April 4, 2018 (Chicago, IL) — State Representative La Shawn K. Ford, Loretto Hospital, and West Side’s Heroin Task Force hosted a breakfast in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., in commemoration of his life and in remembrance of the tragic assassination on April 4, 1968.

Neli Vazquez Rowland, President and Co-Founder of A Safe Haven Foundation, was invited to present a community proposal and an upcoming Community Based Behavioral Healthcare Continuum of Care Bill, sponsored by State Representative Ford, for combating the growing opioid and heroin epidemic in the Chicagoland area.

Since 1994, A Safe Haven has served as a top anchor organization annually serving an average of 5,000 people in crisis; over 40% suffer from addictions to opioids, heroin, alcohol and other habit-forming substances. A Safe Haven’s award-winning model reflects a unique ability to provide stability to individuals with multiple social and economic challenges by offering a wide range of comprehensive services that consistently lead them to sustainable recovery, housing and employment stability, self-sufficiency and health.

Others in attendance included Representative La Shawn K. Ford, Lt. Governor Sanguinetti (Co-Chair of Governor’s Opioid Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force), Beverly “BJ” Walker (Director of DCFS), James T. Dimas (Secretary of Human Services), Maria Bruni, Ph.D. (Assistant Secretary of Human Services), Felicia F. Norwood (Director of HFS), Amanda Kim (Head of Strategic Health Initiatives at IDPH) and many other respected community leaders, task force members and stakeholders tackling the opioid epidemic.

“The Heroin Task Force meeting was kicked off by Lt. Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti and three A Safe Haven Testimonials of folks who overcame 20 plus years of addiction, incarceration, poverty and homelessness. Their stories reflected the importance of serving to honor the lives of all humanity and the humbling reminder that every life is worth saving. It was an honor to announce an incredibly tangible upcoming Behavioral Healthcare Continuum of Care Bill sponsored by Representative Ford as a much-needed missing link in the delivery system at what was truly one of the most inspiring, powerful and meaningful events imaginable, held throughout the City, to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King. I am forever grateful to Representative Ford, Lt. Governor Sanguinetti, and to all of the Agency and community leaders focused on the Opioid epidemic, who attended and expressed their resolve and commitment to the cause and took the moment to come together as one for this incredibly relevant and worthwhile effort.”

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