It is with a heavy heart and a lot of frustration that I say good-bye to The Right Door, where I have worked for six years. Seven very caring and compassionate individuals are now facing unemployment and a very worthwhile organization is shutting down due to lack of funding. It is a shame that such a necessary asset to the community is forced to shut its doors.
I would like to express my gratitude to the staff at the Aspen Valley Hospital emergency room; doctors Gallagher, Ayers, Garalko and Balko for your understanding and compassion while being overwhelmed almost on a daily basis with admissions to the ER due to drugs and alcohol. Melissa, my favorite ER nurse, you are always so optimistic and upbeat during some very difficult moments — I have enjoyed talking with you over the years. Thank you as well to everyone at the Pitkin County Jail. Don, Jim, Bev, Jill, Roger and the rest of the staff, you all walk a fine line maintaining the jail but showing compassion for inmates who suffer from alcohol and drug addiction at the same time. You do a wonderful but often thankless job. Thank you also to judges Ely and Nichols, Aspen prosecutors Mordkin and Nedlin for your willingness to look at the bigger picture regarding defendants suffering from addiction and grant permission to those willing to go to inpatient residential treatment.
Finally I would like to wish the hundreds of clients that have worked with The Right Door, past and present, the very best future possible. Your lives will only get better and better as long as you stay sober. I will miss our daily conversations.
On a personal note, I was shocked to read that Aspen City Council is planning on cutting out nonprofit funding by 2014. These organizations provide invaluable services and serve residents of your community; therefore it stands to reason that the community being served should pay for part of the cost of these services. Instituting a tax on alcohol would be helpful toward that end. In the 21 years I have lived in this valley I have seen taxes go up on just about everything except alcohol. In a resort community, most every event/activity is surrounded by alcohol consumption and a “party atmosphere” is the norm. If the alcohol tax increased even .03 cents per drink or bottle, it would pay for treatment for addiction as well as some of the services needed to address this problem.