Dear Fellow Rotarians & friends,
It’s difficult whenever we lose someone who has been close to us. It’s especially tragic when someone dies as a result of their own bad decisions.
Our speaker for this week’s meeting is Barbara Schlichting. Barbara is the Executive Director of Somerset Treatment Services. Somerset Treatment Services is a treatment and counseling center that offers affordable outpatient services for substance abuse and other related challenges. For me, it's very ironic that STS would be on this week's agenda.
On Saturday night, my wife’s phone rang. She received a call that we had hoped would never come. Unfortunately, the call was not a total surprise. Justin was a Marine veteran who stood about six foot-four. He worked as a security account manager and was in charge of several building complexes. He had a great sense of humor and a future full of promise.
About ten years ago, he got married and started a family. He had two young sons. He was being promoted at his job on a regular basis. Sometime after the birth of his second son, things began to change. Justin developed a drug dependency that snowballed out of control. He began to behave recklessly. It cost him his marriage; his career; his relationship with his children. He was arrested for drug possession. He spent the next several years in and out of rehabs and mental health facilities.
We all hoped that he would find the inner strength to turn his life around, but he never did. Justin passed away on Saturday from a Heroin overdose at the age of thirty six. I have a tendency to look at people in two ways: For who they are, but also for who they can be. I saw glimpses of a great man in Justin. He spent a great deal of time with me in both business and social settings. He was becoming a confident public speaker and entrepreneur. I saw someone who had the potential to do great things.
We’ve heard a lot about substance abuse and the “opioid crisis.” There is a Heroin crisis. I’d like to call it for what it is. Heroin is cheap and its killing more people across every socio-economic demographic then are dying in wars. It’s happened here in this community. I’ve tried to keep our weekly messages upbeat and positive. In spite of this tragedy. I don’t think that we should ever lose hope for all things…but especially for the future. I’m hopeful that one day we’ll solve this opioid to Heroin travesty. This problem will not go away. It needs solving.
Yours in Rotary,