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Support Maddie, Advocate for Change

$11,630 of $50,000 goal

Raised by 55 people in 20 months
Created May 28, 2017
This is among one of the most difficult things we've ever had to do and it's hard to know where to start.  Maybe the best place is to start with saying that our 14y/o daughter is an addict.

For anyone who has been in a position of dealing with a loved one with the sickness of addiction, you know it's a battle you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy.  As the addiction sets in it begins to take over not just the individual's life, but the lives of everyone it touches.  It's a black hole that is never satisfied.

A Fallen Child
Her began her journey towards addiction like I'm sure most people do.  She was faced with various challenges in school, in her relationships, in life, and with herself.  Those challenges compounded over time.  Somewhere along the way she found substances to dull her pain and help her feel better as opposed to developing the necessary tools and skills that would bring her the strength and confidence to face that same pain.  It started about 18 months ago with smoking.  Then marijuana followed.  Last summer she was introduced to cocaine, then in the fall, shortly after suffering a sexual assault, she found crystal meth .  

The last 9 months has been a sharp (and quick) drop in her life.  She stopped going to school in November and took to the streets.  Her meth, cocaine, and marijuana use grew.  Her pain and addiction made her a target for further assaults and eventually exploitation.  It's difficult to imagine the pain she is feeling inside.

As we realized what was happening we reached out for help.  We spoke to close friends involved in social work.  That lead us to Addictions and Mental health through Alberta Health Services, to PSECA (Protection of Sexually Exploited Children Act), and, over time, to many others.  In February of 2017 she was placed in a protective safe house for 19 days under PSECA.  There she was kept safe, was able to detox, properly nourished, provided mental health, and in general allowed an opportunity to reflect on her addiction and life.  Being 14 and not understanding, she also felt like she was being punished.  Unfortunately this attitude continued when she agreed to go to a voluntary program after the safe house.  She lasted only 30 days in the program before she quit.  She thought she had this thing beat, but was, as most teenagers are, over confident.  Despite telling us and herself that she had changed, she was only able to stay clean about 3 weeks before the addiction called her back into its evil arms.

As a parent you never imagine that something like this could happen to your child.  It's terrible.  It's scary.  It's heartbreaking.  It's generally incredibly difficult to manage.  It takes over your life and in every way you let it because of your love for your child.  We ran for her every time she needed us, only to watch her disappear again. We booked therapy and counseling appointments that she didn't attend.  We took on the burden of coordinating all the various agencies and professionals that don't have natural interagency coordination mechanisms on their own.  Not only had we been grieving the loss of our daughter and her innocence but we began to feel the real pressure of what addiction does to parents and loved ones.

Awakening to the Reality of the Sickness of Addiction
With time, experience, endless sleepless nights, and a whole lot of crying we began to realize that this was not going to be fixed quickly and that we needed support of our own.  

We found a parent support group called PEPSociety .  Here we found support on how to dig in for the long haul.  More importantly we found the realization that beating her addiction couldn't be done by letting her addiction mandate our lives.  We learned about PChAD (Protection of Children Abusing Drugs Act) that allows us as parents a mechanism to go to court and force our child into a protective safe house every time we find she is putting herself into harms way.  However, that process isn't easy.  It takes time and a judge needs to be convinced at each occurance.

Why GoFundMe?
We started this page because we need support to support her.  While there are some treatment programs available at no cost through AHS (Alberta Health Services), that is just one small part of a much bigger picture.  There are costs for professional therapists, for healthy activities, for transportation, for education options, and for private treatment programs like Venture Academy ($350/day for the 30 day assessment).  And then there are the indirect costs associated to Michelle and I losing time at work for appointments and court and just generally managing this and being there for her and our other 2 children.  The financial burden continues to mount.  Those who know about the situation ask us often how they can help.  Making a donation (any amount) is huge.  Each dollar will help us support our daughter in a variety of ways.

What will the Money Fund?
We are looking at this as a trust account.  Something that we can use as is needed to help us subsidize any of the items mentioned above.  We are learning that while it's up to the addict to make the effort to change and up to us to create firm boundaries, it's just as important that they have the safest and most supportive environment available to them when they take those steps.  This campaign is to provide exactly that for our child.

(Any unused funds will be donated to one or more organaizations that support children with addiction or their families)

Thank you so much for your support.

Love and Light,
Freeman (Trish) and Michelle
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Update 7
Posted by Freeman Willerton
18 months ago
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July 18 Update

I've been really struggling to not just write this update, but also as to whether or not I should even do it. But I remind myself that when things are most difficult, that's when you need to keep reaching out. This campaign was started for 2 very important reasons (our daughter AND for all addicted youth in Alberta) and those reasons remain.

From now on, I/we will be referring to our daughter as "our daughter" or "our child" or in some other non-descriptive way. In response to her request for more privacy her name and some of her pictures were removed from the GoFundMe site. However, that's as far as we are willing to go regarding her request at this time. We need to maintain a balance between her right to privacy and her still very desperate need for support and help. It's great to listen to what people want, and it's important to act on what they need.

I wish there was a way to adequately summarize just how much physical, mental, time, and resource effort that has been put into helping our daughter so far. Time alone is anywhere from 20-30+ hours a week and that's just as parents supporting this process and not counting normal, general parenting time. This campaign and your contributions have truly been a God send and have helped alleviate some of that strain.

Donations have been down since our last update, but we've also been pretty quiet lately. It's been a very difficult 10 days to be honest. Addiction is far from linear. There are times of great strides forward and there are times of great relapse. The last 10 days has been a time of great relapse.

Here is a quick outline of the events of the last 10 days:
-Sunday, July 9 - discharged from safe house
-Sunday, July 9 - fun day spent with Mom and family
-Sunday, July 9 - takes off in the evening to see friends and doesn't meet curfew. Dad gets a call at 1:30AM from Emergency Services saying that someone called 911 and she was found incredibly intoxicated. Bring her home.
-Monday, July 10 - we sleep during the morning due to previous night and do intake for day intensive program that afternoon
- Monday, July 10 - 2 hours late for curfew and shows up high on marijuana
- Tuesday, July 11 - doctors appointments in the morning, attends day program in the afternoon
- Tuesday, July 11 - she was going to stay home, but decided to leave and see friends downtown, never returns
- Wednesday, July 12 - unknown whereabouts
- Thursday , July 13 - unknown whereabouts
- Friday, July 14 - returns home just before lunch, coming down from METH, eats a ton, crashes about 3:30PM and sleeps until 10:00PM, leaves at 11:30PM to go back downtown Edmonton
- Saturday, July 15 - unknown whereabouts
- Sunday, July 16 - unknown whereabouts
- Monday, July 17 - contacts Mom during the afternoon to meet her after work but changes the plans and cancels, calls Dad at about 9:30PM begging to pick her up, pick her up, she refused to go to the hospital, falls asleep on the way home, get home, try to wake her up and she didn't know who I was and was extremely agitated, nearly called 911, but she finally fell asleep
- Tuesday, July 18 - sleeps until mid afternoon, wakes up extremely agitated (an effect of coming down off of METH), stays around until early evening and then left to see friends, it's nearly midnight and she still is not home, nor do I expect her to come back tonight

Over the course of 7 days, I'm fairly confident she slept less than 10 hours total. A brain on that little sleep experiences all manner of visual and auditory psychosis. It can be very intense. It's been a super heavy 10 days.

For those of you reading all this, I'm sure you have a million thoughts. Everything from "OMG!" to "Why don't they force her to stay home?". Trust us, we've had every single one of them too and maybe even a few more.

The sad truth of all this is that as a parent there is not a lot that you can do that is in the realm of "forcing" anything. We can not lock her in the house because that is considered "confinement" and is actually a criminal offense.

We can support her. We can put boundaries and consequences in place. We can help her access programs and councilors. And within reason, we can apply for a court order to detain her in a safe house for up to 10 days, but that is only for stabilization and assessment purposes, NOT for treatment. All treatment options are VOLUNTARY.

THIS is one of the core pieces that I am in the process of advocating for change on! The other 2 areas are better treatment modalities (especially in relation to mental health) and better parent and family supports. The system NEEDS changes and I need your support to help me advocate for it.

So far this campaign has raised just over $11,000! That is an amazing, amazing start and I want to dearly thank all of our contributors! So many of you have reached into your pockets and have donated what you are able. Some of you have reached even deeper and donated even more. For all of you, we are so genuinely grateful!! <3

I do want to pause and deeply, deeply thank one family in particular. I can't mention who they are publicly because they desire to remain anonymous, but I feel the need to give them this extra blessing of our gratitude. This family is not a wealthy family by any stretch of the imagination, but they have dug really deep and have contributed over 50% of the funds to this campaign so far!! They don't wish for praise or thanks or repayment. They simply care and want us to pay it forward to someone else in the future. We are truly humbled by their extreme generosity <3

Their's and everyone's show of support during this difficult time for our family, gives us continued hope. That along with the private messages I receive regularly of families going through (or have gone through) similar challenges with youth addiction, reinforce my desire to push for changes.

Please continue to help us achieve these goals by digging down deep and contributing what you can and also by sharing this story with others so they can do the same.

Ways that YOU can contribute:
1) make a donation to this GoFundMe
2) send an email transfer money transfer to ayacalberta@gmail.com
3) check out the current fundraisers on the AYAC Facebook page ( https://www.facebook.com/AYAC-Addicted-Youth-Advocacy-Campaign-1382991115070986/ )


Love and Light,
Freeman (Trish) and Michelle
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Update 6
Posted by Freeman Willerton
18 months ago
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July 9th Update - Changes Coming!

When we started this campaign Madeline was shown the page and the story. Her consent was asked to post it. She was also told that if she felt different in the future that she can simply speak up (consent is always ongoing). After all, the information is very intimate to her and to our family even though there is ABSOLUTELY no shame in her (or our) journey. At the time the campaign started, she agreed.

Recently, during family therapy, she has expressed concern. She has asked for her pictures and name removed from the campaign. We of course agreed and will respect her privacy. The campaign will continue, but this important change will happen within the next day or two.

The second change that is coming is the campaign will be shifting gears from raising money that directly supports Maddie to raising money to help make some very important changes that will benefit all addicted youth. Watch for our next update!

In the meantime, huge thank you to our donors since the last update! Again, private and anonymous donations are never listed!

Traci O'Gara

Please continue to share and support our efforts for this very important campaign!

Love and Light,
Freeman (Trish) & Michelle <3
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Update 5
Posted by Freeman Willerton
18 months ago
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Update time!

First off, the campaign is going amazingly well! In about a month we've raised $11,430!! A HUGE thank you to all our donors and all of you who continue to share and promote the campaign. All of your involvement, every bit of it, has so much meaning and impact. So much so that we are seeing it reflected in positive ways in Madeline.

Our donors since the last update are listed below. Again the anonymous and private donations are not listed.

Emily Shannon
Lorna McLellan (Aunty Penda)
Cynthia MacEachern
Margo Matheson (via Spoons Jewlery Fundraiser http://fundraisertosupportmadeline.blogspot.ca/ )

An incredible thanks to all our donors! And a special thanks to Emily Shannon for her 2nd donation. Let's keep this going! <3

Madeline is continuously improving in small ways. She has setbacks, but she also shows positive, forward movement. As parents we keep reinforcing boundaries and balance that with a degree of flexibility that is based on Madeline's needs and abilities. As she progresses she shows more and more hints of the beautiful, intelligent, caring, capable human she is. Though we know there is still a long, challenging road ahead, we are seeing our child return. All of your support has allowed us to provide the necessary foundation for this to happen. We are so incredibly grateful for her effort and for all of yours. <3

We are $3570 away from the $15,000 milestone. Please continue to share and donate and promote this campaign in any way you are able. Let's see how quickly we can get to $15k!!

Love and Light,
Freeman (Trish) & Michelle
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Update 4
Posted by Freeman Willerton
19 months ago
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Humbled and speechless and grateful.

We just received a $4000 donation!!

No idea if the donor is a relative, a friend, or a stranger. Completely anonymous. To whoever it was, THANK YOU!! Mind blowing!

All the support .... No matter the size or type feels so incredibly validating. Every dollar received strengthens our resolve; both for Madeline and for the greater good.

Love and light <3
Freeman (Trish) and Michelle
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$11,630 of $50,000 goal

Raised by 55 people in 20 months
Created May 28, 2017
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KE
$25
Kim Endell
17 months ago
$20
Anonymous
18 months ago
BW
$55
Bow Ties Elyssa Warkentin
18 months ago
TO
$200
Traci O'Gara
18 months ago
NM
$75
Necklaces Purchase by Margo
18 months ago
$250
Cynthia MacEachern
19 months ago
LM
$500
Lorna McLellan
19 months ago
$4,000
Anonymous
19 months ago
ES
$25
Emily Shannon
19 months ago
$100
Anonymous
19 months ago
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