My name is Carol Stockman and I have been a life-long resident of Berrien County. Since losing my grandson, Sam, in 2014 to a heroin overdose, I have had a strong desire to educate young people and parents about addiction. Sam was a wonderful person with a lot of potential for a great future. There are many more Sam’s out there who need help and my goal since Sam died was to move this community towards assisting individuals and families with a healthy recovery, rather than having to deal with the stigmatization. I am willing to tell my story in hopes that other families who are suffering with addiction issues will feel less ashamed. I have been an active member of the Voice.Change.Hope. Alliance since its inception and continue to work by mobilizing the community around this important and serious topic.
Sheriff L. Paul Bailey
Berrien County Sheriff’s Department
As Sheriff of Berrien County, I am responsible for enforcing our laws however, there are too many people abusing drugs and endangering their lives. I believe our community needs to focus more of our efforts on prevention to identify, connect and provide support with people who are affected by this epidemic. Managing the county jail gives me and my staff opportunities to assist inmates with drug addiction both during and after incarceration. We have added a counselor to screen inmates to help connect them with the appropriate drug support resources.
I am Kerri Teachout, a Substance Abuse Prevention Consultant with the Berrien County Health Department and co-chair of Voice.Change.Hope. In December 2015, I was asked to contact a woman by the name of Carol Stockman, who had recently lost her grandson to a heroin overdose. Mrs. Stockman wanted to bring awareness of opiate abuse and heroin addiction to members of Berrien County so that no more lives had to be lost to addiction or that families felt as though they had to live in silence because of the stigma so often associated with substance abuse issues. I embraced the opportunity to become a part of this group not only for reasons that our community deserved this but also because my own family has struggled with substance abuse issues that have impacted my own life. I am continuously inspired by the action of our group members in educating others, by working on changing a ‘system’ that has not fully recognized addiction as a disease, by helping families find support for their loved ones and by celebrating those in recovery.
Lieutenant Melinda Logan
Michigan State Police
Lt. Logan is a co-chair with the Voice.Change.Hope. Alliance and the assistant post commander of the Michigan State Police Niles Post. She has over 27 years of experience in law enforcement and 23 years as a state trooper. In 2014 she attended a Heroin Summit that changed her perception of Lthe effects of drugs on those addicted and their families. As the reality of the communities within her patrol area were showing obvious signs of the opiate epidemic, she volunteered to take on the battle of changing others mindset by joining as the co-chair of the alliance.
Nancy King, founded the Kalamazoo Opioid and Heroin Awareness coalition after the loss of her daughter to a heroin overdose in 2012. Became the president of Families Against Narcotics Southwest Michigan in 2014. Serves on the local OBOT (office based opioid treatment) Team. Program manager for Overdose Prevention Education and Naloxone Distribution project for 8 counties in Southwest Michigan.
About 5 ½ years ago, my husband and I discovered that our 18-year old son, who had just graduated from St. Joseph High School, was addicted to heroin. My husband and I were frantic and had absolutely no idea where to turn and what to do. After much research, my son ended up at Brighton Hospital and then at The University of Michigan for Intensive Outpatient Therapy. From there, he lived in a transitional house at Home of New Vision in Ann Arbor for 4 years. I’m glad to report that he celebrated 5 years of sobriety in December of 2016. This would not have been possible without the great support he has received in Washtenaw County. My hope is that we can put similar resources into place in Berrien County. The Voice. Change. Hope. Alliance is working hard to educate the community on addiction and put resources into place for addicts and their families. I am so proud and honored to be part of this amazing group of people and am amazed at how much we have accomplished in a short amount of time. I have a Master’s Degree in Communication from Western Michigan University and a SPADA (Specialty Degree in Alcohol and Drug Addiction) Graduate Certification from Western Michigan University.
Reverend Thomas Batsky
I became involved with substance abuse prevention and education because I know what addiction can do to individuals and their families, and because I believe change happens best when people do become involved. My goal is to see throughout Berrien County a broad and well-coordinated menu of prevention, treatment and recovery services that will enable those impacted by the disease of addiction to achieve a full life of recovery. I want to do everything I can to help Berrien County become a leader in the education, prevention and treatment of substance use disorder, and accordingly, a voice in the State of Michigan.
I am a Certified Substance Abuse Prevention Specialist for the Berrien County Health Department. I initially became involved with the Voice. Change. Hope. Alliance even before we had a formal name. I was part of the initial planning group from the beginning of the effort. Even though I am serving on the alliance as part of my job, I have a passion for supporting individuals in recovery and their families in their quest to abstain from prescription drug abuse and/or heroin use. I am committed to my role in this endeavor. I fully support the mission and vision of the VCH Alliance.
I have been a member of Voice.Change.Hope. since March of 2015, I got involved with Voice.Change.Hope. through my job as a Substance Abuse Prevention Specialist at the Berrien County Health Department. I am concerned about the substance abuse issues facing our youth and communities.
Michelle is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in the State of Michigan; she received her Master of Arts degree in Counselor Education from Western Michigan University. She completed her undergraduate studies at Central Michigan where she obtained her Bachelor of Science degree, majoring in Psychology, with a double minor in Sociology and Substance Abuse Education; Prevention, Intervention and Treatment. In addition to her education, she is recognized by the State of Michigan as a Certified Clinical Supervisor (CCS) and a Certified Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CAADC). Michelle has over fifteen years of experience in the field of substance abuse related to prevention, education, and treatment and is currently the Clinical Director at HTC Outpatient Services.
Amy, a registered nurse, feels that through her journey over the past 7 years, it has taught her to be a better, stronger, and more compassionate nurse and person. Her journey into addiction started when her son, at age 16, became addicted to heroin. Her passion to help others came out of her frustration to find help for her son. She believes that by telling her story, providing education and raising community awareness that it can help to bring about change for those who are suffering with addiction. Being a part of Voice Change Hope has given her a way of giving back to those who have helped her, and to be a support to those who are currently on this journey. Unfortunately, her son Austin lost his courageous battle to addiction when he suffered a fatal over dose on July 2, 2017. Through her loss she has committed to continue the fight to help stop the stigma of addiction, provide support so no family feels alone and to work with the community to help fight against addiction.
Deputy Kelly Laesch
Berrien County Sheriff’s Department – Crime Prevention Coordinator
Given my position, I have numerous opportunities to connect with all ages of people allowing me to educate and guide drug abusers, their families and others in the community to the appropriate intervention services available.
I am Luke Siewert and as a member of the South West Michigan Young Life group, I am the Youth Representative in the Voice Change Hope Alliance. I also handle all the photography in the group. I got involved with this group because I’ve known people who have been involved with addiction. I have always wanted to help people in any way I can so I joined Voice Change Hope.
Kim Rodgers has been employed by the Berrien County Health Department for 22 years. She is from Coloma, Michigan and interested in “Voice. Change. Hope” to help others who are battle addiction.
My name is Corinne and I work as a producer at WNIT, the PBS affiliate for Michiana located in South Bend. I have a degree in political science from Indiana University. I am passionate about policy solutions and the responsibility of legislators to address the issue of opioid addiction. I spent more than a decade watching my brother struggle with opioid and heroin addiction. He is now in recovery, but unfortunately, my nephew is now battling his addictions. They remain my inspiration for joining Voice. Change. Hope. I live in Elkhart, Indiana with my family.
I am a lifelong resident of Berrien County, Assistant Chief of Royalton Township Fire Department and a U.S. Navy veteran. On July 2, 2017, I lost my son Austin to a heroin overdose after seven years of addiction and I hope to save others from the same fate.