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    The Hedrick Parent Coaching Program

    Few people embody a selfless spirit and passion for serving others like our friend and colleague Tom Hedrick who passed away last year. Tom was a founder of Partnership for Drug-Free America in 1986. What started as a drive to “unsell” drugs through advertising evolved into a mission to serve and empower families. Tom understood media could increase awareness and change the conversation around addiction. However, he began to realize that media only goes so far, especially when families are in the thick of a loved one’s addiction.

    Around 15 years ago, Tom began taking calls from parents whose children were struggling with substances. He uncovered large gaps in care that left families on their own, often being blamed for their child’s addiction. The models directing parents and caregivers to “detach with love” or “let them hit rock bottom” were not meeting the needs of families who wanted to be a part of the solution. He felt the despair by parents who were blamed for their child’s overdose.

    With his colleague, Sean Clarkin, they conceived of the idea for a helpline; I was fortunate to be hired to start this program at the Partnership. Our helpline provided empathetic listening and resources, but it became apparent there was a special connection when a parent who had struggled spoke with another parent who was in the middle of it. Tom knew we needed to provide both a helpline and peer support; he had a vision of building a parent coaching program.

    I had been fortunate to be trained and work with Dr. Jeff Foote and Dr. Carrie Wilkens, the founders of the Center for Motivation and Change, and asked them to come train our staff on CRAFT (Community Reinforcement and Family Training). Their unique perspective, combined with our coaches experiences, eventually became their “special sauce” version now called the Invitation to Change. Tom and Sean immediately knew that the combination of CMC’s clinical expertise and the infrastructure of a national helpline and dedicated Partnership staff could be something more than a traditional helpline. Together with our addiction specialists, parent coaches and CMC, we could train parents with lived experience to speak with parents currently struggling. It was Tom’s spirit that helped us shape a parent coaching program and training built on science and empathy. Over 400 parents have been through the Partnership-CMC training, and Tom spoke to nearly every one of them to ensure they were ready and able to work with parents in the thick of it. He was especially connected to and protective of the parents who had lost a child and wanted to give back.

    Today our Parent Coaching program offers new opportunities for parents to connect with support – from text messaging to online groups to advocacy. We are so grateful to be inspired every day by Tom’s pioneering legacy. He touched the lives of so many, and in the process, saved lives. He was also a mentor, allowing us to carry on his passion through our dedicated staff, collaborators and volunteers. We honor him by naming our coaching program the Hedrick Parent Coach Program.

    I would like to thank the coaches who volunteer their time and, more importantly, their empathy and passion to help others. Thank you. Just as crucial is the team carrying on Tom’s legacy to keep the program going, including Madison Moore, Denise Mariano, MaryAnn Badenoch, Pat Aussem, Kevin Collins, Sean Clarkin, our entire helpline team and amazing Parent Coaches, and the compassionate team at CMC:FFC including Meg Murray, Jeff Foote, Carrie Wilkens, Elliot Foote, Andre Sim, Amy Milin, Ken Carpenter, Kayla Brady and the FFC family of trainers.