April 8, 2021, Will County, Illinois – To help ease the ongoing needs of Illinoisans created by the COVID-19 pandemic, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois (BCBSIL) has awarded HERO a $20,000 grant as part of BCBSIL’s latest round of giving aimed at helping the helpers.
Thank you @BlueCrossBlueShieldofIllinois for supporting us with a $20,000 grant from your #COVID-19 Community Collaboration Fund. Your gift will help HERO continue to provide services for our clients, including distributing Narcan, provide schools with education for teens at our local schools about substance use and provide counselors at our regularly scheduled Grief Support and Family Support meetings for our clients. HERO supports and helps families who are desperately struggling to save the life of a loved one BCBSIL selected 175 organizations across Illinois with missions focused on access to care, hunger, shelter and behavioral health care, and COVID-19 health education and vaccine access to receive $20,000 grants as part of its COVID-19 Community Collaboration Fund.
“A year into the pandemic and the health, economic and social impacts around Illinois are still great,” said Harmony Harrington, vice-president government and community relations for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois. “We’re proud to be able to help so many organizations increase their capacity to help more people receive the help they need.”
HERO’s mission is to stop the growing heroin/opioid epidemic that has rapidly swept across our nation through our own programs and by supporting strategic pieces of legislation all while providing comfort and support to those who have lost a loved one to heroin/opioid or are currently helping a loved one who is struggling with this deadly disease.
About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois (BCBSIL) is committed to expanding access to quality, cost-effective health care to as many people as possible in Illinois. BCBSIL is dedicated to innovation and exploring, nurturing and activating future possibilities to make the health care system work better for our members and our communities.
Helping in many communities.
Message from John Roberts
A New School Year
HERO Visits Liberty Junior High School in New Lenox
HERO was invited to visit Liberty Junior High School and make drug education presentations to the students. This particular school visit was the first visit for the the new school year and several more visits to local schools have also been scheduled in the coming months. The presentations were made by John Roberts and Kim White, two parents who lost sons to a drug overdose. Over the last few years, Roberts and White have conducted more than fifty such visits to local schools. During the visit to Liberty Junior High School Roberts and White spoke to the entire 8th grade class (330 students) who were assembled in the school gymnasium. The students were also joined by several faculty and staff members.
In addition to the large presentations taking place in the gymnasium, instructors from the Robert Crown Center for Health Education were invited to visit the school. Four staff members from the Robert Crown Center were asked to visit classrooms and speak to smaller groups of students.
Dr. John Roberts, the President and co-founder of HERO, has frequently spoken at large public gatherings in the Village and he has often credited the Village of New Lenox with being a “model community” when it comes to combating substance abuse. The Village's proactive approach was once again showcased at Liberty Junior High School when the faculty and staff made all necessary arrangements to have not one, but two well known organizations speak to their students.
Everyone at HERO strongly supports drug education. We firmly believe it is vital to combating substance abuse in our nation. Over the last several years a growing body of evidence has been published that points to the fact that most addiction is rooted in teen age years. The evidence shows that 90% of all adults suffering from a substance use disorder began using one or more substances (like alcohol, nicotine or marijuana) before the age of 18. And, the evidence shows that the earlier substance abuse is initiated, the more likely an individual is to develop a substance use disorder.
HERO would like to applaud Liberty Junior High School for their educational leadership and the proactive steps they are taking to protect their students. HERO will gladly pledge their support and return every year to talk to the 8th grade students about the many dangers of substance abuse.
Kim Rides to Raise Awareness and Donations
Kim Conte, a HERO board member, biked over 300 miles with friend and fellow bike rider Andy, to raise awareness and funding to fight the opioid crisis on the local level. They took the three-day journey together, leaving on Friday September 20th, and returning on Sunday September 22nd. The three-day ride took them into Iowa and back, and they celebrated their return at Chicago Police Headquarters on Sunday afternoon. The ride took place on the anniversary of Joey’s death, Kim’s brother, due to an opioid overdose. Kim raised over $5,000 in donations for HERO, far surpassing her goal of $3,200. Watch Kim’s interview upon their return on Sunday.
Kim Conte Rides to Raise Awareness
Kim Conte, a new board member with HERO, will be biking over 300 miles in September to raise awareness and donations to help HERO fight the opioid crisis. After losing her brother Joey to a heroin overdose on September 20, 2017, Kim cycled over 100 miles on the first anniversary of his death to raise awareness and over $3,000 for our HERO Foundation. HERO was able to purchase and train others with Narcan (naloxone) to reverse an opioid overdose, thanks to Kim’s donation. As Kim approaches the second anniversary of her brother’s passing, she exclaims, ”of course I can’t stop now”. Kim is training and preparing to cycle 300 miles in 3 days beginning September 20th, 2019. She will be riding in the northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin areas to raise awareness and donations for HERO. Kim will be active on Instagram (KimmiConte) during her three-day journey, so we have the chance to follow her ride. She is also presently collecting items to be auctioned off before her ride. We anticipate having a “welcome back” party at the end of her ride, so we will keep you informed about that fun event. Donate to Kim’s mission on Go Fund Me and help her to meet her goal.
Addiction and recovery involve the entire family. When you have a loved one in active addiction, you can find yourself spinning in circles wondering what to do next. Your life as you knew it is in the past. You might be confused, angry, and feeling hopeless. At HERO, we understand what you’re going through and what you’re feeling. We’ve been there and we can help.
We believe that you will get through this difficult stage in your life. It will take time and it might not be easy, but you will eventually smile and begin to enjoy life again. We urge you to get the help you need as you recover. Yes, you are in recovery too. You don’t have to go through this alone. You can benefit from the support of others who have gone through similar circumstances during difficult times. Peer support can help. Please don’t remain silent and alone.
We urge you to talk with a trusted family member, friend, counselor, or join a peer support group. At HERO, we offer support to struggling family members every Tuesday in New Lenox and twice a month in Morris, in addition to our grief support group in Orland Park (see times below). You don’t have to carry this burden alone. We urge you to talk with others that are going through the same thing. We can all learn from one another, help yourself by finding someone to confide in.
Self-care is extremely important during this time of crisis. Please don’t neglect yourself while so much attention is given to the addicted one. It’s crucial that you remain strong and that your health doesn’t suffer. Making healthy eating choices, exercising, and getting enough rest is necessary to keep you strong and at your best. Living with someone that is using will drain you, please guard against that. Make it your goal to be the best YOU that you can be during this tough time.
It’s OK to focus on yourself, actually it’s important for your peace of mind. Do something everyday that will bring you joy. For example, join a gym for exercise, take a class at the local college or library, volunteer somewhere, take walks, pray, journal, meditate, renew an old hobby or friendships. There are many activities to help nurture you. The bottom line is to care for yourself. You are the only one that can do that. Again, you need to remain healthy and strong to face all of life’s challenges. Becoming the best YOU that you can be will allow you to support your addicted loved one in the strongest way possible. We are here for you, please join us at one of our support groups.
Family Support groups are held at two locations:
Lincolnway Christian Church located at 690 E. Illinois Highway in New Lenox, IL. We meet every Tuesday from 7:00PM to 8:30PM.
Canalport Conference Room located at 518 W. Illinois Avenue in Morris, IL from 7:00PM to 8:30PM on the 2nd and 4th Friday of every month.
Grief Support is held at Calvary Church located at 16100 South 104TH Avenue Orland Park, IL on the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of every month from 7:00PM to 8:30PM.