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Nonprofit View: Rising Above Addiction, founded after personal loss, there for those battling addiction

As a wife, mother and local non-profit president, I say that one of the worst nightmares a parent can face is to lose a child from addiction.

I personally experienced losing my son, Robert Mason Lofink, to a drug overdose in 2014. He was only 18 years old. This year, he would have turned 24. The years since he died have been filled with pain and tears. I would like to help prevent other families from experiencing what I did.

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That is why I co-founded the nonprofit Rising Above Addiction the year after Robert died. This organization provides funds for urgent treatment for those battling addiction. In addition, two sober homes have opened for young women in the area, to help them transition through recovery.

My experience tells me that the consequences of drug addiction can help to be prevented by reaching our youth early. I am a firm believer that even elementary-aged children, as well as middle school and high school youth, should hear the message of prevention as often as possible.

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One of the most effective ways to reach youth is through example. As we know, young people do not like to hear preaching or to be told what to do. I have found that when students hear my personal story, they start to listen, and they are impacted in a different way.

The message becomes very real, and I share this message because I don’t want students to go down a tragic path like my own son did. Youth listen to the idea that a death actually occurred to one of their very own peers. I even see tears rolling down the faces of the young people with whom I talk, especially those who actually knew Rob.

On the community level, I have spoken at the Annual Drug and Violence Awareness Expo, which is typically held in the spring, but was canceled this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. It is presented by the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce. I am also a community partner of our Carroll County State’s Attorney’s office, which allows me to speak before groups with my message. I have also been asked to speak at many other youth organization gatherings. I am so grateful to have these opportunities to talk directly to our youth and to hopefully change the trajectory of their decisions.

I hope that even if only one person hears and internalizes the message, it could change a future decision, and help to save a life. Every life is important. And every decision does matter.  My hope is that youth of all ages will understand that they have better and brighter choices ahead of them.

Tammy Lofink is the president of Rising Above Addiction. She is the co-author, with Syliva Blair, of the new book, “Reclaiming My Life.”

Each Monday, the Carroll County Times publishes a column from a local nonprofit, allowing them to share information about their organization and the issues facing it, as our editorial. To be considered, email cctnews@carrollcountytimes.com with the subject line “Nonprofit View.”

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