Hudson drew over 150 community members, parents and students for the closing session Jan. 10 of the seminar series facilitated by Rise Together, a Wisconsin-based non-profit which raises awareness about the dangers of drugs and alcohol use.
Rise Together was able to educate all 6-12 graders in the Hudson School District through a grant awarded by the Hudson Hospital Foundation. The organization's role is to identify, provide, inspire and motivate communities in need. The three-day event was filled with storytelling, interaction and critical messaging to students and parents that they are not alone.
"We are proud to help support Hudson," said Anthony Alvarado, Rise Together President and co-founder. "Your students were engaged, wanted to learn and just needed to be heard."
His message throughout the evening seminar was kids are worth fighting for. They don't want to be alone. Alvarado called out it was not about the data, it's about the hope we need to bring.
Six years ago, Alvarado met Douglas Darby and together they wanted to inspire hope. They heard that opioid misuse was labeled a national epidemic, but they didn't know how to attack it so they starting speaking about recovery and it evolved from there. Ninety percent of people who struggle with addiction started before the age of 18. Both Alvarado and Darby knew it would be safer for our kids if they had the courage to speak out and not be afraid.
"It was hard to stand up and tell my story," Darby told the audience. "Stories matter because they are a form of healing and a means to take your power back."
Darby's addiction started with prescription pain medications and moved on to heroin. He was incarcerated and once clean, was determined to change his trajectory. He mentioned that several students confided in him after the sessions and he passionately stated, "don't tell kids how to live - meet them where they are and together find a solution."
Hudson community member Ingrid Blair joined the Rise Together Board of Directors after losing her oldest son, Hunter in 2016. Blair shared her family's story and joined community resource experts from the Hudson Police Department, St. Croix County and Hudson Hospital's Programs For Change for a panel discussion with event participants.
The Rise Together leaders announced the Hudson turnout was the largest they've ever seen and they looked forward to continuing their mission in our community.