"You said you'd always be there for me, and now I need you when I say good-bye to my dad at his memorial service."
The heartbroken 10-year-old boy was making a return visit to Jerry Moe's office, this time to share the crushing news that his father died from a drug overdose.
Moe, the beloved counselor, educator and author who serves as national director of the Children's Program at the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, lets every child he works with know they never need to go it alone against addiction.
Sometimes for Moe—too often, in fact—that means attending memorial services.
In this case, the memorial was about to conclude when the 10-year-old boy quietly approached the microphone. Several family members and friends had already spoken but nobody mentioned the elephant in the room. After thanking everyone for attending, the young boy told the mourners something he needed them to understand: His dad "got trapped" by addiction.
"With no shame, no embarrassment, no guilt, this boy spoke the truth about addiction," Moe shares. "He explained that his dad wasn't a bad person, but that he did some bad things when drugs had ahold of him."
And then the boy told the crowd of 200, most now in tears, that, "I am going to remember all the good parts about my dad."
The boy's story reveals the healing power of the Children's Program, says Moe. "He knew how to ask for help. He knew how to let his feelings out. He knew he couldn't save his dad. And, most of all, he knew his dad loved him."
Moe grew up in a family impacted by addiction, too. As a young boy, he was certain the confusion and heartache in his home were somehow his fault and his job to fix. It wasn't until age 14, when Moe found Alateen, that he realized he wasn't the only kid trying to hide such a painful family secret. If only he'd known this when he was a hurting little boy—before falling into self-destructive behaviors as a young teen.
Years later, with a professional background in education and counseling, Moe designed a program to help that hurting little boy of his childhood and the nearly one in three kids in America who grow up in homes impacted by addiction. Not only do these children face the enormous stress and heartache of addiction in their daily lives, they're at far greater risk of eventually developing addiction and mental health problems themselves.
Thanks to the generosity of donors, more than 27,000 children and their family members have had the opportunity to experience the healing power of the Children's Program over the past 19 years. Through donor support, more and more "hurting little kids" can know they're not alone against addiction, too.
Reach out with care and support to children hurt by addiction. Let them know they're not alone. We'll put every dollar you give to work in providing healing and hope for hurting families. HazeldenBettyFord.org/For-The-Kids