We hope this newsletter finds you well. As we contemplate the events of 2021 and the first several months of 2022 we pray for positive change. We are certainly a nation divided and in need of healing. We are hopeful that all the conflict in the world will be resolved soon and that our collective prayers for peace will come to fruition.
Since our last message in July of 2020, the Elizabeth Rose Olsen Foundation has continued our work. We needed to approach things differently. More online ordering and fewer personal deliveries than we like, but it made sense with the pandemic. As horrible as Covid was and the far-reaching effect it had on so many families, there were also significant casualties in the recovery community. The isolation was deadly for many individuals. We grieve more than 100,000 lives lost to the disease of addiction in a 12-month period. It is hard for us to grasp this knowing firsthand how those families feel. It brings our personal grief right back to the surface. Anytime we hear of a parent losing their child it hurts.
During the summer of 2021 it became apparent to me that this journey was getting quite difficult. The emotional impact of the five years since Elizabeth’s death was monumental. Our daily involvement with the world of addiction was taking its toll. The supply chain delays were impacting our donations. There were challenges purchasing items we give to the sober houses, but the primary issue was getting bikes. There were long periods of no availability and when we could find them the price increase was substantial. We feel very fortunate that we donated 65 bikes in 2021 and already 20 more during 2022.
As I contemplated walking away from our mission some very significant events occurred. “God Winks” as I like to say.
In mid-August we learned that Elizabeth’s foundation was chosen as the beneficiary of the Sixth Annual Recovery Dodgeball Event.
www.recoverydodgeball.com The participants include treatment centers, sober houses and hundreds of men and women living in recovery. This was the largest event to date and raised the most money due in part to the fact that many participants knew and remembered Elizabeth as well as being aware of our commitment to the recovery community. To say we were humbled is an understatement.
One of our dearest facilities in Delray Beach shared their plans to designate a residential home in their program as “The Olsen”. They name each house for
individuals who have positively impacted them, their organization, or the recovery world. This treatment center has helped thousands of people over the years. They are committed, generous and successful. It is an honor to work with this amazing group and to see Elizabeth memorialized in such a meaningful way.
Once again, I received numerous offers of help toward our Christmas gift project.
Each year I purchase and wrap gifts for every client or resident at all the facilities and sober houses we help. Friends and neighbors were volunteering to wrap the gifts, pack the bags and tie-on bows. Many gave monetary donations to fund the purchases. Receiving help without asking was amazing. Another blessing was the cash donation I was given by two women in a store. As I waited to purchase two overflowing carts of items, they asked what I was doing. When I shared my story, they both handed me money. We all wept. Even the cashier.
2021 Christmas giving was greater than ever!
Thanks to the help of some dear friends and neighbors I was able assemble gift bags for almost 800 young men and women. For many it is the only gift they receive. Len and I spent three days delivering packages to 17 locations. We didn’t notice the butterfly on the side of the rental truck until we arrived at our first stop. Amazing! We certainly felt Elizabeth was with us.
A box of gift bags ready to be put on the truck. We delivered more than 50.
This year we were blessed in a special way. Purely by chance we had the opportunity to talk with men who reside at different sober houses. Living at the same place they were last Christmas each of them remembered getting the gifts and shared with us how much it meant to them and the others. Their gratitude was heartfelt and absolutely made our Christmas. During the past five years making yearlong donations we have frequently been told and being told by the managers and staff how important it is to the clients and residents, however hearing it directly from actual recipients was very powerful. It certainly confirmed that we did in fact make the right decision to stay the course and solidified our commitment to continue this work.
We have now donated over 360 bicycles, close to 475 backpacks, thousands of toiletries, an assortment of household items, hundreds of holiday meals, and $12,750 in gift cards (used to provide clothing, food, and medicine co-pays) to various sober houses. And then there are the Christmas gift bags. This year brought our total to just shy of 3,000 for the five Christmases. It is overwhelming to us to realize just what we have accomplished since our first delivery on Mother’s Day weekend 2017.
Thank you for your ongoing support with this mission.
The Palm Beach County Community Recovery Hub (www.pbchub.org)
In addition to the small treatment centers and sober houses, Len and I also work with organizations that offer support and services to those living with the disease of addiction. Recovery Community Centers (RCC) and Recovery Community Organizations (RCO) are growing in Florida.
The HUB, an RCO in Delray Beach, was opened in May of 2021. After nearly 4 years in the planning, it is a location that offers “help and hope to people affected by alcohol, drugs, and behavioral health disorders.” The HUB provides support via walk- in, call in or online assistance. Connecting individuals to services, peer support, recovery coaching, seminars, webinars, and workshops aimed at harm reduction and sustaining recovery.
Based on the success of the Delray Beach facility, there are two more locations preparing to open in the next few months in Palm Beach County.
Head north 40 miles to the Treasure Coast, the place Len and I call home, another group is working to establish a Recovery Community Organization in Martin County, with some overlap with the Palm Beach group. The men and women who are involved with this RCO were our initial introduction to the recovery world and the good work being done to help with the overdose epidemic. As the pandemic shut down much of what was happening, this group took a hiatus and the focus shifted to Palm Beach County. There is now a concerted effort to get additional locations open including several on the Treasure Coast. Len and I will be part of this project.
Three months ago, on February 19th the recovery community suffered a heartbreaking loss. My dearest friend, Robin Tupper passed away after a period of failing health. Len and I met her through the Treasure Coast Substance Awareness Coalition almost five years ago. She lost her son Nicholas to this disease in March of 2017. Robin and I had an instant connection, “sisters of heart” as we called ourselves. The loss is monumental to her family, us, and those she worked with on a daily basis especially the countless young men and women Robin advocated for in their darkest hours. An integral part of the Palm Beach HUB she gave tirelessly helping the underserved. Yes, Robin was an angel on earth. Her loss is a void that will never be filled.
We continue to be amazed by the incredible individuals working with us on this journey. When you interact with others who have the same dedication and commitment to help those who are afflicted by the disease of Substance Use Disorder it offers a reason to stay the course. To sustain our commitment, we are hoping to count on you again for your financial support. Any donation is greatly appreciated. You can donate through
PayPal via our website at www.HelpingAddictionRecovery.org.
It is with heartfelt gratitude we extend our deepest thanks for your prayers. It takes a lot of support to continue our mission, both emotionally and financially. We live day by day and do what we can to make a difference. And so, the journey continues.
With love, Mariann and Len
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