Monthly Archives: April 2016

Second Annual OC Giving Day 2016 is here. Please donate and help Broken No More.

OCCF - Giving Day 2016 Web Ads_GWYHL_FINAL-13 1000x345It’s OC Giving Day! Today.

The Orange County Community Foundation is hosting the second annual i❤oc Giving Day from today April 26th 6 a.m. through noon April 28, 2016. It's 30 hours to give where your heart lives. Secure, tax-deductible donations will be accepted.

Help us receive funding, awards and prizes by donating today. Please click the link below to donate and help Broken No More.

Be part of history on I Heart OC Giving Day!

GRASP Retreat 2016

GRASP Retreat 2016

You're Invited!

When: October 13th to 16th, 2016
Where: Hyatt Regency Atlanta Perimeter at Villa Christina - 4000 Summit Blvd., Atlanta, GA 30319

hyper-arrow Retreat Sign-up is now over

hyper-arrow Hyatt Room Registration Here



"There is a universal in this world. It is the love of a parent for their child. This love has no limit. And as the child grows, becomes an adult, the love of a parent also grows. The loss of that child, the death of that child, the depth of a parent's pain cannot be described."

-- Denise Cullen, LCSW, Executive Director Broken No More/GRASP, February 10th, 2016 speech presented at the Informal Interactive Stakeholder Consultation at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City.


The GRASP 2016 Conference and Retreat will be held in Atlanta, GA. on October 13th through the 16th at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta Perimeter at Villa Christina. The participants of this conference are families and friends who have lost a loved one due to overdose and other substance-related causes. We are a unique group whose grief is complicated by the stigma surrounding this kind of death. We come to GRASP to find comfort and support from others who have experienced this loss.

The GRASP Conference and Retreat provides a unique opportunity for those who participate to come together as a community and to find acceptance and solace for their grief. We struggled alongside our loved one as they fought this illness but this battle is one that we and our loved one ultimately lost. Many times this loss was unaccepted by others as being worthy of compassion. They did not understand. But those of us who have experienced this kind of disenfranchised loss, we do understand. We share an experience, and through this experience, a bond. This bond, it is an unwanted one. But, as such, it is all the stronger.

Registration for the GRASP Conference and Retreat can be accessed here. The Early Bird registration fee is $245 until June, 30th with a General Registration fee of $300 from August 1st to September 13th at which time registration will be closed. Refunds will be 100% prior to August 13th, 75% between August 14th and September 20th after which refunds will no longer be available. The registration fee will include participation at all Conference events: The opening reception Thursday night, breakfast and lunch Friday and Saturday, and the Farewell Dinner Saturday night. There will be a special "Thank You" Dinner for Chapter Leaders Friday night. Travel and lodging are the responsibility of the participants.

Reception and Introductions

Denise Cullen, LCSW, is the Executive Director of Broken No More/Grasp. She received her MSW from the University of Southern California's
School of Social Work in 1993. For many years (1992-2003) Denise worked in the field of HIV/AIDS. The majority of her patients were terminally ill. She, thus, has professional and personal experience in death, dying, and grief. Since 2009, with the founding of Broken No More, Denise has devoted her life to advocacy in the field of drug policy reform and to providing support for those suffering the loss of a loved one through her leadership of GRASP.

Gary Cullen is V.P. of Development and CFO of Broken No More/GRASP. He uses his 30 years as a successful business owner to operate the sales, marketing, and financial issues of Broken No More/GRASP. He prefers to remain behind the scenes in this work, to let others be the public face of this organization, but for this his dedication is no less great. It is because of his business acumen and his efforts that Broken No More/GRASP has become the successful organization that it is. And why it has succeeded in helping so many.
On August 5th, 2008, Denise and Gary Cullen lost their only child, their son, to an overdose. His name is Jeff. He is forever 27.

Grieving Loss after a Substance Passing, Understanding Disenfranchised Grief, Reducing Pain, and Developing of Strategies for Healing and Support.

Julie Siri, LCSW, is a licensed clinical social worker with over 25 years' experience in death, dying and bereavement. She has a Master's degree in psychology from California State University, San Bernardino and a Master's degree in Social Work from the University of Southern California.

Julie's career began at the height of the AIDS epidemic where she witnessed and experienced the impact stigma has on the grief process. Over the years she has utilized these experiences to provide support and insight to families and loved ones on their journey through grief. She is recognized as an expert in the field of disenfranchised grief.

Dealing with the Media in Times of Grief

Tommy McDonald is Deputy Director of Media Relations at the Drug Policy Alliance. He earned his B.A. at Tennessee State University and began his career in journalism 1991. In late 2001 he joined Children Now, a nationally recognized child advocacy organization based in Oakland. Tommy has managed national media campaigns on social justice issues, such as juvenile justice, consumer litigation, affordable housing, drug policy, human rights and gun control.

Addiction: Personal Histories, Harm Reduction, and the Brain

Julia Negron is a Certified Addiction Specialist (C. A. S.). She lost both her mother and her sister to drug overdose and her youngest son has struggled with heroin dependence for most of his adult life. She has been in personal recovery since 1985. Julia is a Board Member of A New PATH (Parents for Addiction Treatment and Healing) and Floridians For Recovery, founder of The Suncoast Harm Reduction Project, a co-founder of Moms United to End the War on Drugs, and an Advisory Board Member of Broken No More.

Sam Snodgrass, PhD is a Board Member of Broken No More. He has a Doctorate in Biopsychology from the University of Georgia (1987) and was the recipient of a National Institute on Drug Abuse Post-Doctoral Fellowship in the Pharmacology and Toxicology Department at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. After completion of his post-doc, he was asked to remain as a faculty member of this department and served as a Research Assistant Professor. He currently works in a Buprenorphine Clinic in Little Rock, AR. Sam has a decades long history of opioid addiction. He has been well since 2011.

Grief to Advocacy: An Interactive Panel Presentation

Moderator: Asha Bandele

Asha is the Senior Director of Grants, Partnerships and Special Projects at the Drug Policy Alliance. She is also an award-winning author and journalist, the stepmother of a son lost to drug war violence and the mother of 16 year old Nisa whose stunning Huffington Post article on young people and drug education was shared by thousands.

Panel Participants: Denise Cullen, LCSW; Julia Negron, C. A. S.; Kim Brown, RN; Tami Olt, MD.; Lisa Wilkins, and Laura Cash.

Journaling Your Grief: Healing Through the Use of Words.

Asha Bandele


“There is a universal in this world. It is the love of a parent for their child. This love has no limit. And as the child grows, becomes an adult, the love of a parent also grows. The loss of that child, the death of that child, the depth of a parent’s pain cannot be described.”

Denise Cullen, LCSW, Executive Director Broken No More/GRASP, February 10th, 2016 speech presented at the Informal Interactive Stakeholder Consultation at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City.


Submitted by: annabun
Born: 1995
Died: 2016
My Tribute: Our son died at the age of 21 after battling bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder, and a long history of self medicating these conditions with street drugs and prescription drugs that were no prescribed to him. He has been gone approximately a month and I struggle everyday with anxiety which has begun to interfere with my ability to leave my home. My husband found him dead in his bed in the morning and there is an ongoing investigation into his death. My son was an avid reader, loved music, camping, fishing, and video games. He had been in treatment and had just received his 90 day sober badge. His death was so unexpected and I do not know how to deal with the grief. There are very few services in our local area for mental health, drug addiction, or support groups for people in our situation. I just cannot fathom how we are going to survive this. Markus never left me without telling me he loved me and giving me a hug. He was kind, polite, and so very loving. Everything around me reminds me of all the good in Markus and how he filled our lives with so many good things despite the constant struggles of his addictions and choices.

David (DJ) McDonald

Submitted by: Dena Lavornia
Born: 3/91
Died: 3/16
My Tribute: DJ was a funny, loving and caring person. He battled addiction since he was 14...He leaves behind a beautiful 4 year old son. He was loved by many, and leaves a void..nothing will ever be able to fill.

Allison Elizabeth Sambo

Submitted by: Her mother
Born: 1988
Died: 2016
My Tribute: This is Allison my first born. A very smart, funny, loving person just as most who suffered from addiction. She was my best friend whom I knew was in trouble but promised me she was not going to kill herself with pills. She died November 27,2015 two days after thanksgiving. Heroin and Zanex killed her instantly. I had no ideal she was using heroin just no ideal. Allison was a hairstylist and a dancer. She loved everyone she believed in everyone. When I was told my child was dead(reborn end), I said " I trust Jesus plan for her life and for my life because God's plan is perfect. Allison I miss u in each breathe I take and so does your sister and brother. We are still in shock struggling to find some normal state of thinking without you. Bless the Lord oh my soul and all that is within me bless His Holy name. I song that song to her everyday as an infant and she would smile and look at me with so much love as she looked at me the day she died. I wasn't at her house she shared with a sister who found her but earlier that day she called out momma I said huh and she said I love you and I said I love you too Lou Lou which is a nick name I gave to her before birth. Rest my angel I know you are with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit is here with us to give us comfort because of your absence. Thank you for choosing me for a mother and thank you God for the 27 years with her. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. Eyes have not seen nor have ears heard what the Lord has prepared for those who love Him. Momma knows you loved God and that God loved you.