Take VMAC’s ‘Safe Homes’ Pledge

By on October 27, 2017

It’s that time of year, Verona: The time to take the Verona Municipal Alliance Committee’s SAFE Homes pledge.

Ann Jocelyn, VMAC’s grant coordinator, explained the pledge at this past Monday’s Town Council meeting. SAFE Homes is a two-pronged campaign designed to curb underage drinking. The first part is VMAC’s “Parents Who Host” program, which reminds Verona residents that New Jersey law makes homeowners legally accountable if alcohol is served to people under the age of 21 in their home, with the exception of their own children. At the suggestion of Deputy Mayor Michael Nochimson, VMAC recently got “Parents Who Host Lose The Most” sign magnets for Verona Police Department patrol cars.

The second part is the SAFE Homes Pledge. This invites parents to sign a pledge that will be used to create and share a list of like-minded individuals in the community who have pledged to help protect our youth. By signing the pledge, families agree to the following:

  • S – SECURE firearms, matches, chemicals, medications & alcohol
  • A – ACTIVELY work to prevent underage alcohol & drug use
  • F – FORBID bullying
  • E – EVALUATE computer, phone & social media use

The pledge has been sent home to all school families in Verona as a printed notice and email. If you didn’t get it, you can sign up online.  VMAC will have posters around town with a scannable code to make it even easier to sign up. If you signed the SAFE Homes pledge in the past, you should sign up again every year to make sure your information is current.

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Everyone who takes the SAFE Homes pledge will receive the names and telephone numbers of the other parents who signed the pledge. Phone numbers are provided to encourage communication among parents. “Don’t assume that a party is supervised just because someone signed the pledge,” Jocelyn said. “Parents should be ready to receive calls from other parents as well.”

VMAC, which is supported by a grant from the Governor’s Council on Alcohol & Drug Abuse, the Township of Verona, and its volunteers, has a mandate to combat underage drinking by providing young people and adults the tools they need to make good choices throughout their lives. In addition to SAFE Homes, it sponsors Family Night twice a year, when homework and sports are cancelled so that families can spend the evening together. It also supports strong decision making, character building, anti-bullying and resisting peer pressure messages from elementary to middle school to high school through topical assemblies, peer leader clubs, and more.

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Next spring, VMAC will reintroduce the Aware-Awake-Alive program at Verona High School. This is the amnesty law program that allows young people to call emergency services without fear of prosecution if a friend has had too much to drink and needs help. “While it doesn’t combat underage drinking,” Jocelyn said, “it might help prevent a greater tragedy. VMAC feels that this is an especially important lesson for our kids to take to college.”


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