Who We Are

Mission

#NotInVain is a faith based entity created by, and for, grieving mothers to provide emotional, informational, and tangible support to mothers who have lost a child, whose death was in any way related to chemical substance use, and to give each other hope for the future.

Our Story

#NotInVain was started by our President PJ Champion Sallie October 24, 2017 after the loss of her daughter Christina to crack cocaine and heroin toxicity. It began with telling her daughter’s struggle in the obituary, which had close to two million hits.

“It was very cathartic for me, and the Lord laid on my heart that I should reach out to other mamas. I went to a Christian college and have led Bible studies. I’ve always been in service ministries, so I thought of setting up an instant messaging page where moms could connect. But I was ignorant of technology. By some strange accident, I created a private Facebook page instead of instant messaging.”

There was no site specializing in momma grief from loss due to substance use. It’s a unique form of grief. Addiction, chaos and heartbreaking loss does not discriminate. Society does. Stigma is counter productive in what is needed within the hell of this type of grief. A safe, sacred bed for our grieving hearts exists within our private group.

This site took off, sadly, just as the wildfire of the drug epidemic that is ravaging globally. We as a nation are in an apocalyptic drug crisis fueled by fentanyl. A wrecking ball of devastation and destruction is being swung in a wide swath at every single person in this country. Our membership is in the 4,000s and increasing daily. We are a sisterhood of mommas from all fifty states and nine countries.”

Meet The Team

PJ Champion Sallie

President

Cathy Williams

Vice President

Tina Stephenson Baack

Treasurer

Cathy Bukowski

Secretary

The Grievers Prayer

“Dear God please hear my prayer.
My body is numb and my mind is racing.
I am hopeless and scared. So many memories, but yet not enough.
The world keeps moving and I am frozen. I feel connected to nothing or no one. There are many around me, but the one I desire is not here.
I feel cold, lost and purposeless. I’m so tired but unable to sleep. Please hold me, hold me tight. The color of my world is gone. I cry out to you in despair. Oh God! Why? Please God hear my prayer.
I will try to rest, close my eyes, and find courage to fight another day. To find purpose in my life. I will fight to feel hope again. Thank you God…”

~ Angie Cartwright

“ I used to believe that prayer changes things, but now I know that prayer changes us and we change things.”

- Mother Teresa -

Warm greetings, I’m Pj Champion Sallie.

My world totally changed on 5/20/17 when I lost my 24 year old daughter, Christina, to Substance Use. Turning my pain into purpose, on 10/24/17, I founded #NotInVain. I am the President of our nonprofit board, head of the planning committee for our yearly retreats, part of the fundraising committee and benevolence board, in charge of our local chapter. I train other national members to start local meetings and administrate our private Facebook page. I’m passionate about my endeavors to help other mommas work through their grief to find healing, faith and purpose, keeping others from falling prey to the beast of addiction and carrying on my daughter’s legacy so her death is NotInVain.

I’ve worked in retail, restaurants and as an office manager. My favorite job was a commercial crab fisher woman. I majored in college in theater arts and elementary education. While raising my children, I became a Sales Manager with Discovery Toys for 16 years. I built a large team, earned yearly awards which include “Woman of the Year” twice out of 6,000 ladies. I owned my own business for 11 years and am now raising my two grandchildren. My surviving daughter is in recovery. “To God be all the glory…..”
PJ Champion Sallie
President
Hi, I’m Cathy Williams.

I lost my 23 year old son Ian to Substance Use on 3/22/17. After one full year of grieving without support, I found my way to # NotInVain. Eternally grateful I did. The support of this sisterhood brought the hope I was seeking to live again with redefined purpose, bring my son forward and continue his legacy. I am an administrator since 2018 and serve on the board as Vice President since the inception of our nonprofit. I am on the retreat planning committee, graphic team, fundraising committee, benevolence board and moderate our private Facebook page. I am excited to participate in our future endeavors to expand our reach of grief support.

I reside in Northeast Pennsylvania. I am a registered nurse with Primary Care focus, a wife for over 38 years and a mother to my daughter. I draw from my experiences as all three to promote healing in grief.
Cathy Williams
Vice President
Hi I’m Tina.

I lost my son Chase to the demon of drugs and addiction on 5/10/17. During that time I was a restaurant owner. Having a busy breakfast and lunch cafe was very overwhelming. I have three other children and I had to survive to care for and I knew I needed support. I immediately joined any grief group I could find, attended local meetings and classes on grief. I turned to Facebook in search of support as friends become scarce when you lose a child.

I found PJ and #NotInVain in October 2017 and soon became an administrator. I am the graphics creator for the group, bringing a smile to a broken heart by turning their child’s pictures into something beautiful. I serve on the Board of Directors for our nonprofit, the committee for our grief retreats, chair our fundraisers and outreach programs. I work as a bookkeeper handling all the finances for a construction company in Nashville. I balance my time with my two very active school age children and have a grown daughter. My passion is to be able to support and help the broken grieving mommas find joy again.
Tina Stephenson Baack
Treasurer
Hello, I’m Cathy Bukowski.

I lost my beautiful son Dominic on September 3, 2019 at age 24 after years of substance use. I have 2 other adult children and 3 grandsons - Dominic was my youngest child. A friend recommended the group #NotInVain to me right away. I was blessed to have PJ and a few other moms attend my son’s funeral. For the last couple years of my son’s struggle with addiction, I attended a local support group for people who are in recovery, and those who have been affected by a loved one’s addiction - in fact we attended several meetings together. I served as a team leader for this group for about 2 years.

When I joined #NotInVain, I could tell there was something different about this group. #NotInVain has given me a place where I am understood, where there is no judgement, and where I am able to ask other mothers questions that only those who have lost their children to Substance Use Disorder would understand. I serve on the Opioid Task Force for the University of Toledo and was appointed by the University President about two years ago. Currently I’m working as the Executive Assistant to the Dean of Libraries at the University. I have a large amount of supportive family members and friends. My son was really proud of the work I was doing to help people in my community who are struggling with addiction and wanted to work with me. My goal is to make Dominic and God proud. Hopefully, I can help others and provide some comfort and support.
Cathy Bukowski
Secretary