“As a parent, I would tend to focus on the behavior.” So, begins an interview Bill Ayars did with Smart Business, talking about his approach for dealing with daughter Jennifer Emerald Ayars’ addiction struggles. Jennifer lost her life after an overdose in 2016 at the age of 28. Her father then realized that he never fully understood that addiction was a disease.
In memory of Jennifer, he and his family founded a non-profit to help others find resources that might be suitable for their situation. The Emerald Jenny Foundation is a 501(c)(3) free searchable database for rehabilitation and treatment facilities, healthcare providers, counselors and other organizations in Ohio dealing with drug and alcohol addiction.
They started by researching treatment providers in Northeast Ohio and contacting them in January of 2017 to verify information to provide on the website. The website went live on May 14 – Jennifer’s birthday – with 14 counties in Northeast Ohio. In July, they decided to expand, following the research and verification process used earlier with contacts throughout the state. In October of 2017 the entire state was covered, and by January of 2018 the Ohio Department of Mental Health had replaced its online addiction locator with the Emerald Jenny Foundation website.
Emeraldjennyfoundation.org offers an easy and efficient process to search for treatment facilities. Searches can be refined to include criteria such as age, gender and more. Visitors can view facility profile pages with contact information. The foundation collaborated with their website developer, who helped them to launch the website in a short time, build out statewide content and develop a social media strategy.
CHIME members talked with Director of Operations Susan Tary for this chapter. Below are her answers to our questions:
Q.: What is the most important factor in successfully collaborating with multiple organizations?
First, dedication to the mission. We all felt this was an extremely important cause. We were keenly aware of the fact that people were dying every day. Every number was a person to us. We wanted to relieve some of the suffering that Ohio families were experiencing. We still feel that same desire to alleviate at least the problem of not knowing where to begin the search for help. Second, communication; we began by keeping each other in touch with our progress, and that continues to be how we operate.
Q.: Please describe IT’s role in the collaboration or any tools or products that were used to help with the collaboration.
We worked very closely with the website developer, having regular meetings to ensure everything went as planned and on schedule. Fortunately, the website developer took our mission as THEIR mission. They did some research on their own, becoming knowledgeable about the crisis and they pushed as hard as we did in getting the website up and running on time (an amazing four months after we began), as well as expanding it when we decided to cover the entire state, and helping us define our social media strategy.