Two women, whose lives have been effected by drug abuse, are placing stones with names of those who have lost their lives to overdose across New Albany.
NEW ALBANY, Ind. On each corner in New Albany, as you wait to cross the street, Kim Payne and co-founder of Project Recovery, Tracy Skaggs, hope that you notice each brick, and each name.
The question they pose is, 'Do you see us now?'
Project Recovery, started in 2019, has a goal of bringing an awareness to substance abuse and provide a way to help those afflicted.
"Families have a place to go visit their loved ones," Skaggs said. "They feel seen, they feel heard, and now they feel empowered."
Each name on the bricks represent someone in the community who has died from a drug overdose. However, these women want to do more than just remember those who have died.
"We want Narcan," Payne said. "We want our firefighters and police all to be required to carry Narcan. It could have saved my son."
She lost her son, Brandon Hunt, in August 2020 to a drug overdose. Hunt, 35, was sober for a year and a eight months before the day he passed away.
"That one phone call he made was his death sentence," said Payne.
He was a musician, a tattoo artist, but also a father. Now, Payne is left to tell her son's story, and be his voice.
Tracy Skaggs has been sober from heroin for six years. For her, this cause is about helping the people that fall through the cracks.
Her husband at the time, was an addict as well. She says she saw firsthand how the system fails those struggling with addiction.
"There are gaps in this system, and people are falling through them and then they die," said Skaggs. "Even though I lost my marriage, my purpose still lives. I am not going to be silenced anymore in my recovery and I'm not going to be quiet for those who are still fighting for their lives."
Both Skaggs and Payne recently got certified to carry and administer Narcan. They want people to remember that those that are struggling with addiction, are not weak minded. They are just struggling with a disease.
"Can you survive with no money? Can you survive with no telephone? Can you survive with no food?," said Skaggs. "I don't see these people as weak minded. They are fighting a battle that no one else understands."
Bringing awareness to those in New Albany who have lost loved ones to drug addiction is just the first step for Skaggs and Payne.
Their end goal is to open up their own non-profit rehabilitation treatment complex.
"Addiction is real, it is so easy to look backwards," Payne said. "We have found our purpose, and we are looking forward."
Both Skaggs and Payne said Narcan will be available every Sunday at their street outreach in Bicknell Park.
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