The Picture that will Never Be

Posted by Anne Browning, With 0 Comments, Category: Announcements,

jaclyn nolanWe had a big month with Nolan being sworn is as a Police Officer.  We celebrate his accomplishment and his choice to serve and protect –  putting his life in harm’s way for others.  It was a very proud moment for all of us as we watched him in his dress blues, the gold striping on his sleeve, shoes shined to a mirror-like finish. He took his oath and then Mom pinned his badge on his chest. In one moment, a college graduate was now a Police Officer.

As I was driving to work a few days later, my mind wandered to another swearing in ceremony about seven years earlier. It was Robby’s ceremony when he was sworn into the United States Army right after basic training.  Again, we were so proud in his royal blue pants, navy jacket lined with brass buttons, shoes shined to a mirror-like finish.  His beret tilted on his head revealing the brow of a soldier.

Then it hit me. The picture that would never be.  The picture that would never be was that of the older brother, the example, the inspiration, dressed in that same Army dress uniform, only now more decorated, standing proudly next to the younger brother dressed in his Police dress uniform, newly adorned with that shiny silver badge.

One brother’s influence

Robby was Nolan’s inspiration.  Set to pursue business in college, I remember the conversation as if it were yesterday; “Dad…would you be upset if I did not pursue business?”  You see, Robby taught me to follow my dreams, and my dream is to go into law enforcement.”  And so it began.

The picture we of two brothers standing side-by-side, each in their respective dress uniforms will never be.    There are thousands of pictures we should have that we will never see. Reflections, reminders of family celebrations, accomplishments, moments meant to be perfect that are, and will always be, incomplete.  No matter how special, how jubilant, how joyful, there will always be that one thing missing.

So for me, I can only imagine the picture that should have been.  I can only imagine the pride of a brother that would have glowed in that moment.  I can see it, I can feel it, but I just can’t live it because it exists only in my mind where it will live as fiction forever.  So instead, I just wipe the tears from my cheeks, take a deep breath and wait for the next picture that will never be.

Ask yourself

What will it take?  What will it take for parents to do what is needed to make sure they never have to deal with that one picture; the picture that will never be?


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Learning to Hope through Cornerstone

Posted by Rob Brandt, With 0 Comments, Category: Announcements, Grief, Robby's Voice, Tags:

I don’t like the word hope.hope

To me, when we hope, we give control to someone or something other than ourselves.  It’s a weak word. I prefer faith. Faith means I believe, I know it will happen.  It means I am in control.  It’s a strong word.

Then I learned about grief.  Not just any kind of grief, but the most devastating, heart wrenching, crippling kind of grief that exists.  The kind of grief that makes you wish for the end, your end. The kind of grief that is forever.  I learned about faith and I learned about hope.

I remember it clearly on that late Friday morning, October 21st, 2011.  We just returned from the high school where we told Jaclyn and Nolan about their brother. Where we ripped their world apart.  I stood in my house as it filled with people.  Family and friends. The support was amazing.  But it didn’t matter as nobody could help me.  I was broken, numb, confused.  I had no idea what to do.  How do you move, how do you recover, how do you live?  I had no answers, and worse, I knew in that moment that if I had no answers for myself, I had no capacity to help my family.

My faith in God did not waiver. My faith in myself was gone.  I was helpless.  I was hopeless.

Herein enters Hope

A year earlier, I had been introduced to Cornerstone of Hope  by a friend who did volunteer work for them (This is a story for a different day…a story about how God put all the pieces in place).  But I remembered.  After the funeral and things got quiet and life returned to normal for those that had carried us each day, we were left to face our life.  We would have to face all the firsts, and they were coming fast.  Halloween, Robby’s favorite day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, his birthday. All would be upon us within the first 60 days.  How do we do this?  I looked at my family and they looked to me; I had no answers for them.

Tattered, beaten, humbled, I turned, we turned to Cornerstone, and in that very dark moment, we saw a light.

Carla and I attended counseling together while Cornerstone sent counselors to the high school each week to meet with Nolan and Jaclyn.  We had been given a lifeline, an angel that would help us deal with what we were now in the middle of.  We survived the holidays.  Group counseling followed for all of us, and slowly but surely we started to walk forward, learning how to adapt to our new normal.

Mark and Christi Tripodi are the founders of Cornerstone of Hope.  They are selfless givers.  They are heroes that have built an organization that catches us in our darkest moments.  As we fall into the depths, they say we are here, we will catch you, we will hold you, and we will help you find the light in the absolute darkness.

Cornerstone of Hope saved us.

There is no other way to say it.  We continue to rely on what they taught us, and each year in December, we head back for the candle ceremony where we share tears and memories with others that have been lost in their loss, and saved by this group.

I hate the word hope, but I learned that in loss and in grief, it is all we have.  We are not in control. We don’t have all the answers and we are at our weakest.  My faith in God never wavered, but I needed hope.  I needed to count on someone else to do what I could not. I needed to hand control over to someone else.

At the lowest moment of my life, they were there.  They gave me hope and that hope turned back into faith… the belief that I could move forward. That I could live again…that I could find a new normal.

Cornerstone did for my family what I could not.  They were the rock for Carla, Jaclyn and Nolan.

They saved me, they saved my family, and they continue to be a cornerstone of our ability to move forward each day.  They are THE CORNERSTONE OF HOPE.


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Yes, “these lives” are worth saving!

Posted by Rob Brandt, With 0 Comments, Category: Announcements, NarCan, Recovery, Stigma,

Drug-Addiction-642x336What is a life worth. What is your child’s life worth. These are questions that I ask when I hear people question the value of Narcan (Naloxone). There is nothing I wouldn’t do to have Robby back with us. So when people question the value of Narcan it does, well, piss-me-off.

At a meeting last summer, I even had a Police Officer tell me he struggled saving “their” lives.

Really? Their Lives?

Are we talking about kids like Robby who was so full of compassion as he dealt with the residents at the nursing home he worked at or when he chose to serve his country? Are we talking about kids like my friend Aaron who now, in recovery, is rising through the ranks of his company, is recently married, and who is a leader in the battle to stop this epidemic? Are we talking about our friend Stephanie who battled addiction, and now has dedicated her life to making a difference for young women in need?

Just whose lives are we talking about

Who gets to decide which ones live or die, which ones will make a difference in the lives of others or which family should have to live with the loss of that loved one?

Maybe we need a new movement called  Addicts Lives Matter to get the point across.

Every addict was once a child full of hopes, dreams and potential. Somewhere along the line they got derailed; overtaken with a disease they did not understand and have no ability to control. A disease that drives desperation and behavior that is simply, at times, reprehensible. But inside, under the weight of that disease, they are still those same kids that were once so full of life and hope.

Narcan saves lives. Narcan has proven, in communities where it is deployed, to reduce the incidence of use and addiction because it allows help to get to those that need it. Will some abuse it, play the Lazarus game? Probably. But should we condemn the majority of addicts who would trade every possession to be free of the monster that chases them daily for the actions of those under the influence of the devil himself?

Every addict is someone’s kid. It is never your kid until it is; then what? I believe that every addict deserves the opportunity to turn it around, to become that person God created them to be. You may not, but ask yourself this; “If it were my kid, would I want them to have that chance.”

For more information on Project Dawn, Narcan and distribution sites, please click on the links below:

Ohio Project Dawn

Cleveland Project Dawn


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Event Management Volunteer Needed

Posted by Anne Browning, With 0 Comments, Category: Announcements, Robby's Voice,
vo.unteer

The need to reach more and more parents, students and children with our message to live a substance-free life has reached a critical point. The demands on our organization are growing and although we feel both excited and humbled, we know we can’t do this alone.

A channel for your passion and purpose

Do you have experience with event management, particularly with not-for-profit organizations? Can you collaborate and generate new ideas while also bringing volunteers together to develop and execute on-the-ground? And more importantly, do you have a passion for supporting this cause and see lives changed for the better? If you do, and could commit your valuable time and expertise to our cause, we’d like to talk to you and explore both our organization’s needs and your skills and ideas.

Please email our Board Secretary and 5k Race Director, Angela Fanara at amarysiak@hotmail.com for an initial conversation.  We would be so grateful for your service and know you will feel a great deal of satisfaction helping with the Robby’s Voice mission.


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Continuing the conversation doesn’t always require a conversation

Posted by Rob Brandt, With 0 Comments, Category: Announcements, Talking to kids, Tags:

Part of BREAKING THE SILENNCE and talking “EARLY, OFTEN and RIGHT,” is our non-verbal communication. The things we do versus the things we say. We need to face the reality of what we have created. We tell our kids not to do drugs, but what do kids watchingwe show them?

Less people greater usage

In the United States, we account for less than 5% of the world’s population.

  • We use over 65% of the world’s illegal drug
  • We use over 80% of the world’s prescription medication
  • We use over 99% of the world’s Vicodin supply

On one hand, we say “DON’T DO DRUGS,” and on the other we envelope our kids in a world surrounded with drugs.

It doesn’t stop there; think about the messaging of the TV shows, movies, music and video games. The message is that it is OK, have fun, party on, yet none of them are talking about the next day or consequences.  Again, the message is simple; it is OK.

In our own homes, most of us are a product of the “take a pill – feel better” generation and as a result we show our kids one thing while we say another. How often do we casually talk about needing a pill for a headache or back pain?  How often do we casually say “Oh, I need a drink” or come home and immediately get a drink or more…

Kids are always watching

These are the behaviors our kids see and the visual is way more influential than the verbal.

Certainly we are not saying don’t have a drink or avoid medicines for ailments, but we have a problem. We, as adults,  have helped create this problem. We have a responsibility to our kids to teach by our actions as well as our words.  We have a responsibility to be part of the solution.  Think about the message we send and more important the message they receive.

BREAKING THE SILENCE takes many forms. There is an opportunity to break it by our words and our actions. What little measures could you do at home to help model the behavior we want in our children?


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