Helping PAL grow into a truly national organization is a complicated process, and the office staff in Phoenix is already stretched thin trying to support facilitators and keep things running smoothly during the pandemic.
There has been a long to-do list to help put PAL in the national eye and get meetings in all 50 states, but there haven’t been the hours to do it – until now. PAL now has two part-time Regional Coordinator Consultants – Jean Werner who came on board in April, and Diane Buxton who started in August. The two positions are supported by a generous grant from AmerisourceBergen Foundation.
Both women have deep roots in the organization; both have served on the board of directors and as facilitators. Jean served on a volunteer basis as the Meeting Coordinator, and still probably knows nearly every facilitator in the country. Diane (along with Jeanette Krohne), started the first PAL meeting outside of Arizona – an act of great courage and dedication. We couldn’t have two more knowledgeable or dedicated people than Jean and Diane on the job.
When Jean introduces people to PAL, she often hears the question, “Have you heard about Al Anon?”
“We all know about Al Anon,” she says. “It is a great organization and has been the key resource for families for years. However, we also know about PAL and how it has impacted our lives. We want others to know about PAL.”
When Jean started in this new role, her first – and continuing challenge – was the pandemic. Not an ideal time to try to open new meetings! However, as she started researching resources across the country, the growing need for additional parent support became apparent.
In the past few months, she has made tremendous progress, most significantly in introducing PAL to SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration). Thanks to her hard work we are working with the Opioid Response Network, a SAMHSA program that is providing PAL with contacts all over the country. She has also made inroads with NAADAC, the Association for Addiction Professionals, the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, and more. PAL is now in 2-1-1 directories across the country.
When Diane came alongside Jean in August, they divvied up the duties. Diane will be covering the Eastern portion of the U.S. – special thanks to Darlene Heier for taking over Diane’s former position as Northeast Regional Lead so that Diane could assume this new role. Diane’s first phone call on the job to a church in New York received an enthusiastic reception, and we’re already on the way to a new meeting in that area. It was a great start!
Jean has an invitation to you all: “We have both realized that this task is bigger than the two of us. PAL will grow thanks to our dedicated facilitators, volunteers, and PAL members.
“Local reach and contact are critical. We would love to have you join us in this effort as a volunteer in your state and community. If you would be willing to help, please reach out to Diane or me and we will be happy to provide contact names and information. If you already have contacts in your area who we could speak with, please let us know. A direct introduction is so helpful.”
We are grateful to both Jean and Diane for their willingness to take on this challenge, and we’re excited as their hard work is already reaping results to help spread the news and start new meetings, providing hope to families across the country.