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Not my problem

April 15, 2015

It has been a learning experience over the past 10 years, of Hope and Friendship, to hear the frustrations from those who are struggling and to hear the denial of those who refuse to admit the need is this real, here and now.

Speaking of those whose kids go hungry, or when school is not in session do not have lunch every day (free/reduced lunches), or who struggle putting clothes, coats and shoes on their kids, seems to be something you’d hear of from inner city NOT here in Lemont!

I have made it my platform when asked to speak to let you know that there are those within your arm’s reach who need your compassion, who need your generosity, and who could be better off simply with your surplus right here, right now, and with unjudging and unconditional acknowledgment that there are those who cannot pull themselves up from the knocked down position without your outreached hand.

Each month I focus on a need (cleaning/paper/personal care products; school supplies; food for kids; winter clothing & kitchen needs; Thanksgiving food; Christmas Dinners & Care Box items; furniture/appliances/bedding; your gently used bikes/skates/strollers) and I try to simply be a conduit from those who have to those who need. You have “stuff” that is sitting around unused? Let’s put it in a home that would be better off and grateful for it. We have teamed together to fill many voids and help many friends. I thank God for you every day. I thank God that you join with me to hear the quiet yet immense needs with grace, compassion and generosity.

Why stop at “things”?
Why are we not offering support in compassion, experience, and knowledge?

Last fall we saw the deaths of four young adults within two months. All in their 20s, all from use/abuse of alcohol/drugs. This year we have known parents who buried two more. I personally have been the ears to parents of even more who are in the depths of their battles trying to save their “children” from their own demise.

Our pop culture promotes promiscuity, alcohol and drug use, and living at a pace that leaves a young person feeling invincible from the indemnities of the repercussions that could/may/do befall them. Who wouldn’t at such a young age, think that it would “not be me”? As parents we want to believe “not my kid”, “not my problem”. I have to tell you that I walked blindly through this community unaware of the battles that were being waged in the homes within my strides. I had no idea of the life and death line that was present between parent and child. I was naïve to the demons that screamed in the ears of the youth I interacted with, saw working, functioning and unknowingly struggling right in front of my eyes.

One of my roles as Police Chaplain unfortunately brings me to your door, sometimes in the middle of the night, to be the bearer of tragic and horrible news. This hat also carries with it the code of confidentiality and with that I have openly extended the ears and arms to listen and outreach with a deep unconditional and compassionate love.

That role led me to be by the side of parents last fall, and for me to feel heartbroken at the side of a grieving mother, writing a blog of the pain I experienced. (
Another mother read this blog at 1am last November; a mother of a 24 year old “child” that is struggling with a demonic addiction.

Terri I don’t know if there is anything that you can really do to help, but I am reaching out with hope that you may have an idea or be able to make a connection somehow. We have to do all we can to help the young people who are struggling with substance abuse, to put aside the shame and guilt, and help them. My son may already be past the point of help, but there are younger ones out there.

Those of you who know me, really know me, know that I could not sleep that night or nights after having received that letter. How could I lay my head down knowing there were parents within my arm’s reach who were so alone and so desperate for hope and I would just go through my days with my blinders on saying “Not my house, not my problem”. What if that was my daughter or son’s best friend? What if that was my best friend’s child? What if that addict, that troubled soul lived next door? Could I say “your problem, not mine”? How could anyone do that? We are a beautiful compassionate and loving community. Lemont is a community of giving people, loving people, take action people. Why are we losing our youth to addictions and inability to know when to say when?

When a person calls on me I feel the need to respond 24/7/365. I am motivated by a desire to continue to carry forth a legacy of a man who never turned his head from a need, who never judged a person for their battle and never feared his reputation being ruined from being in the presence of one who was battling a beast. My father was a recovering alcoholic. He taught me that though you may have battled the beast and stepped on it you never totally defeat the voices. He lost his battle to cancer just short of his 30th anniversary of sobriety. His best friend, his AA sponsor placed his 30 year coin with him in his coffin. My dad would have been the first one to tell you a person’s battle is not compartmentalized to that person it affects every person around them. Therefore why wouldn’t every person around them want to be part of the recovery and victory over their battle?

We are in a battle right here, right now.
Our community is one of countless communities with the evils of alcohol, prescription drug and heroin drug addiction within it. The most daunting task is that many of our youth are caught blinded by this evil and carrying forth with it because we refuse to believe it is here, it is now and it is taking lives.

This battle may not be present in your home. God Bless and thanks be to that grace. However, do your kids have friends? Do you have friends? Do you connect with those around you? Do your kids friends come to your home? How can you be immune to the battle? Six deaths in this community in 5 months. If you didn’t feel it this time God Bless. Don’t let down your guard, we are not free of the ripples of loss from addictions because we have not united to battle the beast.

(not)INVINCIBLE (Thursday April 16th 6:30-9pm @ Lemont High School) comes from my effort to meet the challenge from the mom who wrote me.
Hi Terri-
Although we have never formally met, I know who you are-I believe God placed you here in Lemont to help us through some tough times and to guide us to help each other.
Terri I don’t know if there is anything that you can really do to help, but I am reaching out with hope that you may have an idea or be able to make a connection somehow. We have to do all we can to help the young people who are struggling with substance abuse, to put aside the shame and guilt, and help them.

I asked those around me to help me help our youth and I was joined in great force by both of our school districts, our churches and the youth leaders here in community. Our first meeting was on December 22nd 2014, the culmination of our first effort to unite with you as a parent will be Thursday April 16th at (not)INVINCIBLE in the Lemont High School Performing Arts Center. If we felt it was worth 4 months of our time, effort and compassion on our own time I would hope you would feel it is worth 2 ½ hours of your time to see what resources, support groups, and constructive outreaches are available are here and now (“Hall of Info”) and hear words from one who wishes they could have the role of “parent unaffected” instead of being a “parent who buried a child” (

I believe that I am a compilation of all of those with whom I have interacted and been present with. It may be a brushing of paths or a friendship that has lasted years. I am who I am as a result of those who have been present in my life. When I needed an ear, a shoulder, a resource, a kind word, to be lead in the right direction you were there. My prayer, my hope and my sleepless nights are spent on the wings of a prayer that even just one family finds a resource they need, one set of ears hears the words they need to hear, or one person becomes the conduit of information learned and information received to share with another friend within their arm’s reach that saves just one life.

I hope to see you this Thursday and every day after. Together we will raise our youth to be who they were destined to be. Then we will lay our head down on our pillows knowing we did what we could, when it was needed and as we were able.

If you grew up with our Neighborhood, you may remember how we sometimes talked about difficult things. There were days … even beautiful days … that weren’t happy. In fact, there were some that were really sad.

Well, we’ve had a lot of days like that in our whole world. We’ve seen what some people do when they don’t know anything else to do with their anger.

I’m convinced that when we help our children find healthy ways of dealing with their feelings–ways that don’t hurt them or anyone else–we’re helping to make our world a safer, better place.

I would like to tell you what I often told you when you were much younger: I like you just the way you are.

And what’s more, I’m so grateful to you for helping the children in your life to know that you’ll do everything you can to keep them safe and to help them express their feelings in ways that will bring healing in many different neighborhoods. ~ Mr. Rogers
Wishing you peace,

Terri O’Neill-Borders

Hope and Friendship Foundation
721 Hickory St, Lemont, IL 60439
“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”
Proverbs 31: 8-9


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