Generation Found, the follow-up to The Anonymous People, is a documentary with a clear call to action: unite your community to start a #YouthRecoveryRevolution. After watching an opioid epidemic started to unfold in his community, Joe Engle took action by starting a movement in Las Vegas. We took a few minutes to interview him and hear about how his efforts and Generation Found Screening ignited the Vegas #YouthRecoveryRevolution.
Tell us a little bit about yourself, and your story.
My name is Joe Engle and am a person in long term-recovery- I haven’t had a drink or a drug since 05/27/1994. I was a single father for over 13 years, raising my four sons Reese, Dylan, Shane, and Adam.
On 07/21/11- my life was forever changed when I found my oldest son, Reese, dead from a heroin overdose. He was 19 years old. He had struggled with addiction since he was 15 or so, and was actually sober for 7 months before he passed away. My son, Dylan, continued to use heroin after his brother’s death. I had found a new level of hopelessness and helplessness. After a while, I decided I wanted to help those that couldn’t help themselves.
I sat in my kitchen with three other parents whose lives had been affected from heroin. We were all in agreement, we wanted to take action, but what would the help look like? It manifested itself into a movement called “There is No Hero in Heroin (TINHIH).” We set out to plug ourselves in the recovery community with a mission of raising awareness to the heroin epidemic. We sat at Farmers Markets, held community garage sales, started fundraising golf tournaments, and created an organically grown email list of supporters. Our combined efforts with local city government and other coalitions propelled TINHIH to the forefront of the recovery community in Las Vegas while staying true to our mission of helping one addict at a time by providing scholarships to local recovery homes for those in need.
When did you first hear about Generation Found?
I watched the Anonymous People on its first streaming release, 04/01/14 I think? I remember I changed my profile pic to the “Recovery is HERE 04.01.14,” and I’ve been a fan of Greg Williams ever since. I believe the first time I saw the trailer for Generation Found was around 08/15, and I instantly knew I wanted TINHIH to be a part of it. I played the trailer at my group’s meeting and everyone was like: “Wow! What can we do to help!?”
My wife and I attended the UNITE to Face Addiction rally in October of 2015, I made an appointment with our local school district (with the help of a city official), and proposed the idea to “rebrand” an existing alternative school. TINHIH became an action partner with Facing Addiction and I listened in on every monthly partner phone call with Michael King. On one particular call, Facing Addiction laid out their action plan. I explained what we were working on with our school district. After that call, Kristen Harper-ARS E.D. called me, and I set up a meet & greet between ARS and local stakeholders. That started the ball rolling, and with a local CCSD associate, Jeff Horn, superintendent on board with the mission, we were off!
How did your community react to your screening event?
Jeff and I attended the ARS conference in June of 2016, and I signed up to be a movie captain with Gathr and decided on a 09/14/16 screening: what would have been my son’s 25th birthday. I had hoped our school district would be able to announce during the screening. However, the wheels turn a little slowly at that level- especially when you are dealing with the 5th largest school district in the nation. The screening was a hit; we sold out twice and had to get upgraded to the largest theatre available! Momentum was on our side: with city officials, district stakeholders, and a body of committed people- we have parlayed this initiative to potentially get on the school board agenda for 05/25/17. The (recovery high) school renovation and staffing budgets are unofficially pending approval, but we are hopeful the official word will come out after the trustee meeting later this month!
(These are) exciting times for sure- our recovery high school will hold up to 100 students, but plan to open in August ’17 with 30-40 students.
Anything else you would like to add?
TINHIH will open an Alternative Peer Group onsite at the RHS, with operating hours of 3-7pm M-F, and 9am-3pm on weekends. TINHIH has secured a grant through Americorp for staffing, and they will also act as the volunteer coordinators. Seems that everyone that has anything to do with recovery services in Las Vegas wants to donate their time or services, so that is the main focus right now: to coordinate healthy activities, parent involvement, and recovery communities to serve our youth. We’ve even had a high-level meeting with Caesar’s Foundation for additional funding, and a work program for our students.
In closing, I would like to thank Greg Williams, Facing Addiction, and Gathr for kicking off the #YouthRecoveryRevolution
Want to start your own #YouthRecoveryRevolution? Generation Found is still available for Theatrical OnDemand requests. The first step to inciting change in your community is to get them together all in one place: Get Informed- Gathr a screening today.