With all her donations in hand, Wendy Botts struggled to open the door to Unlimited Alternatives.
On Thursday, March 22 she brought donuts, sleeping bags and tents.
“I like bringing pizza, I get a lot of hugs for pizza” Botts said.
She refuses to show up empty handed. As she came through the front door, many members recognized her.
“Whatcha got for us today?” one man asked.
Unlimited Alternatives is a drop in center for anyone struggling with mental health issues, substance abuse or homelessness.
Botts appreciates the way people treat each other at UA.
"Everyone deserves to feel important, " she said.
A statement that her late son, Jordan Blaauw, would have likely seconded. Botts and her husband John’s original goal was to donate 21 tents to UA: a tent for each year of their son Jordan’s life.
A member at UA asked Botts why she brings in so many donations. She answered without missing a beat.
"For my son. In honor of my son, who passed away."
On April 17, 2017, Jordan lost his life to a fentanyl overdose. He had been clean in the days leading up, but Botts said he was most likely trying to escape his own thoughts that night.
"When he was 16 he had a serious suicide attempt on Easter Sunday, and he did almost die and every Easter since then was a trigger," Botts said.
Jordan battled both schizoaffective disorder and addiction.
"A year or more, he wouldn't have any issues...but then something would trigger him," Botts recalled.
Wendy and John knew little about fentanyl, it was hardly on their radar. Jordan had been open with his parents in the past about his drug use and had asked for help when he needed it. But, fentanyl is a highly potent opioid that is often used unknowingly mixed with other narcotics.
It killed Jordan instantly.
"He would self medicate, a lot of people who struggle with bipolar disorder chase the manic feeling...and to help silence everything going on their head," Botts said.
His parents said Jordan allowed the stigma of mental illness to hinder him, often forgetting that he was much more than his diagnosis. He was a musician, a chef, a writer, a son and a sibling to two brothers and a younger sister.
"And he was constantly looking for ways to help other people," Botts said.
Botts said Jordan volunteered at the Humane Society and homeless shelters. He liked to look out for the people who most chose to ignore.
His parents began performing random acts of kindness in his name, shortly after losing him. As the one year anniversary of Jordan's death approaches, his parents decided to start a campaign for Unlimited Alternatives.
“In about three days, we had reached 21 tents,” Botts said. They are up to 86 now, and counting.
"I think he would be absolutely blown away by all of it," John Botts said. "He struggled and felt alone a lot of the times, so to see this -- I think he would be just blown away."
Here is how you can get involved with the Botts' campaign:
"You can purchase a tent yourself or donate a used tent and either mail or drop off a tent directly to Unlimited Alternatives 321 Fuller Ave NE Grand Rapids MI 49503. You can send check, cash or a money order (made out to John or Wendy Botts) to 1329 Thomas St Se Grand Rapids, MI 49506 and all monies will be used to purchase tents from Amazon (we have Amazon Prime and therefore receive free S&H from Amazon)."
The Botts' have also created an Amazon list where people can order donations directly.
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