Grant aims for alcohol, drug prevention

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 26, 2003

Drug and alcohol prevention services for the Spanish-speaking community are available in the area.

The Freeborn County Chemical Dependency Center serves a large area in southwest Minnesota, including Mower County. For the second year, the center will be using a state grant of $189,000 to fine-tune its services, coordinate activities with other organizations and increase awareness about its availability to the community.

People who think they may have a chemical dependency problem can receive free guidance at the center from Spanish-speaking personnel. Its main purpose is to help people find the right kind of help for their particular need. Services for youth are also available.

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Jose Duenes works at the center as a prevention specialist for alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.

"We do screenings and find out the type of problems the people have and then refer them," Duenes said.

He also leads support groups in Austin, Owatonna and Albert Lea.

He said the center is serving a definite need in the community, although not enough people are aware of its existence. He said many problems go untreated.

"There is no way of identifying this, because there are no Spanish services available," Duenes said.

The need will continue to grow, he said, with census figures showing a 220 percent Hispanic population increase between 1990 and 2000.

Duenes said the center has already been very successful. The rate of repeat problems among people helped is only 23 percent.

"We don't get those people back," he said.

The number to contact the center for bilingual assistance is (507) 377-5172.

Matt Merritt can be reached at 434-2214 or by email at