We’re interviewing Adriana Ruiz-Knack, Communities That Care Coordinator in Ontonagon County. Communities That Care (CTC) is a type of coalition focused on preventing youth problem behaviors. You can find your local CTC at www.UPprevention.org.
How long has CTC been going in Ontonagon County?
We introduced CTC to Ontonagon with our Key Leader event in January 2017.
What kind of goals does CTC have for your community?
We have multi-faceted goals. Every CTC in the UP is trying to figure out ways to shore up communication between agencies and to enhance all the really good stuff already happening in each county. In Ontonagon, we’re also looking to increase prosocial activities for our youth to participate in, which they really seem to want. We also want to find a way to connect all the pockets of volunteers and activities going on so they’re easier to access and more effective.
As someone who moved here recently, I wasn’t sure how to get involved in the community—I could see the river but wasn’t sure how to get in it. It can be hard to know who to contact. When you’re from here it’s easier because you’re connected to word of mouth, but for other people it’s a challenge without that word of mouth connection. We want everyone in Ontonagon County to know what’s going on and get information out to everyone.
We have two youth risk factors we’re addressing in Ontonagon County: we want to decrease depression and increase prosocial activities. Right now we’re working with Dial Help to look at new programs to bring to our county, like the Signs of Suicide and the Blues Program. We’re in the process of working with the schools to determine if those are a good fit for us. Long-term, our dream program is Positive Action, so we’re looking at how we could fund that. Currently, we don’t have any official programming to address youth depression. As we start bringing in new programs, we hope more people will know about CTC and be inspired to get involved. We’re doing a lot of “construction work” right now, just getting these pieces in place.
What kind of events has your coalition held or participated in recently?
We’ve been trying to be very active in the community. We had our first really major event last weekend, the Walk/Ride to End Suicide. We had many local businesses and individuals who participated as sponsors, donors, and actually coming out to do the actual Walk/Ride. It was amazing to have so much support and I think the event was very successful for our first year.
Ontonagon County has one of the highest suicide rates in the State of Michigan, and we really want to get people talking about this, and feeling safe to reach out for help. We had a number of people at the Walk/Ride to End Suicide sharing their stories about their own depression, or loved ones they lost to suicide or addiction. More people than you might realize are affected by these issues, and we can come together as a community to address them.
What are you most excited about coming up next?
Right now, I feel like we’re on the top of the hill looking down. We’ve done the CTC Youth Survey, we decided on the risk factors to address, and now we’re asking, what’s good for our area, what’s good for our youth? We’re working with schools to do what’s best. And any program we put in place will be evidence-based, which means research has shown it actually makes the impact we’re looking for. It’s great to see professionals and community members working together so well because they genuinely care about our youth.
We also have some upcoming Mini Community Board Orientations, which is a chance for people to learn more about CTC and what it does. These will be on July 25 from 2 pm—4 pm, and July 26, 10 am—12 pm. Both will be at the Ontonagon Courthouse. Community members are welcome to come and get involved in future planning, join one of our restructured work groups, and enjoy some refreshments while you meet new people!
To get involved in CTC in Ontonagon County, contact Adriana at 906-281-6276 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can find more info about at www.UPprevention.org/ontonagon or www.facebook.com/ontoco.ctc.
Ontonagon County CTC is funded by NorthCare Network and coordinated by Copper Country Mental Health. Ontonagon County CTC is part of UP Coalition Network, an umbrella organization of the 14 CTCs covering all 15 counties of the UP.