The 2000 Florida Youth Substance Abuse Survey contained some alarming information about Lee County. The average age that Lee County children begin to use marijuana is 11.9 years and the average age that Lee County children begin to drink at least once a month is 12.3. In addition, 8% of Lee County 10-13 year olds report being drunk or high at school within the last 30 days. Since its formation in 1989, the Lee County Coalition for a Drug-Free Southwest Florida has been working to change these statistics through education and a series of large, community wide initiatives.
Carol Thomka has been involved in almost every initiative of the Coalition. She has served as secretary of the Board of Directors. She has also been a direct service volunteer at the annual Drug House Odyssey, a realistic walk-through reenactment of the tragic results of drinking and driving that is attended by 3,600 people, including almost every eighth grader in Lee County. Carol has also been a participant in the annual televised Town Hall meeting, The Sobering Truth-Underage Drinking, which is viewed by 50,000 across the state. She has been a direct service volunteer at the annual Conference on Addictive Disorders, a major force in coordinating the "Click for Kids" online fundraiser and has acted as the volunteer coordinator on many occasions.
The Coalition for a Drug-Free Southwest Florida is privileged to have over 113 community partners from education, law enforcement, government, other nonprofit agencies and businesses working with towards their mission to help the children of Lee County live drug-free lives. As a Board member, the Click for Kids Coordinator and in her capacity as unpaid volunteer coordinator, Carol has interacted with these groups and brought them together on behalf of the Coalition.
Carol Thomka continues to give her time to the Coalition. While no longer an active board member, she continues to give her time as a volunteer for the Annual Prevention Conference, our Drug House Odyssey, and wherever else she is needed. According to the Florida Youth Substance Abuse Survey in 2006, cigarette use dropped from 21% in 2000 to 13.9% in 2006. Marijuana use declined from 15.6%, and use of "hard" drugs steroids, and club drugs dropped to less than 1%. Without the work of volunteers like Carol, the work behind these statistics would not be possible. Carol Thomka has coordinated a number of innovative programs for the Coalition. Most recently, she coordinated the solicitation of donations for the Coalition's online auction program. WINK-TV featured the Coalition's E-Bay sales program on its news program as an example of innovative fund raising by a non-profit. This was directly due to Carol's countless volunteer service hours.