July of 1995 changed our lives forever.
My 28 year old brother Bobby could no longer handle the addiction of gambling.
He chose to take his own life after his calls for help failed.
I have always been a firm believer that God brings people in our lives for a reason and a purpose. This is how I feel about my dear friend Ronda Hafemann-Hatefi. I have been blessed since the day we met, while I was still living in Southern Oregon as Ronda still resides in Oregon.
Just as her ‘Facebook Introduction reads about her, “I am a Wife, Momma, Grammy, Auntie, Friend, and advocate. And I believe GOD is good all the time.“
That tells you a lot about who she is and what’s most important to her. Ronda and I have been advocating about problem gambling recovery together for many years, a while after my book released and my recovery journey was transforming into several year’s.
Ronda became an advocate for one fundamental reason. But I will share her written words as to WHY …I was lucky enough to survive both my suicide attempts, and I am always aware that many do not. Here is a little more about who my dear friend, Ronda Hatefi is and how and why she advocates to share help and hope to those with Gambling Problems …
Ronda Hatefi founded Oregonians for Gambling Awareness Organization in 1995. Chair of Lane County Problem Gambling Advisory Committee since 2003, and member of Lane County Mental Health Promotions Board, (formally called Suicide Prevention Committee) for 10 years.
Ronda has petitioned and received a signed proclamation by the Governor of Oregon every year since 1997, declaring September 29th, 2020 as Problem Gamblers Awareness Day. She had the first recognized day for problem gambling in the United States which laid the ground work for a National Problem Gamblers Awareness Week in March.
Ronda has received a Champion in Volunteer award from Lane County, Oregon and a Leadership and Dedication for Problem Gambling Awareness award from Oregon Health Authority.
P.G.A.D is Problem Gamblers Awareness Day, which is September 29th, in honor of Bobby’s birthday. Ronda has petitioned and received a signed proclamation by the Governor of Oregon every year since 1997. This was the first recognized day for Problem Gambling in the United States, and helped to create National Problem Gamblers Awareness Week in March each year.
THE STORY – THE BEGINNING
My Mom was happily married to my Dad for 54 years, they had 5 children, and 10 grandchildren. Bob had a big circle of support around him.
We have learned now how we could have better supported him, by educating ourselves. We thought that by making him realize what he was doing, or by helping him find a new “hobby” that he would be okay.
What we didn’t understand is that his illness did not allow him to feel or see the support we offered. It was not as simple as, “find a new hobby.”
He was a good person, with good values, morals, great strength, and he was very intelligent.
He was also a very compulsive person. He did everything with 110% effort. He was a one friend person, video games captivated him, he played to win, he worked so hard at every job, he wanted to be the best. When he gambled it was no different.
He first gambled when he was 18, he won $500 on a scratch ticket. He liked the idea of quick and easy money. He gambled from there on a little bit here and a little bit there. He played the Oregon Megabucks and scratch tickets mostly for the next few years. But in 1991, the Oregon Lottery video poker was introduced and quickly took over his life.
After playing video poker, within the four short years, he changed from being a very conscientious person who always paid his bills, had money in his pocket, and many nice things. He then became someone who had to borrow money from anyone who would give it to him. He pawned his valuables, kipped bills, and started writing bad checks. He was so ashamed and angry with himself for getting into this position.
Bobby didn’t want to hear what we all would tell him repeatedly that he withdrew from the family all together. He stopped coming to the family gatherings, birthdays, and holidays. He felt that he didn’t want to be there if he couldn’t buy gifts to give.
He went to our Mom on Mother’s Day 1995, and he told her that he didn’t understand what was wrong. He had called the Oregon Gambling Hotline for help and, the State said to him that what he was doing was entertainment, but for Bobby, it wasn’t fun anymore. He wasn’t eating, couldn’t sleep, and was angry all the time. He knew that he needed help, but didn’t know where to turn. Our Mom made some phone calls and got him started in counseling in June.
Unfortunately, it was unsuccessful. The State of Oregon had pulled all the gambling treatment offerings at that time, saying that it was contradicting to call it entertainment when you may become addicted. Bobby’s gambling treatment counselor diagnosed him as depressed, not knowing how to council a gambling addict. She prescribed Prozac, told him to get back into hobbies and the things he used to enjoy, and released him after just a few visits. They prescribed meds for his depression, but not being monitored. We found out later that he quit taking them early on.
The Phone Call …
On July 22nd, 1995, we got the call that my Dad and two nephews had found our Bobby dead. It is a day of so much emotion for me. I started my morning so excited to go to Portland to surprise Bob at his company picnic. The excitement turned to sheer terror when the phone rang. Our brother EJ asked to talk to my husband; I knew right then that Bobby was gone. I am not sure why I knew that because I had no idea he had thought about ending his life.
I do not remember getting ready to go or the ride to Milwaukie, OR. What I do remember is seeing my parents waiting for us in their driveway. The looks on their faces will be with me forever. My Mom was so angry when Bobby (Hafemann) died; she wrote his obituary listing his death as suicide, thanks to the Oregon Lottery …
If Ronda’s story of her beloved brother Bobby has touched you, resonates with you?
I urge you to visit her website to read “the rest of the story” here: https://www.ogao.org/the-story/ …I also kindly ask if you would either or both re-blogg this post or link on your WP site or share using my social media share buttons through your social media? In unity we may raise more awareness together and reach someone’s loved one who has a gambling problem.
Please, don’t wait to give them HOPE and get them HELP or even talk to them about it.
Since Bobby’s passing, Ronda has worked hard to keep Bobby’s memory alive. She does it by bringing action, change, and solutions to problem gambling while raising awareness about this cunning disease and addiction and suicide awareness as it took her brother. And just like myself and Bobby, 1 in 5 will try suicide.
It is why gambling addiction is claiming more lives by suicide than any other addiction. It’s why I would appreciate you visiting Ronda’s website and see how you can help with a possible Donation, help share her message of Hope and in Memorium of Bobby and many others.
Let’s help those still suffering in silence from problem gambling by giving them an ear to listen, and let them know they can recover! Bobby Hafemann’s birthday is September 29th, 2020 …
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