Long-time Woodinville resident David Scattergood was recently presented with the Presidential Volunteer Service Award (PVSA) for his efforts in drug education and prevention.
He received the award last month during a virtual event attended by drug prevention volunteers from across the United States and Latin America. Scattergood earned the bronze award for contributing more than 100 hours of service over the previous year.
“If I can spend hundreds of hours and maybe one life gets saved, that's worth all of those hundreds of hours,” he said in an interview.
Scattergood is the Northwest representative for Foundation for a Drug-Free World, a nonprofit organization focused on empowering youth and adults to make informed decisions with factual information about drugs, according to its website. The Northwest chapter is sponsored by the Seattle Church of Scientology.
Several years ago, the anti-drug program faced controversy for questionable claims in its educational materials. According to Scattergood, the foundation “simply provides factual data” for educating young people on the dangers of drugs. He said nothing about Scientology is taught or promoted along with the educational presentations.
“Information and research on drugs changes rapidly but warnings about the effects of drugs is basic and has not changed,” he said. “Our sources for research are not limited to any single source, but by the quality of the message.”
He said the nonprofit is a way to get materials into the hands of people working directly in the drug field, such as police officers, counselors, educators, school resource officers and various other organizations.
Scattergood and his team of volunteers has distributed drug education and prevention materials at conferences, community open houses, seminars and festivals around Washington state. In the decade since he first started in the field of drug prevention, he has overseen the distribution of more than 300,000 copies of drug education materials in Washington state.
“I really like the program because it's just pure education,” he said. “I'm not here to tell people what to do with their bodies. We're not here to deal with laws and politics or anything like that. The idea is to get education to kids early before they can make a decision to use.”
According to Scattergood, studies have shown that early education on drugs noticeably helps to decrease usage rates. If a person has avoided taking drugs before they reach age 21, he said, it becomes very unlikely for them to partake afterwards.
The goal of the program is to help kids make their own decisions not to abuse drugs, he noted. According to the Washington Poison Center, there has been a 34% increase of illicit drug use in adolescents and teens in this state alone since COVID-19 first began.
“Education, to me, is the biggest thing,” he said. “People are always going to make their own choice, whatever laws there are out there. If there's a will, there's a way. If there's a desire for the drugs, the drugs will be supplied, whether it's through legal or illegal means.”
Scattergood sees his role as an opportunity to educate youth on the facts about drugs, including the effects they can have on the mind and body. He knows people are going to make their own decisions, he added, but they need to be “educated decisions.”
“The drug dealer is not going to tell the kid everything about the drug. They just want to sell them the drug,” he said. “People need the other side of the story and that's why I got involved.”
Scattergood, an avid music lover, has always been a large supporter of Seattle’s grunge rock scene. He said too many talented, local people have lost their lives because of issues with drugs. For each famous person that overdoses, he noted, there are thousands more whose stories are never told.
“There are a lot of deaths,” he said. “Every time there's deaths from anything, that's a problem. But this continues every year and it's preventable.”