St. Bernard Community Coalition, which aims to reduce drug abuse, moving forward, including collecting data on substance use in the parish

Posted: April 30th, 2014 | Filed under: Announcements, News Releases

Dr. Joseph Salande, program director for the St. Bernard Community Coalition which seeks to decrease drug abuse and help provide addicts with rehab treatment

Dr. Joseph Salande, program director for the St. Bernard Community Coalition which seeks to decrease drug abuse and help provide addicts with rehab treatment

The St. Bernard Community Coalition, a nonprofit parish-wide movement begun last year to reduce substance abuse and addiction and help people find rehab programs, has been making progress in several areas under Coalition Program Director Dr. Joseph Salande and Board Chairman Dan Schneider.

The board of the Coalition, which has received a federal grant to help with the group’s start-up, is comprised of prominent parish officials, including Sheriff James Pohlmann, Schools Superintendent Doris Voitier, as well as Justice of the Peace Barbara Manuel, Floyd Gue of the Meraux Foundation, Pastor Otto Martin, Coroner Dr. Bryan Bertucci and others.

In March, the Coalition also had a large meeting of various sectors of the community to collect data on drug use in our parish to formulate an action plan on what needs have to be addressed.

Those sectors were school data, law enforcement data, and medical data for the purposes of ascertaining what problems exist in St. Bernard, relative to drug abuse.

Also, the Coalition has added as board members School Board President Diana Dysart, Polly Campbell, Chairman of the Metropolitan Human Services District which oversees community-based mental health addictive disorders and developmental disabilities services to our area, and Steve Cannizaro, public information director for the St. Bernard Sheriff’s Office. Jeanie Lannes of the School Board is also now secretary of the Coalition.

Several members of the Coalition have also attended several conferences in Washington, D.C., sponsored by SAMHSA, which is the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, for the purpose of obtaining information about running a community anti-drug coalition.

Salande said that while this Coalition is still in its infancy, it is growing fast. Sheriff Pohlmann has offered a conference room for meetings of the executive committee of the Coalition on a monthly basis. Additionally, Schools Superintendent Voitier has given access to office equipment and supplies for the purpose of administrative information.

Also, the Coalition has been offered an office in the Parish Government building by Parish President David Peralta to conduct day-to-day activities, Salande said, adding that shortly, “We will have a phone system in place to accept calls on a daily basis and be able to direct people to resources and expand our Coalition in the form of volunteers and members.”

“We have big plans for our Coalition, including a future web page where residents can access information on our group and updated articles on drug abuse and addiction,’’ Salande said. The Coalition now has an active Facebook page at St. Bernard Community Coalition @ “Please follow us to keep up with the our activities and announcements,” Salande said

“We also will have several community-wide forums in the future with guest speakers on topics including addictive disorders and speakers on the ramifications for drug legalization/decriminalization that are before state governments.”

Future announcements will be made about forums and town hall meetings.

For additional information, or if residents would like to volunteer to help with future activities or become members of the group, contact Program Director Salande at or Board Chairman Daniel Schneider at


The Coalition meetings are the second Tuesday of each month at 9:30 a.m. at the Sheriff’s Office Annex building behind the Parish Courthouse on Pakenham Drive in Chalmette.