Above and Beyond: Lisa Latimer holds Clothing Drives

Lisa Latimer, President and CEO of Nortek Environmental, has consistently gone above and beyond for Haymarket Center and our patients. Lisa became a part of the Haymarket community as a result of a loved one’s struggle with substance use. In Lisa’s case, it was her stepson, who passed away in 2016 from an overdose. After her stepson’s passing, she was reconnected with her old friend Eva Delgado, a counselor at Haymarket, who offered her support and condolences.

“Lisa and I have been friends since grade school,” Eva explained. “Lisa’s always been such a kind and generous person, and I know she’s organized donation drives many times before. When I told her more about Haymarket Center and the work that I do here, she was inspired to start one of her donation drives in memory of her stepson.”

For six years, Lisa has organized donation drives in support of Haymarket Center, bringing in abundant supplies of clothing, toiletries, and gift cards for our patients. She spends several months promoting and collecting donations from her professional and personal connections. Impressively, each year’s the collection grows. Lisa’s sense of generosity is not limited to Haymarket. In addition to organizing her clothing drive for Haymarket, she also donates to other service providers, and even goes to Lower Wacker Drive in Chicago to directly provide people who are experiencing homelessness with winter clothes. For Lisa, her work is driven by a profound and enduring sense of empathy.

“You never truly know what someone is dealing with and the troubles they have, so if you can do anything in this world, be kind and give back,” she explained. “The more that you get involved with people experiencing homelessness, you realize that they’re somebodies’ family or friend. They can be veterans or someone unfortunate. If everyone can give a little, it would make a difference to a lot of people.”

AIDS Foundation of Chicago Partnership Expands Services

December 1st marked World AIDS Day, a day where the lives of those lost to HIV/AIDS are remembered and leaders from around the world pledge to find a cure for the virus. While treatment for HIV has improved significantly since the first World AIDS Day in 1988, with around 18,000 Americans dying of AIDS-related illnesses each year, there is still much more work to be done. Fortunately, organizations like the AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC), with its dedicated team of staff and volunteers, are doing tremendous work in helping people with HIV/AIDS live full, happy, and healthy lives.

Given the considerable but often neglected overlap of people who experience both substance use disorders and HIV/AIDS-related complications, the AIDS Foundation of Chicago and Haymarket Center are partners in providing critical health services throughout Chicagoland. AFC has generously funded Haymarket Center for 23 years. These funds provide a variety of services for patients in recovery, including HIV testing, risk reduction counseling, psychosocial support and much more. To build on these services, expanded grant funds will support trauma-informed case management services to help patients connect with and retain benefits.

“Since we specialize in substance use disorder treatment primarily rather than HIV treatment, we will refer HIV-positive patients with substance use disorders to the AFC for long-term care,” explained Gilberto Soberanis, Manager of Haymarket Center’s Health and Wellness Department. “They will then provide these patients with long-term care counselors, treatment for HIV, and even things such as financial support and transportation for treatment.”

Gilberto has a unique relationship with the AFC, having worked there before his career development led him to Haymarket. Gilberto continues to support AFC through the Team to End AIDS (T2), an endurance-training charity team dedicated to raising funds for the AIDS Foundation of Chicago by participating in high-profile athletic events such as the Bank of America Chicago Marathon.

Working at Haymarket full circle moment for Raven Thomas

Raven Thomas works for Haymarket as a medical assistant in the Center’s triage space, but she was introduced to Haymarket as a young child at the age of 3, when multiple family members came to Haymarket for treatment.

“My mom was what I would call a “frequent flyer” here at Haymarket. She was in and out of treatment a lot,” explained Raven. In addition to her mother, Raven said she had extended family members who received treatment at Haymarket. Raven recalls visiting them and spending time at the Center. It was during her mother’s recovery that Raven was introduced to a friendly figure who helped comfort her during a challenging time, Father Mac.

“I still have very vivid memories of Father Mac’s smile and how he always carried butterscotch candies in his pocket,” Raven recalled.

Seeing the effects and impact of substance use disorders firsthand provided Raven with determination to push herself and become a provider of treatment and support for people in recovery. After college, she started a job as a phlebotomist at a laboratory with multiple locations. When she was told where exactly she would be working, she was astounded to hear that she would be returning to Haymarket.

“Coming back to Haymarket hit me like a ton of bricks,” said Raven. “The neighborhood has changed so much since I was little, but the kindness of the staff stayed exactly the same.”

Today, Raven is a staff member of Haymarket itself, and when she’s not providing medical care to the patients of the Center, she’s making sure that the children of Haymarket know that they’re in a good place.

“I practically live on Mater Hall, visiting the babies and little kids,” she said. “They’ll see me in the hallways and say, “Hi best friend!” and it just makes me so happy to see them. I just try to be the person that I needed when I was growing up for them, to let them know that they are special and loved.”

Finding a Recovery Community: Amanda’s Story

“I realized that I couldn’t do this by myself.”

Amanda had struggled with substance use for more than a decade when she lost custody of her two children. She wanted to get her kids back more than anything, so she came to Haymarket Center to help her make big, important changes and get her life back on track.

“I didn’t want to come to Haymarket at first, but I realized that I couldn’t do this by myself,” Amanda said.

Once she got settled into Haymarket and took her first steps into recovery, Amanda found something that she wasn’t expecting to find: a community. Haymarket Center introduced her to other women and mothers who were driven by their children and loved ones to live a healthier life. One person who played an outsized role in Amanda’s recovery was Melinda McMichael, Haymarket Center’s doula and Peer Recovery Specialist. Similar to Amanda, Melinda was motivated to seek treatment in order to be a more stable and supportive parent for her young son. After completing treatment at Haymarket, Melinda joined our staff to support other women and mothers who felt stuck in the same position that she was in.

“Hearing Melinda’s story helped me to try and become better,” Amanda explained. “Being truthful with Melinda about my experience helped so much in my recovery process.”

“Recovery is a hard fight to win, but it is absolutely, 100 percent worth it.”

Today, more than two years after completing treatment at Haymarket, Amanda is reunited with her children. While repairing the damage that had been caused by Amanda’s substance use disorder had been challenging, the progress made by the three of them has been remarkable.

“My kids and I had to get to know each other again,” said Amanda. “We’ve gone through phases and changes, but the kids have made terrific progress, and I attribute that to the evolution and progress that I made myself as a parent.”

Amanda’s recovery has not only allowed her to regain custody of her children, but it’s also given her the strength and experience to help others begin their own journeys from substance use. Amanda works as a Peer Recovery Specialist and through her work, she shares her story and inspires others to make changes towards healthier lives of their own.

When looking back on the course of her recovery journey, Amanda has three words of advice for parents who are in the same position that she was in: never give up.

“Recovery is a hard fight to win, but it is absolutely, 100 percent worth it. You’ll need to set boundaries with yourself and others and there will be challenges, but if you pick yourself up after each time you fall, you will make it.”

For a time, substance use split Amanda’s family apart. Today, she not only has her kids back, but she’s also gained back control of her life.

Amanda was able to reach sobriety as a result of her determination and dedication to herself and her children, and we at Haymarket are proud to have been a part of her recovery. However, we would not be able to do the work that we do without the generosity and compassion of our donors.

Please consider making a gift to Haymarket Center in support of patients like Amanda. Your gift can help someone get a second chance and close the book on substance use disorders. Any gift you make, no matter how big or how small, makes a world of difference to the people who we serve and support.

Make a gift below:

Celebrate Giving Tuesday through our Amazon Wishlist

Giving Tuesday is November 29! This day is defined by generosity, encouraging people to support their community through doing good. The idea of radical generosity and the power that it has driven this global generosity movement. 

This year, we asked our employees to identify what materials would help them create the best environment for recovery. They identified needs such as clothing, shoes, and hygiene products as well as items that promote healthy behaviors such as art supplies, books, and comfort products. By providing our clients with these items, we hope to create an environment of healing and safety.

Consider donating to Haymarket Center through the purchase of items from our Amazon Wishlist, which can be found here.

Dr. Judith Cothran joins Haymarket Center

When a person struggles with a substance use disorder (SUD), the deterioration of their physical health is often the most recognizable and perhaps most severe consequence. In addition to the immediate effects of substance use on an individual’s health, substance use disorders can lead people to circumstances where they are unable to access routine medical care, such as annual physicals, and basic OBGYN care is often neglected.

To help women with substance use disorders obtain the essential care that they otherwise would not have received, Dr. Judith Cothran, a key leader in the Chicago medical community, has joined the Haymarket Center medical team.

“Sometimes, women who use illicit substances tend to have neglected their OBGYN health,” Dr. Cothran explained. “Our approach is fairly comprehensive in response to the difficulties they have faced. For example, most of what we do is scan for STIs, provide pap smears and contraceptive care, and provide cancer screenings.”

Dr. Cothran has a longstanding reputation for providing care to the most vulnerable and marginalized. Prior to joining Haymarket, Dr. Cothran provided basic OBGYN care to the South Side communities of Roseland and Englewood. Additionally, Dr. Cothran has joined her medical colleagues from Loyola University in trips to the Central American country of Belize to assist local healthcare providers in expanding their services and obtaining new medical supplies.

“I feel a sense of service doing the work that I do here at Haymarket,” Dr. Cothran explained. “Many colleagues of mine work in busy practices, and I’m not interested in that in this point of my career. What I want to do instead is focus on taking care of those who have been underserved and neglected, and Haymarket fits that mission profile and serves women who have been neglected.”

Living Recovered: McCord Henry Runs for Haymarket

“Five years liberated from my obsession with alcohol. I do not use the word obsession lightly. When you are gripped by booze, it takes over your body, your mind — your life,” wrote McCord Henry in a post to announce his campaign to raise funds for Haymarket Center. For many years, McCord had lived with an alcohol-induced substance use disorder. Last month, however, McCord celebrated his 2,000th day in recovery. While many might celebrate such a milestone by having a party or gathering with friends and family, McCord spent his 2,000th day doing something different: training for the Chicago Marathon, in support of Haymarket Center.

As McCord turned the page on a difficult chapter in his life, he felt that he had a role to play in helping spread awareness of substance use disorders and helping others find the relief that he fought so hard to enjoy. To that end, McCord combined his advocacy with his love of running, which he credits in large part for helping him find relief from alcohol use, to launch the #LivingRecovered campaign. Under the hashtag #LivingRecovered, McCord runs marathons to help raise funds for organizations like Haymarket Center and its peers all across the country. McCord also has plans to take #LivingRecovered abroad, hoping to participate the prestigious Berlin, London, and Tokyo marathons.

By the day of the marathon on Sunday, October 10, McCord had raised more than $6,000 in donations and pledges for Haymarket Center, exceeding his original goal. While the staff and patients of Haymarket were impressed by and thankful for his fundraising efforts, McCord still had more to give. On Friday, October 7, he led a group of his colleagues from the Pendry Hotel Group, including Pendry general managers Juan Webster and Stephen Blackford, in a volunteer day in support of Haymarket, where they joined our Center’s staff in painting some of the Center’s facilities.

“When I entered Haymarket Center after months of being in touch with these amazing individuals, one word continued to come to the forefront of my mind: Hope,” McCord reflected. “Hope for myself to continue the path I am on, hope for the patients that currently call Haymarket Center home; and hope for all those who are unable to see that there is another option to living in the grasps of addiction. The work that is done inside the Haymarket Center is hope itself.”

McCord finished the Chicago Marathon on Sunday, October 9 with a time of 3 hours, 16 minutes, and 5 seconds.

New Project to Address Homelessness

Substance use disorders (SUDs) are often both the result of and aggravated by conditions such as homelessness and mental illness. Treating an individual’s SUD also means remedying the conditions that cause the disorder and prolong its effects. To that end, Haymarket Center is rolling out its GBHI Chicago (Grants for the Benefit of Homeless Individuals) project to simultaneously treat all of those conditions for hundreds of people.

Haymarket was recently granted funding by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). This grant was awarded to support 300 people who live in underserved communities of Chicago, the majority of whom have experienced SUDs related to opioid use, by providing education on medications to treat conditions of mental illness and substance use, monitoring patient performance, and follow-up care to assist in recovery. The project seeks to meet three goals: reduce substance use, reduce symptoms of mental health, and transition patients into stable housing.

“At a time when homelessness is on the rise, it’s more important than ever that individuals experiencing homelessness along with substance use disorders and mental conditions get the help they need,” explained Jeffrey Collord, Haymarket Center’s Vice President of Operations. “Haymarket’s new grant program will provide treatment and supportive assistance to help these individuals enter into recovery and gain employment and housing.”

In the News: Haymarket holds Trauma Retreat for Law Enforcement

First responders such as firefighters, police officers, and EMS providers are understandably at high-risk for mental and emotional trauma due to their line of work. Unfortunately, resources for treating this trauma often go unused by those in need due to a lack of awareness and stigma surrounding trauma. In response, Haymarket held a retreat for law enforcement officers who have experienced trauma.  

Dr. Dan Lustig, President and CEO of Haymarket Center, wrote an op-ed in the Chicago Sun Times to explain the problem and to promote Haymarket’s new program for first responders: Trauma, stress felt by first responders is huge mental health risk.

Haymarket’s Opioid Recovery Project Experiences Early Success

Last summer, Haymarket was awarded a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to fund its efforts to combat the opioid epidemic in the Chicagoland area. The crisis is ongoing, and its severity hasn’t relented, but with the help of SAMHSA, Haymarket has responded in full force with its Comprehensive Opioid Recovery Center (CORC) project.

CORC extends lifesaving resources and treatments across Cook and DuPage counties by working with medical facilities and drug courts to provide treatment and individualized recovery approaches. Crucially, CORC also includes outreach services to “hotspots” of homelessness in the region that it serves, serving a population that has suffered extensively from the crisis with little to no support.

Results from the project are already showing promise. While demand for the program has been higher than anticipated, data has shown that 70% of participants in the project have abstained from substance use six months after intake. Additionally, the financial stability and employment of participants after six months have risen significantly, multiplying four and five-fold, respectively. The crisis remains an ongoing threat to vulnerable populations, but Haymarket’s services are having an impact for those in need of support.