Bringing H.O.P.E. (Helping OHIO Promote E.N.D.)
(Eliminate Narcotic Deaths)

On February 16, 2016 Lakehaven Recovery Center and Reawakenings Wellness Center traveled to Ohio with a plane full of HOPE for Ohioans.  Marie Guma, Director of Business Development for Lakehaven; Michele Goodwin, therapist at Lakehaven; John Reeck, Director of Community Relations for Lakehaven and Stephen Herz, Clinical Director for Reawakenings landed on the snowy state.

The first event was held on February 17th in Warren, Ohio and was sponsored by Solace of the Valley. Solace of the Valley is a non-profit organization seeking to end the crisis of drug addiction in their communities.Solace provides support to individuals and families affected by addiction, advocating for policy changes and mobilizing other communities to enact their own changes.  Solace is an action group, not a recovery group. Solace members are encouraged to be visible in the war on addiction, working within the legal boundaries to enact positive changes to the current climate of laws and penalties to diminish the effects of addiction on our loved ones. Solace feels that they can be a useful partner to those in recovery and those in active addiction to promote positive change.


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The event commenced with Eric Ungaro, president of Solace of the Valley, thanking everyone for coming and reiterating the drug epidemic that is consuming Ohio. He discussed how Solace of the Valley plans to be a part of the solution.  He then introduced Stephen Herz, Clinical Director of Reawakenings Wellness Center, who eloquently spoke of his story and the top rated medical detox services that were included in the 9 scholarships that Reawakenings was bringing to Ohioans. Stephen passed the microphone to John Reeck, Director of Community Relations for Lakehaven, who detailed the excellent treatment offered at Lakehaven Recovery Center.  He assured the audience on Lakehaven's strong principles and ethics.  He highlighted the Joint Commission accreditation attained by Lakehaven, the long continuum of care that differentiates Lakehaven from other treatment centers, the active and growing alumni group at Lakehaven and the amazing clinical staff and treatment that Lakehaven has to offer.  John then got personal with his story of recovery.  He was a testimony that recovery does happen and filled the room with HOPE that they can also achieve sobriety.
The main speaker of the night was Michael DeLeon, a motivational speaker who also was an example that recovery happens.  Michael captivated the audience with the history of how this heroine epidemic got started.  He educated the audience on exactly what to do in order to end this crisis.  He then got personal and told his astonishing life story.  
The night was full of positivism and excited the Lakehaven and Reawakenings staff to do it all over again the next evening in Columbus, Ohio.

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Feeling like the snowy roads were the clouds they were walking on, the Lakehaven and Reawakenings staff drove to Columbus,Ohio to meet with the Riggs family along with The Reeb Avenue Center, Amethyst in Ohio, Alvis and House of Hope as they were the sponsors of the event in Columbus.  Jane Abell of the Reeb Avenue Center made the gymnasium available for the event and graciously provided all of the attendees with the delicious Donato's pizza.  There was a lot of energy in the gym.  The Boys and Girl's club at the Reeb Center were present as well as Judge Scott Vanderkarr.  Like the prior Warren event, Lakehaven and Reawakenings had alumni present. Most of Columbus' agenda was similar to Warren's event except Michele Goodwin's voice was heard in Columbus.  She spoke what treatment at Lakehaven was like from a clinician's perspective. Then she explained how this Ohio campaign of H.O.P.E. began.  Having family in Ohio, Michele visits often.  She is also passionate about substance abuse and in one of her trips she attended a Solace of the Valley event and heard of the Riggs family and their tragic loss of their beautiful daughter, Marin Riggs, to addiction.  Michele was exposed to a video that the Riggs family filmed in the hopes that in sharing their story, they could prevent others going through what they were going through. The video highlights the fact that addiction and the use of heroin is not a back alley drug but instead found in the homes of good children with great families. Michele shared how she uses that video in her family therapy sessions with her clients at Lakehaven.  Then Michele opened the floor to the audience and a beautiful thing occurred. People began to share their stories.  Each one more inspirational than the other.  The parent of a mother's advocacy group spoke up who currently had her son admitted at Lakehaven,  two of Marin Riggs' friends stood up and handed their "another year sober" coin to Heidi Riggs, a young woman stood up who had been sober less than 2 months and was reaching out to her community for help to stay sober.  There are no words to describe the shared experience on these two nights.  
The best part of these events were seeing the faces of those currently struggling with addiction and telling them, "It's going to be okay, we are here with detox and treatment scholarships and you are going to get the help you need to beat this thing!  We are here BRINGING HOPE!"



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