The TAD Center recently acquired the Victims Impact Panel program from former director Kami Hepworth, second from left. Also pictured are, from left, Alyson Hale, state coordinator; Shane Wyatt, TAD Center assistant director and lead facilitator; and Jan Sellers, Ph.D., executive director.

The TAD Center is pleased to announce it has taken over the Victims Impact Panel (VIP) of Tennessee. This program, established in the Volunteer State by Kami Hepworth and overseen by her board of directors from Mt. Juliet, was transferred to the TAD Center and its board of directors this month.

The Victims Impact Panel offers a powerful presentation aimed at combating impaired driving. The program offers a unique perspective to the attendee presenting in a very personal way the far reaching effects of a choice to drink and drive. Through life panel presentations, the audience experiences the impact of drunken driving through the eyes of a victim, a rescue professional and a previous violator. Under order of the courts, the offenders are required to attend a local program as a part of their probation or sentence.

Mrs. Hepworth, who worked with the Oklahoma program, set up the Tennessee VIP after moving to the Volunteer State. It is currently in 19 counties.

“I have been so blessed and privileged to work with so many great people in the VIP organization. I would not give this program over to just anyone. However, I know it will be in good care with the TAD Center,” Hepworth said.

TAD Center Executive Director Jan Boston Sellers, Ph.D., says, “We are honored that Kami has entrusted her 'baby' with us. She has worked tirelessly for more than a decade establishing and maintaining this program in our state. The goal is to continue the excellent work of Kami and her board of directors and hopefully expand VIP into more Tennessee counties.”

Sellers also added TAD Center Assistant Director Shane Wyatt and Board Vice President Tim Claflin have served as local facilitators for VIP. “Their work with VIP and Kami is the reason we were able to acquire this program when it became increasingly more difficult for Kami to administer from Kentucky where she now lives due to her husband’s job transfer.”

Board President Lillian Bailey Fox says, “VIP is a logical addition to our program under the umbrella of services TAD already offers: prevention, early intervention, counseling and safe environments for students after-school and in the summer.”

The TAD Center hosted its first state facilitator’s meeting and training on Saturday, Sept. 12. During the training, Hepworth was recognized for her many years of service to VIP in Tennessee and Oklahoma. Also recognized for their many years of service were local county facilitators Jessica Branch of Putnam County, Kim Ledford of Hamilton County, Sloane Jackson of Wilson County and Shane Wyatt of Cumberland County.

The TAD Center has designated Alyson Hale as its state co-coordinator. She will be monitoring the calls and state website (www.vipoftn.com). Hale is a tobacco prevention specialist and a master’s level counselor. Wyatt will serve as lead facilitator and Sellers as executive director.

The TAD Center is a not for profit organization. It has been proactive in the substance abuse prevention field since 1987.

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