We have a great sense of pride, knowing our mission is the culmination of countless individuals who share a common experience and goal – addiction. Born from one man’s struggle with addiction, Herren Project started as an idea and has grown into a movement, a positive and powerful social movement affecting meaningful change for the disease of addiction.
Fueled by countless individuals making an impact on their own and collectively, Herren Project has successfully brought positive awareness, hope, and understanding to the addiction community with purpose, vision, and passion, exemplifying the “power of one.”
One Person. One Family. One Community.
We often hear it only takes one person to make a difference, but what does that mean? There is a power in all of us if we recognize it that we call the “power of one.” This expression encapsulates the founding principles of Herren Project and its sister organizations Herren Wellness and Herren Talks. One person can change how we understand and engage substance use disorder and its treatment, recovery, and prevention but together, we can affect meaningful change and action to bring positive awareness and overcome the disease of addiction.
This July, we celebrate our community’s impact by focusing on some of the men and women who have positively impacted Herren Project and on recovery and prevention. Through their time, talent, and treasure, these ten men and women have played a considerable role in helping to transform an idea into a movement, exemplifying the “power of one” philosophy. They have harnessed their unique power as individuals to enact positive change and influence in advancing our mission to support, inspire, and empower those affected by substance use disorder.
“There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about.” – Margaret J. Wheatley
How can you be a “power of one”?
Make a donation to our Empowerment Appeal and empower those affected by the disease of addiction.
Andrew Canny‘s knowledge of addiction comes from the first-hand experience. For years, either by court mandate or self-admittance, Andrew’s attempts to live a life in recovery were unsuccessful. Introduced to the concept that addiction is a family disease by Herren Project, he and his family could finally grasp what life in active addiction had become. Still, they learned there was hope for successful long-term recovery when given the right tools and community.
Herren Project has walked with him and his family on his recovery journey for over four years, providing compassion, support, and education. Celebrating four years in long-term recovery, he gives back every day by walking with many others on their personal journeys to recovery. Today, Andrew works as a recovery coach for Herren Project, guiding over 50 recovery scholarship recipients. He also serves as the Manager of PHP/IOP Services at Immersion Recovery Center in Florida. Andrew gives back by using his knowledge and story to help and inspire others on their paths to recovery. Being a “power of one” is part of his daily living. He gives back and beyond the gift of recovery that was given to him, impacting the lives of others and inspiring hundreds of people to take the first step to recovery.
Trying to find recovery on his own terms, Ryan Connolly reached a point where he knew he could not do it alone and needed a community. With the support of Herren Project and his loving family, he celebrates over three and a half years in long-term recovery. Moved by Chris Herren‘s ability to touch the lives of so many through his story, Ryan wanted to use his experience to help inspire and empower others to write their story.
Recovery has given him everything he had always dreamed of. Today, he is married and the father of two beautiful children. He’s proud of not only being a Herren Project alumni but the current President of Herren Project’s Board of Directors. Ryan’s story demonstrates the power of acceptance and humility and the internal strength it takes to reach out for help. Ryan and his entire family are a true “power of one, giving their time, talent, and treasure. His leadership has guided Herren Project through one of the most challenging times in our history and is poised for incredible growth as we enter the next decade at Herren Project.
When we first launched Herren Project Clubs in 2019, no one could have imagined how quickly they would grow in popularity. The initiative was taken on by many students nationwide, like Natalie De La Cruz, to spread awareness and enthusiasm in embracing the “BE YOU” message and empowering students to live substance-free.
Since day one, Natalie has been a champion, introducing a Herren Project Club in her Connecticut school in 2019. Elected her club’s first president, Natalie was also chosen in 2020 as one of Herren Project’s first youth ambassadors. Off to college in the fall, she will become the first student to introduce Herren Project Clubs in a college setting in 2021.
Beyond starting a club, Natalie has inspired many students by sharing her story and experience with her personal mental health and addiction struggles. Natalie has given a voice to many with similar experiences on issues too often left unexpressed through her bravery. In her own words, “when you empower one person, you empower them to inspire dozens of others.” Natalie is a true testament to the power of one person using their gifts and experience to empower and inspire their peers and that you are never too young to make a difference.
If there were a list of unsung heroes in our communities, teachers would easily be at the top. Being with our children throughout the school year for hours a day, five days a week, teachers are in the unique position to guide young minds and shape how they view themselves and the world around them. Some teachers, like Melanie Jozokos, go the extra mile.
After hearing Chris speak in 2013, Melanie was inspired by his story about the sober students wearing purple shirts. She decided to bring these student’s inspiration to Westford Academy with the since-retired THP Project Purple Initiative. She knew that giving students an opportunity to be educated about the disease of addiction was a vital part of prevention and empowering students to make healthy choices and live life substance-free. Westford Academy in Massachusetts has been an intricate part of Herren Project’s prevention efforts. Eight years later, Melanie has continued to be an empowering voice for students and her community. Her example encourages people of all ages to make healthy choices and embrace the “Be You” motto. Melanie shows us how the power of initiative, commitment, community, and empowerment can change the way students engage in substance use and profoundly impact changing the cycle of addiction.
Losing a child is an unfathomably painful experience for any parent. When a son or daughter loses their battle with addiction, parents are faced with many unanswered questions that can lead to a spiral of self-blame and more. On top of this, the stigma of addiction leaves parents unable to seek consolation from their family and friends out of fear of judgment or misunderstanding. Marianna and Charlie McKee experienced this first-hand when they tragically lost their son to addiction.
When they lost their son C.J., they were left with profound grief. In a search for comfort, the McKees found the Herren Project grief support group. Every week since their first meeting in 2017, Marianna and Charlie have attended the Tuesday night support group to share their story and support others as they navigate the emotions of grief that never seem to go away entirely.
The McKees now use their painful experience to help others in any way they can. Marianna reflects on how the loss of their son has given her and her husband’s lives new meaning, “Even though I’m just one person. You never know how one person is going to change somebody down the road. My purpose in life is to change the stigma.” Marianna and Charlie exemplify the power of resilience and the beauty of keeping the spirit of a loved one alive by making a positive difference in the lives of others who are struggling.
Over the last ten years, Herren Project has been blessed to have the unwavering support of many extraordinary individuals. Their commitment to donate their time, money, or both has helped provide life-saving treatment and support to thousands of individuals struggling with addiction across the country. It’s been integral in delivering initiatives and education to work towards the prevention of substance use disorder.
Longtime supporter Diane Newcombe is one of these people and why she is being recognized as a “power of one.” Diane came to know of Herren Project through other family member’s struggles. She saw the work Herren Project was doing first hand and wanted to contribute in a positive way. In 2014, she decided to start a small monthly commitment to give back. Now over eight years later, Diane continues to make this monthly donation to Herren Project, making her our longest giving donor. She shows that no matter the dollar amount, the impact of a monthly commitment is far-reaching. Her story was the catalyst for the 24 Club, of which Diane is an inaugural member.
The 24 Club now has 44 members of all donations levels contributing collectively over $20,000 annually. Diane’s example shows power in commitment, belief, and trust and the profound impact one person’s donation of any amount can have to help save the lives of so many.
It would be hard to find two people who would share their family’s story of addiction with such eloquence, passion, and sincerity as Pam and Tom Rickard. If you are familiar with Team Herren Project and our ambassadors, then you already know their faces and with good reason. Tom is one of our dedicated ambassadors, and Pam is our Director of Active Engagement and the champion of the Team Herren Project initiative at Herren Project.
Pam has managed the Team Herren Project community of 900 people worldwide who have raised over $2.5 million since 2014. But more importantly, Pam celebrates life in recovery with over 15 years in long-term recovery. Pam has shared her story across thousands of miles and been a beacon of light and hope for countless individuals affected by substance use disorder. Tom, her anti-coach as she lovingly refers to him, has been by her side every step of the journey. Believing in the mission with dedication and commitment, he is a proud Herren Project ambassador and shares the “be you” message with his students.
Together, Pam and Tom have given an immeasurable amount of their time, talents, and treasures to ensure they support, inspire, and empower every person that crosses their path. Pam and Tom don’t just talk the talk; they walk the walk and, in doing so, have become an incredible example of the transformative power one person’s and family’s dedication, initiative, and purpose can have on their community and beyond.
Herren Project relies on the donations of others, both in funding and volunteering, to operate. Over the last ten years, Herren Project has partnered with numerous groups and organizations that have run events from golf outings to dinners to raise money to support our mission and programs. To date, these events have raised over $600,000 collectively. Most have been created in remembrance of those loved ones we have lost to the disease of addiction. Marc Spivack is one such person who took the devastating loss of his brother-in-law to addiction as a way to bring awareness to the disease through an annual memorial golf outing.
Marc Spivack and his family lost their loved one, Rob, to addiction in 2017. Wanting to keep his memory alive in a meaningful way, Marc started the Rob Keener Memorial Golf Outing four years ago. Marc has organized this memorial event every year and kept his brother-in-law in the hearts and minds of over 60 annual participants. This year, Marc and all involved in the tournament will hit a grand total of over $100k raised or Herren Project since the outing’s inaugural event. From arranging the tournaments, facilitating the games, sending out invitations, and more, Marc is a beautiful example of how the power of one person can help provide the opportunity for thousands of others to live a life free from addiction and honor the legacy of a loved one.
These ten men and women, along with Chris and Heather Herren, and Brandi Williams, are an inspiration for all of us. Individually and collectively, each shows the power one person can have on themselves and others and what the ripple effect can be.
Whether sharing your time, talents, or treasures, we all have the power to come together to bring hope and healing to those affected by addiction to drugs and alcohol.
How can you be a “power of one”?
As Herren Project’s annual appeal comes to a close, we ask you to ask yourself, “How will you make the most of your time, talent, and treasure?” Consider donating on behalf of Herren Project today to the 2021 Empowerment Appeal. People nationwide need your help more than ever. Our goal is $250,000 to continue our work of providing free treatment, recovery, and prevention programs for individuals and communities nationwide. Make a donation to our Empowerment Appeal and empower those affected by the disease of addiction.