When Turn It Around youth group member Wellington Melo was growing up in Charlestown, he said he was often found selling drugs in the community and getting further and further involved in the court system.
Having a sense of hopelessness, he said it didn’t bother him because he only cared about getting money.
After joining Turn It Around about a year ago, Melo said he has turned around his life and he better understands how he hurt the community.
“Now that I am a little more grown up and have positive people in my life to steer me in the right direction, I can look back and see how these people are actually suffering,” he said of those who are addicted, many of whom he said he sold drugs to. “Many people that are using are homeless, sick, starving, and even dying. I joined Turn It Around to better my knowledge about the big issue and be able to give back to the community that I was hurting. Turn It Around has opened my eyes to a better future and is giving me great opportunities.”
Melo’s story is just one of many stories on the new Web site launched this week by the Charlestown Coalition to further cement its new brand – having moved from the old CSAC name last year to the new Charlestown Coalition brand.
Sarah Coughlin of the Coalition said the Turn It Around page – one of many pages on the new site – had been immediately popular as it tells so many personal stories of the growing youth group and its members.
“We have been working on this for quite a while to get out the new branding,” she said. “Many people still look at us though our old lens of the Charlestown Substance Abuse Coalition (CSAC). This new site shows all of our staff and what we do and the education piece. The Turn It Around group has really grown and that portion of the site has been very popular. It tells about the members and introduces people to the youth in our community. We really want to let the community know this new site exists, and we hope they will check it out.”
Coughlin noted that sometimes youth in the community can be perceived negatively. And, people struggling with substance use disorders or in recovery are not always portrayed in the most favorable light.
“I am hopeful that through the Turn It Around youth group member stories and bios, as well as the Voices of Recovery series found in our newsletter, we can begin to break down the negative stereotypes and focus on the positive role models right here in our community,” she said.
The Charlestown Coalition is supported by the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Community Health Improvement (CCHI). Visit to learn more about their focus areas and programs; staff profiles; community partners; youth group members; news and upcoming events; and, much more.