BY JEFF FALK
SOUTH LEBANON – A lot are teachers. Many are specifically physical education teachers. But not all local coaches work full-time within the school district in which they are employed.
Over the years, salesmen, realtors and even average blue-collar workers have graced the sidelines of Lebanon County athletics. But no coach has ever done for a living what Jim Donmoyer does.
Donmoyer is Lebanon County’s local version of a ‘Drug Czar’. As the the Executive Director of the Lebanon County Commission on Drug and Alcohol Abuse, the head coach of the Cedar Crest girls’ basketball program is one of the leaders on the war on drugs locally.
A serious job that Donmoyer takes very seriously. But one that seems very removed from his duties of leading the Falcons.
“People always say, ‘Oh you’re a teacher’. No, I don’t teach,” said Donmoyer. “This (Executive Director) is my job. This is my livelihood. It’s kind of life or death. Basketball isn’t life or death. Basketball is something I enjoy doing. I guess it is kind of a hobby. But I get a lot out of it. I get to interact with a lot of people in both areas.
“I look at my job, and the guys who work for me, we have to function as a team,” continued Donmoyer. “The better we function as a team, the more success we have. I’m a people-type of person. I try to help people.”
So given the team work aspects and the social conditions, perhaps Donmoyer’s endeavors are a little more similar than they may appear on the surface. But the bottom line is he’s trying to make a difference in individuals’ lives.
“I tell them, ‘Don’t rush your life. There’s plenty of time to work. Just be a kid,’” said Donmoyer of his players. “It’s life lessons. I’m trying to make them better off the court. God forbid that I’d have to deal with the kids I coached (at his regular job). If anyone would ever go down the wrong path, I hope they would be able to talk to me about it.
“I hope my girls in basketball are learning good life lessons,” Donmoyer continued. “I think my kids know where I work. They understand ‘Zero Tolerance’. They also understand from a caring standpoint. I want to see them succeed on and off the court.”
Before becoming the Executive Director of the Lebanon County Commission on Drug and Alcohol Abuse four years ago, Donmoyer was employed in a myriad of positions that prepared him well for his current job. Among other things, Donmoyer was a probation officer, he worked at the Caron Foundation in Wernersville and he was the director of the Renaissance Crossroads’ program at Pennsylvania Counseling.
“We provide funding and make referrals for treatment,” said Donmoyer of his current position. “It’s a lot of low-income or people who can’t pay out-of-pocket. We don’t personally provide treatment. We refer people to facilities across the state. We try to get treatment, and we pay for it. The lowest someone would need would is out-patient.
“We have a lot of local providers in Lebanon County,” added Donmoyer. “We have detox. We send people to in-patient rehab. And we have our own methadone clinic here in Lebanon County.”
There exists a serious drug problem in the Lebanon community. But one that’s not any more serious than those in surrounding counties, and presumably across the country.
“Honestly, it’s hard to compare other counties,” said Donmoyer. “There’s drugs all around us. We’re a smaller county, but percentage-wise we’re just as busy. Funding is always an issue.
“We have a lot of repeat customers,” Donmoyer added. “That’s just how rehab works. It is rewarding, especially when our clients go on and lead productive lives. It’s not all doom and gloom.”
In a way, it is Donmoyer’s goal to put himself out of a job. He is acutely aware that the locale’s drug problem is one that will never totally go away.
“You will never completely stop it,” said Donmoyer. “A realistic goal would be to reduce heroin deaths and not have as many people relapse. In the future, I’d like to see a rise in the number of successful treatments.
“It’s not just about alcohol and pot any more,” continued Donmoyer. “It starts with opiates, in general. We’re starting to see a lot of pain medications. Then they turn to heroin, which is a lot cheaper. The opiate family is probably the biggest problem, in general.”
It is a busy and full existence that Donmoyer lives. One that requires prioritizing and juggling.
“I’m lucky to have two daughters who both played basketball,” said Donmoyer. “If they were boys I don’t know if I ever would’ve become a girls’ basketball coach. My coaching is 11 months a year. What I’ve been blessed with is having two girls who were involved with basketball, because I was able to stay involved. I got to be with both of my kids from young on up, so I don’t think I missed much. It’s also important to have an understanding wife.
“You just make time for what’s important,” concluded Donmoyer. “You just make it work. Both my job area and coaching area have been successful to this point. It is an undertaking. Bu if you enjoy something, you make it work.”
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