April 10, 2017 – West Bend, WI – Kellie Boone, President of the Noon Rotary Club of West Bend, knew she had to do something about the heroin and opioid problem currently hammering communities and families. Her determination to take action led her and the Noon Rotary club to develop Hidden in Plain Sight, an interactive heroin and substance abuse awareness program that featured a display of a teenager’s bedroom.
During the month of February, the bedroom exhibit was hosted at Moraine Park Technical College in West Bend in partnership with Elevate and The Heroin Task Force of Washington County.
The Hidden in Plain Sight bedroom exhibit demonstrated many signs, either hidden or in plain view, that could indicate drug and alcohol abuse. This program was held in conjunction with the five-week Heroin Highway lecture series, also hosted at MPTC.
“We made a big impact,” said Boone. “We saw almost 1,000 community members attend. I’m in awe of the many people that came and shared their stories with us, whether it was heartbreak, triumph, or hope. They are all in their own right amazing people for being so brave to share those intimate life stories with the world in hope of helping others.”
At the conclusion of Hidden in Plain Sight, the bedroom exhibit was dismantled and shipped to Concordia University where it is now on display to help educate families and caregivers about the indicators of drug abuse.
Boone is excited to see the program take on a new life.
“I was thrilled they wanted to use the exhibit,” Boone said. “Heroin addiction is truly at epidemic proportions and unfortunately I’ve been touched by it personally because of my brother, who sadly is no longer with us.”
Not only did the Hidden in Plain Sight program educate members of the community, it also helped Boone deal with the loss of her brother to heroin.
“I learned how to let go of the stigma associated with Heroin addicts, “said Boone. “For the first time, I publically spoke about my brother and his story. I truly believe one way to help is to educate parents and guardians before a problem starts. It could have made a huge difference in saving my brother’s life.”
Pete Rettler, dean of the West Bend MPTC campus, Rotarian, and member of the Hidden in Plain Sight committee, also sang the praises of this event.
“It exceeded my expectations,” Rettler said. “All five weeks, (our) auditorium was full plus overflow. Hundreds of people toured the bedroom display and there was a ton of publicity and coverage in the community. Any effort to understand that we have an epidemic, and to understand the magnitude of the problem, helps.”
In a nod to its success, Rettler also pointed out that everyone in attendance of Hidden in Plain Sight came away with an understanding that no family is immune to this epidemic.