Please Know...

As I come to know these fine people, they share with me more of their personal and sensitive stories. Their collective story is what I am trying to share with you as my way of breaking the stereotypical beliefs that exist. "Blog names" have occasionally been given to me by the person whose story I am telling. Names are never their actual names and wherever I can do so, I might use the opposite pronoun (his/her, etc.) just to help increase their privacy.

Throughout this blog you are now seeing advertising. I need to provide this so as to keep going financially with this ministry. If you see something that is inappropriate to this site, please let me know - maybe get a screen shot of it for me. I do get credit for any "click" that you might make on any of the ads. If you're bored some night and want to help me raise some needed cash, visit my site and click away to your heart's content....

Monday, May 31, 2021

If all goes 'well'… What could go wrong?

Imagine the following scenario:

Heroin[1] usage has you locked into your current lifestyle not so much for the 'high' that you once really enjoyed and virtually never comes to visit anymore but rather for the avoidance of dope sickness.  You know that you must keep injecting heroin or face the consequences.

To keep consuming, you've got to keep earning money.  As a woman, your only available option that can produce the needed funds in a relatively short period of time is to provide sexual services to men who pick you up.  Prior to the first time this guy picks you up, you did not have any knowledge of his existence on this earth.  He's a total stranger to you. 

Before there is any discussion of what he's hoping for from you, you check to be sure he's not an undercover police officer.  Undercover police are not permitted to do or allow certain interactions in the course of their work.  You've learned that the best way to be sure he's not a cop is to ask him if you can kiss him - well let's just say - on a part of his anatomy that should never receive a first kiss from any woman.

Once you're fairly sure that he's not a cop, and following a tiny bit of negotiation on your price for the requested services, you are driven to a secluded street where you provide those services in the front or back seat of his car.  You might be taken to a local hotel or not so local hotel for an extended version of the same.

If all goes 'well' he will take you back and release you where he found you and you're free to go buy your drugs, inject your drugs, avoid your impending dope sickness and then start the process all over again.  There's no schedule for this.  It can be 24/7/365.

If all goes 'well'…

What could go wrong?

I'm trying to avoid the graphic descriptions that I've heard as I describe the following:  

I've spoken to women who have agreed to a 'lesser' level of sexual service only to have far more forced on them.  Even in the context of 'willingly' providing a sexual service, this non-agreed to and uninvited additional activity is considered rape.  Rape in this context goes unreported for obvious reasons.

I've spoken to women who have learned how to escape from a moving car by pulling the door handle, shoving the door open and then rolling out so as to avoid the knife that's just been pulled on them.

Now imagine this:  You finished providing full sexual services in the back seat of a car to this guy who a very short time ago you did not even know existed.  You had been paid in advance to fulfill his desires.  Just before getting out of his car, he pulls a gun on you and demands that you give him his money back or he will kill you.  You comply and he releases you.  You run in fear with tears streaming down your face to a couple of other women you see who are looking for their own dates.  After some time to regroup your thoughts and clean up any hint that you've been crying, you're realizing that dope sickness delays for no one.  You go back to your preferred street corner and start the process all over again… Assault with a deadly weapon in this context goes unreported for obvious reasons.

The quickest path to healing for a Medicaid-reliant patient with Substance Use Disorder does not involve going to a clinic or crisis center.  The quickest path to healing from dope sickness involves one thing: the injection of heroin.  To inject, you must buy.  To buy, you must 'do a date.'  To do a date, you must face the possibility of rape, knives and guns.

The Medicaid system of health care provision to its patients with Substance Use Disorder MUST review every aspect of how it does what it does.  It MUST identify EVERY part of its process that creates a longer path to permanent healing than that path of 'doing a date' at the risk of rape, knives and guns that leads to temporary healing.

For further reading on this subject, I invite you to read this recent blog: "What keeps you from going to detox?"

[1] I'm sticking with the word 'heroin' while recognizing that the contents of those tiny blue packets is rarely just heroin.

Saturday, May 29, 2021

DD or TT? That is the question…

DD or TT?  That is the question…

There are only two ways that opioid use ends for an individual with Substance Use Disorder. 

A person Decides Detox or 'fate' ends it with a Toe Tag.

That's it. There is no alternative…  There is no third option…

I celebrate any time that one of my loved ones on the streets of Kensington Decides to Detox.   That individual has reached the point where they are ready to seek the treatment that will return them to the healthy life that they once knew - and maybe an even more incredible version thereof.

Medicaid-funded patients with Substance Use Disorder on the streets of Kensington - and that's essentially 100 percent of the population - are reliant on medical provision which is far less than honorable and does not reflect the standards of the Hippocratic Oath upon which all medical professionals have committed their careers.

When any of our loved ones on the streets of Kensington reaches that point of Deciding Detox, the Medicaid-based health care community MUST be prepared - as required by the Hippocratic Oath - to provide services to their patients in a beneficial, prompt, dignity and respect filled manner.

This is not the case:

Does Philadelphia - the City of Brotherly Love - truly want to end what is called the 'opioid crisis'?  If so, please stop looking at it as an "opioid crisis"!  When it comes to the people on the streets of Kensington, what we are seeing play out day in and day out, night in and night out is far more of a crisis in the delivery of Medicaid based health care than it is a crisis led by an inanimate powder in a little blue wrapper.

We cannot correct the ways of that inanimate powder to stop being anything other than what it is. 

We can correct the ways of a broken system of health care so as to bring healing to its patients so they can overcome the inherent hazards of that inanimate powder.

Do we want to save far more lives (and families) than we do now?

Solve the Medicaid-based health care delivery process and we will do so.

For further reading, I invite you to click here:

Kensington Does Not Have an Opioid Crisis!


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Thursday, May 27, 2021

Medical Representatives within the Medicaid system of health care providers are not treating their patients as they should.

This article from WHYY is about the exact area of most of my visits.  I would encourage you to read or listen to it and check out the pictures.  

I'm thrilled that the transportation organization SEPTA is providing social services to these amazing men and women who have this medical condition known as Substance Use Disorder.

I'm happy that police whose role is street-level law enforcement have the Police Assisted Diversion Program that assists these amazing men and women who have this medical condition known as Substance Use Disorder.

I'm just wondering when the local medical community whose professional members have dedicated their careers to the ideals of Hippocrates for the purpose of medical provision to medical patients will actually step forward and start to treat their medical patients who have Substance Use Disorder with prompt dignity and respect-filled care.

If you're reading this blog and not familiar with Substance Use Disorder, it is recognized as a medical disease. The Philadelphia Police Department and SEPTA should not have to be involved in a leadership role in treating medical patients who have a medical disease.

Medical Representatives within the Medicaid system of health care providers are not treating their patients as they should.

Let's personalize this personal situation:

In this picture from the article, you see Kenneth Harris interacting with a woman who needs services related to her Substance Use Disorder. 

"Get out of My Emergency Room!"

It is high time that the Medicaid-based medical community - in the spirit and name of Hippocrates - steps forward and invites their patients into a prompt dignity and respect filled healing experience so that these people - these inspirational human beings who are made in the image of God and worthy of dignity, honor, respect, and love - can get on with their lives and back to their families and realize the joy of living.

There's a world of difference between the styles of health care provision to Substance Use Disorder patients depending on their Private vs. Medicaid insurance status.  Here's a blog that looks at those differences.  The private insurance realm of this tragedy can and should lead the way in finding solutions so as to save the millions of lives that lie in wait of much wanted and needed prompt dignity and respect filled health care services.


Wednesday, May 26, 2021

"What keeps you from going to detox?"

As I begin writing this blog, it's 8:00am on Monday.  'Dakota' has been walking the streets of Kensington most of the night looking to do a few dates so she can buy her 'medicine' to get high or, more likely, to avoid dope sickness.  "The guys who pick up girls on the street are cheap."[1]  She further explains that when a girl has a "regular" who calls her, that guy typically pays much more - $60.00 or more and rarely but sometimes ridiculously more.

In past conversations, Dakota has expressed interest in going to detox.  "This isn't fun anymore."  I don't get high and it's getting harder to make money."  She then shares with me her plan on getting to the local crisis center for the required evaluation the next day.  The next day and then the next week comes and goes and Dakota is still walking the streets looking for dates and buying her medicine.  Annoyance with the situation is obvious in her voice.

This morning, as Dakota was waiting for an as of yet unknown date to pick her up, we were talking on the phone.  I asked her "Without meaning to seem like I'm pushing the idea on you, what keeps you from going to detox?"

She didn't need time to think about it… 

The long wait time, the rudeness of the staff, the need to get high before going in, the need to hide enough drug to inject during a quick trip to the bathroom while waiting to many hours for a bed, the strong possibility that at the end of those hours, being told that there are no beds available in the entire city and to come back the next day.

Her answer was a repeat of everything I've been hearing from other Medicaid-reliant patients with Substance Use Disorder.  Click here to read how one of Dakota's street mates described her experience of trying to get into detox.

The urgency to fix this broken Medicaid system is real and was made crystal clear during this same phone conversation with Dakota (now at 9:00am) about an hour ago.  As we were talking, she was walking and rounded a corner.  In front of her, down the street just a bit, Philadelphia police were attending to a deceased man laying on the sidewalk in a very common location where people go to inject their 'medicine.'  Now an hour later, it's reasonable to presume that there's a family receiving a phone call, that long dreaded phone call, informing them that their loved one has "died of an overdose."

In that exact moment, yes, that son/father/brother/uncle/etc. died of an overdose.  How many times did he try to get help and experience what Dakota's street mate experienced?  Had he ever overdosed before, been saved by Narcan, transported to a local hospital, and then been told by a registered nurse to "Get out of my emergency room!" as had been Allison?

Please click here to continue reading about Dakota's path on this journey.

Kensington Does Not Have an Opioid Crisis!

If opioids didn't exist, we wouldn't have what has been labeled an 'opioid crisis.'  But they do exist and they are on the streets in the form of an inanimate powder that is simply doing what it does.  It's our society's lack of healthy response that is causing the crisis here. 

An inanimate powder cannot change its ways.  It is up to us as a society led by medical professionals who have dedicated their careers to the ideals of Hippocrates to change how we respond to it. 

By making the needed changes ASAP, Dakota can find the healing she desires in a medical setting of prompt dignity and respect. 

Two and a half hours after starting to write this blog, by way of text, Dakota has just this moment told me that she's not yet found even one more date.  This means dope sickness and desire for healing is setting in big time.  She knows that the shorter path to comfort is to keep looking for a date rather than looking to the Medicaid health care system.  And so she walks, stands on street corners, tucks in her nausea[2] for the world not to see and hopes that some guy will pick her up, pay her for some degree of sexual service and then let her go so she can buy her medicine and relieve her pain.

Kensington Does Not Have an Opioid Crisis!

PS: I've known 'Dakota' for a few years now. She's an amazing naturally gifted counselor and my dearest friend.

The final edit of this blog has been approved by Dakota.

{1] Putting that in perspective, Some women might only get $20.00 per date.  If a woman has a drug habit that costs $200.00 per day, that's 10 dates every 24 hours 7 days per week 365 days per year = 3,650 dates per year.  To add to this disturbing number as has been explained to me, about 60% of these guys are married or in committed relationships.  That's 2,190 acts of adultery on the man's part per year per woman who is not getting the detox she desires.

[2] Symptoms of dope sickness – and their intensity – can vary by person, drug of choice, and the amount of drugs used on a regular basis. However, common signs of dope sickness include Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and/or constipation, Loss of appetite/huge return of appetite, Hot and cold flashes, Muscle aches and spasms, The sensation of bugs crawling on or under the skin, Hyper-awareness, Dry mouth, Headaches, Insomnia, Sweating…

These physical effects are often accompanied by mental and emotional symptoms. Those who are dope sick may also experience: Agitation, Anxiety, Paranoia, Frustration, Depression, Despondency

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

We can do this! Let us make it so!

This past Sunday, May 23, 2021, there were more blessings than I can describe as I wandered the streets of Kensington. I arrived early due to the expected excessive heat anticipated for later in the day.  I saw my stunningly intelligent daughter Rose.  I had awesome conversations with street residents and multi-generational residents of the area. 

I distributed my usual bananas and water and song sheets.  One of those recipients was a cute-as-button young woman who has told me that she's sick of 'doing dates' with total strangers so as to raise needed funds to meet her medicinal needs of street bound Substance Use Disorder.  She's experimenting with drug dealing as an alternative income source.

The heat was getting oppressive.  I was driving up "The Ave." with my windows down due to the dead air conditioning in my dying car.  I glanced to my left and saw Destiny and Kassidy sitting in the shade of an open lot near Kensington and Somerset.[1]  I did a mid-block u-turn - a skill I've developed in these recent years, pulled to the side of the street, and parked.  I walked up to them, sat on an available pillow, and we got caught up on an abridged version of the stuff in our lives.

A bit of back story:  If you knew where to look on Facebook, you would find some incredible pictures of Destiny and Kassidy in their years before addiction took over.  They are a stunning couple filled with the joy of life.  They are my actual suburban neighbors with family homes within a reasonable bicycle ride of where I am sitting as I write this blog.

Destiny had recently injected her medicine and was dipping out on a combination of pillows.  Once we were sure she was safe, Kassidy and I went to Martin's Deli,[2] ordered a Chicken Nuggets Platter with cheese fries and coleslaw and a couple of drinks.  We walked back to Destiny who was now awake.  We rearranged the pillows to form three places to sit and used two pillows to create a table for our Sunday dinner.

Kassidy looked at me as we were getting organized and gave me the ultimate compliment:

"People who do what you do don't do what you're doing."

"What do you mean?" I asked.

Kassidy went on to explain that people who visit the streets to be kind in various ways to the people who live on those streets don't ever sit with them on the ground and would never do so for the purpose of eating dinner.  "We're not clean." She said as she stared at the ground beneath our pillows. 

I thanked Kassidy for her kind words and pointed out that "being clean or not clean" should only refer to the last time a person took a bath or had a shower.  "You have a medical condition here that is causing you to do what you do.  That has nothing to do with being or not being 'clean.'"  Destiny and Kassidy both smiled their charming smiles at that thought.

Dinnertime conversation wandered from topic to topic as we dipped our chicken nuggets in the ranch and honey-mustard sauces.  The cheese fries were awesome especially when dipped in either sauce. My typical chocolate milk had the added ingredients of bliss and joy as I shared this moment with my misplaced suburban neighbors.

At one point, a cluster of Sunday afternoon street evangelists visited the three of us and encouraged all of us to stop our sinful drug use or risk the eternal consequences. 

As the actual neighbors who Destiny and Kassidy are to me, I've agreed to celebrate their sobriety with them by treating them to dinner at Harry's Savoy Grill by the end of this summer.  And then I asked a question of them that brings me to the actual point of this blog:

"What's your first step in achieving that sobriety that will lead us to Harry's?"

I wasn't expecting the answer that Destiny gave me:  "We don't know what to do."

I hope my confusion wasn't obvious.  I was wondering how these two intelligent women could not know that they need to go to the nearest crisis center (which isn't actually 'near' to them), strip down to one layer of outer clothing, walk through a metal detector, be frisked by a male guard, fill out a form, sit in a stench filled room on chairs that should have been retired from use years ago and wait with all of their personal effects bagged up in trash bags out of reach of them hour upon hour upon hour with little to no comfort care as dope sickness increases only to be told that there are no beds available in the entire City of Brotherly Love and that they must now depart the premises and should come back some other day and try again.

"We don't know what to do." suddenly made sense to me.

Why should a patient with Substance Use Disorder tolerate and subject themselves to such torment, medical neglect and substandard of care from a medical community made up of people who have dedicated their careers to the ideals of Hippocrates?

Let's turn "We don't know what to do." Into "We know what to do." 

Let's create a five-star high quality intake process right there on Kensington Avenue where those hundreds of homeless Substance Use Disorder patients will see dignity and respect flowing from its front doors, and know that they will be cared for and promptly tended to when they reach that point of wanting release from their addiction! 

We can do this!  Let us make it so!



Sunday, May 16, 2021

Harm Reduction practices must involve more than the typically understood elements.

One year ago almost today, a woman overdosed, was saved by Narcan, transported by ambulance to a local hospital and told by the Registered Nurse to

"Get out of my emergency room!"

This nurse continued on with her career and so did this almost died patient of Substance Use Disorder. 

Based on averages that have been shared with me, it's not unreasonable to think that this patient, having been thrown out of an emergency room has performed 10 acts of prostitution every 24 hours seven days per week since that day.  That's 3,650 times that she has hopped in a car, been parked in a back alley, or taken to a hotel room or private home in Philadelphia or its suburbs (including New Jersey), risked various forms of harsh and threatening treatment including rape, been occasionally threatened at knife and/or gunpoint and gone through some of this from time to time intensely dope sick. 

Let's add another sickening element.  Again, based on what these ladies have told me, at least 6 of those ten 'dates' in each 24-hour cycle are married or otherwise in an actual committed relationship.        


When a Registered Nurse who had committed her career to the ideals of Hippocrates looks at a patient in her care and demands "Get out of my emergency room!", she also demands abject failure of that opportunity for healing in the life of that patient.

If this same nurse had honored her Hippocratic Oath, maybe, just maybe, this woman, this patient with Substance Use Disorder, would have found healing.  In finding healing, she would not have done 3,650 'dates'.  X number of threats of violence and rape that will forever go unreported would never have happened.  2,190 violations of marriage or committed relationship would not have found opportunity with this patient.

Harm Reduction practices must involve more than the typically understood elements.  Harm reduction must also involve the suspension of the license of any medical professional who does not honor their Hippocratic Oath as they deal with Medicaid-reliant men and women who suffer from the officially recognized diagnosis of Substance Use Disorder.

Saturday, May 15, 2021

An absolutely overlooked aspect of "Harm Reduction" is that part that demands the termination of any medical professional who does not live up to their Hippocratic Oath to 'do no harm.'

I was cleaning a table today that had unintentionally overgrown with multiple days worth of the current day's receipts and other miscellaneous stuff when I found two used doses of Narcan, lovingly placed in a bowl as a testimony to the young lady life almost lost and yet saved and then tossed to the street by a registered nurse who had, at the beginning of her professional career, dedicated that career to the ideals of Hippocrates.

Only a bit before May 6, 2020, Allison laid blue and nearly lifeless on the steps of the Somerset El stop.  Someone else had administered Narcan #1.  After four minutes, I provide the second and mouth to mouth resuscitation in the absence of any of her own breathing.  She stepped away from the cliff of death that navigates its way around the edges of Medicaid Mountain, walked to the ambulance, was transported to Episcopal Hospital and was told by the registered nurse to

"Get out of my emergency room!"

Today, one year later, Allison continues her life of drug use - increased recently as she told me three days ago - continues with 'dates' and the horrors of street life.  She wishes she was dead just like her childhood friend Diane

How different would Allison's life be right now if that registered nurse had fulfilled her Hippocratic Oath when Allison came through those emergency room doors?

An absolutely overlooked aspect of "Harm Reduction" is that part that demands the termination of any medical professional who does not live up to their Hippocratic Oath to 'do no harm.'

Sunday, May 9, 2021


As I sat at Ruth and Somerset[1] on the open trunked back bumper of my Nissan Altima, a man who I'd never met came up to me and shared how he had "been away for several months."[2]  He teared up as he shared with me how he had just learned that two of his closest guy friends had overdosed and died during that time. 

"I don't know how that could have ever happened to them." was his summary statement with this conversation.  He then turned and headed in the direction of the "Samples!"[3] call that had been announced further down the street.

Barely a minute later, another man who I'd only met one other time some time ago was walking in the direction of the 'samples' call.  He stopped to talk.  And talk we did.  He accepted my usual banana, water, and song sheet and then just stayed to talk.  There was no particular topic…  Just talk…

"I've been 'clean' for a couple months now.  I heard the call for 'samples' and started to go to get one even though I knew deep down inside my heart that I didn't want one.  Seven people died in a call for samples up near McPherson Square yesterday.  I saw you and stopped to talk so that I wouldn't go get the sample."

In itself, that's a remarkable thought.  This man used my presence on the street to keep himself from breaking his 'clean time' and potentially saving his own life.

But this moment gets better.

The first man, having retrieved his 'sample' backtracked to me, asked for a bottle of water,[4] saw his presumably recently deceased dear friend and burst into tears that instantly and spontaneously turned into a bear hug between them that lasted at least a minute…

Praise God!


[2] This probably meant a period of time in jail.                                                                                                                               

[3] "Samples!" refers to an announcement on the streets that the dealers are providing for free a sample of a new batch of drug to be experienced by the consumer.

[4] For drinking and/or using to mix his sample

Monday, May 3, 2021

"Your Helpful Neighbor" A Friend on the Streets of Kensington

May 3, 2021

Dear Friends of "Your Helpful Neighbor",

I'm seeking the collective wisdom of the people who have been so supportive of my efforts in Kensington over these past - almost - five years.  I've got to make some decisions pretty quickly.

When I started visiting Kensington, I was self-employed.  I had a service business that brought in about $35.00 per hour 4 to 8 hours per day five days a week.  As I saw my customer base shrinking I was continuing in Kensington and becoming aware of Recovery Centers of America (RCA).  On October 1, 2018, I stopped making appointments for my own customers and began full-time service as a driver with RCA. 

I did keep one customer and worked with them one half-day each week through the gardening season as I helped them maintain their formal gardens.  This one appointment for four hours of service brought in $140.00 each week.  That's $560.00 per typical month and the equivalent of an additional week of take-home pay from RCA.

The primary gardener in that family lost her battle with cancer over this past winter and I no longer have that additional income.  A healthy tax refund and government stimulus check thus far this year has kept me floating just above the financial waterline.  I'm now sinking.

I would love to keep moving further into serving the people who are on the streets of Kensington.  To do so, I've got to increase my income independent of that effort and/or find more financial support to make that happen.

After having reviewed all of my monthly expenses, I've cut back or eliminated a great deal.  That has helped but it's not enough.  Apart from my ministry efforts, typical life expenses continue for me just as they do for any other person.  I'm currently in what I'm describing as a $1,500.00 hole, literally living out of my credit line.  Between now and my next paycheck on May 14, I have about $500 worth of monthly bills that don't yet have funding for them.  This is a spiritually/emotionally exhausting state of being and I can't continue this way.

I do have a small group of people who provide funding for the actual expenses of my visits to Kensington.  I am VERY thankful for their contributions that cover a good bit of those costs. 

To keep doing what I do in Kensington - and more God willing - I've got to be thinking in a new way and start seeking financial support for my own more personal expenses.  This financial support will keep my time available to serve and keep me from finding a second job that will only take away from my available time to serve.

To that end, I'm seeking your prayers, your wisdom, and guidance, and, if you feel so led, your financial contribution.  By going to this link,[1] you can find various ways to contribute to my ministry efforts.[2]

Thank you for considering this.  I welcome your thoughts on any aspect of this.

Prayerfully, Respectfully and Sincerely,

Chris Battin


[2] I am not yet established as a 501 corporation.  I'm meeting with an accountant later this month to review the pros and cons of doing so.