Summertime events to mark The Collaborative's 20th year

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LONDONDERRY — The Collaborative is holding two events this month as part of the nonprofit organization's 20th anniversary celebration.

The public is invited to its Ice Cream Social on June 13, a yearly activity to honor volunteers, as well as an anniversary dinner the following week.

The Collaborative, based in Londonderry, works to support substance-free youth in Bennington County, Western Windham County and Southern Windsor County.

Among the successes the organization is celebrating, said Executive Director Maryann Morris, are its Refuse to Use program and Shires Prescription Drug Alliance.

Refuse to Use, established in 2003, is an out-of-school substance-prevention education program for students.

Participants receive a season pass to Stratton Mountain Resort, Riley Rink in Manchester or Viking Nordic Center in Londonderry; they can alternatively choose a package to Magic Mountain Ski Area in Londonderry. Those who complete the program also get tickets to the Dorset Theatre Festival.

"It's an incentive base that encourages a healthy alternative to substance use, paired with education about substance use," Morris said. Nine area schools are part of the program, and the parents of students also get involved.

Through the Shires Prescription Drug Alliance, The Collaborative has brought together various sectors of the community to battle prescription drug misuse. Its volunteer partners in the 10-year effort include law enforcement agencies, pharmacists, physicians and people in recovery.

The group has worked to inform members of the public how to safely use, store and dispose of prescription medication, as well as help set up drug disposal boxes.

The Collaborative's Ice Cream Social, to be held 4-6 p.m. June 13 at Hapgood Pond in Peru, will feature lawn games and raffle prizes.

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Besides ice cream, which will be provided by Wilcox Ice Cream, there will also be hot dogs and burgers, said Victoria Silsby of The Collaborative.

Most years draw 20 participants; this year, organizers are preparing for as many as 200 people.

The annual gathering recognizes the work of the nonprofit's volunteers, particularly those in its school-based mentorship program.

Mentors and their mentees, who get matched based on their interests, meet for an hour a week throughout the school year.

Morris describes it as a social and recreational program, rather than an academic one, meant to help with children's overall development.

"We believe that every kid deserves a mentor," she said. "The more adult mentors that a child has in their lives, the more resiliency they have. Even a child who comes from a really strong and supportive household can still benefit from having an outside mentor."

The program, established in 1999, currently has 15 mentor matches at Flood Brook School, where it operates.

The number of pairs rises or falls depending on the availability of mentors.

The Collaborative's anniversary dinner, which will double as a fundraiser, is going to be held at 5:30 p.m. June 22 at the Manchester Country Club. The steak-and-lobster dinner will feature a live auction hosted by Eric Nathan, of Nathan Auction and Real Estate in Manchester. The items to be auctioned off include a falconry lesson donated by Green Mountain Falconry School. There's also a private tour of the Tanglewood grounds for up to 10 people and two lawn passes for the Boston Symphony Orchestra donated by the the orchestra.

Dinner tickets, which cost $100 apiece, can be purchased by calling The Collaborative at 802-824-4200.

Tiffany Tan can be reached at ttan@benningtonbanner.com, @tiffgtan at Twitter and 802-447-7567 ext. 122.


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