- which is not solely prevention, but also community building.
Greater Falls Connections' new website is greaterfallsconnections.org, and it is designed to be easier to navigate than the previous model.
"It's going to be a much more interactive opportunity for community members to have an engaging network. We're going to have guest bloggers, we're integrating social media a lot more," Simmons told the Reformer shortly before the celebration began at Parks Place Community Resource Center. "We're trying to provide a lot more research-based, evidence-based materials on our website. And, essentially, we're going to make it a lot more user-friendly, specifically for parents, caregivers and families.
"Really," he added, "the website is a tool for community members to find resources and build strong families."
The new website features a list of staff and board members, information about workshops, facts regarding all sorts of drugs from marijuana to alcohol, and resources for teenagers, among other pointers. There are also ways to access the organization's Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram accounts.
"What we did is, starting last year, we went through the process of changing our vision and our mission and we ended up having a great dialogue around what is it that we do, what we want to achieve," Simmons explained to the guests while perusing through the new website on a projector. "The content really came from everyone."
While Simmons was talking about the tips it has for teens who find themselves in questionable social situations, Bellows Falls resident David Ames suggested including high school sporting events to the list. Simmons said that was a great idea he had not thought of.
Ames told the Reformer he moved to the village in July and has a daughter who will turn 18 on Sunday.
Also at the celebration, Laura Schairbaum was introduced as Greater Falls Connections' newest employee. She said she will focus on tobacco prevention and food security. Having gotten a master's degree from The School for International Training in Brattleboro and being a former volunteer coordinator for the United Way of Windham County, she is looking forward to effecting a positive change in the area.
"I've worked in community development for about 10 years and I really love this community and have been working in this community for a few years and I had the opportunity to work in Bellows Falls and work with Greater Falls Connections to do a lot of great work up here," she said.
Simmons said the organization will continue to work on the prevention of drug and alcohol abuse but will also focus on community outreach and development. He emphasized that no one within Greater Falls Connections is "anti-alcohol," but all want the public to learn to enjoy it responsibly. He even showed the guests a humorous homemade video about how overindulgence and ruin relationships and a good time. This video can be viewed on the new website.
Domenic Poli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoli_reformer.