By Mary O’KEEFE
The Chace Taylor Malone Impact Foundation-Los Angeles (IFLA) held its annual golf tournament recently followed by the 19th Hole Banquet.
Chace Taylor Malone is best described as charismatic and caring but he struggled with anxiety and depression, which led to substance abuse, for many years. He lost his battle with abuse in 2021 at the age of 27, according to IFLA.
His mother Victoria Malone, along with his family and friends, started the IFLA to help families find the support they need.
“We strive to rid our community of the unimaginable suffering caused by opioids and other harmful substances which have taken hold in our neighborhoods.
There were an estimated 100,000-plus drug overdose deaths in the United States ending in April 2021 – an increase of 28.5% over the year prior [according to the Centers for Disease Control and reported in Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration]. In California, the Los Angeles Dept. of Public Health reports a 48% increase in accidental overdoses during the first five months of the pandemic. Our community is no exception,” said Malone. “The focus of the foundation is to offer individuals a comprehensive plan to effect meaningful change and save lives. This wraparound approach is vital to address the complex needs of individuals suffering from addiction, often exacerbated by mental health and social issues. Our vision is a safe and healthy community, free from the tragedy of addiction.”
The golf tournament and banquet was not only a way to raise money but to also raise awareness of the outreach done by the IFLA and to touch base with supporters of this organization that was founded just a few years ago.
Tori Monteleone spoke of how she came to IFLA soon after attending AA. For 15 years she had a substance abuse problem. She introduced herself to the audience as being born and raised in La Crescenta.
“I graduated from Crescenta Valley High in 2005, with no honors, nothing special, and only a couple of suicide attempts … I was your average kid,” she said. “I wanted to be relatable but since I felt I wasn’t relatable I didn’t want to be there.”
After graduating from high school her life shifted as she started drinking and in 2006 started using “hard drugs.”
“It was in moderation … until it wasn’t,” she said.
She added she drank and used every day for the last 16 years, but was highly functional as she continued to work at various jobs and even climbed mountains; however, addiction was still a part of her life. With the help from IFLA she said she had finally found a way back from addiction and has been sober for over a year.
“Life does not get easier just because you get sober,” she said. She still had the ghosts of the past that haunted her and the “world was the same” as the one she had wanted to leave when she was in high school.
“And that was the state Victoria found me in,” she said. “She actually said, ‘Please let me help you.’”
Monteleone was on the verge of homelessness and finally reached out to Malone who was able to get her the support she needed. The two have kept in contact.
This is the heart of what the IFLA is about. Malone has said when her son was going through his most difficult times she could not find the support needed. She and Chace’s family were not the only ones who started IFLA; his friends were also involved and now serve on the board of directors. It is a family of support that continues to reach out to others. Jerry Butt III is president, Ryan Shumway is vice president and Taylor Poage is secretary and fundraising coordinator.
The foundation has become very proactive with its outreach including with the Crescenta Valley High School’s WellNEST program. It has provided speakers and has worked with teachers and students. It has a student ambassador program where students can help other students by bringing presentations to their peers.
“[IFLA] is working with local community services such as the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Dept.-Briggs Station. We participate in every event they invite us to share our outreach,” Malone said.
The foundation has recently formed a partnership of 12 sectors of the community that is known as The Crescenta Valley Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition. The Coalition recently received a large grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“Collectively, our purpose and mission over the next five years is to mobilize the Crescenta Valley, Glendale and Sunland/Tujunga communities to reduce youth and adult overdose deaths from fentanyl and methamphetamine, the two biggest causes of drug overdoses in Los Angeles County. Our region is seeing the third highest increase in accidental overdoses among the seven Los Angeles service areas and needs to be alerted to the danger it is in. Our coalition focuses on building collaborations that will reduce the risks for drug abuse, namely high rates of youth depression, and a dearth of coping skills while increasing the protective factors, namely alternative activities and local sources of support and empowerment,” she added.
The Coalition is overseen by IFLA. Malone encourages the public to get involved and there are a variety of ways people can help.
“The public can help by sharing information with those who need our help,” she said. “We would like a diverse and broad perspective from the community to help shape and execute the goals and objectives of the coalition.”
At the foundation, IFLA and the newly formed coalition are working to give people the answers they need when they may be facing their darkest times. Not only for those who are facing substance abuse but for their family and loved ones who may desperately want to help but are uncertain of how to help.