The conclusion of our fiscal year on June 30 presents an opportunity to reflect on the work we’ve accomplished over the last 12 months. As always, when I look back at the flurry of activity, I’m reminded just how much effort it takes to get the word out about problem gambling and to make people aware about the resources available to help.

From July 2012 through July 2013, our staff, alliance of volunteers, members, contractors, donors and others conducted a vast array of projects. By any measure – verbal feedback, statistical measures and survey results – we know we are making a difference in Minnesotans’ awareness and understanding of problem gambling as an addiction.

Some of the highlights from the last fiscal year include:

  • Northstar speakers conducted 16 presentations for community groups and professionals, including counselors, therapists, attorneys, probation officers and CPAs.
  • We hosted information booths and provided community outreach efforts at 14 events and professional conferences.
  • The National Problem Gambling Awareness Week campaign (March 3-9) reached hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans through billboards, newspaper stories, radio ads, online stories and television interviews. Our website data from March reflected a 40 percent increase in the number of people visiting www.NorthstarProblemGambling.org over the three previous months.
  • A year-long educational ad campaign targeting sports fans reached followers of the Gophers hockey and basketball teams, the Timberwolves and the Twins. We have plans to reach Vikings fans this fall.

Going forward, our work continues. On Sunday, Aug. 25, look for the Northstar booth at the WCCO building at the Minnesota State Fair. We will be handing out giveaways and sharing information on how people can get help for themselves or others. And, of course, there’s NPGA’s annual conference in September.

In the mean time, I hope you are enjoying some summer relaxation before the busy fall season and “back to school” is suddenly upon us.