"Jenny," by Shanti Basu '19 explores addiction recovery
An article by Narrative Journalism alumna Shanti Basu ‘19 tells the story of a woman in recovery. Below is an excerpt.
She arrived at the HRO office on a brisk afternoon in April, accompanied by Billy McCall. Billy was a friend of hers made in day reporting, a rehabilitative alternative to incarceration in Licking County, who had been working for Harm Reduction Ohio at the time as well.
Jenny and Billy bonded as Billy began partnering with community members like Dennis Cauchon, to share insight from lived experiences with harm reduction in the area. For several months, he worked hard at bringing a safe injection site and needle exchange to Newark.
I had been nervous about working with individuals affected by addiction so directly. I met Billy through his mother, Patricia Perry, a local hard reduction advocate and organizer, who spoke at a community forum I attended hoping to learn more about the issue during my first year in Ohio at Denison University. While writing about how the opioid epidemic in Licking County had affected children and families uniquely, her insights were memorable even indirectly.
“Addicts have to help other addicts get clean,” Perry shared at an event in downtown Newark on April 25th, 2018. In front of a packed room, she spoke about her son Billy, and how he’d recently struggled with a relapse after several weeks clean.
“If I can’t help my own child, I can offer support to someone else’s,” she continued, explaining the motivation behind the Newark Homeless Outreach. To this day, Trish Perry stands outside the Licking County sheriff’s department every Saturday like clockwork, offering care packages of food and resources to individuals who are living on the streets or perhaps recently released. She has also made available harm reduction resources, which can be difficult to come by without a registered address or documented need.