Molina heads drug free coalition
After several months without a director, the Jefferson County Drug Free Communities Coalition is back in full-swing with the hiring of Tracy Molina Nov. 5.
Molina replaces Dolly Beeler, who left the position to accept a teaching position at Jefferson County Middle School.
An offshoot of the Boys and Girls Club and funded by a Drug Free Communities Grant, the coalition is made up of Jefferson County individuals and agency representatives who network to create and provide positive activities for kids to do. The goal is to help reduce substance abuse, teen pregnancy and gang violence by offering kids better things to do.
The coalition continued to meet once a month during the transition, but with fewer showing up at the meetings. Molina invited past members to become active again by attending the next meeting at noon, Thursday, Dec. 20, in the Jefferson County Health Department conference room.
Others interested in joining the coalition can contact her at the Madras or Warm Springs Boys and Girls clubs, 475-7028 or 553-2284, or by cell phone at 208-3157.
Molina grew up on the Oregon Coast in the small town of Siletz. She spent two years in the U.S. Navy and served in Operation Desert Storm in the Persian Gulf, then was in the reserves for six years.
She attended Oregon State University, graduating with a bachelor's degree in cultural anthropology and psychology. She worked 1 1/2 years for Best Care in Madras as a women's drug and alcohol counselor before accepting her current job.
The coalition job appealed to her she said because, "I love to work with kids and anything that has to do with alcohol, drug and gang prevention. I grew up seeing a lot of destruction in the small community I was in, so prevention is a passion of mine."
She teaches Smart Moves classes at both Boys and Girls Clubs, which are geared to help prevent teen pregnancy, substance abuse and gang violence. But she is probably best known for the Aztec Dance Group she has started.
"I got into Aztec dancing six years ago at OSU. It's kind of like marshal arts and yoga and a bunch of things put together into one," Molina explained.
Two years ago as a volunteer, she taught Aztec dance to students at the Boys and Girls Club, and this November started the group up again.
It currently has four high school an five elementary students, from a mixture of Native American, Latino and Caucasian cultures. The high school dancers have bright, flashy Aztec costumes, and ones for the younger students are still being made.
The dancers have been practicing every Monday and Wednesday since November, have learned three dances, and performed at the Lady of Guadalupe Walk in Culver Dec. 9, and another performance Dec. 13.
"All the steps have to be done in unity as a group, so it has a component of teamwork," Molina said, adding, "We have our own drums and the kids really like to drum."
Being in the dance group gives Latino kids a sense of pride as they learn stories about their history and culture. Two of their dances tell the stories of how the eagle got on the Mexican flag and where the word "Mexican" comes from -- it's Aztec.
At the Warm Springs Boys and Girls Club, Molina said a grant from the Drug Free Coalition is helping them do traditional sweat lodges. Club Director Frank Smith leads the boys group and other tribal adults lead a girls sweat lodge.
"The sweat lodge has a lot of cultural teachings too," Molina said, noting it takes a lot of time to collect the wood and build the fire used to make steam in the lodge.
"They do one every Friday, but prepare all week. It instills a lot of identity and culture, and includes a lot of moral teachings and songs. It forces you to look at your outlook on life," she said of sweat lodge ceremonies.