Another Year, Another Successful Alzheimer’s Walk

Another Year, Another Successful Alzheimer’s Walk

We could not have picked a lovelier day for our annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s. This was our 4th Walk with Cedar Hill and 3rd as Team Captain. After a cool, foggy start the sun came out and so did the walkers! We were joined this year by two of our nursing home residents who carried our Cedar Hill flag, lovingly painted by many of the residents. Thanks so much to Jen and Linda, and to Sarah and Judy for joining the fun!
We once again reached the Champions Club with our fundraising, so a big thanks to all who donated to this very worthy cause!

Congratulations to Cedar Hill for 30 Years in Business!

Congratulations to Cedar Hill for 30 Years in Business!

We want to be the first the congratulate Mary Louise Sayles and Patricia Horn and the rest of the Cedar Hill Continuing Care Community for 30 years in the business of helping seniors spend the twilight years in grace and dignity. From humble beginnings in a run-down Victorian Mansion to the flower-filled sprawling campus it is today, they have worked tirelessly over these past 30 years to make this facility the gold standard it is today. Trillium is honored to be a part of the marketing team here. 

Congratulations to the entire team, and here’s to 30 more and beyond! 

WPI Employee Bruce Fiene Joins Fight Against Opioid Abuse Epidemic

WPI Employee Bruce Fiene Joins Fight Against Opioid Abuse Epidemic

This article is about Learn to Cope, an organization we strongly support. It was originally published in The Daily Herd

A Rally of Support

WPI Employee Bruce Fiene Joins Fight Against Opioid Abuse Epidemic

June 15, 2016

The recent shocking death of Prince from a prescription opioid overdose introduced many to America’s opioid abuse crisis, including many in the music icon’s inner circle and the media, who purportedly had no idea that he secretly battled addiction for years—a common aspect of this exploding healthcare epidemic.

Bruce Fiene

Bruce Fiene

For Bruce Fiene, a 16-year WPI employee in the Academic Technology Center, the story of Prince’s death from fentanyl (a synthetic opioid with 50 times the potency of pharmaceutical grade heroin), as well as how well the artist kept his addiction hidden, hit close to home.

Fiene says two years ago he was just working and raising a family when he discovered, through a family friend, that his 18-year-old son was using heroin. “It came as a complete surprise,” he says.

Bruce learned that, in what appears to be a common path to addiction, his son got his first opioid pill, a prescription Percocet, around the age of 16 from a friend’s medicine cabinet at a party. At 17, he dabbled some more in legal pharmaceuticals, learning to crush and smoke them. By the time he turned 18, Fiene says, his son was shooting up much cheaper, and more readily available, heroin on a regular basis—all without his family’s knowledge. In a matter of months, the star pupil taking college courses while still a high school junior devolved into a dropout, forced to enter rehab full-time. “He lost it all,” says Fiene.

“This disease is a crisis deadlier than car wrecks or cancer in many areas of the country.” – Bruce Fiene

Even worse, Fiene had absolutely no idea what to do or where to go to for help. It was only through a bit of luck that he found Learn to Cope, a nonprofit support network offering education, resources, peer support, and hope for parents and family members coping with a loved one addicted to opiates or other drugs. Founded by Joanne Peterson in 2004, the organization now has over 8,400 members and is a nationally recognized model for peer support and prevention programming.

Fiene says that at the first Learn to Cope meeting that he and his wife, Tracy, attended, they met other families dealing with nearly identical scenarios. Attending subsequent meetings, they found resources, but, more important, the strength they needed to bolster themselves before they could help their son. Fiene points out that, as its name suggests, Learn to Cope is meant more for parents and families of addicts to heal themselves, “because they spend so much time and energy on the loved one’s addiction, the stress often takes an enormous toll on their mental and physical health … with their whole life revolving around the ups and downs of their child.”

Learn to Cope also pulled back the curtain on the pervasive nature of this epidemic, which cuts across all race, class, cultural, economic, and geographic lines. They were even more horrified to learn how serious the problem has become in their state in just a few short years. Deaths from unintended opioid overdoses in Massachusetts have doubled since 2012. Nationwide statistics are similar, thanks in large part to overprescribing by doctors, insufficient treatment options, and prescription drug education, as well as a lack of law enforcement resources to combat heroin trafficking.

Like many families, the fight against their son’s addiction took a huge toll on Bruce and Tracy, and it wasn’t until last summer that they developed the strength through Learn to Cope to talk publicly about their struggle. Once they did, Bruce became a zealous advocate, recording Public Service Announcements for the Worcester District Attorney’s office and speaking at a Worcester Police Department needle and drug drop event last fall. After those events, several people from the community expressed their appreciation for encouraging them to share their own stories of addiction, and in taking steps to overcome the stigma they felt.

Bruce astride his Harley.

Fiene now serves on the Worcester County Opiate Task Force and is chairman of the subcommittee for Housing and Workforce Development. He is also a trained facilitator and Narcan emergency opiate antidote trainer for Learn to Cope.

Fiene’s sense of mission and of raising awareness didn’t stop there. Three years ago, Bruce and Tracy began riding motorcycles as a hobby, and during their son’s struggles realized riding bikes was a cathartic way to relieve the stress of dealing with their family crisis. While participating in charity rides for The Jimmy Fund and for Goldstar Families on Cape Cod last summer, Bruce was struck with the idea, “Hey, this is something I know I could do to raise money for Learn to Cope.”

He decided to organize Rally 2 Recovery, a 40-mile motorcycle ride from Ware to Worcester this August to fundraise for the charity. Rally 2 Recovery’s mission is to help raise awareness about opioid addiction, with all proceeds going to Learn to Cope for outreach through its education and support groups. The rally will tour through parts of Central Massachusetts that have been hit hard by the current opioid epidemic. Over 1,000 riders and attendees are expected.

CHALLENGING LOGISTICS

Fiene says it took all winter to tackle the logistics for the rally, including launching a fundraising website; getting approval from the Walmart in Ware and from WPI to hold the event on their properties; coordinating with all the local police departments along the route to provide detail officers, and scheduling celebrities and local officials to participate. Fiene says he has gotten lots of help from the community, fellow WPI employees have contributed, and the university has offered the use of its property for the event.

Linda Looft, assistant vice president for government and community relations, said several employees are donating their time to support this cause. “We’re providing the space, and we’re happy to do that. I think it’s such a worthy cause,” she said. “This is a situation that impacts so many people, we feel that it’s important to support this effort.” The rally will use an open lot at Gateway Park as its gathering spot at the end of the event.

PAYING IT FORWARD

“What helped my family and me get through this tragedy was the group Learn to Cope,” Fiene says. “Without them, I am not sure things would have turned out as well as they have. Because of this, I have decided to pay it forward and do a fundraiser for them,” Fiene wrote in an email to coworkers in April of this year, explaining his situation while calling for donations and volunteers. He immediately received eight emails from people with loved ones either suffering from addiction or who have recently lost family members to accidental overdose. None of them had ever talked about their experiences openly.

One of the most important aspects of this event, Fiene says, “is to erase the stigma of heroin addiction because the stigma keeps people suffering in silence. Like most people dealing with addiction, you keep quiet and don’t tell friends, family, or co-workers that your kid is a heroin addict.” All six New England governors agree with him, saying in a recent Harvard Medical School forum that fighting the social stigma associated with addiction is key to battling the opioid crisis raging across the region, according to an Associated Press report.

It also took Learn to Cope for Fiene to accept that addiction is a disease, “just like cancer or diabetes that require long-term treatment and compassion.” Unlike those afflictions, there are few walkathons or 5K runs sponsored by scores of participants happy to publicly share their fight. “But,” says Fiene, “this disease is a crisis deadlier than car wrecks or cancer in many areas of the country.” In fact, drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the US, with 47,055 lethal drug overdoses in 2014. Opioid addiction is driving the epidemic, with 18,893 overdose deaths related to prescription pain relievers, and 10,574 overdose deaths related to heroin in that same year.

MAKING STRIDES

Now 20, Bruce’s son is making great strides in his recovery by staying sober, finding a job, and earning his GED, with hopes of entering WPI soon. Fiene is cautiously optimistic, accepting that addiction is a lifelong struggle. Despite the trauma he and his family have suffered over the past few years, Fiene says, “I’m one of the lucky ones. My son is still alive.”

Originally Published in WPI News

June 15, 2016

Proceeds from the Rally 2 Recovery will go directly to support Learn to Cope—a Nonprofit 501(c)(3)—and its programs. All donations and registrations are fully tax deductible. Registration for the ride is available online at www.rally2recovery.com or from 9 to 10:30 a.m. on Ride Day, Saturday, August 13, at the Walmart parking lot at Gibbs Crossing in Ware. The rally will travel with police motorcycle escort on Route 9 from Ware to Worcester, and will end at Gateway Park on the WPI campus where there will be food and live music by local bands Dodeca and SPF 4. Several local officials are expected to speak, in addition to several state representatives, as well as Worcester City Manager Ed Augustus. Donations can be made through the Rally 2 Recovery website.

Brand New PathWays Site set to Launch

Brand New PathWays Site set to Launch

Local Non-profit Agency Revamps Site

We are thrilled to announce the launch of the brand new Pathways of the River Valley website! It has been a long time coming, and there will be plenty of enhancements still to come, but the new PathWays site will have much more information, links and resources, and is laid out in a much more user-friendly way to assist the families of the clients they support. We are also happy to be helping PathWays with their other community outreach efforts. Non-profit agencies like this are very dear to our heart and we love to help them help the community.

As they say on their brand new website, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” ― Helen Keller

Learn more here: http://pathwaysnh.org

Doing Good for the Community

Following in the tradition of our innovative community outreach efforts, Trillium has been working hard to make a difference in the lives of our neighbors here in the Upper Valley. We’ve spearheaded several initiatives, including 2 in particular that are dear to our hearts.

Caregiver Pampering Day

The first, held in January after the holiday rush, was a partnership with Cedar Hill we dubbed “Caregiver Pampering Day” where caregivers for anyone, not just seniors, were treated to a special day of enjoyment, relaxation, and pampering for family members who care for sick or aging loved ones. Caregivers get to relieve some stress, learn ways to maintain good health year round, and meet other caregivers. It is our way to thank caregivers for all they do for their loved ones. The Village at Cedar Hill hosted the multi-day event that featured Chair, Table, and Hand Massages by Green Day Spa of Windsor, VT; Aromatherapy; Tea & Scones; Relaxing Music; and Gift Bags. The day was a huge success, with not just for the members of the public who came, but also for the employees at Cedar Hill who also had a chance to enjoy a break from caregiving. We can’t wait for the next one!

Caregiver Pampering Day

Leap of Kindness Day

The second event we participated in was #LeapofKindnessDay. 2016 is a #LeapYear. We all get 1 extra day, on Monday, February 29. Trillium partnered with The Okemo Valley Regional Chamber of Commerce to encourage everyone to use this “extra” day by doing something kind for someone else on #LeapofKindnessDay. For our act of kindness,we chose the residents at Cedar Hill to receive flowers and other gifts. The professional staff who cares for these residents also deserve a special thanks for the work they do. Here are some of our staff and residents delivering the gifts they received!Leap of Kindness Day Gift Giving

 

 

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