Saturday, December 16, 2017

"Nobody builds walls better than me."

On December 6th and 7th I was at an Opioid Symposium sponsored by the Health and Human Services Department.  Its title was “Connecting Data to Save Lives.” The Symposium was followed by a Code-A-Thon, a 24 hour event which brought teams of select invitees from all over the United States to develop data-driven solutions to the opioid epidemic using big data, machine learning, and technology. The Code-a-Thon teams participating in the overnight event searched for ways to improve access to treatment and recovery services and for ways to better identify at-risk populations for early and effective intervention using a huge database provided by HHS.  In short, they were using evidence and science-based methodology to help improve outcomes for an epidemic that threatens a vulnerable population of our citizenry. Learn more about the event here:

The Center for Disease Control is a part of the Health and Human Services Department.  I am baffled by the Trump administration’s ban on the CDC using the words or phrases “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based,” and “science-based.”

According to the Washington Post, senior CDC officials gave policy analysts the list of words during a meeting Thursday in Atlanta and told them they could not use those exact terms in any official documents being prepared for the 2019 budget being put together next year.

“Nobody builds walls better than me.” – President Donald J. Trump

In the past year I’ve written and said in more than one speech, “…in our common battle with addiction our biggest obstacle is a wall. It is the wall of stigma that hems us in and blocks the path toward long overdue change. It is a wall constructed of bigotry, discrimination, judgment, ignorance, shame, and fear. It is our responsibility to sound a clarion call, over and over, louder and louder, longer and longer, until – like the Biblical Joshua – we bring that wall tumbling down. Tumbling down to reveal an enlightened path of compassion on the other side, a path that becomes a road to recovery for all.”

Despite all the talk from the White House the President has done far more to reinforce the wall of stigma than he has to build a path of compassion. He is a disease out of control.  There are good people in government who want to make lives better.  People working to make lives better.  I’ve seen them in action.  There are clearly talented, willing citizens who want to assist.  We cannot, must not, let an ill- tempered, ill-advised braggart divide us or separate us from those who would help us heal.         

Friday, December 1, 2017

2017 Activity Summary

We’re proud to share what we done in the past year to honor the mission of the Where There’s A Will Fund. The Fund made its first distributions this past year.  Four groups we have  worked with closely were the beneficiaries.  Go to their websites to learn more about their good work. 

Addiction Policy Forum 
Facing Addiction
Friends of Recovery  - New York

Partnership for Drug-Free Kids 

We continue to work on our own:

Margot and Bill joint testimony before Congressional Committee on Combating the Opioid Epidemic 2/28/17

Margot’s Letter to the Editor of The New York Times

Two essays published in Addiction Unscripted
An essay in The Episcopal New Yorker
An essay in Motherwell -
An essay on Partnership for Drug Free Kids Parent Blog  11/10/17

Partnership for Drug Free Kids Parent Blog 
5/11 – “The Insurance and Treatment System Failed This Family.
                Now They’re On A Mission To Help Others.”
6/13 – “9 Stories of 9 Inspiring Dads”

International Overdose Awareness Day/Fed Up Rally
Morningside Park – Hurleyville, NY  8/31/17

Rachel Carson High School, New York City  10/11/17
Sponsored by the ’Mentor Foundation


Guest spots on WJFF 90.5, Jeffersonville, New York

Theater/Improv/Play Workshops

BIGVision - 3/17 & 10/17

Partnership for Drug-Free Kids - Staff Workshop 11/29/17


HHS/Medicine X Opioid Design-a-thon Workshop - Presenter and Participant
Washington DC 12/5,6,7/17


Addiction Policy Forum
Bill recognized as a “2017 Advocate of The Year”

Caron – Greater New York Service Awards
An “Unsung Hero Award”

Caron's generous citation read: “Bill Williams is a father who lost his son to addiction, but his loss has driven him to passionately help others in need of hope and understanding. Since the death of his 24-year-old son, William, Bill works tirelessly to fight the stigma associated with substance use disorder by sharing his story to help others and speak to the desperate need for change. Current laws and societal patterns obstruct the recovery process for many, and Bill has worked with lawmakers, medical professionals, law enforcement, addiction researchers, community organizers and lobbyists to fight for change. He works with the Addiction Policy forum and Friends of Recovery New York to help bring about imperative changes in law. Bill also teaches theater and improv classes for BIGVISION, showing those recovering from addiction that they can find meaning, release and calm through the fun and joy acting and improv provides. His essays have appeared in publications for the New York Times, “Nora’s Blog,” National Institute on Drug Abuse, The Partnership for Drug Free Kids, Phoenix House, Freedom Institute, Medium, and Addiction Bill is an inspiration to all, showing how grief and loss can be transformed to benefit the lives of others.”