Youth Prevention Team Celebrates National Prevention Week

Haymarket Center’s Youth Prevention Program celebrated National Prevention Week with a series of events focused on engaging students in fun, free, and restorative activities. The Youth Prevention Team brought art supplies, board games, substance misuse education materials, and a joyful presence to schools across the south side of Chicago. The Youth Prevention Team was excited to bring supplies, many of which were provided by Haymarket Center’s donors through our Amazon Wishlist, to schools that may not otherwise be able to provide them. Check out this video to see what the students made.

Sometimes, the work of prevention is about fun and games. Haymarket Youth Prevention Specialists created an event for students to engage with school staff as well as Haymarket team members in a variety of games and activities at different stations. Many tables handed out raffle tickets to kids, which they could turn in for a prize at the end of the event. These programs were designed by Haymarket staff to engage students in Social Emotional Learning, helping youth build healthy resiliency, a crucial part of substance use disorder prevention. This connection between emotional regulation and substance use has attracted more attention recently, as Dr. Alexandra Donovan attested to in her study presented at The Endocrine Society’s annual meeting earlier this month. “Early life stress and early puberty have both been associated with early substance use” said Dr. Donovan, with some estimates suggesting that early life stress can increase an adolescent’s likelihood of earlier substance use by 20%. For more on this research, you can read the Endocrine Society’s post here.

With these events, Haymarket’s Youth Prevention team helps young people pair education on substance use disorders with healthy alternatives to reduce stress or cope with environmental factors outside of their control. In each of the nine schools Haymarket’s Youth Prevention Team works in, they are the only staff dedicated to substance use disorder prevention. With limited budgets, many of those schools are also unable to provide social workers to their students. Being able to provide a therapeutic environment and consistent positive presence will have lasting impact on the youth Haymarket engages with.

“This whole year has felt like such a success” said Spencer Jones, Supervisor over the Youth Prevention Program. “Red Ribbon Week, National Prevention Week, and just the general support from Haymarket Center” have been the highlights of the year for Spencer, who says thank you to all the donors who have helped support the program’s growth this year.

Highlights from the 2024 Haymarket Gala: Believe

Nearly 500 guests gathered in the Grand Ballroom of the historic Hilton Chicago for Haymarket Center’s third annual Gala on Saturday, May 4. Donors, volunteers, and staff came together to celebrate Haymarket Center’s work as a leader in the field of treatment for substance use disorders and behavioral health. The event raised nearly $600,00 to support Haymarket’s mission.

With dinner, dancing, video testimonies, awards and a lively auction featuring confetti cannons scattered around the ballroom, the night truly felt like a reminder of the joy Haymarket Center can bring to patients who come here to get help in their recovery.

Irika Sargent, CBS news anchor and long-time volunteer for Haymarket Center, emceed the night, passing the mic to our incredible Gala Chair Thad Wong and Co-Chairs Heather Way Kitzes and Myles Mendoza.

While it doesn’t take personal experience to feel a personal connection to the work Haymarket Center does, each of the Gala Chairs shared their own experiences with disordered alcohol use. Each hoped that their own experience with recovery, and their own happy, successful, and most importantly – fulfilled – lives after recovery could serve as an inspiration.

Each Gala Chair also recognized that while the people who helped them along their recovery journey made their lives now possible, not every person who struggles with substance use disorder has people they can rely on. As Thad expressed, he considers it his responsibility to use what he has now to make sure that people have support of their own, the support of Haymarket Center. Former Haymarket Center patient Kat also shared her incredibly powerful story of treatment and recovery. Kat credits grace from God that she, at 33 years old, found the strength to face the fear and find recovery. “The big change that had to happen for me to make it through this program and remain sober was that I became honest.” When she got honest with herself, when she engaged with Haymarket Center’s evidence-based treatment programs centering Kat the whole person, not just her substance use disorder, she found her recovery.
Watch Kat’s story

This year’s Gala also recognized Michael and Carol Bilder, Deputy Governor Grace Hou, Adler University President Raymond Crossman, and Tonja Pastorelle for all that they have done for Haymarket Center and the larger field of Substance Use Disorder treatment and recovery.

From everyone here at Haymarket Center, thank you so much to everyone who made this year’s Gala such a beautiful experience. And for everyone who couldn’t make it this year, Haymarket Center can’t wait for you to come next year!

Haymarket Center opens West Loop Pharmacy

Last month, Haymarket Center celebrated the official opening of West Loop Pharmacy with Senator Dick Durbin, Vice Mayor Walter Burnett Jr., DHS Regional Director Michael Carbonagi, and many more. West Loop Pharmacy provides Haymarket Center patients with free or low cost medication, as well as private one-to-one consultation with a pharmacist. It also has retail space open to the public that includes a job-training component for individuals in recovery.

“Too often, individuals in treatment for substance use and mental health disorders face barriers filling their prescriptions, or affording them,” Haymarket Center President and CEO Dr. Dan Lustig said before the ceremonial ribbon cutting on Monday, May 13th. “The new pharmacy will allow us to complete the continuity of care, offer critical medications at a discounted rate, and empower our patients to build a relationship with a pharmacist.”

In addition to increased access to discounted medications, patients will be given an opportunity to receive skills-based training at the pharmacy through Haymarket’s Supportive Employment program. Through handling a second register in the retail space of the pharmacy, patients will learn hands-on skills that will help prepare them to re-enter the workforce or launch a career. The retail space is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Check out this piece on the Ribbon Cutting for Haymarket Center’s West Loop Pharmacy by WGN.

Focusing on the Future: Mike’s Story

For nearly 50 years, Mike suffered from a substance use disorder. But, today, at the age of 71, he has reclaimed his life. Like many of the 12,000 people Haymarket Center serves each year, Mike’s story is one of resilience, second chances, and hope.

“Your addiction talks to you in your own voice. It will tell you what you can and cannot do.”

A few years ago, Mike was referred to Haymarket through the Department of Veterans Affairs. Although this wasn’t his first time at Haymarket, this time something was different within himself, and he prioritized his health and his recovery.

What stuck out for Mike was our staff’s dedication to treating our patients’ whole person, physical and mental health, beyond just that of their substance use disorders.

“The staff kept making their suggestions: ‘Oh it seems like you got a lot going on, but you haven’t had any time to focus on you.’ I thought what I was doing was focusing on me. But what they meant was focusing on me, my behaviors, my thinking,” Mike explained.

That is what Haymarket Center’s evidence-based approach to treatment is all about: holistic care, centered on empathy, helping our patients recover from substance use disorders, but also recover from the impact that lifetimes of struggles have had on them. Because of the generosity of our donors, we are one of a few organizations in Chicago providing substance use disorder and mental health treatment 24/7/365.

“I’m a 71-year-old man just now beginning to live life on life’s terms. I’m not mad at it, I’m grateful,” Mike explained. When Mike began focusing on his thinking, he realized how much it had been holding him back. Mike credits his case manager in our Community Integration Program with having a huge impact on his recovery. Because of him, Mike has what he calls his “three Cs. Cognition, that’s your thought process, Choice, and then Consequences.” Recognizing this has been monumental in Mike’s recovery.

“If I had known it would have been this sweet, I would have quit a long time ago,” Mike said.

In his recovery, Mike has found a new passion for giving back – to his community, to people struggling with recovery and, to Haymarket Center. Mike participated in an internship at Haymarket that trains individuals in recovery for positions in the behavioral health field. For nearly two years, Mike has worked as a case manager at Haymarket, inspiring others in their recovery journeys.

“I look forward to coming here every day when I’m working. To see the miracles that can happen. Because they do, they happen.”

While we celebrate Mike’s success, we recognize that there are countless others like him who are still fighting their own battles.

With your help, our staff, including Mike, will be there when we are needed, ready to transform as many lives as possible. Together with you, we have the power to address the serious health problems our patients face, day after day.

“We have this saying. We’ll carry you until you’re able to stand on your own” and that’s what they did here at Haymarket. And I’m able to stand,” Mike said.

Please consider donating to Haymarket Center to support more ‘miracles’ like Mike has experienced.

Bobby’s Story: Finding Strength

When Bobby came to Haymarket Center, he wasn’t sure what to expect. “I came in here with a different kind of mindset and expectations” he said. He had the idea he could “come here use Haymarket for getting clean, stay a little while, maybe get a job, get some money saved up, go and get the rest on my own.” In Bobby’s mind, getting out was the goal, and the sooner it could come, the better.

“The first suggestion that staff presented was ‘take your time.’ I took that very serious,” Bobby remembers. It wasn’t an easy suggestion to take, and there were times when Bobby wasn’t sure he could do it. “I was looking for a reason to stay, and all I saw was a thumbs up and a smile,” he said. “I knew no matter what I’m going through, the old is worse. What I was going through I knew was so strong on me, but I wanted to stay.”

So, Bobby stayed. When Bobby thinks about this period, he can still name the staff, from all over Haymarket’s facilities, that had a massive impact. He remembers a supervisor who knew that he was in an unstable financial situation and made sure he could stay in a residential program after he graduated from medication assisted treatment.

“Doing this, I had to stay away from some people, even some family members. Not even out of bitterness, I knew I had to stay away for safety,” Bobby said. That’s why each staff member was so important to him. This is a central part of what Haymarket Center does – treating the whole person, not just the substance use disorder. Seeing Bobby when he needed a smile and encouragement, ensuring Bobby had a way to stay safe and housed with residential treatment programs, and just getting to know Bobby the person, more than Bobby the patient.

Those are some of the reasons Bobby is working to join Haymarket Center’s staff on a more permanent basis. Bobby is currently participating in Haymarket’s internship program for individuals in recovery, while also pursuing his GED. “It’s all about giving back. That’s all I am today. That was another suggestion I took” he says, remembering all the speakers who would come and talk about their experience with recovery and how it felt coming back to help others. “They are walking miracles, telling their story,” he said.

Through the internship program, Bobby has found meaning in being able to help others and is proud of what he has been able to accomplish. “I work in detox; I see serious trauma every day,” he said. His ability to help those with complex needs has surprised himself. “It’s my higher power working through me. Because I’m in the right place now,” he said.

Bobby hopes his story inspires others. “I get amazed at the feedback I get from patients and clients, staff, partners. ‘Man you’re doing a great job’ ‘I’m glad you’re here,’ ‘I’m glad to talk to you.’”

“I can see why I do this now, and I know I’m properly placed. It makes my day to help someone every day. The thought I wouldn’t be able to help somebody today, that would bother me. That’s who I am today. It not only feels good, it feeds me,” he said.

Read more stories like Bobby’s by signing up for our mailing list.

Building Community: Francisco’s Story

This month is Pride Month, where we remember LGBTQ+ Rights champions like Sylvia Rivera, Marsha P. Johnson, and Stormie DeLarverie, three LGBTQ+ activists who were pivotal players during the Stonewall Riots. When Stonewall became international news, LGBTQ+ activists and organizers across the world took the opportunity to bring attention to the unequal treatment as well as unique issues found within their community.

Haymarket Center celebrates Pride Month and recognizes how a sense of community and common experience, like those of Francisco’s shared below, are an important source of support in recovery.

Seeking treatment at Haymarket Center was a huge unknown for Francisco – he was new to Chicago, uninsured, homeless, and had never been in a medication assisted treatment program before. Even so, there was something that helped Fransisco connect to Haymarket Center and our treatment staff.

“He saw something in me first, he was part of the LGBTQ mafia and so am I, so he recognized that in me, saw someone in the community and empathized. He threw words of encouragement at me constantly.”

It was that connection to his community that he found within Haymarket Center that helped provide Francisco the motivation and support he needed.

At this point, Francisco is happy to report that “when someone asks me ‘how are you doing, how’s life’ I respond, ‘boring and peaceful’.” With the help of staff that could connect with Francisco, he has come to a new mindset. “If I can control my thoughts, I can control my destiny.”

Francisco has made helping others struggling with substance use disorder part of his recovery as well. He’s worked with Haymarket Center as a part of our Outreach Team at O’Hare, he works as a Health Navigator as a part of the Minority Aids Initiative, and is currently enrolled in CADC courses to become a treatment provider.

Francisco has one patient he reflects on, who is a part of Mosaic – the LGBTQ group at Haymarket Center. He remembers when he spoke with this patient after he had graduated from detox and was deciding what to do next, whether to remain in a recovery home at Haymarket Center or leave. “I tell him, that’s great! Just think about staying too. We want you to learn how to swim before we throw you in the pool. And swim good! If we just teach you how to float, you’ll get tired, and you might drown. What you’ve been doing so far is working, so just consider that.”

Francisco is a powerful example of why we at Haymarket Center know it is so important to celebrate Pride Month and the LGBTQ+ community. The experience of another member of the community recognizing the whole human transformed Francisco’s life, which has allowed Francisco to do the same for other members of his community.

Join our mailing list to see more stories like Francisco’s.

Gala Preview: Celebrity Speaker Andrew McCarthy

Haymarket Center is thrilled to be joined by Andrew McCarthy for our 2024 Haymarket Center Gala. Andrew McCarthy is a director, an award-winning travel writer, and—of course—an actor appearing in dozens of films, including iconic movies Pretty in Pink, St. Elmo’s Fire, Less Than Zero, and cult favorites Weekend At Bernie’s and Mannequin. After starting his career in Hollywood at the young age of 19, he joined a generation of performers that became synonymous with the John Hughes era of film. His memoir chronicling this time, BRAT: An ‘80s Story  became a New York Times Bestseller in 2021.

Andrew has directed nearly a hundred hours of television, including The Blacklist, Grace and Frankie, Orange is the New Black, and many others. McCarthy has authored several New York Times Bestselling books, including travel memoir The Longest Way Home and as well as his most recent memoir, Walking With Sam about his 500 mile journey across Spain walking the Camino De Santiago with his son Sam.  

McCarthy served as editor-at-large for National Geographic Traveler magazine for 12 years, while writing articles for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, and many others. Andrew has been recognized for his articles by being named Travel Journalist of the Year by The Society of American Travel Writers, as well as serving as guest editor of the prestigious BEST AMERICAN TRAVEL WRITING anthology. We are so appreciative that Andrew will be joining us, sharing his journey of recovery at this year’s Haymarket Center Gala on May 4, 2024 at the Hilton Chicago.

Get your tickets now before prices go up on April 12.

Haymarket Center furthers partnership with Endeavor Health

In many cases, patients who come into the ER experiencing an overdose receive care for their physical needs, but are not connected to life-saving behavioral and mental health services. “Warm-Handoff” programs, like the one Haymarket Center and Endeavor Health have partnered to create, fill this crucial gap in care. Haymarket Center first partnered with Endeavor Health in 2020 to provide peer recovery interviews, link patients to treatment programs, and transportation to services after an opioid related overdose.

Already, Haymarket has served more than 300 patients through this partnership, but there is always more to be done. “Too often following an opioid overdose, individuals face barriers when they try to get immediate access to life-saving treatment for substance use disorders. Our warm-handoff program in Endeavor Health hospitals eliminates those barriers and gets people the care they need, when they need it most.” Says Haymarket President and CEO Dan Lustig. That is why Endeavor Health’s Community Investment Fund awarded Haymarket Center a grant to expand these services to 250 patients in crisis each year.

“Our Community Investment Fund has made a remarkable impact since its launch in 2022, touching over 211,000 lives and supporting a significant expansion of behavioral health counselling” said Kristen Murtos, Chief Innovation & Transformation Officer at Endeavor Health. We, at Haymarket Center, are thrilled to be a part of that impact.

Mayor Johnson Visits CTA Outreach Program

In February, Mayor Brandon Johnson and WGN News correspondent Tahman Bradley experienced firsthand the work that Haymarket Center has been doing to assist those experiencing homelessness seeking shelter on the CTA by joining our outreach team for an 11 p.m. ride-along as we provided services on the Blue Line.

Haymarket Center President and CEO Dan Lustig spoke that night, saying “Tonight you will see our outreach team in action. I think they are heroes among us, serving the underserved with kindness and compassion. Sometimes, their encounters are only a hello and a smile. Sometimes they provide food, Narcan, rides to shelters, and assistance with a host of other needs. I am grateful for all they do each and every day.”

This branch of Haymarket Center’s work, reaching out to the unhoused who haven’t come directly to our facilities, began in earnest in 1990 with the addition of O’Hare homeless outreach program to support the growing number of individuals seeking shelter at the airport.

Outreach Team members focus on addressing basic needs, creating a pathway to housing, detoxification services, and referring those experiencing homelessness to other agencies that can assist them in their journey to housing security. Just last year, Haymarket’s O’Hare program had more than 15,000 encounters with nearly 1,000 individuals.

With that data in mind, in 2023 Haymarket Center expanded our outreach efforts by moving services onto the Blue Line. In just the last year, Haymarket Center served more than 1,800 unique individuals on the Blue Line alone, around double the amount served in the airport alone.

As Dr. Lustig closed his statements that night, he said “This is a crisis decades in the making, and it won’t be solved overnight. But I am hopeful that together we can and will bring about change for the better.” Thank you for supporting our work to create that change.

Read the WGN Article.

Haymarket Center Expands Employment Support

Recognizing that stable employment facilitates sustained recovery, Haymarket Center has been offering job training and placement through the Ann F. Baum Family Enrichment Center for decades. Starting this month, an ambitious and innovative expansion will allow even more people in need to access resources.

The Supported Employment Program, funded by a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), will ensure that patients who face barriers to employment due to substance use disorders and mental health issues have the skills and support they need to successfully obtain long term employment.

This program will help hundreds of people with substance use disorders find and maintain steady employment by crafting employment plans and goals based on patient skills and interests and monitoring patient progress to the point of hire. In addition to career assistance, the program will also connect patients to mental health counseling and immediate access to primary care.

“Prejudice towards people with substance use disorder and mental illness has kept countless qualified people from steady employment,” explained Haymarket Center President and CEO Dr. Dan Lustig. “By expanding our employment services, Haymarket is helping people find success.”