I never expected that I'd meet so many kind people when I first started Smile Anyway. I was told by some that it wouldn't work, that I should volunteer for another nonprofit, there are so many that need support. But, due to my own personal experience of my son Eric's death, watching the number of overdoses increase, and the rise of our young adults dying due to the drug epidemic, I needed to follow my heart. 

By sharing my story, plus following my heart, so many other parents have reached out to me. Some have lost a child, others have children actively using, but we all have something in common. The unconditional love a parent feels for their child. We'd do anything to keep our children safe, yet when they are in their 20's and walk out the front door, all we can do is pray that we have done everything possible to educate them on not using substances. 

I want to thank everyone whom I have met during this new journey. You all have given me more strenght by sharing your stories, volunteering your time, joining Smile Anyway to not just raise awareness, break the stigma, but to also save lives. I can't think of a better way to pay tribute to my son than creating a Recovery Friendly Community that supports a Recovery /Resource Community Center to help prevent the loss of another child, and reach out to our community in a way that connects us all- with music, the universal language.

Amy Johansson