Changed name highlights expanded mission of Corner Drug Store

Published: Thursday, February 1, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 31, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.

It was created as the Corner Drug Store in 1972 to help college-age students deal with drug abuse problems in the wake of the free-wheeling '60s.

In January, the nonprofit social service agency adopted a new name — one that reflected its roots but also acknowledged the growing diversity of the programs it offers.

After 35 years, Corner Drug Store is now CDS Family & Behavioral Health Services Inc.

"We do focus on addiction and substance abuse, to some extent, but that is not all we do," said Jim Pearce, CDS' chief executive officer. "Now we offer services for families and young people who have been involved in abuse or neglect, or who are aging out of the foster care system. We have grown in terms of diversity, but the name has not reflected the breadth of our growth."

An agency that began in Gainesville now has satellite offices in Lake City and Palatka and serves an 11-county area. More than 20 programs fall under the CDS banner.

They include three shelters for runaway or truant youngsters, counseling services for individuals and families and community education programs. The Safe Place signs on storefronts mark another CDS program.

"We also operate the adult drug court program in Alachua County," Pearce said.

Between 70 and 100 youngsters who have "aged out" of the state's foster care system have been served by CDS's independent living program.

As foster children approached 18, the state's previous response had been little more than to wish them good luck, Pearce said.

"They were expected to fend for themselves and often the cycle of abuse continued as they began to have kids of their own," he said.

Now, with state funding, the independent living program helps these young adults with transitional housing and occupational training, up to age 23.

Pearce estimates that CDS programs serve more than 5,000 residents of North Central Florida. The agency is working to get the word out about its programs.

"We will be the same agency tomorrow that we are today," he said. "We want to make sure that people make the connection."

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