NOTE: This is Part 1 of a profile on Indiana Recovery Alliance. The second segment will be part of a larger special feature on the impact of heroin use on social and community services in Indiana. The full package will be published in upcoming months.
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Social worker Chris Abert started a non-profit outreach service to help those at risk for disease and death due to intravenous drug use. With heroin use and HIV diagnoses in Indiana reaching epidemic proportion, his agency has grown from three to more than 60 volunteers.
The Indiana Recovery Alliance focuses on harm reduction in whatever manner the person deems necessary. Abert said volunteers meet people where they are and focus on facilitating any positive change as people want for themselves.
That can manifest itself in many different ways.
Abert says that positive impact can range from abstinence to clean needles to condoms. It also means that Indiana Recovery Alliance will provide people with clothes, rugs to use as sleeping mats, shoes, sanitary napkins and many other necessities that help them continue to feel human.
Once a week, IRA volunteers climb in their long, silver van and go out to meet people and provide for their needs. The Chicago Recovery Alliance sold the van to IRA for $1, which the agency still owes, because, Abert said, “We don’t have a dollar.”
With the heroin and HIV epidemic that exploded this spring, Abert said his volunteer numbers have increased, but what the agency needs more than anything are monetary donations. For those who would like to donate money, go to IRA’s Facebook page or website at indianarecoveryalliance.org.
If you’d like to donate something, but don’t have money to spare, Abert said IRA could use medical or other supplies distributed or used when the van goes out in the community.
Another way to help, he said, would be for churches or other organizations to host coat drives. IRA distributes the coats to those exposed to inclement and winter weather.
Here’s an introduction to the Indiana Recovery Alliance:
Chris Abert talks about harm reduction and The Indiana Recovery Alliance.
(Video by Linda Margison)