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President & CEO John Hyatt's powerful pledge to the community

Delivered at the Higher Ground...the Opiate Epidemic event on September 13, 2017

On September 13, 2017, IMPACT hosted Higher Ground…the Opiate Epidemic in the Grand Ballroom of The Wisconsin Club with a capacity crowd.

Guest speakers included NY Times best-selling author Jacquelyn Mitchard, as well as community advocate Linda Lenz whose son Tony died of a heroin overdose on February 13, 2013.  The family tragedy was compounded by the loss of their oldest child from a rare genetic disorder.

When IMPACT learned of Linda's tragedy it was unfortunately too late to help Tony access critical assistance. However, our Critical Condition Fund was established to provide free services that support individuals and their families when life is compromised by addiction.

John Hyatt:

As we try to wrap our heads around this type of loss, and as we have all witnessed the devastation of an act of nature like the recent hurricanes...something so powerful….so out of our control that we could only sit by and watch…unable to stop it…unable to comprehend its force, its unforgiving destruction….claiming lives, causing injury and trauma beyond reason.   Now imagine watching a loved one whose addiction has taken a hold of them in ways that defy all effort and rips through a household that once was safe and loving and possible. And no matter how hard you try, you can’t stop it, You can’t find a way out of its path.  It causes homelessness, unemployment, the break up of families,  and compromises any semblance of future. 


You may be asking how someone can compare a thing of nature to a seemingly reckless choice?  I have to answer that this way:


The power of this drug - of these opioids - defies anyone’s willingness to quit.  What may begin as a prescribed medication for pain, as in Tony’s case, takes very little time to graduate to a more dangerous condition.  To the person who develops an addiction, it becomes no longer a choice to use or not use.  In my 25 year experience of doing this work, I have never met an individual who would rather be in the clutches of this disease, than to be clean.


It is without judgment that those of us at IMPACT have dedicated so much of our lives to helping others become stable so that they can become whole and envision a life of possibilities once again.


We can talk about success stories, outcomes, and we can tell you how long we’ve been around. We can use words like mission, and vision.  But if you’ve lost your child to an opiate overdose - to this epidemic - it’s just not enough. I know I speak on behalf of the people in the trenches at IMPACT, such as the alcohol and drug abuse counselors and the community resource specialists in our 2-1-1 crisis call center, when I say that saving lives is our pledge to this community. 


We are open 24/7, 365 days a year, so our efforts are unwavering. Our partnerships with hospitals, police departments, schools, and organizations throughout our community, have allowed us to strengthen our ability to help a diverse population who are compromised by poverty, mental illness, and hopelessness.


But this evening, we are here to assure you that lives are saved, restored, stabilized, and re-set.  We are IMPACT and we will continue to be HIGHER GROUND for this community, and for those of you who need us. 


We ask for your support to help us expand our services and outreach; to continue our leadership and advocacy work for people who depend on us and whom we depend upon to serve.


In closing, I would like to say this: we have much to do as humanitarians, and as professionals.  The lives that been have been lost will be also be honored… in our work and in our commitment to our community.   That is my pledge to all of you tonight.


To view the Higher Ground video please visit https://youtu.be/B3DI96k61qs