The Herald Banner, Greenville, TX


July 12, 2012

Saying goodbye after 25 years

Kroncke reminisces, says goodbye to DrugFree Greenville

GREENVILLE — After serving the community for 25 years, Sharon Kroncke, executive director of DrugFree Greenville, is saying goodbye to the organization and giving a familiar face a chance to step into her shoes.

DrugFree Greenville got its start in the late 1980s. It was around that time that the Chamber of Commerce decided that Greenville, like many other cities at that time, was experiencing a problem with substance abuse and determined to look into the problem further.

“There was a lot of support and interest at that time to do something, though no one really knew what to do,” said Kroncke.

Out of this was formed a strategic committee, at the time called a task force, that identified  that there was indeed a problem with substance abuse in the community.

“But every place had a problem,” said Kroncke. “Drug abuse, alcohol abuse, they’re an epidemic in this country and being epidemic means everyone is affected. So yes, we had a problem.”

There were things that made the group different, however. Things that set them apart from other communities with these problems.

“We were a rural community with an inner city description to some of our problems,” said Kroncke. “We were also on the I-30 corridor, which meant we had traffic coming through our community that others didn’t have. Because of this, and because we were a rural county, we had a significant concern about meth production in the area.”

Those concerns led the group to formulate a plan of action.

“Now that we recognized we had a problem, we wondered what we, a bunch of community citizens, could do about the problem,” said Kroncke, who at that time served as chairperson for the committee. “We took some of the things I learned from Clean Greenville, now called Keep Greenville Beautiful, and used the Keep America Beautiful approach to changing attitudes and the accepted norm.”It was found that the norm was an acceptance that drug abuse was an inevitability.

“We needed to change that attitude and the key to changing people’s attitude is encouraging and involving everyone in the community in whatever it is you’re doing,” said Kroncke. “You allow them to make an investment and give them a buy-in to whatever it is you’re going to teach or whatever the attitude is you’re trying to foster.”

From this they realized they’d have to be heavily involved in the school district, and involved they became.

“We knew one of the best ways to reach not only the school-aged population, but also a lot of the adult population, is through the children,” said Kroncke.

And thus Red Ribbon Week, which actually encompasses the entire month of October, was born featuring a variety of classroom prevention education and activities in an effort to educate and keep the children drug free.

When DrugFree Greenville was first formed — the organization was formally launched in January 1990 — there was no model for what worked in community prevention.

“We were essentially one of the pioneer programs, but one of the main things that made our program different was that we remained grassroots by choice,” said Kroncke.

In fact, DrugFree Greenville has existed for 25 years with no federal or state funding.

“We made a commitment that we would do the programs that we could afford to do locally with the dollars we could generate locally,” she said. “We had such a strong belief that people had to be vested in the program in order for us to really make a difference.”

The community was so supportive of the idea and wanted DrugFree Greenville to exist that the committee had no choice but to go forward.

“The support we received from the community was amazing,” said Kroncke. The majority of the organization’s funds are raised during the annual Walkathon, which was first established in 1989.

“The donations that poured in that first Walkathon were daunting,” said Kroncke. “We were really unprepared for the outpouring of support that was demonstrated that day. It was humbling in that there was such belief and commitment to DrugFree Greenville and now we needed to go forward.”

When looking back over 25 years of work, the tendency is to look at the various programs that DrugFree Greenville initiated, but to Kroncke, it’s more about the people.

“When I think back on Red Ribbon, Shattered Dreams or Heroes Night, it’s people I see,” she said. “It’s the officers, the firefighters and the kids. The fact that there were some 2,000 people that came out to the last Heroes Night. Again, that kind of response is very humbling.”

Kroncke has her favorite programs, of course. How could she not with spending so much time involving herself in them? But the one she believes that makes the most impact is Shattered Dreams, put on every four years.

“It’s a very unique and detail-oriented program,” said Kroncke. “Again, though, when I think of Shattered Dreams I’m thinking about the people. The adults who have invested so much of their heart and time into making a program like that work.”

According to Kroncke, one of the gifts of working with an organization for such a length of time is that the kids interacted with at the start now have kids of their own.

“I’ve had many adults come back and tell me that DrugFree Greenville made such an impact on them during their school years that they attribute it to their choice to stay drug free,” said Kroncke. “That’s a wonderful thing to hear. When you do prevention, because you’re hoping to prevent something from happening, it’s very much delayed gratification. It’s really heartwarming and reassuring to hear someone say that you made a difference.”

A lot of these individuals grow up to become board members, volunteers or financial supporters of the non-profit organization in order to impact their own children.

Kroncke is set to retire in August and has already spent a good deal of time over the summer working with her replacement, Bonita Malone, who is no stranger to DFG, having served the organization in a number of capacities for almost as long as Kroncke has been executive director.

To celebrate Kroncke’s retirement, DrugFree Greenville will hold an open house on Aug. 30. The location and time of the come-and-go event has yet to be determined, but Kroncke hopes the community will come and meet the new executive director while helping her celebrate her retirement.

“It’s difficult to let go because DrugFree Greenville has become like a family to me, but I know I’m leaving it in excellent hands with Bonita,” said Kroncke. “There will undoubtedbly be some change, but the overall flavor and concept will remain intact.


Text Only
  • Beekeepers.jpg Using combs for their curly hair

    Two little 7-year-old Hunt County twins are the sweetest girls around, and they have the honey to prove it.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Children’s Hope coming to county

    Emma Casselton worked for the state of Texas as a foster adoption specialist for 16 years, facilitating more than 1,000 adoptions of local children.

    July 11, 2014

  • IMG_0178.jpg Pastor reflects on 30 years serving Commerce church

    A congregation tends to reflect the views of its pastor.

    July 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • Father's_Day_1.jpg A short history of Father's Day

    There are more than 70 million fathers in the United States today. 

    June 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • 7 Sunday Follies_Brunch_story.jpg Establishing the heart of Hunt County

    Every two years, the Greenville Follies holds a huge stage production to help raise funds for a local community nonprofit.

    June 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • Preston_Tarrant.jpg Parents hope Greenville can help give Preston a lift

    Before the parents of 11-year-old Preston Tarrant received the news that their son had a form of muscular dystrophy, they weren’t even aware that any such disease existed.

    May 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • CM_Angela_Franklin_2-1.jpg Making a career out of volunteerism

    Angela Franklin is a wife, a mother and a grandmother, but she could also be considered a cheerleader for volunteerism in the Greenville area.

    May 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Birthing_Center_sign.jpg At local birthing center, it is Mother’s Day every day

    The structure sits in the middle of a quiet residential neighborhood not far from downtown Greenville.
    If not for the sign in front advertising the home as “The Baby Place Birthing Center”, anyone passing by would likely have no idea that it is a facility where mothers come to deliver their children.

    May 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pastor_Ratliff_feature.1.jpg A promise fulfilled

    A little more than 30 years ago, as he was crossing the bridge over Lake Ray Hubbard, Senior Pastor Roger Ratliff of Vansickle Baptist Church received a calling from God, reminding him to fulfill a promise he had made years earlier to join the ministry.

    April 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Scott_Stegall.jpg Army veteran opens medical facility in Cooper

    When Physician Assistant Scott Stegall first relocated to the Cooper Community Health Center from his practice in Commerce, he knew setting up a family medical clinic in the small, rural community with limited resources would present a challenge.

    April 25, 2014 1 Photo

Featured Ads

Does Dallas head coach Jason Garrett need for the Cowboys to make the playoffs during the 2014 football season to keep his job?

Who knows with Jerry Jones as owner?
     View Results
Must Read

See more photos and purchase prints here.

AP Video
US Ready to Slap New Sanctions on Russia Kerry: Not Worried About Israeli Criticism Boater Rescued From Edge of Kentucky Dam Girl Struck by Plane on Florida Beach Dies Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre House to Vote on Slimmed-down Bill for Border Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide