Each year during the holidays, staff members at Peace Valley Recovery volunteer to help out members of our community. In the past we’ve put together gift bags for mothers with babies in the NICU, distributed “blessing bags” to folks in need in the community, and more. We know that helping others plays a crucial role in addiction recovery and love to help out where we can.
This holiday season we partnered with one of our staff members, Doug Turner. Doug runs an organization called “We Remember You” which reaches out to less fortunate people in the nearby area. We Remember You focuses especially on homeless individuals suffering from addiction. Many of these individuals are homeless as a direct result of their addiction.
We Remember You, with the help of Peace Valley Recovery staff members, gather to put together lunch bags for the local homeless population in Kensington.
The opioid epidemic plaguing Pennsylvania has contributed to rising rates of homelessness over the past few years. On many nights there are more than a thousand people spending the night on the streets of Philadelphia alone. Opioid addiction is terrible enough. Being homeless while battling addiction makes the problem even worse.
Trying to get clean while living on the streets is an incredible challenge.
Kensington is often considered the epicenter of Philadelphia’s opioid crisis. About half of the homeless population in Philadelphia resides in the area. Three in four homeless individuals in Kensington struggle with opioid addiction. 40% of these folks have been homeless for over a year.
After the devastating effects of 2020, the homeless population continued to grow. Though Philadelphia officials tried to limit the impact in certain ways, such as delaying drug-related arrests during the first few weeks of the outbreak, they couldn’t eliminate the problem in the long-run. As the pandemic wore on, the issue only got worse.
Being homeless during the holidays makes the situation all the more difficult. Holidays are usually associated with togetherness, good cheer, and winter wonderlands. When you’re living on the streets, though, it’s not as cheerful a season as it is for others. Watching families and friends gather with one another to celebrate deepens the sense of aloneness and isolation.
Brown bags for the sack lunches emblazoned with the organization’s name, reminding homeless individuals that they are not forgotten.
This is exactly why We Remember You exists. Doug’s organization exists to remind these individuals that they are not forgotten, even during the holidays. There are alternatives to living a life dampened by drug addiction. Getting clean offers a path out of the darkness and back into life.
Together with We Remember You, Peace Valley Recovery assembled sack lunches for the homeless folks in Kensington. Inside each bag was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a banana, a bag of chips, and a note reminding them that they’re remembered and that there’s a way out of the cycle of addiction.
Supplies for sandwiches and other snacks ready to go into sack lunches to be distributed to homeless individuals in Kensington.
Thankfully, the State of Pennsylvania provides programs to bridge the gap between the streets and everyday society. Though not everyone makes use of the program, those who do realize there truly is another way to live.
Escaping the trap of drug addiction is not easy. It requires commitment and ongoing work. Trying to quit using opioids while homeless is challenging but not impossible. Thanks to organizations like We Remember You, individuals trying to get off the streets for good know there are people in their corner supporting them.
Assembling sack lunches for homeless individuals in Kensington this holiday season.