Before we turn from giving thanks and dive into to the hustle and bustle of the end of the year, I want to take a moment to extend gratitude to all of you engaged in this work.
This begins with all of you who have turned personal heartache into a giving heart. Each week I meet mothers, brothers, uncles, and best friends who have lost a loved one to the opioid crisis. These individuals and families share of their hearts, their time, and their resources. They share stories of their loved ones with the intention of reaching other families who have lost someone so they will not feel so alone. They share of their time by volunteering in real life and online in an effort to reduce the stigma associated with substance use disorder. And they share their resources to honor their loved one in the hope that a life will be spared.
Family members like Tyler DeLucca, who chose to honor his cousin’s memory by choosing Live Tampa Bay as the nonprofit he wanted the Tampa Bay Lightning Foundation to support. Family members like Doris and John, whose $5/month recurring contribution in the name of their grandchild, David, provides for refreshments at our anti-stigma community events. And those like Pat, who stated that the amount of personal and community loss is simply too great to articulate.
Similarly, gratitude must be expressed for those traditional frontline professionals and newly engaged business, faith and philanthropic leaders who have decided to step up and dedicate their time, to take collaborative assessments of their data, to brainstorm new solutions and ways of partnering, and to commit corporate pledges to this important work. Whether it be our Law Enforcement and First Responders Committee, the Employer and HR Committee, the Faith Leaders Committee, or our Hospital Bridge Committee, we are engaged in the exciting work of creating healthier workforces, congregations, and communities through solutions that have both high ROIs and social returns on investments. These emerging best-practices are expanding the frontline of this epidemic while promising to reduce the number of lives lost.
Finally, I remain grateful to our dedicated Leadership, Stakeholder, and Community Coalition members and to our hardworking staff who help to pull together meetings, events, and webinars to strengthen these coalitions throughout the year. Your continued commitment is the only way we will achieve our bold goal of reducing the opioid epidemic by 50% in 5 years.
Jennifer Webb, Executive Director