(Chicago, IL) — More than 300 people filled the ballroom of the InterContinental Chicago on June 10 to celebrate and honor the achievements of extraordinary citizens who have championed and embodied the ideals of social justice and public service.
TASC Board Chairman Rev. Calvin Morris offered the invocation, and recognized Melody Heaps for her passion and leadership, which Rev. Morris first observed in the 1960s when both were community organizers on Chicago’s west side.
Melody Heaps praised Louis Garippo for his 50 years of dedication, fairness, and wisdom as a respected attorney and criminal court judge. Mr. Garippo, who served as TASC’s board chairman for 20 years, accepted TASC’s Justice Leadership Award with typical grace and humility. He praised his wife Colette, his children, and past and current colleagues in the judiciary and legal community. He also expressed his sincere admiration for TASC’s staff: “They are absolutely dedicated to seeing that the patients under their care escape the burdens of their addiction.”
TASC Executive Vice President Pam Rodriguez presented TASC’s Public Voice Leadership Award to Isaac Lewis, Jr., founding publisher and CEO of the North Lawndale Community News, community leader, and a long-ago TASC client. Mr Lewis spoke of the importance of community and the value of an array of recovery supports. “I learned along the way that you need help sometimes. When I was incarcerated in Cook County Jail, I needed help. And I heard about TASC…”
TASC Vice President Peter Palanca introduced Glenn Blackmon, professional contractor and business owner. Mr. Blackmon talked about the first time he came to TASC’s Halsted office as a building contractor, and the memories it awoke in him from years ago when he came to TASC for services. “I was once a TASC client, and now TASC is my client.”
Now a successful businessman, Mr. Blackmon says that after he completes a contracting job, “customers walk in and say, ‘Wow, this is a lot better than I expected.’ This statement also applies to my life after treatment – it’s a lot better than I expected.”
Brad Bullock also shared his story of recovery and redemption. Mr. Bullock came from a troubled family and was repeatedly arrested and incarcerated as a teen, and few had hope for him. The words of a TASC caseworker changed his life when she said, “Nobody gets to choose their parents. You’re 17 now – you have to choose your path.” And he did. From chronic delinquency, drug use, and incarceration, Brad changed his life 21 years ago with TASC’s help. His path has included college, graduate school, marriage, fatherhood, and religious and civic leadership. He is also a respected caseworker and client advocate at TASC.
TASC’s executives also expressed gratitude for everyone in attendance, and all our donors who have made possible the successes of Isaac, Glenn, Brad, and thousands of others.
Ms. Heaps shared the news of calamitous funding cuts to drug treatment that are set to be implemented July 1 unless Governor Pat Quinn, Senate President John Cullerton, House Speaker Michael Madigan, Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno, and House Minority Leader Tom Cross can come to a state budget resolution that funds these services.
Ms. Heaps asked that anyone who believes in the value of TASC and treatment, as exemplified by those who shared their stories, to consider taking action in their private and civic lives.