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Critical Need Alerts
Created for donors and community members to participate in a shared investment opportunity with the Foundation to support our community’s greatest needs.


Lives Forever Changed Thanks to the Generosity of Others: Addressing the Opiate Epidemic

Seneca, a bright-eyed, healthy young professional uses words like lucky, happy, and excited to describe how she feels about her future. But it hasn’t always been that way.

After experimenting with alcohol and marijuana in high school, she moved on to stronger drugs like methodone, OxyContin, and heroin. Sent to rehab at 17, she left as soon as she turned 18, and her drug use continued. When her son was born with Suboxone in his system, Child Protective Services opened a case in the city where she was living and Seneca got clean in order to try to keep him. It lasted a couple of months.

“Literally, the second that they sent me a letter saying that my case was closed I found pills and got high,” she said.

She eventually lost custody, which brought her to a new low.

“I lost it. I didn’t even care. I started using all the time.”

Seneca was staying with a friend, but after throwing parties and not paying rent as promised, she was kicked out. With nowhere to go, she reached out to her mom who said she could stay with her if she was clean.

 “I’m just proud that I got my son back,
because I never thought I would.”


After being clean for 20 days on her own, Seneca started the Medication-Assisted Opioid Treatment Program at Maryhaven. She’s been sober since July 2015. Today, she has a promising career and has regained custody of her son. She’s thankful to her family and those at Maryhaven who “sincerely care and work with you.”

While it wasn’t easy, she is grateful for where she is and her promising future.

“If I can get clean, then anybody can.”

The statistics are grim. Ohio leads the nation in opiate overdose deaths. The numbers are rising, and no one is immune. Opiate addiction affects individuals from all walks of life, and does not discriminate based on gender, geography, or socio-economic background.

In December 2016, The Columbus Foundation launched a Critical Need Alert (CNA), Addressing the Opiate Epidemic, to benefit the Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Board of Franklin County (ADAMH) and its work with local partners to address prevention, awareness, and treatment options for those wrestling with addiction. In two short weeks, the original goal of $475,000 was exceeded, with a total of $512,579 leveraged for the effort.

Thanks to the William C. and Naoma W. Denison, James W. Overstreet, and Martha G. Staub funds of The Columbus Foundation, 50 cents was added to every dollar donated to the CNA, until the goal was met.

“Thanks to the generosity of Columbus Foundation donors, individuals like Seneca are receiving the individualized services and the treatment they need to move their lives forward in a healthy, productive way,” said David Royer, CEO of ADAMH. “Support from the Critical Need Alert is also educating and training family members, friends, providers, first responders, and others who fight addiction alongside those they love.”