By Lee Hurley

Brandon Matthews moved to Alabaster in 2011 to plant Cultivate Church, and he still pastors it today. Brandon began volunteering with For Tomorrow in 2017 at its inception and in 2019, For Tomorrow received a DFC (Drug-Free Communities) grant for a total of five years. Upon receiving the grant, there was a need for a director to manage it. He was asked by then Mayor Marty Handlon to lead the effort. Brandon is married to Jen Matthews, and the two have a daughter, five-year-old Asher Jaxon.

What is Alabaster For Tomorrow?
For Tomorrow is the volunteer effort of Alabaster to educate and empower youth, families, and communities to eradicate drugs and prevent substance use. We are called For Tomorrow because everything we do today is for our tomorrow.

When and how did it start?
For Tomorrow began in October 2017 in partnership with Compact of Shelby County. Citizens, business leaders, community leaders, and faith leaders all joined together with the goal of making a difference today for tomorrow.

Who are some of your partners?
The City of Alabaster provides incredible support for all that happens through For Tomorrow. Alabaster City Schools are key partners as we work together in making our schools an even greater place for our kids to learn. The Alabaster Police Department, Compact, Central Alabama Wellness, Warrior Wellness, and the Day Program are a few examples of our amazing partners.

How do you educate the community about drug abuse and recovery?
Our strategy is to connect our community to a centralized place for resources. Our team is represented by every facet of our community. As we educate and empower ourselves, we are able to deliver that back into the community. Collectively, we provide in-person and online seminars, public events, and information through social media, print, billboards, and more.

Has Alabaster embraced For Tomorrow?
Our community genuinely cares about the well-being of their neighbors and works to make this a great place to live and raise a family. For example, our local convenience stores chose to participate in our Family Friendly Vendor program where products not intended for children are removed or relocated in the store and in return receive a decal to display on the front door as a sign they are making an effort to provide families a safe place to shop.

How do you best reach preteens and teenagers?
We reach young people by participating in school programs through Alabaster City Schools. We partner with the Alabaster Teen Council and host events like our annual DFC House Party contest that encourages students to display their healthy lifestyle and good choices through social media.

What type drugs do you see in Alabaster?
For Tomorrow focuses on three main substances that we feel are most common among our young people; marijuana, vaping, and alcohol.

Are young people still experimenting with prescription drugs? If so is there any advice for parents about what to do about their prescription drugs?
Prescription drug abuse is one of the most common problems simply because of availability. Most of us have prescriptions that we are using or are no longer using in our homes. It is important to place your prescriptions in a locked storage compartment and dispose of unused or unwanted medications at local area drop off locations.

What are some signs that your child may be experimenting with drugs?
Signs include an extreme change in your child’s appearance, friends, or physical health. You may also notice unusual behavioral problems and poor grades in school.

Any advice for ways to discuss drug use and abuse with your children?
Talk with them early and often. Equipping them with facts and knowledge helps empower them to make healthy choices. Take advantage of teachable moments that may occur through a television show, current events, or personal experiences.