About a year ago, I was invited to an event celebrating the opening of the Early College at Greenville Technical College and I still remember the main message presented by the teachers: Teamwork makes the dream work! I also remember the students repeating this slogan together in one voice, making a promise to help each other overcome any obstacles that occurred along the way.

The good news is that most of us hear this messaging in our childhood years. We are taught to share, to always say “please” and “thank you” and to help our friends when they need us. The bad news is that we often forget these lessons, as we get older. We get caught up in our own lives and work, and often overlook the importance of working together and collaborating.

The truth is that collaboration can open many doors and provide endless opportunities. If we could only see beyond our personal goals and interests, and give a hand to those around us, we would be surprised to find how easy it is to focus on cooperation instead of on competition.

Much of my work over the years has been focused on establishing successful collaborations. Mutual respect, understanding and trust, and open and frequent communication are key tenants of these relationships. To develop a shared mission and goals, you must establish an environment where individuals can share why they are involved, what they hope to accomplish and how coming together can help them achieve their goals. There is nothing more inspiring than witnessing seemingly unrelated organizations working together toward a shared goal.

Project Rx: A River Remedy now in its fourth year, is a successful collaboration between some very different organizations who have come together for a shared goal – safe and proper disposal of medications. It is a free, bi-annual drug take-back event held at numerous locations across the Upstate. Key collaborators include Bon Secours St. Francis Health System, Greenville County Sheriff’s Office, Greenville County Medical Society, Greenville Family Partnership, Greenville Technical College, Renewable Water Resources and the US Drug Enforcement Administration. Each organization comes to the table for a different reason – be it environmental protection, pharmaceutical education or drug abuse prevention – yet for the same ultimate purpose: to safely dispose of unused medications to keep our community safe and healthy.

The average person in the United States fills approximately 12 prescriptions a year. With 450,000+ people in Greenville County, our community brings home more than 5 million prescriptions a year, not to mention the over-the-counter drugs that are also purchased. What do people do with their unused medications? Are they ending up in our rivers or in the hands of our youth?

Many do not realize that pouring medications down the drain can harm the environment and that even trace elements of medicine can disrupt the balance of life in our rivers, lakes and streams. In addition consider that one in four teens has misused or abused a prescription drug at least once in their lifetime – a 33% increase over the past five years as reported in a recent study by The Partnership at Drugfree.org and the MetLife Foundation. Thanks to Project Rx, residents can gather all their unwanted and expired medications and come to one of the convenient drive-thru locations to safely hand off their medicines.

Project Rx is made possible by more than 17 local organizations coming together, along with numerous trained volunteers who help collect, sort and dispose of the medications at multiple sites across the region. Project Rx proves that teamwork makes the dream work. The valuable relationships that have been established through this collaboration have enabled our community to collect more than 8,402 lbs of medications over the past four years. This is the equivalent weight of three cars! These results are simply staggering and a great tribute to a successful collaborative effort.

So please be part of Greenville’s shared vision for safe and proper disposal of medications! Empty your medicine cabinets and bring your unused and expired medications to one of Project Rx’s convenient locations on Saturday, April 26 between 10 am and 2 pm.

For more information: www.ariverremedy.org.