Riverhead Named Coalition of the Year by CADCA


Riverhead Community Coalition for Safe and Drug-Free Youth received the Coalition of Excellence award for Coalition of the Year from CADCA (Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America), the nation’s leading substance abuse prevention organization. The Coalition of Excellence award is part of CADCA’s GOT Outcomes! award program. The program gives national recognition to exemplary coalitions that have clearly documented their impact on population-level substance abuse outcomes. Riverhead Community Coalition will receive this prestigious award on Feb. 6 during CADCA’s 2020 National Leadership Forum at the Gaylord National Hotel and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland. This is the third consecutive Coalition of Excellence Award for the coalition, which also received the award for short-term outcomes in 2017 and intermediate outcomes in 2018. In their most recent application, the coalition demonstrated long-term outcomes as well.


“On behalf of our coalition members and the Riverhead community, we are honored to receive the highest award from CADCA for the positive outcomes we demonstrated,” said Felicia Scocozza, executive director of Riverhead Community Awareness Program, Inc. (CAP). CAP is the lead coordinating agency for the Riverhead Community Coalition. “Achieving long-term outcomes is a slow, methodical process that requires strong community partnerships and participation. The idea is that local people solve local problems best and communities support what they create.”

To achieve success, coalitions have to determine effective solutions to substance abuse in their community. According to Scocozza, the Riverhead Community Coalition identified root causes and local conditions that contributed to high rates of underage drinking. They collaboratively implemented environmental strategies that best fit the community. Environmental strategies are interventions which change community conditions that contribute to youth substance abuse.

“We congratulate Riverhead Community Coalition for Safe and Drug-Free Youth on their outstanding work and for being exemplary leaders in the field of substance abuse prevention. Riverhead Community Coalition clearly embraced the CADCA model of prevention and their commitment has led to positive sustainable outcomes within their community. Our CADCA GOT Outcomes! winners exemplify the excellent work that coalitions are doing around the country to prevent and reduce substance use and misuse in their communities,” said General Arthur T. Dean, CADCA’s Chairman and CEO.

successful strategies

Successful environmental strategies highlighted in their Got Outcomes! application included the establishment of alcohol retail compliance checks, pre-prom policies, responsible server training, and Riverhead’s first comprehensive alcohol policy for public events. The coalition successfully engaged all 12 sectors of the community to implement these strategies. In particular, they partner with the Riverhead Police Department, Riverhead Central School District, Riverhead Youth Coalition, as well as the Town of Riverhead. This resulted in a 42% decrease in binge drinking and a 22% decrease in 30-day alcohol use among Riverhead High School students from 2008 to 2018.

A powerful force for change

“Our coalition is driven by members with energy, expertise, and a dedication to our mission,” said Kelly Miloski, coalition coordinator and community prevention specialist at Riverhead CAP. “As a result, we have become a powerful force for change in the Riverhead community. Each member brings a unique asset to the table that contributes to the achievements that we are being recognized for. These achievements include positive changes that impact everyone who lives, works, and visits our community.”

Riverhead Police Chief David Hegermiller, an active coalition partner, said he was amazed but not surprised to be named Coalition of the Year. “It is something that I have known in my heart for a long time,” he said.  “We have an outstanding coalition made up of both adult and youth groups.  We have done a lot of positive work in helping to reduce underage drinking in our community. I am so proud of all Riverhead Community Coalition members and sectors that have helped not only achieve this top award. But more importantly in keeping Riverhead a safe place for our youth. Congratulations to everyone, you are truly a team that gets the job done!”

Riverhead Youth Coalition

Riverhead High School Senior Maximilian Solarz is the Youth Sector Representative for the coalition and participates in numerous Riverhead Youth Coalition initiatives, including presentations to lawmakers and radio PSAs, which are written and recorded by youth members five times per year.  “I think the biggest thing we do is educate the public on the problems that are going on with youth,” he said. “We use a variety of ways to spread the word, many of them at community events. The medium that reaches the most people has to be the radio PSAs. We also talk to community leaders and others that help us in the long run. This award shows how hard we’ve worked to get closer to our goal, which is to prevent underage alcohol and drug abuse within our community.”

CADCA national leadership forum

In addition to receiving the award at CADCA’s 2020 National Leadership Forum, Felicia Scocozza and Kelly Miloski are presenting a session aptly entitled, “Using the Power of Partnerships to Create a Winning Team.  Scocozza is also participating in a session highlighted the CADCA Got Outcomes! winners.

Interested in Learning more about the Riverhead Coalition?

Learn more about the Riverhead Community Coalition for Safe and Drug-Free Youth , by contacting Kelly Miloski at (631) 727-3722 ext. 106 or Kelly.Miloski@RiverheadCAP.org.

Photo courtesy of CADCA.