Jessica Belitz

Mother of one
Community Outreach Coordinator
Maryville, Tennessee

I am the mother of a young daughter, Rory Bay, and the wife of a police officer in Maryville, Tennessee. I am the Community Outreach Coordinator for the Blount Memorial Foundation, and have spent the last five years working in prevention. Prior to my current position, I worked as a crime reporter at Maryville’s local newspaper – The Daily Times, public relations manager for Blount Memorial Hospital, and manager of the Drug Free Communities grant for the Blount County Substance Abuse Prevention Action Team (SAPAT). I am a Certified Prevention Specialist and a Child Passenger Safety Technician. I am also certified in the administration of Naloxone in Tennessee.

I dedicate my time volunteering in public relations with the Alcoa Police Department and serving on the Blount County Recovery Court Foundation and East Tennessee Regional Health Council. Recognizing the importance of prevention, I spend my time at work and in other volunteer capacities sharing the importance of having all hands on deck to curb youth substance abuse.

As a mom, I want to raise my daughter in a safer, healthier community, and I understand the importance of community partnerships and working together to make sustainable changes. I know that there has to be several components in a viable prevention plan – including prevention, education, early intervention, enforcement and treatment. Working with youth has become a passion for me, seeing their eagerness and passion to be a part of the solution. I also work to reach out to as many parents and caregivers as possible, understanding that the home is a major access point, and sometimes there is simply a lack of knowledge on youth substance abuse trends.

Working for a hospital, I recognize the necessity of amazing life-saving medications, as well as medications that help patients deal with chronic and debilitating pain. Used properly, prescription medications, as well as over-the-counter medications, can help relieve symptoms and bring aide to suffering. Unfortunately, these medications are abused and misused far too often. Even scarier, a lot of this abuse and misuse is occurring in our youth population. Through community awareness, education, advocacy, reducing access, and partnering with others to make environmental changes – I hope to decrease the number of youth experimenting with, abusing, misusing, becoming addicted to and overdosing from prescription and over-the-counter medications.

Through my newest venture as one of the “Five Moms,” I hope to spread the message to other parents, caregivers, youth and the general public about the dangers of cough medicine abuse. As no child or family is immune to this risk, we all have to work together to educate others on these dangers and to become a catalyst for change.