A Tehachapi man is hoping to get public support for creating a substance abuse prevention program for Tehachapi Unified School District’s middle and high schools.

Joshua Pierce, who graduated from Tehachapi High School in 2008, said he returned to live in his hometown in late 2017. He said he built upon his education — including a master of divinity degree and a graduate certificate in pastoral counseling — with specialized training in substance abuse counseling while working for a contractor at the California Correctional Institution. On that foundation, he began a nonprofit counseling ministry and substance abuse program in Tehachapi called Cornerstone Center for Substance Abuse Treatment.

The COVID-19 pandemic has stymied some efforts to grow the program — at the same time it has created more need for substance abuse and mental health programs, Pierce said.

He plans to make a presentation during public comments at the Nov. 16 meeting of the Board of Trustees of Tehachapi Unified School District and is seeking community support to show the board that there is a need for a program.

“​​Drugs have been an issue in Tehachapi for decades and current estimates put the addiction rate of Tehachapi at 13 percent,” Pierce said. “For those of us who have gone through the education system in Tehachapi, we know that drugs and alcohol abuse are deeply embedded within the culture of our youth.” 

The pandemic has only increased these problems, he notes in his petition. 

“Now that school is back in person and students are on campus, Cornerstone would like to help meet the need by providing Substance Abuse Treatment and Prevention Programs on campus.”

More information is available online at change.org, https://tinyurl.com/wux66pjh.