By TOM FINAN
Construction Forum STL
Don Willey, business manager for Laborers Local 110, was honored recently for his wide-ranging efforts related to controlling opioid distribution, and support for those facing addiction recovery and related mental health issues. He was presented with the ARCHway Institute’s “Community Award.”
It was the first such award presented by ARCHway, which celebrated its fifth anniversary March 1 at a fundraiser at the Laborers’ LiUNA Event Center on South Lindbergh Blvd. in Sunset Hills. Approximately 300 people attended the event.
Following the presentation to Willey, an announcement was made of the formation of the Matthew Willey Fund. The fund is named after Willey’s late son, Matt, 36, who was battling addiction and died of a heroin overdose. The fund provides scholarships to people wanting to enter recovery who lack financial means. Initial donations to the fund totaled $15,500, including $5,000 from Local 110.
Willey has channeled his grief over the death of his son and the heroin-related death of a nephew the following day into a variety of activities including:
• In his role as a United Way of Greater St. Louis board member, Willey recorded a video talking about his son and the toll that mental health/addiction issues take. He convinced United Way leadership to convene a task force, which has obtained $500,000 funding to provide medical, recovery, mental health and job assistance to 50 women and their children postpartum. The program includes tracking of data on outcomes. “You save two lives for the price of one,” Willey said.
• Convening a taskforce, led by Local 110 Diversity Director Sal Valadez, with participation by various construction industry players, government agency representatives, and physician/faculty members from the Washington University School of Medicine Department of Emergency Medicine. The task force is addressing the ways in which emergency department physicians are educated in treating people who present with pain in the ED.
• Arranging two days of meetings with the CEO of United Healthcare to examine the combined issues of pain treatment and mental health and related addictions.
• Instituting coverage through Local 110 for members seeking recovery.
UNION SUPPORT THREATENED BY BY ‘RIGHT-TO-WORK,’ PREVAILING WAGE REPEAL
Willey told the audience it was the support and financial wherewithal of the Laborers and other unions that opened doors for him to pursue positive change, adding that strong unions give back to the community.
That kind of support would be threatened, he said, if so-called “right-to-work” is allowed to become law in Missouri and the Missouri Legislature is successful in repealing prevailing wage.
Willey urged audience members to vote “NO” on Proposition A (RTW) when it appears on the ballot later this year – presumably on Aug. 7.
ARCHway was formed by the family of Dan Stuckey, an Energizer executive, now retired, his wife Jan, and their son John, a one-time addict who today works to ensure the life-changing process of recovery that was available to him will also be available to those who otherwise could not afford it. John Stuckey now serves as executive director ARCHway Institute.
Six state-approved recovery houses, where recovering addicts receive peer support and mental health services have recently been founded by ARCHway. The organization also provides $500 scholarships for persons with financial barriers to entering recovery through its ARCHway Hope Fund.
You can make a donation by visiting thearchwayinstitute.org/get-involved/make-a-donation.
(Construction Forum STL brings together various stakeholders in the construction industry to network, discuss ideas, and share information using social media, public networking events, and its website constructforstl.org.)