Isaiah was my firstborn, my one and only son. He was my first best friend, the love of my life, and my reason for always striving to be a better human. He loved skateboarding, graffiti art, and spending time with his friends. Isaiah was a social butterfly and everyone who met him loved him. When Isaiah was 15 years old, all of the things he once loved and his positive character began to slowly fade away. I searched for help. Counseling appointments, psychiatrist, resource officers, school administrators, probation officers, judges, out of state rehabilitation centers...I hit one brick wall after another. My son was struggling and there was no one that could help because of the limited services offered for minors. Isaiah was my "problem" and I was left helpless for three years as I watched his addiction progress. I often said that as long as there was breath, there was hope. Until the afternoon of October 29, 2022 when I saw the worst image that any parent could witness, at the age of 18, my son's life was over. His breath was gone. The night prior, he thought he was purchasing cocaine, but in fact it was 100% fentanyl. I held his body for as long as the paramedics and police would allow me. I made a decision that night that Isaiah's death was going to make an impact because his life mattered. Just as all of the lives of every child and victim we have lost due to drug overdose and Fentanyl poisoning, they all matter. Isaiah's story is not over. He lives through the Hope Above Fear organization. His legacy will continue on by helping to prevent drug-related deaths among youth in our community.
Hope Above Fear's mission is to promote awareness and provide assistance to minors struggling with substance abuse and support for their families. United together, we work to make a difference for the youth and families of Escambia County. We provide education, support, and guidance necessary to end adolescent death from overdose and Fentanyl poisoning.
To whom much is given, much is required. I have been incredibly blessed in my life, and feel a strong call to pay it forward. I joined the Board and continue to help because I believe so fervently in the cause--to raise awareness about the dangers of fentanyl, to improve access to care for those with substance abuse and mental healthcare needs, and to combat the stigma that surrounds who the typical drug seeker is.
Volunteering for Hope Above Fear has shown me the strength of grassroots efforts to effect real change. I have been astonished at what this tiny but mighty organization has done in less than one year's time. The connections we have made along the way demonstrate that whether people are vocal about it or not (again stigma!), all of us have been affected by mental health crises, substance abuse, or overdose.
I often fear taking chances in the actualization of big ideas-- because it seems too hard, like too much work, or because too many obstacles are in the way. Volunteering for Hope Above Fear has proven to me that with persistence and conviction, we can make a difference in the face of a seemingly insurmountable task. And as long as we persist, if we change even one life, the journey will be worth it.
Your contribution will support our mission to educate Escambia County youth and families about the reality that experimenting with drugs can bring a fatal end to their promising lives. Together, we will make a difference.