PartySmart is an organization of young volunteers who care passionately about health, safety, and respect within their communities. Many of us belong to the electronic music and dance community (a.k.a. “the rave scene”), a multigenerational social community without cultural, ethnic, or geographical boundaries. Most of us live and work in Northern New Mexico. However, PartySmart is well known and respected throughout New Mexico and in the neighboring states of Colorado and Texas. As an active chapter of DanceSafe, our contribution to this effort is appreciated throughout North America.

PartySmart began in January, 2000 as a grass-roots organization of friends helping each other to promote health, safety, and respect within the rave scene. Each of us in our own way had been working individually toward these goals, typically through informal peer counseling and support networks. In PartySmart, we created a focus for this work, and we attracted many others to join us and work together toward these common goals. PartySmart itself soon joined DanceSafe, a coalition of local organizations throughout North America that promote health and safety within the rave and nightclub community. As our reputation for honest, respectful outreach to thousands of young people throughout Northern New Mexico spread beyond the rave scene, many educational, public health and safety, youth service, and advocacy organizations invited us to work with them. As a result, PartySmart grew into its identity as a respected peer within the community of organizations serving the youth of Northern New Mexico.

As PartySmart grew and took on its own identity, by 2002 many new volunteers began to join with the expectation to work with PartySmart and very few joined with the intention to create and sustain it. As a result, the burden of responsibility inevitably fell on a small number of volunteers. Perhaps this evolution is natural for any grass-roots organization. However, we must address this issue so that we continue to be viable. Our challenge is to organize PartySmart around our greatest strengths, the passion and dedication of our volunteers, while creating just enough organizational structure to ensure our stability and sustainability. Therefore, we are working toward incorporating PartySmart as a tax-exempt, non-profit New Mexico corporation. This will enable us to pursue funding to reduce the burden on those who have been volunteering full-time to sustain PartySmart, by shifting some of the work to paid staff. By paying staff for program development, volunteer coordination, and training, we can reduce the risk of leadership burnout, create a more stable organization, and turn more of our ideas into effective projects.

PartySmart’s three major programs are Rave & Nightclub Health & Safety; School, College & Community Outreach; and Youth Advocacy, Law & Policy Reform. Our Rave/Club Health/Safety program is well established. We will continue to strengthen it by enhancing our volunteer training, by increasing our emphasis on venue safety, and by broadening its reach to other segments of youth culture (e.g., the punk and hip-hop scenes). Our School/College/Community outreach program is evolving rapidly. Its current emphasis is on educating young people to help them make responsible choices about drugs. However, we expect to shift its emphasis towards promoting healthy communities through active participation, cooperation, and respect for all segments of the community. A comprehensive approach to community health seems necessary, and education is only one aspect of this. Our Advocacy/Reform program is also evolving rapidly, as new opportunities arise for collaboration with other organizations, and as our young volunteers gain confidence in their ability to influence the political process. We expect to shift the mode of this program from reactive to proactive in promoting respect for youth and youth culture. All of our programs will gain strength through leadership development, and will benefit from the possibility of paying staff.

PartySmart’s greatest source of support has been and will continue to be the generous donations of time and personal expenses by our volunteers, and the donations of supplies and services by other organizations. For the first three years of PartySmart’s existence, we have been financially supported primarily by the young people we serve, both directly through cash donations and indirectly through donations from rave promoters. This support has been sufficient to pay for materials, supplies, and literature. We will supplement this with a campaign for written expressions of appreciation and pledges of financial support from the parents of our volunteers and of the young people we serve. While we expect to continue our reliance on their generosity to cover the costs of our materials and supplies, it is unreasonable to expect these young people to cover the costs of paid staff. Several private and public foundations and governmental agencies have expressed interest in supporting our work. As a non-profit corporation, we will pursue these opportunities and solicit broad support from private and corporate donors throughout Northern New Mexico.

© 2002 – 2009 PartySmart, a non-profit corporation