Jaime’s Life-Saving Legacy

Alverin M. Cornell Foundation to seed Jaime’s Fund, support addiction recovery

After her tragic passing at age 31, it became clear through memories and stories shared by Jaime’s family and friends that her compassion was as limitless as her reach. “Jaime listened to me,” family and friends from all over the world said. “Jaime acknowledged me.” “Jaime gave me hope.” “She was my guiding light,” one friend wrote. “She was my best friend.”

Many friends said Jaime had saved their lives. They said Jaime was the bravest person they knew, who inspired them to be themselves. Jaime, who herself had struggled with and recovered from addiction, was credited by many friends with their recoveries. One friend told Jaime’s parents that his nephew had been contemplating suicide when Jaime reached out to talk with him and bring him back from the brink. Another friend said Jaime sent him money when she had little to spare, so that he could make his rent. When he reached out to Jaime to try to pay her back, she wouldn’t take his money. Instead, she told him, “Pay it forward.”

Now, despite the pain and grief of the untimely loss of their loved one, Jaime’s family and friends are honoring her memory by paying forward her spirit of boundless kindness and compassion.

Continuing to save lives

In addition to being close friends of Jaime’s family, Bill and Wendy Brewer are board members for the Alverin M. Cornell Foundation, which has been committed to supporting addiction recovery since it was established about 10 years ago.

“It came to our attention that the scale and quality of the Alexian commitment to behavioral health was perfect for us,” said Bill Brewer. The Brewers wanted to support Alexian Brothers while honoring Jaime’s memory, so earlier this year, the Alverin M. Cornell Foundation made a three-year commitment and the Brewers made a personal gift to seed Jaime’s Fund.

“Jaime reached out and helped others when at times she couldn’t afford to,” said Bill Brewer. Now, individuals struggling with substance use disorders who have no way to pay for ongoing treatment, which improves their outcomes in recovery, will have outpatient chemical dependency services paid for by Jaime’s Fund.

“We’re ecstatic about it,” said Mike, Jaime’s dad, who has been friends with Bill Brewer for more than 50 years and counting. “The Brewers being willing to name this fund in honor of our daughter is—I don’t know if I can put that into words.” Jaime’s mom, Helen, said they were fortunate that they could afford Jaime’s treatment when she needed it and know that there are other people who need help but can’t afford it.

“We’re honored that the Brewers are doing this in Jaime’s memory,” she said. Jaime’s sisters Ally and Lauren echoed their parents’ sentiments. They said it is amazing that someone else’s life will be better because of Jaime and what the Brewers have done in her name—and that it’s just the kind of thing that Jaime would have wanted.

Sharing Jaime’s life story and legacy not only is helping comfort Jaime’s grieving family and friends, but it also will foster a deeper understanding of the societal impact of funding addiction and mental health treatment. And, like Jaime, it will save lives.

Addressing the community’s need through philanthropy

Every year, about 1,000 people are successfully detoxified on the specialized chemical dependency unit at AMITA Health Alexian Brothers Behavioral Health Hospital in Hoffman Estates. For about 250 of them who are unfunded, AMITA Health provides their detox services for free as charity care. Many of the individuals who come in for medical detoxification are in very difficult situations. Some, due to the hold addiction has on their life, have been kicked out of their homes or have lost their jobs. For others, all of their relationships are with people who are using. Some are involved with criminal issues.

Detox lasts three to seven days—enough time to detoxify the body of substances but not nearly enough time to address the complex and underlying issues related to the illness of addiction.

“Detox alone does not make any long-term difference in the course of their illness,” said Gregory Teas, MD, chief of psychiatry, AMITA Health Behavioral Medicine Institute. “Outpatient treatment lets them have what we in addiction recovery call support and structure,” which are key to people’s ultimate recovery.

Once detox is over and patients are discharged, it is recommended that they step into another level of care. For the hundreds of patients who have no way to pay for treatment, however, ongoing outpatient treatment is not feasible. Too often, they don’t go on to receive it, suffer poor outcomes, and end up back in the difficult situations they were in when they first were admitted to the hospital.

Jaime’s Fund will help break this cycle and address this need by providing funding for this population to continue to receive the outpatient treatment they need after completing detox.

“Alexian Brothers calls it unfunded,” said Bill Brewer. “I would call it a big void. It is time to recognize and fund emotional health.”

Always there for people

Members of Jaime’s global community joined family members in celebrating her life at a memorial service in California earlier this year. Another memorial service was held in New York. Still more friends reached out to her family from as far as New Zealand and Australia.

“Jaime loved everybody.” “Jaime never expected anything from anyone.” “Jaime was always there for people,” they said.

Through Jaime’s Fund and the many people who love and remember her, she still is.

Honor Jaime’s memory and pay it forward to someone in need today by making a gift to Jaime’s Fund.