|Melissa and her family were some of the West Virginians helped by Change Their Holiday. She has five children, including one with autism and another who has ADHD. She has been in recovery from opioid misuse for nearly three years and expects to receive her bachelor’s degree in May. Still, the road has not been easy, as the children’s father lost his job due to the COVID-19 pandemic and they had fallen behind on the rent. Though they were not in danger of going without food, Melissa’s children were facing a Christmas without a visit from Santa.|
“The Game Changer Change Their Holiday program came to us like angels from heaven,” Melissa said. “Not only was I speechless when I received the envelope from Ms. Harris, but I had tears streaming down my face. Times have been a little tough and I was so worried I was going to have to explain to the children why Santa never came. Game Changer certainly changed our holiday. My family and I will never be able to thank them enough.”
Bernie Dolan, Executive Director of the WVSSAC, and Don Robinson, Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President of MVB Bank – two of the founders of Game Changer – were both ecstatic with the results of the Change Their Holiday program.
“West Virginians helping West Virginians; it can’t get any better,” Dolan said. “Once we get past this COVID situation, the prevention programs and other educational activities we have planned for our schools will be among the best in the nation. I cannot say enough about how well this Game Changer initiative is working out. I would be remiss if I did not thank Governor Justice. His support has been the reason we have been able to take this to another level.”
Robinson, who has eight children of his own, says not only does MVB Bank have a firm commitment to West Virginia, but, as a husband and father, he chose to raise his family here because of the great people and the willingness they have to help.
“What a great teaching tool for my children,” Robinson said. “I mean, for them to be able to see how the people and companies in this state have stepped forward to help those going through some rough times not only makes them more appreciative, but also reinforces what we try to teach them.”
Joe Boczek, who serves as Executive Director of Game Changer, was euphoric at the results.
“People who know me know I am rarely speechless, but I can’t put into words the gratitude I have for our sponsors and the people of this fantastic state, not to mention the feeling I experienced when we were handing out the envelopes,” Boczek said. “The sincere and legitimate appreciation, along with the tears of joy, made this holiday season so special. God Bless Governor Justice for agreeing to help us.”
Lorrie Smith, Program Manager for Jobs & Hope West Virginia, shared Boczek’s enthusiasm and thankfulness for Change Their Holiday.
“There are many challenges when you are in recovery from opioid and substance misuse,” Smith said. “Jobs & Hope is committed to help those in recovery with a plethora of services. Our collaboration with Game Changer is certainly proving to be worthwhile. I see a bright future as we work together and with so many others to help bring families back together again.”
Deborah Harris, Lead Transition Agent for Jobs & Hope, helped hand out envelopes to a number of people and she, too, was nearly speechless at the reaction and appreciation.
“We made a difference in so many people’s lives,” Harris said. “We made sure children had a Christmas and that families could enjoy the holiday season together, away from the tough climb back from such the disease that is opioid and substance misuse. I am already looking to next year, where we can help make Change Their Holiday bigger and better.”
Visit WVGameChanger.com for more information about Game Changer and the Change Their Holiday promotion.