TSgt Gabriel Manzueta is October’s Coalition Member of the Month
TSgt Gabriel Manzueta is October’s Coalition Member of the Month. TSgt Manzueta has worked as a Drug Demand Reduction Civil Operator for the New York National Guard Counterdrug Task Force for the past four years. He and his team work with coalitions to address alcohol and substance use concerns in Nassau and Suffolk Counties. They identify needs within the community and help address them by using the Strategic Prevention Framework. This framework is used by coalitions like Riverhead who have been awarded federal Drug-Free Communities Grants.
TSgt Manzueta uses his military training to provide technical assistance to coalitions. He is also a New York City Police Officer. As a police officer, his assignment is PSA 5 located in East Harlem. TSgt Manzueta has an Associate’s Degree in Logistics from the Community College of the Air Force.
PREVENTING PRESCRIPTION DRUG ABUSE
Since he began working with the Riverhead Community Coalition in 2016, TSgt Gabriel Manzueta has completed numerous projects. These projects demonstrate the essential role that the National Guard Counterdrug Task Force plays in coalition work and preventing youth substance use within local communities. He has partnered with the coalition to host annual Medication Take Back events within the Town of Riverhead. These take back events, in addition to the Medication Drop Box at the Riverhead Police Department, have resulted in the safe disposal of over 8,000 pounds of medication. These initiatives reduce youth access to prescription drugs.
WORKING WITH OUR COALITION & COMMUNITY
TSgt Gabriel Manzueta has worked with the coalition to host several Meet and Greet events. During these events, community stakeholders and leaders learn about current local trends in youth substance use. They also learn about how the coalition addresses these trends and how they impact the health and safety of our community. In addition, he works with the Riverhead Youth Coalition at these events to educate community members about the projects they implement to prevent and reduce substance use.
TSgt Manzueta also works closely with coalition staff and the Prevention Resource Center on multiple projects. Working with adult and youth coalition members, he and his team completed a community mapping project. This project assisted with planning and implementation of coalition-driven strategies that target specific areas in the community where youth access and use substances.
TSgt Manzueta has participated in several coalition and community presentations. Topics include community scanning, vaping, and stimulant use among youth. For the past three years TSgt Manzueta has also been a CAP volunteer presenter for the Pulaski Street Prevention Education Program. As part of this program, TSgt Manzueta provides students with tools to make healthy decisions and avoid substance use.
COVID-19 PREVENTION INITIATIVES
During the COVID-19 pandemic, TSgt Gabriel Manzueta and the National Guard found unique ways to partner with the coalition to reduce youth substance use. He and his team conducted community scans to determine the impact of the pandemic on vaping and marijuana advertising in local stores and on social media. They also hosted a Public Health webinar for coalition members.
TSgt Manzueta partnered with the Riverhead Youth Coalition to conduct a beach cleanup during National Coastal Cleanup Month in September. During this event, members of the National Guard and Riverhead Youth Coalition conducted a community scan. The results are used in the coalition’s Logic Model to improve strategies that reduce youth substance abuse at local beaches. He and his team are currently conducting another community mapping project. This project will assist in identifying how the pandemic changes risk and protective factors in the Riverhead community.
Riverhead Community Coalition Coordinator Kelly Miloski recently sat down with TSgt Gabriel Manzueta to talk about his experience with the coalition. Here are the highlights:
Why did you get involved in the coalition?
“I joined the New York National Guard Counterdrug Task Force and became involved in coalition work because I believe in community. I have always wanted to make Long Island better in any way that I can. Raising awareness about the factors that impact our community is a great way to create change. I’m able to work past working hours because it doesn’t feel like work when it’s about improving where you live.”
What is your favorite coalition activity?
“My favorite coalition activity is the annual Meet and Greet because it serves as a reminder to the coalition and community how much good work has been done over the year. It also provides an opportunity to recruit new members and recognize existing members. Recognition is a big part of running any good organization. The Riverhead Community Coalition for Safe and Drug-Free Youth always lets their members know that they see all the hard work they put in.”
Name three words that best describe you.
“Efficient, loyal, and friendly.”
What adventures are still on your bucket list?
“I would love to visit Thailand.”
Besides coalition work, what else do you like to do?
“In my free time, I enjoy playing video games, working out, and watching “Tiny Homes” on YouTube.”
Interested in learning more about coalition membership?
Contact Kelly Miloski at (631) 727-3722 ext. 106 or Kelly.Miloski@RiverheadCAP.org.