Donor Spotlight: Bill Ziegert

“I just have a forever spot in my heart for Fairbanks,” said Bill Ziegert.

He first came to Fairbanks in March 2012 for alcoholism.

“I was one of those people who barely managed to hold it together without a lot of the outwardly manifested consequences of being an alcoholic,” Ziegert said.

He experienced the usual emotions during his one-week inpatient stay: anger, confusion, terror. At one point Ziegert walked into a group meeting and saw a former co-worker.

“I felt this wave of shame that she was going to recognize me,” he said.

She did. Ziegert mustered the courage to approach her after the meeting. He couldn’t summon the fortitude to say anything though. He didn’t need to.

“She grabbed me by the shoulders, looked right into my eyes and said, ‘You’re going to be OK’,” Ziegert said. “I made the commitment to her that when I got out of there I was going to be one of those Day 91 guys who got involved in the program. I followed through on that. It’s been a huge part of my recovery.”

Indeed, Ziegert speaks with inpatients once or twice monthly and volunteers regularly, including with Fairbanks’ board marketing committee. He also supports the organization by being a donor.

“You always kind of wonder where the money goes and what it actually does,” Ziegert said. “Fairbanks became something really tangible for me because I see how they help people. That’s what’s been most significant for me – understanding the impact they have on individuals’ lives.”

To those considering making a donation to Fairbanks, Ziegert notes virtually everyone knows someone who’s been touched by substance abuse and the negative impact it has – not just on individuals but families and the entire community.

“The opportunity someplace like Fairbanks has to heal those people is extraordinary,” he said. “And if you have the resources, you can help a lot more people. That’s why I want Fairbanks to have the resources to do the good it can do if it’s properly equipped.”

Ziegert thinks of Fairbanks as having saved his life twice. That’s because the first day he came here he stopped smoking, besides never taking another drink. Since then Ziegert estimates he’s lost about 50 pounds. The past couple summers he’s gone on 500-mile bicycle rides through Colorado with his brothers. His marriage has improved, as has his relationship with his children.

“I’m in the best place I’ve ever been,” Ziegert said. “I’m one of those pinch-me guys.”

A few years ago, Fairbanks organized a project where alumni could write on a Post-It Note what the organization did for them. Ziegert’s message was, “Fairbanks has given me the chance to become the person I want to be.”

“I had no chance of becoming that person with where I was at in my life before coming to Fairbanks,” he added.