All it takes is that first step toward recovery

“It will be a hard thing for the first person to walk through that door.”

Valerie Betkoski understands how important it is not to give up on the County Harm Reduction Education program hosted by the First Congregational Church, and that there is no need to be discouraged because there has not yet been anyone able to take that step.

Betkoski is director of the program that regularly opens the church’s side entrance to provide a safe place for free hepatitis and HIV testing, hepatitis A and B immunizations, syringe exchange, referrals to local recovery and medical services, and NARCAN training and availability.

“It will be a hard thing for any person the first time they come in. But we’re nonjudgmental, we try to make it easy, and sometimes that helps,” she said.

Those in Athens who started a similar program saw very little traffic during the program’s first six months. But then, something changed. Now, according to Betkoski, they can give services to 67 people in a week. There is no way of knowing how many lives are positively affected by the patience shown in Athens, but it should serve as encouragement to Betkoski and others associated with C-HARM-ED.

Someone will need help. Someone will walk through that door. For someone, the patience will make a difference here, too.


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