Happy Sunday, everyone!
As shared in Where There's an End, There's a Beginning, change continued through the end of 2019. Between the end of a five year career and the end of a two year relationship, I had experienced anxiety and concern over the decisions I made. By the end of the year, I was very clear that all the changes were the right changes at the time. Just in time for the next year, one that would bring even more change, decisions to be made, and utter chaos at times...and more than anything, examples of being in "the right places at the right times."
2020 began in a way that, in hindsight, would reflect exactly what the year would be - unpredictable, scary, unforgettable and uneasy. On a cold January morning, I was at work early and as I was walking upstairs to make some toast, a man came running in screaming, "he's dead, he's dead." Staff were paralyzed, and outside the front door was a woman hunched over a man who was not moving. I dropped my food and asked another staff to run for Narcan. I ran outside and, because I had been through Narcan training as part of my sober house training, took some initiative and approached the man and woman. She indicated he had overdosed. They were both at Avivo for a chemical health assessment, waiting for the doors to open at 6:30am.
I knelt down and grabbed the man, doing the few simple things I remember from training - held his head back, talked to him, and applied a sternal rub. I can't tell you how long it was from that time until the paramedics arrived, but it felt like a loooong time. I continued to do those few simple things and by the time help arrived, the man was letting out some low-pitched grunts. I yelled to the paramedics that we needed Narcan now. To my surprise, they didn't proceed with a ton of urgency, and never administered in our sight. Not only did they not move in the way I would have expected, they picked the man up and threw him on the stretcher like he was some kind of rag doll. I can't tell you which part of that experience was more horrific - holding his lifeless body or watching the medics toss his lifeless body around. I don't know what ever happened to that man. I pray that he is still living today and has found the help he was seeking and needing.
That would be the first story I would tell at Avivo's biggest annual fundraiser, Night of Champions, the next month. I was asked to present "The Ask" portion of the event, as a result of speaking at the fall fundraiser in Owatonna, one that Avivo leaders attended. What an honor it was. I was to share the stage with Robert Smith, former Vikings legendary running back, and Reg Chapman, a legendary news reporter.
I began by telling how unforgettable that experience of the overdosed man was. I transitioned into why I believe so strongly in the work Avivo does, as had it not been for Avivo being so willing to open doors so early, who knows if that man would have seen a hearse before an ambulance that day.
The speech was the most anticipated of my speaking career, and while I had some regular pieces of data and questions to present, I tailored it a bit and packed my story into less than 10 minutes. Rather than explain what that meant and how it felt, I'm sharing the video here, so you can see and hear for yourself.
As I've long mentioned, these speaking experiences have become more and more progressive, in terms of significance, importance and delivery, and this would be the beginning of a planned event of my own, one still yet to come, that will rally as many people as possible to support several huge movements. Stay tuned for more, as that event is going to be set and shared sometime soon. COVID-19 put a damper on the original plan, but such is life. Until then, stay well, friends, family, and followers!