About Us

Mission Statement

The Fairfield CARES Community Coalition focuses on preventing substance misuse, fostering social and emotional wellness and resilience among youth, young adults, and families.  The Coalition builds capacity, mobilizes the Fairfield community, and develops comprehensive strategies to help families make healthy choices that allow youth and young adults to thrive.


Fairfield CARES envisions a community that promotes healthy, responsible choices through prevention and education for youth, young adults, and families.


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In 2009, the then Fairfield CARES Task Force was established at the request of the First Selectman to address the problem of alcohol [abuse] misuse particularly by youth and young adults. The First Selectman empowered the task force with the responsibility to research, educate and advocate “for ways in which we as a community might foster an effective, responsible and compassionate approach to the abuse of alcohol and other substances”.

From its inception, Fairfield CARES was a collective of individuals representing different sectors of the community coming together with the common purpose of preventing and reducing drug use (see below).  Today, the Fairfield CARES Community Coalition continues its initial charge. The Coalition’s purpose is to prevent substance misuse and to promote mental health wellness and positive youth and family development.

CARES stands for Community, Awareness, Responsibility, Education, and Services. The Coalition embodies all of these.

On a monthly basis, twelve sectors of the community, including parents, youth, representatives from schools, business, law enforcement, civic organizations, counseling & treatment services, among others, convene to plan and implement evidence based strategies to prevent and reduce substance misuse in the Fairfield community.

Click here to view a glossary of commonly used terms.

The Coalition applies the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Seven Strategies for Effective Community Change to prevent and reduce substance misuse as shown in the image “How We Do Effective Prevention”. Those strategies are applied to three general spheres: Family, School, and Community. When initiatives for a given objective are implemented simultaneously in at least two or in all three of the spheres, the impact is stronger and behavior change is more likely to occur than if initiatives are implemented in only one area.

How We Do Effective Prevention
Ultimately, it takes all of us working together to ensure that our youth thrive - making healthy choices and feeling good about themselves and their future.

Last updated: 02/06/2024

Chair: Michael Patota - President and CEO, Child & Family Guidance Center
Co-Chair: Michael J. Testani - Superintendent of Fairfield Public Schools
Vice Chair: Jaqueline Bush
Past Co-Chair: Philip Dwyer - Chairman, World Fellowship of YMCA Retirees, Rotary Club Member
Secretary: Annalise Caron - Volunteer, Therapist, CBT Westport
Treasurer: Bernadette Coppola - Volunteer, NYS CPA, Coppola Consulting, LLC
Data Committee Chair: Scott Jarzombek - Volunteer, Director, Fairfield Public Library
Educational Program Committee Chair: Vacant
Sustainability Committee Chair: Vicki Gustavson - Volunteer, Kiwanis Club Member
Youth Committee Chair: Paul Cavanna - Volunteer, Principal, Fairfield Warde High School
Community At Large Member: Rachel Kovacic - Volunteer, Business and Development Manager, Operation Hope
Program Director :Catherine T. Hazlett, MPH, TTS.- Staff, Fairfield CARES

Coalition members include representatives from various town sectors and communities:

Help Us Prevent Underage Substance use in Fairfield

By joining Fairfield CARES, you will have the opportunity to make a positive impact within your own community right here in Fairfield in helping to prevent underage substance use. We are looking for caring community members to join our coalition to help teens and young adults live healthy substance free lives and make healthy choices. Please take a few minutes to complete our volunteer interest form or reach out directly to to our Program Director and Coalition Coordinator, Cathy Hazlett at chazlett@fairfieldschools.net.