Give Them Hope: Supporting Those Impacted by Addiction
You may know Luke Jackson as a professional athlete, former NBA player, and University of Oregon Alumni. To us, Luke is an advocate for those most in need in our community. Luke was first introduced to the VOA Oregon Men’s Residential Center (MRC) through an opportunity for his toxicology lab, Emerald National laboratory. But during his visit to the facility, he saw firsthand the powerful work being done at MRC and knew he wanted his involvement to be more.
On his tour, Luke experienced how the MRC helps men who have struggled with addiction and spent time in the criminal justice system turn their life around. “I was humbled by Greg and his staff at what they do, who they are, how they accept people as they come,” shares Luke. “They are doing work with people that have probably had a lot of people give up on them over the years.”
In addition to the work being done at the MRC, Greg Stone, Program Director, shared how he has taken a step further in helping those impacted by addiction by creating the Al Forthan Memorial Scholarship. This scholarship was created to honor Al Forthan, a graduate of MRC, to award higher education scholarships to students from families impacted by addiction and poverty, and to encourage students to explore how addiction has impacted our community and the solutions to this complex problem.
The story of Al and the scholarship inspired Luke. He became a supporter of the scholarship and participated as a judge and essay reader. This year at the annual Al Forthan Scholarship Award Ceremony, the stories of the recipients gave a deeper look into the impact addiction can have on others. “I listened to all of these kids who had been a part of trauma with a family member or parent that had suffered from alcoholism or drug abuse. I couldn’t believe their strength at such a young age. Their strength is an encouragement to me. It gives me a lot of hope for the future.”
Addiction can impact anyone. It doesn’t matter what you look like, where you live, or how much money you have in the bank. The work being done at MRC and through the Al Forthan Scholarship helps to not just remove the stigma of addiction but helps support people who have been affected by it. “What VOA represents to me is those who are seeking can find help. They don’t have to be defined by their mistakes,” says Luke. “It’s nice to know that people don’t have to go through life defined by their failures. There is hope.”