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About Reading Coalition

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Ms. Erica McNamara, MPH
Director, Reading Coalition for Prevention & Support, Reading Police Department
(781) 942-6793
Ms. Erica McNamara, MPH, is the Director of the Reading Coalition for Prevention & Support with the Town of Reading (2008-present) overseeing mental health promotion and substance abuse prevention projects. She managed the ten-year Reading’s Drug Free Communities grant project through the U.S. Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. She is a Certified Instructor for Mental Health First Aid USA and teaches the Teen, Youth, Adult, Public Safety and Higher Education courses. Prior to the Reading Coalition, she served as the Director of Adolescent Health & Youth Development at Lowell Community Health Center in Lowell, MA where she managed five after-school prevention projects. She was the Director/Principal Investigator of the Cambodian Youth Development Partnership funded by the U.S. SAMHSA Center for Substance Abuse Prevention. Ms. McNamara developed programs focused on Asset-Based Youth Development, Teen Pregnancy, HIV, STDs, Substance Abuse, Violence, and Gang Prevention blending innovative and evidence-based approaches. Ms. McNamara was with LCHC for 12 years and previously served as a VISTA (Volunteers In Service to America), Gang Outreach Worker, HIV Prevention Educator, and ESL Teacher. She graduated with Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Massachusetts Lowell. Additionally, she completed the Suffolk University Community Health Management Training and the Master of Public Health Programs at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She has taught a range of evidence-based curricula including Creating Lasting Family Connections substance abuse prevention series, Reducing the Risk, and Changing Scenes. She has presented at both regional and national conferences including CADCA's Coalition Monumental Impact Conference, Massachusetts Library Conference, Massachusetts Connecting for Change Statewide Youth Summit, American Public Health Association, United States Conferences on AIDS, and the National HIV Prevention Conference.
Ms. Krystal Mellonakos-Garay, MA
Outreach Coordinator, Reading Coalition for Prevention & Support, Reading Police Department
(781) 942-6756
Krystal Mellonakos-Garay joined the Coalition as the Outreach Coordinator on October 4, 2021. Ms. Mellonakos previously served as a RESPOND Inc. Certified Domestic Violence Counselor with the Woburn, Wilmington and Reading Police Departments. Her work with RESPOND Inc. focused on working directly with law enforcement personnel to follow-up with victims of domestic violence incidents. She supported victims including conducting high risk assessments, safety planning and court navigation services. She served as Case Manager for victims providing emotional support, housing assistance and referrals to services. Prior to her placement at RESPOND Inc., Ms. Mellonakos worked for Alternative House as a Youth/Teen Advocate. Her time at Alternative House was spent working with children of domestic violence survivors living in their residential shelter. Before entering the field of social services, Ms. Mellonakos worked as an Assistant International Student and Scholar Advisor at Northeastern University. Ms. Mellonakos completed her Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Massachusetts Lowell in December of 2021. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in International Affairs in May of 2019 from Northeastern University. During her undergraduate program, she participated in two internships and one volunteer experience abroad. Ms. Mellonakos worked in the Public Corruption and Special Prosecutions Unit in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boston, Massachusetts as an Intern in 2018. She aided the Assistant U.S. Attorney’s with preparing for trial and translated for Spanish speaking victims of crime. In 2017, she worked as an Intern with the International Institute of New England in Boston, assisting newly admitted refugees with obtaining employment. In 2017, she also volunteered at a non-profit organization that provided after school services to children living in low income households in Brazil.
Taunya L Jarzyniecki LCMHC, MLADC
Public Safety Clinician, Reading Coalition for Prevention & Support, Reading Police Department
(781) 942-6795
Taunya L. Jarzyniecki is an experienced Clinical Mental Health Leader with a strong foundation in crisis intervention, mental health treatment, substance misuse support and care coordination for the past 19 years. Ms. Jarzyniecki graduated from Northeastern University with her Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice in 1994, Cum Laude. She received her Master of Education Degree in Counseling at the University of Massachusetts Boston in 2002. She began her clinical career at South Bay Mental Health Center in Brockton, Massachusetts where she served as an Outpatient Clinician. Following her time at South Bay, she worked for Riverside Community Care as an Emergency Services Clinician. Since 2004, Ms. Jarzyniecki has worked for The Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester in Manchester, New Hampshire for 18 years serving in a variety of clinical roles including Emergency Services Clinician, Child & Adolescent Family Therapist, Court Liaison, Mobile Crisis Response Team Clinician and Coordinator of the Clinical Case Management Team. Ms. Jarzyniecki most recently served as the Assistant Director of Mobile Crisis Response & ES/Interim Care at The Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester. In this role, she was responsible for the daily operations of the Mobile Crisis Response Team and Emergency Services. Her duties included provisions of clinical care, staff supervision and planning of services to meet the needs of the community. Other duties include recruitment, hiring, orientation, and training, scheduling to provide 24/7 coverage, training/oversight to Mobile Crisis staff for psycho-social assessments, clinical formulation and diagnosis. She also provided oversight to the Rapid Response Grant as well as the MAT grant located out of Emergency services. Within this role, she participated in twice yearly Critical Intervention training with the Manchester Police Department. She co-facilitated agency wide training for CALM and Reducing Stigma. She also served as the liaison to community partners that interface with both Emergency Services and Mobile Crisis Response Team. In addition to her work as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Master Licensed Alcohol & Drug Counselor, Ms. Jarzyniecki has served as a Guest Speaker on New Hampshire Public Radio and presented at the New Hampshire Behavioral Health Summit. She was awarded the MHCGM’s Kendall Snow Community Advocacy Award in 2018.

View Reading Coalition's Annual Reports

Want to learn more about our coalition's performance?
Want to learn more about our coalition's performance?

View Coalition Grant Outcome report for 2014-2019


View Coalition Snapshot reports

6-page Reading Coalition Snapshot (2018)


10-page Reading Coalition Snapshot (2018) 


Want to learn more about our new name? RCASA is now Reading Coalition!
Want to learn more about our new name? RCASA is now Reading Coalition!



The name change positions the coalition to better serve Reading and propel it forward

READING, MA (1/2/20) – RCASA, a community coalition under the Town of Reading, within the Police Department that focuses on substance abuse prevention in Reading, announced today the coalition’s official rebrand to Reading Coalition for Prevention & Support.

Established in 2006, the coalition started as a community initiative focused on improving community collaboration and reducing substance abuse. Since then, the coalition has built capacity within our community to address this complex issue and implemented a number of prevention initiatives, while funded under the Drug Free Communities grant.

Today, the coalition, now funded under the Town of Reading within the Reading Police Department, offers programs and services, more suited to the new name. According to Bob LeLacheur, Town Manager, “Reading Coalition for Prevention & Support captures who we are today and what we are working towards not just with respect to substance abuse prevention but also mental health promotion". As the coalition rebrands, all initiatives will continue uninterrupted.

“Rebranding to Reading Coalition for Prevention & Support enables us to connect with a wider audience, continue expanding our programs and services, and ultimately better position us to serve the community” said Erica McNamara, Director of the Reading Coalition. 

The Coalition will involve key stakeholders through a monthly Advisory Board gathering. Members have been appointed by the Coalition Director. The Coalition will continue to work closely with town, school, police, local parents and teens as they evolve their prevention efforts.

Dr. John Doherty, Superintendent of Schools shared “The coalition continues to be a valued resource in working with our school district.”

According to David Clark, Deputy Chief of the Reading Police Department, “The Coalition serves a key role within our department. We are one of the few police departments with an embedded coalition and this day-to-day collaboration on substance abuse and mental health is critical to our work.” 

About Reading Coalition

The Reading Coalition for Prevention & Support is located at the Reading Police Department with a mission “to strategically address our substance abuse problem that youth in Reading, Massachusetts abuse alcohol, prescription drugs, nicotine, and other illegal drugs at unacceptably high rates that emerge early in adolescence, happen frequently, and indicate heavy use. To realize our mission, we will promote a healthy community environment using the strategic prevention framework to ensure everyone who lives, works, or goes to school in Reading can enjoy an optimum quality of life.” For more info about the Reading Coalition, its services and how to get involved, visit



The Coalition's Origin Story

In response to 110 opioid-related hospitalizations and nine overdose deaths (2003-2005), the Select Board of Reading appointed a committee in 2006 to address the town’s substance abuse problem.  Because of the committee’s report, the Reading Coalition Against Substance Abuse (RCASA) was formed as a collaborative approach to substance abuse prevention based on the SAMHSA Strategic Prevention Framework (SPF). The Data Workgroup formed to gather and analyze data from police, EMS, Youth Risk Behavior Survey and a Coalition Readiness Survey.  Focus groups and interviews with residents, faith leaders and emergency room staff yielded more data supporting the need for substance abuse prevention.  

Following the assessment, leaders developed a logo, logic model, strategic plan and defined goals as:

1) Strengthen community collaboration

2) Reduce youth substance abuse. 


From 2007-2012, grant funds from the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and SAMHSA Center for Substance Abuse Prevention enabled paid coalition staff to establish an office at Reading Police Department, collect valuable data, train volunteers, engage youth and build capacity. According to stakeholders, staff and youth leaders built the momentum necessary to change policies. School Committee mandated a breathalyzer policy at dances, changed school search/seizure policies, added K-9 drug searches, added school substance use supports/sanctions, implemented new health classes and improved Chemical Health Regulations. The Select Board approved 17 liquor policy changes, Town Meeting passed a by-law prohibiting public marijuana consumption and youth inspired the Board of Health to ban tobacco sales in pharmacies. Police launched the first 24/7 medication drop off in the region and collected 10,000 bottles. Police rolled out a program for residents to text anonymous tips, enacted a Zero Tolerance Policy and initiated juvenile diversion programming.  

RCASA influenced healthy social norms and reduced risk behaviors as measured by the Reading Youth Risk Behavior Survey (2005-2013).  Among middle school age youth, lifetime alcohol use and alcohol use before age 13 declined by 10%. Current alcohol use and youth in cars with alcohol-impaired drivers went down three percent. Lifetime cigarette use decreased by eight percent. Marijuana use before age 13 went down six percent. More youth reported ‘having an adult to talk in school about their concerns’, an increase of five percent. Among high school age youth, lifetime alcohol use and current alcohol use declined seven percent. Impaired driving rates declined by three percent.  Current cigarette use went down seven percent and lifetime marijuana use went down six percent. More youth reported ‘having an adult to talk in school about their concerns’, an increase of four percent.

From 2013-2019, RCASA continued with the support of federal funding to implement their strategic plan to reduce substance misuse and expanded efforts to promote mental health by launching the Mental Health First Aid program in Reading. In 2020, RCASA became the Reading Coalition for Prevention & Support. We have a new name but remain committed to the same mission. Learn are about our latest initiatives posted on this website. 

Coalition Funding Status 

On October 1, 2019, the Reading Coalition became fully funded under the Public Safety under the Reading Police Department within the Town of Reading. Town funds currently support a full-time Director, Outreach Coordinator and Clinician. Staff offices are located at the Reading Police Department. For current budget information, please visit

Regional Grant Collaboration

Reading Coalition is part of the Mystic Valley Public Health Coalition. This collaborative includes Medford, Malden, Melrose, Wakefield, Winchester, Reading and Stoneham. This regional group is funded by the MDPH BSAS via the City of Medford for the MASS CALL 3 grant project. Reading Coalition benefits from this partnership through access to training, data collection and collaboration.

Coalition Grant Development

Prior to September 29, 2019, the coalition was primarily funded through grants. RCASA applied for 19 grants totaling $1,837,668 and were awarded $1,588,727 in grant funds to reduce substance abuse in Reading. This represents a success rate of 76% in an extremely competitive field.

Since 2006, the Town of Reading has dedicated match resources to support the coalition including office space at the Reading Police Department, Finance Oversight, and much more.

In 2019, the coalition completed their last federal grant year under the Drug Free Communities Program and transitioned to Town of Reading funding. 

Most recent grant completed by the Coalition Director:

  • 5-year grant for Coalition/Town of Reading to procure $625,000 from SAMHSA/White House Office of the National Drug Control Policy office for substance abuse prevention (APPROVED, ENDS 9/29/19)

Past Grants written and procured by Director:







Summary of Benefits

Reading Hospital Trustees

Board of Trustees


1x $2k, 1x $4k


Interface Referral Service 

128 Reading families matched with Mental Health Service providers

Project AWARE (President’s Projects of Significance)

SAMHSA Mental Health


2yr grant


Implement Mental Health First Aid training for school staff, police and community

37 training classes taught by local instructors certified 608 adults in Reading

Health Resources in Action (formerly Med. Found.)

STATE PASS THRU- Tobacco Prevention


1x grant


RCASA Youth Crew educated community stakeholders on tobacco advertising

Youth conducted 4 community presentations on tobacco advertising and participated in 2 statewide events.

The Medical Foundation

STATE PASS THRU-Healthy Communities


1x grant


Reading Healthy Communities Project

Developed RCASA Strategic Plan; Paid for consultant; 6 town staff trained in 9 month Healthy Communities model

The Medical Foundation

STATE PASS THRU-Healthy Communities


1x grant


RCASA Youth Crew Photovoice Project

20 youth trained to use 10 digital cameras to shoot 1700 photos; 300 piece photo display created; Recognized by MADD and Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America

The Medical Foundation

STATE PASS THRU- Tobacco Prevention


1x grant



RCASA Youth Crew Block Project

500 piece art display designed by local children; 25 classroom presentations for elementary children conducted by RCASA Youth on tobacco prevention

Attorney General's Office (funds from Purdue Pharma lawsuit)

STATE- Alcohol & Rx Prevention


1x grant


RCASA Training & Development Project

Supported staffing costs; RCASA media products designed and advertised; Police training; surveys conducted; Selectman trained; youth and parent presentation; alcohol policies reviewed and changed.

MA Exec. Office of Public Safety & Security

STATE- Underage Alcohol Enforcement


1x grants (re-applied annually)


Reading Police Alcohol Compliance

Detectives Division trained in Alcohol Compliance Operations; Officers conducted compliance programs for all Reading licencees.

Drug Free Communities


Office of National Drug Control Policy &

SAMHSA Center for Substance Abuse Prevention


5 yr grant (renewal annually until 2012)


Reading Coalition Against Substance Abuse

1.5 FTE, evaluation services, in state and national training for RCASA staff and 2 officers, materials development, Text a Tip, Rx Round Up, Youth Crew Programs developed.

SAMHSA Town Hall Event

FEDERAL- Underage Drinking


1x stipend (applied annually)


Community Dialogue Events

RCASA hosted community dialogues focused on underage drinking.  Youth recruited.

Health Resources in Action (formerly Med. Found.)

STATE PASS THRU- Tobacco Prevention


1x grant


RCASA Youth Crew Other Tobacco Product Surveys Project

12 youth locally trained; 105 surveys of tobacco retailers; 67 adults locally trained; 7 youth & 1 adult received statewide training

Health Resources in Action (formerly Med. Found.)

STATE PASS THRU- Tobacco Prevention


1x grant 


RCASA Youth Crew- Banning Tobacco in Pharmacies

15 youth trained; Board of Health trained on key health and legal issues; Tobacco banned in 4 local pharmacies.

Health Resources in Action (formerly Med. Found.)

STATE PASS THRU- Tobacco Prevention


1x grant


RCASA Youth Crew-Educating community stakeholders on tobacco advertising

Youth conducted 4 community presentations on tobacco advertising and participated in 2 statewide events.


FEDERAL Sober Truth on Underage Drinking


4yr grant (renewal annually)


RCASA Underage Drinking Prevention Project

To partially support staffing and supplies to implement changes in 7 areas to reduce underage drinking based on the University of Virginia APPLE Model.


Total of completed grants






Grant Support for Reading Public Schools:

The RCASA Director edited the 5-year grant for School Department to procure $1.25 million to implement a School Climate project (APPROVED, 9/29/14, ENDS 9/29/19)

 Previous funding proposals written by the RCASA Director (NOT FUNDED):

  • 1 year grant to procure $20,000 from Lahey Clinic for RCASA and WAKE-UP to support a shared Eliot Recovery Coach to improve access to substance use disorder services for the Towns of Reading/Wakefield (not funded, 2019)
  • 1-year grant for RCASA to procure $5,000 from Winchester Hospital Community Benefit Fund to partially support the Reading Interface Referral Service to improve access to mental health services (not funded, 2016)
  • 2-year grant for police to procure $150,000 from the Attorney General’s Office to train police and school staff in Mental Health First Aid (not funded, 2014).
  • 3-year grant for police to procure $73,941 from the MA Dept. of Mental Health to expand police training and diversion programming (not funded, 2013).
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