Carter County Drug Prevention Director receives state-level award for community dedication

Jilian Reece has been working with residents of Carter County for a number of years, but when the community she has served decided to recognize her achievements in a big way, she said she was absolutely not expecting it.

Reece, director of the Carter County Drug Prevention coalition, received the Outstanding Resident award during the 2019 Healthier Tennessee awards Gala Tuesday.

The award gala is part of the Governor’s Foundation for Health and Wellness, a nonprofit dedicated to improving the daily lives of people across Tennessee.

“I love this community with everything,” she said. “It has a piece of my heart.”

Reece has served as the director for the coalition for a number of years and has recently partnered with Nicole Moore to co-chair Grow Carter County this year as well. She said ultimately, the recognition is not for herself.

“God gave me gifts and abilities,” Reece said. “I just try to glorify him and help my community.”

Reece’s youth-focused coalition is stationed in Downtown Elizabethton, where she and home-schooled students work on a wide variety of events geared towards reducing the causes and consequences of smoking and other harmful drugs in their communities, including hosting informational sessions in churches and special events like anti-Valentine’s Day dances.

“The students come up with these amazing ideas,” she said. “I just help them put them into place.”

Reece said one of the coalition’s biggest goals is to encourage various groups of the community to band together to accomplish their goals, including students, adults and seniors.

“We work really hard to create community among diverse populations,” she said. “We all want to be healthier, and we do better together.”

Grow Carter County also received recognition for their contributions to their community, receiving a bronze-level award.

“Next year we are going for silver,” Reece said.

To this end, both Grow Carter County and CCDP are working on a variety of events throughout this year to bolster the community’s ability to start and maintain healthier lifestyles.

Among these planned events include parenting classes CCDP hosts in the library, as well as a new project called “Build it Up East Tennessee,” a program in which participants can receive all the resources they need to create their own vegetable gardens in their homes, including the wood, soil and tools. They are also partnering with Elizabethton Parks and Recreation to help Elizabethton “get Seuss’d” this weekend, March 1 through March 3.

“We can make the community better if we work together,” Reece said. “We need to love each other and focus on what we have in common, so we can create healing and wellness together.”

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