Hey everyone – I have some exciting news for you all! I just got back from my trip to Atlanta, Georgia and had a truly beautiful experience. In fact, this isn’t the only place I’ve traveled recently or the only amazing experience that I’ve encountered. Because of this, I am going to start sharing with all of you some things about where myself and my team have been traveling, the impact we’ve been making, what the experience has been like, important updates around addiction and prevention, along with a few helpful tips for all of you!
Most recently, in Atlanta, I had the opportunity to attend Community Catalyst’s 2017 Substance Use Disorders Advocacy Convening. It was an honor to be a part of the closing plenary session discussing strategies for building bridges to better support youth in our communities. It was beautiful to see so many advocates from across the country come and share the work they are doing in their own communities. Discussing topics like SBIRT (screening, brief intervention, referral to treatment), diversion programs, self-care for advocates (probably one of my favorite topics), prevention, the health care system, the importance of building partnerships, and more.
What are a few key takeaways might you ask? Well, first, one of the greatest reminders I heard was that for us advocates it is vital to ALWAYS take care of YOU first. Healers need healing, right? Something I certainly already know and try to keep at the top of my list. But, somedays, when you’re deep into a new project at work or maybe trying to help save someone’s life from the grip of addiction or maybe you are tirelessly educating people around the topics of addiction and mental illness, it can sometimes be daunting and exhausting. When your boots are on the ground and you are deep in the trenches, and this goes for anyone who works in the service field, please don’t forget about YOU! Secondly, I learned that the relationships we build within our communities are so crucial. Whether it’s with local establishments, hospitals, foundations, schools, etc. They all matter and can make for long-term success in our communities. Like my partner Douglas Darby says, “Programs don’t fix communities, relationships do.”
Lastly, and for me most importantly, was that we are ALL helping to make a difference in the work we do. I don’t know about you, but for me, somedays I am constantly focused so far into prevention that it can be difficult to see the greater impact that it’s making. Every little thing that we as individuals and as organizations are helping our communities in some way. Most of all, it’s creating a better future for our next generation, something that I care so deeply about. I want to thank each one of you for your dedication & hard work in making a difference in whatever work that you are doing. For those of you who don’t feel like you’re getting much involved with your community and want to start, reach out to me or go to the “Get Involved” section on our Rise Together website. We have plenty of ways for you to help make a difference. At the end of the day, we are all warriors in the work we do as people and as advocates. We cannot give up the fight. Our people need us.
As for me, I will continue to love my neighbor, educate my community, and speak to all that will listen before we lose our next generation. I can’t wait to share more of this with all of you in the weeks to come.