April 2022 Indiana Youth Services Association’s (IYSA) special event, The Blind Pig Speakeasy Shindig, benefits the Make Good Decisions Initiative. Make Good Decisions educates teens and young adults about the dangers of underage drinking, drugs, destructive behaviors and the Indiana Lifeline Law. Brett’s Story Continues to Save Lives It’s been 10 years since Carmel residents Norm and Dawn Finbloom lost their beloved son, Brett, who passed away from alcohol poisoning just one week before he was to begin college classes in 2012. Since that tragic time, the Finblooms have been dedicated spokespersons for “Make Good Decisions.” They worked alongside former Sen. Jim Merritt, who expanded Indiana’s Lifeline Law during the 2014 legislative session, and the trio are fierce advocates for the Lifeline Law and for IYSA’s “Make Good Decisions.” Indiana’s Lifeline Law provides legal amnesty from prosecution for underage drinking, and many related drinking offenses, for a person who calls or texts, or for persons assisting, to report a medical emergency, sexual assault or other crime. Indiana Youth Services Association’s Make Good Decisions Initiative and Sen. Merritt, author of Indiana’s Lifeline Law, have partnered with Indiana’s Text-to-911 services to increase public awareness about the ability to text to 911 in an emergency. The purpose of the partnership is to encourage young people to contact 911 for help when they find themselves or a friend in an emergency, especially those situations that may involve alcohol or a sexual assault, or if they witness another crime. The statewide public education campaign will focus on high school and college students with digital messages delivered on mobile devices (cell phones, tablets, iPads, etc.) with videos and graphics that contain information about Indiana’s Lifeline Law, alcohol awareness and signs of alcohol poisoning, and encourage young people to contact 911—by phone call or text. The messages will show information about how Indiana’s Lifeline Law works. Celebrating Success While Looking Ahead IYSA and Make Good Decisions representatives are immensely proud of what has been accomplished over the last decade, and they recognize that their work is far from being complete. They acknowledge that their primary fundraiser is transcending beyond the boundaries of Indiana and is making an impact in states throughout the nation. IYSA Chief Advancement Officer Michele Whelchel stated, “We will have a special program this year to celebrate and honor the past years along with a timeline acknowledging the significant benchmarks that have happened over the last decade.” IYSA Chief Executive Officer David Westenberger added, “We’re glad to be back in person this year. Our plan is to have the Indianapolis Jazz Foundation curate the music this year, and we’re stepping up our game in every aspect of the event. Our sponsors and contributors are also stepping up their gifts due to it being the 10th anniversary. So, we will have 10 big live auctions items in addition to a robust silent auction!” When asked what they are most proud of, Dawn Finbloom replied, “If it wasn’t for the community support and for IYSA, we wouldn’t be at this 10-year point. Like Jim says, we have a new batch of teens every year, and we wouldn’t be in a position to help them, to teach them about the Lifeline Law and most importantly about the warning signs of alcohol and drug poisoning if it wasn’t for the support of our community and IYSA.” Norm Finbloom added, “Part of what we’re most proud of is that Indiana teens are taking the message and are spreading it to other states when they go off to college. We know people from other states—Florida, Tennessee, Alabama and others—who are coming the event to support what is being done, and then they will take the messages back to their communities.” Dawn stated, “We’re working with some other states, really targeting to get the information out there, and Michelle’s been working hard on that—specifically with the state of Massachusetts right now, and Jim’s been helping with getting in touch with the legislators.” While being key to the passing of the Indiana Lifeline Law and a staunch advocate for Making Good Decisions, Merritt admits that there is much more work that needs to be done in the way of providing wraparound services to people—especially young people—who are struggling with alcohol and drug addictions. “I’m not going to claim a whole lot of credit for all that’s gone on the last 10 years because it’s been a team effort,” Merritt expressed. “I think one of the reasons we’ve been so successful is because it’s very personal to all of us. When we relay the stories and situations of tragedy as well as positive results, I think that really comes home to people.” Merritt continued, “Dawn and I have talked about this several times, and that is the idea about having a Lifeline Law for drug overdoses. When we have all these wonderful people together on June 16, we need to be looking towards the future and in a very positive way. We need to provide hope for the future along with a road map of what we need to do next. We’ve done this for 10 years, and we feel like we have a solid body of work and we’ve had success saving lives, but we continue to ask ourselves where are going, and I think that keeps us fresh. And I think it keeps people engaged in the mission, willing to help.” Please join us for this year’s The Blind Pig on June 16, 2022, and if you are interested in becoming a sponsor this year, please visit indysb.org for more details on the event as well as IYSA and Make Good Decisions.