Boutique Design - June 2019 - 18

IMPASSIONED EDUCATOR

GARY MENDELL | CHAIRMAN, HEI HOTELS + RESORTS | FOUNDER AND CEO, SHATTERPROOF

"I FELT LIKE A FAILURE and like I didn't deserve respect." That's Gary Mendell's
summation of what it was like to be the loving father of a child struggling with
long-term addiction issues. "At the time my son was going through this I was
ashamed and didn't speak out about it. It had nothing to do with how my HEI
colleagues felt about me. It was about how I felt about myself as a father. I was
wrong," he says. That realization, along with a promise made to his son, Brian,
before his death in 2011, pushed him past the pain and the guilt. He'd seen firsthand the inexcusable failures in society, policy and healthcare to truly offer
understanding, prevention and treatment to those with substance-use issues and
their families. Mendell and Brian both struggled with the stigma (and Mendell
admits his lack of education on addiction's physical impact in the brain left him
believing Brian could somehow "try harder" to overcome his struggles). Eight
different rehab facilities, which had varying levels of success in helping Brian at
all, collectively failed to provide science-backed treatment. He'd endured scrubbing toilets with a toothbrush at one facility and been kicked out of another for a
relapse, instead of being placed in a more intense recovery program.
All those things drove Mendell to find a way to provide to other families the
resources his hadn't had, starting with removing the stigma and isolation often
associated with addiction. He'd wanted to simply start a small charity in Brian's
name, but the scope of the problem was well beyond that, so the far-reaching
Shatterproof was born. The same pain his family had endured was shared with
millions of others (something Mendell was not originally very aware of; he, too,
felt alone in dealing with addiction in his affluent East Coast community),
18

boutiquedesign.com JUNE 2019

particularly in the hospitality industry, which has the highest rate of illicit drug
use and one of the highest rates of substance-use disorders, according to at
least one study. Rough translation: if you are reading this, understand that these
issues impact you, your boss, your employees, your colleagues, firms with
whom you collaborate, everybody. It's not somebody else's problem. Even the
entertainment industry-which has a long and well-publicized battle with drug
and alcohol abuse-doesn't have as a high a rate of addiction as hospitality.
So, what are the key tenets of Shatterproof, now a powerhouse nonprofit
which has changed laws through advocacy in 15 states (including requiring
access to antidotes) and is capable of raising over $600,000 at its Hospitality
Heroes reception at The Americas Lodging Investment Summit (ALIS). First up
is educating and empowering everyone about addiction. That's key to destigmatizing it. "Research shows that for those afflicted with this disease [addiction], their brain circuitry has changed so that they no longer take drugs to get
high or feel good," says Mendell. "Instead, they get constant cravings to take
drugs not to feel bad or horrible." He stresses that people need to get past the
idea of overcoming addiction with willpower. "Recent brain scans now show
that for some of those addicted, drugs also infiltrate the pre-frontal lobe-the
area that regulates judgment and self-control-leaving the person incapable of
resisting urges and incapable of following through with decisions, like the decision to stop taking the drug. Incapable. The same way a diabetic is incapable of
producing enough insulin."
Another pillar is legal activism. Laws that Shatterproof helped champion,
including ones that require police officers to carry Naloxone, a powerful antidote
to opioid overdoses and "Good Samaritan" laws that protect those calling police
or emergency services to report a suspected overdose, even when the caller has
also been using. Those laws brought Mendell one of his proudest moments with
Shatterproof. A woman came up to him and said that she'd found her son unresponsive and called 911. The police arrived first, and because of a new law in
Kentucky requiring them to carry Naloxone, were able to revive him.
Crafting standards for addiction treatment is the last vital point. A $5
million grant enabled Shatterproof to begin to draft a set of principles for
evidence-based treatment-and get 16 health care payers to buy in. And, of
course, it's the memory of Brian that keeps Mendell going in his chosen work
(he resigned as the ceo at HEI shortly after his son's death to pursue his advocacy with Shatterproof). That's also what's given him the courage to rappel
down hotels (sometimes HEI's own) as part of the Shatterproof Challenge.
Clearly, to Mendell, no obstacle is insurmountable. £

E R N S T & YO U N G ( M E N D E L L ) ; C O U R T E S Y O F H E I H O T E L S + R E S O R T S ( E Q U I N O X )

THE EQUINOX, A LUXURY COLLECTION GOLF RESORT AND SPA
RENOVATED BY STUDIO 11 DESIGN


http://www.boutiquedesign.com

Boutique Design - June 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Boutique Design - June 2019

Boutique Design - June 2019
Contents
From the Editor
The Buzz
Heroes And Mavericks: Fierce Friends
Fun Pass
Queens Of London
Go Small, Go Home
Products: Flooring
Products: Seating
Exit Interview
Boutique Design - June 2019 - Boutique Design - June 2019
Boutique Design - June 2019 - Cover2
Boutique Design - June 2019 - 1
Boutique Design - June 2019 - Contents
Boutique Design - June 2019 - 3
Boutique Design - June 2019 - From the Editor
Boutique Design - June 2019 - 5
Boutique Design - June 2019 - The Buzz
Boutique Design - June 2019 - 7
Boutique Design - June 2019 - 8
Boutique Design - June 2019 - 9
Boutique Design - June 2019 - 10
Boutique Design - June 2019 - 11
Boutique Design - June 2019 - Heroes And Mavericks: Fierce Friends
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Boutique Design - June 2019 - Fun Pass
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Boutique Design - June 2019 - Queens Of London
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Boutique Design - June 2019 - Go Small, Go Home
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Boutique Design - June 2019 - Products: Flooring
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Boutique Design - June 2019 - Products: Seating
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Boutique Design - June 2019 - Exit Interview
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