What About the Children? An Introduction from HACHR’s New ED

Hello! My name is Jessica and I am the new Executive Director at HACHR. It’s been a few weeks since I settled into my new role, so I wanted to take this opportunity to formally introduce myself! I have been with the organization since 2017. I started as an intern while completing my Master’s degree at HSU and was then hired in early 2018. In 2017 Brandie Wilson came to one of my grad level classes to speak about Harm Reduction and the work she was doing at HACHR. Her discussion moved me to tears. This practice and movement that she had described as Harm Reduction made logical and intuitive sense to me- meet people where they are at, support them through any positive change, treat people who use drugs as autonomous individuals, capable of making their own decisions about their health. Her discussion resonated deeply with my experiences of intergenerational substance abuse, and I decided very quickly that I wanted to be apart of HACHR and the Harm Reduction Movement.

In my time here, I’ve come to learn that not everyone believes in the effectiveness of Harm Reduction. Some folks see it as enabling or normalizing drug use. We often hear these folks say, “what about the children?” What about the children who go without their parents because of drug use? What about the children who are born dependent on drugs? What about the children who may find syringes in the park or be exposed to other drug related paraphernalia? I hear these concerns and they are completely valid. There are so many things in this world that I wish children didn’t have to experience, including the loss of a parent due to overdose or incarceration- two things that are less the result of “bad decisions” and more the result of bad policy and stigma. The War on Drugs and the accompanying shame and stigma around certain kinds of drug use lead people to hide their use. This means they use alone, behind closed doors, or don’t ask for help. Instead of getting support or low-barrier access to treatment many people get put behind bars. These methods have not worked. And while I understand protecting children from traumatic experiences, there is a better way than using shame, guilt or separation. 

As a child directly impacted by chaotic substance use in my family, I can say that a lack of support and understanding towards those struggling just added to the pain we were all experiencing. No amount of shame, coercion or guilt resulted in family members changing their life. And in fact, those who got that kind of treatment are still engaged in detrimental behaviors today. The road to recovery in my family was never linear, nor did it look the same for any two individuals. This is the reason why I believe so strongly in Harm Reduction, in supporting people who use drugs, and in meeting people where they are at. 

I work in Harm Reduction because I love connecting with people, and I believe that every individual has the right to control their own body and health. I believe that honest conversations about drug use, support from family and community, and non-coercive techniques are the best ways to help folks make better choices for themselves (which is what science says works too!) Not every child gets to maintain relationships with family members affected by substance abuse. Not every child comes out of those experiences without severe trauma or resentment. In that way, I acknowledge how fortunate I am to have healthy relationships with family members who weren’t always there, but who eventually created a better life for themselves. 

I am honored and excited to be stepping into this new position as Executive Director, supported by a team of compassionate individuals with their own lived experiences. Working at HACHR has given me so much perspective! It constantly reminds me of how amazingly strong and resilient people are, two qualities I’ve seen a lot in my own family. Every day is filled with people taking their health and well-being into their own hands and making positive changes. It’s fantastic that our work is rooted in both science and in love! It is about compassion, understanding, patience, and support. I look forward to more collaboration, creating and strengthening community relationships, and promoting the health and well-being of people who use drugs and the community at large.

Red Cross Hero Award!

Our Executive Director, Brandie Wilson, was awarded a Hero award from the Red Cross for our work with People Who Use Drugs. The Red Cross describes recipients of the Hero award as those who, “have saved lives, made significant, positive differences in their communities in the areas of emergency response, disaster preparedness, and prevention, or exemplified the Red Cross mission in some way.”

We are proud of the work we do in our community and the people who have put in the hard work to change their own lives. Recovery means something different to everyone and it’s through Harm Reduction that we are able to engage with and hear people who many times have not had their voices heard.

It is through connection, understanding and support that people take charge of their own health and wellness.

Thank you Red Cross for acknowledging our dedication and work!

Thank you St. Joseph Health!

We are very grateful to St. Joseph Health for awarding us their Care for the Poor grant. The funds helped provide necessary case management and navigation tools for our new MAT Street Team program. This program provides intensive case management and navigation into Medicated Assisted Treatment for some of our most vulnerable community members who are experiencing substance use disorder and homelessness. The MAT Street Team provides wrap-around care and supportive services to help ensure success in MAT and other residential treatment services.
Thank you for supporting this program, St Joseph Health!

Episode 8 of #factsmatter

Our latest podcast episode is all about Humboldt politics! We talk with Eureka City Council member Kim Bergel about her experience participating in the homelessness challenge. We also discuss Fortuna City Council and their desire to implement a Syringe Exchange ordinance similar to the one that exists in Eureka, and the unfortunate and inhumane comments that have resulted from their discussion.

Click here to listen!

Episode 7 of #factsmatter

February’s episode is all about sexual health! Even more exciting is we have our first on-air guest, Chelsey- a sex health educator from Planned Parenthood of Northern California!

Click here to listen!

We’ve got a Little Free Pantry!

Our Little Free Pantry provided by Cooperation Humboldt is regularly filled with non-perishable food, hygiene supplies, condoms, and feminine care supplies. Anyone in the neighborhood is free to take items that they might need, and all community members are encouraged to contribute items to the pantry.

New Services @ HACHR!

We are so excited to share that we have two new services at HACHR!

1. HIV and Hepatitis C Testing

We now have HIV and Hepatitis C testing! Friday’s @ HACHR 9:00am-12:30pm

Please call our new case management line if you have any questions about testing.

(707) 298-9393

2. Foot Health Clinic

Thanks to our partnership with the Humboldt Health Foundation, we are now able to offer foot health clinics to our consumers. Space and supplies are limited, so be sure to contact someone at HACHR to get signed up!space

*Huge thank you to our funders, staff, volunteers and community advocates for making these programs possible!

New PSA from HACHR!

Unsure about how to safely pick up and dispose of a discarded sharp on the ground? This handy PSA has got you covered! And remember, if you don’t feel comfortable handling sharps, call HACHR and we can come pick them up!

Image Credit: @beyondtype1

Big News @ HACHR!


Since the day we imagined HACHR we have always imagined and in-house Testing to Treatment program. This vision included on site testing and linkage to care and we have diligently been working toward this goal  for a number of years now. We have finally achieved it! We are now one a handful of State and Federally qualified HIV/HCV testing centers locally. We are working with Open Door Community Health Centers to have the ability to immediately connect people with treatment and other resources. We have two Ohio State Masters in Social Work Students who are building and developing case management and navigator positions within our organization. We know the Gold Standard is less referrals and more warm hand offs and that is an approach we value, this newest accomplishment even further solidifies that model into our own program operations.

If you or someone you know may need to be tested please reach out so that we may help get you connected with testing and other services as needed. this service is not only for people who use drugs but is also available for anyone who may be at risk.

Art by: Johnathon DeSoto

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