Beverly Hills Fundraiser Partners Auction House With Heroin Vaccine Research

By John Lavitt 11/17/15

High-end items were auctioned off to raise money for vaccine research. But where were the treatment professionals?

Frank Kaminski and David Kwiat
Frank Kaminski and David Kwiat. Photo by Matt Block

Last Wednesday, roughly 100 people gathered in a Beverly Hills home to support heroin vaccine research and have their family heirlooms and personal treasures appraised. A change of pace from their celebrated Oprah Winfrey Collection Auction in 2013, the renowned Kaminski Auctions House of Massachusetts sent their best appraisers to Los Angeles to contribute to the fundraiser. In exchange for a donation, guests received one free appraisal and a dinner donated by Dompierre Catering.

At the Scripps Research Institute, Dr. Kim Janda has developed a vaccine to provide relapse protection for opioid abusers and heroin addicts. Details of the vaccine were reported by The Fix last year, including the struggles Dr. Janda has had in accessing the funding for human clinical trials to test the vaccine.

Expert appraisers Frank Kaminski and David Kwiat appraised scores of art pieces and family heirlooms brought in by attendees. It felt like Antiques Roadshow in Beverly Hills meets a chaotic symposium on heroin vaccine research. Event organizers were clear on keeping the focus on the problem at hand. It wasn’t about the scores of high-priced items; the focus was on saving lives, and helping to stop the opioid abuse and overdose epidemic.

Surprisingly, however, there was a dearth of treatment professionals among the attendees. Although there were many family members, mainly the parents of addicted children and other Beverly Hills locals supporting the cause, the event seemed to have been ignored by treatment professionals. Despite the money raised, the lack of support was commented on by event organizer Caron Block.

“I am so frustrated that not one person from the rehab community supported our efforts," said Caron Block to The Fix. "After paying so much money to rehabs that often failed, the parents of addicts are now the ones supporting this cause without any help from that community.”

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Growing up in Manhattan as a stutterer, John Lavitt discovered that writing was the best way to express himself when the words would not come. After graduating with honors from Brown University, he lived on the Greek island of Patmos, studying with his mentor, the late American poet Robert Lax. As a writer, John’s published work includes three articles in Chicken Soup For The Soul volumes and poems in multiple poetry journals and compilations. Active in recovery, John has been the Treatment Professional News Editor for The Fix. Since 2015, he has published over 500 articles on the addiction and recovery news website. Today, he lives in Los Angeles, trying his best to be happy and creative. Find John on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.