When Chris Foltz was young, his parents were well known in the community as law enforcement professionals. Chris developed an early interest in civics and politics, and after college, he began a successful career running political campaigns.
Chris moved home when his mother fell ill. Not long after, he had oral surgery and was prescribed opioid painkillers, soon becoming addicted to Vicodin and OxyContin, and ultimately to heroin. His addiction was costing him $300 a day. And then his mother passed away.
The next days were a blur, except for one moment that Chris remembers as he left the wake. He spotted a coin purse on the floor of the funeral home and picked it up, his thoughts jumping to where he could go to score some heroin. He walked outside and opened the coin purse to find that it contained 63 dollars, credit cards, a ring, and an ID: the coin purse belonged to one of the funeral staff members, someone Chris knew.
“With everything I was going through, I was thinking of getting high that day and I would have probably died,”
– Chris Foltz
Chris decided he would return the coin purse to the funeral home the next day, and quietly leave it where someone else could find it. But by then, it already had been reported stolen. When Chris returned to pay expenses, he found himself eyeing the monetary donations left by mourners. That money could buy a lot of heroin.
“With everything I was going through, I was thinking of getting high that day and I would have probably died,” Chris says. If so, what happened next may have saved his life. The very police officers who had paid their respects to Chris’ mother at the wake now were there to arrest Chris for theft. Chris spent 119 days in the Winnebago County Jail. During that time, he lost everything. His mother’s home and all his possessions were gone. Chris was devastated that he had disrespected his mother.
While in jail, Chris received a visit from Don Allen, a TASC case manager in Winnebago County. At first, Chris didn’t believe that he needed TASC’s help, but Don helped Chris understand that there was hope in treatment and recovery. Don helped Chris move into an independent living program in Waukegan, many miles from the jail.
Over the next many months, Don helped Chris navigate clinical appointments, court appearances, and barriers that could have prevented Chris from succeeding. Ten years after being a TASC client, the world is different place for Chris. Now active in social innovation, he and his team are working on a project that will recycle non-potable and rain water into clean drinking water, while also reducing the amount of water used for appliances such as air conditioners and washing machines. Once this enterprise is fully developed, Chris would like to install these systems for social service organizations that could benefit from the cost savings.
Chris is passionate about working with nonprofits and with people who want to change the world, and often thanks the people who helped him turn his life around. “Don Allen cared about me,” says Chris. “Without him and TASC, I don’t think I would be successful in my recovery.”
Chris Foltz is a renowned brand development catalyst, celebrated inspirational speaker and Managing Director of the Silicon Valley based advisory practice Responsible Solutions Ltd. From his roots in partisan politics, to a battle with drug addiction, 119 days in county jail, and losing everything to the point of homelessness, Chris has re-established himself as one of the most engaging initiators of social impact and development in the nation, and some would consider – the world.