I was arriving in Kensington and I saw a woman I've known for maybe a year as she was standing on a street corner hoping to be picked up to 'do a date' AKA provide sexual services to a total stranger so as to earn some money to buy the drugs that she needs to get her day started.
I pulled over and parked and gave her my typical water and banana and song sheet and the first of 12 bags from Steven's Bags.
She explained to me how she had just woken up and really needed her 'get well' which is a reference to needing her first hit of heroin for the day. She did not have any money to go buy it and so she had to 'do a date' so as to raise that money that's needed. After doing the date she would then go to her preferred drug dealer and buy her drug and inject her drug and then feel better (or possibly overdose and die).
She, like the thousand or so other women on the streets of Kensington, deserve so much better than this when it comes to their health care and getting past this dreadful situation.
Anytime that we can connect in a healthy way to the men and women of the streets of Kensington, we are building community. When each individual decides the time is right, they know that they will have loved ones on the street who might not be blood-related to them but do care about them and want the best for them and will walk with them in their time of medical healing.
When that time comes that they - as a patient of substance use disorder - are ready for the care, it is an absolute mandatory Hippocratically Oathed requirement that the medical establishment is ready to provide that care in a prompt and dignity, and respect-filled manner. This is where the system falls apart. The current system is anything but that for Medicaid-reliant patients and must change.
In the meantime, women such as she who represents another thousand women and men who are reliant on those women to provide the funding will continue to suffer and die needlessly.
A man who I've known for maybe 4 years rode up to me on a mini bike in his lifelong residential area of Kensington.
He told me with personal pride how he's gone from being addicted to his substances of choice and making ridiculously large amounts of money as a drug dealer to working in a manufacturing plant in the suburbs of Philadelphia making $19 an hour as a shift supervisor.
He made reference again to the stunning amount of money that went through his hands as a drug dealer and how he had absolutely nothing to show for it. Now that he is gainfully and legally employed, he has something to show for it.
Even in his days as a drug dealer, for as much as I am disgusted by that line of work, he was always polite and he almost always walked up to me and slipped some money into my cooler of bottled water. He would thank me for caring for the people of Emerald City.
He has no pride in doing what he did and great pride in doing what he does.
It was time to go home… I started to drive south on Kensington Avenue and felt that I should pull over and park in front of Martin's Deli. I parked and sat… …and sat some more…
And that's when it happened, the reason I was to park to sit and sit some more…
Kassidy walked up to my car…
This was the first time I'd seen her in about three or more months. Those months for her were mostly on her death bed. Her lover and her loved ones were told that she would not be leaving alive. Medical issues secondary to her drug use as a patient with Substance Use Disorder would be ending her life at some point in the near future and it would happen in a hospital bed at a place called Temple.
God had and has other plans for Kassidy…
She walked toward me appearing more healthy than I have ever seen her. Her eyes framed in her natural red-headed hair sparkled with life, nearly but not completely free of street drug use… She shared with me the events of these past months and her and Destiny's goals for life moving forward.
A bit of back story…
Kassidy and Destiny (their blog names) have a special place in my heart and they should for you if you, a reader of this blog, are one of my actual neighbors in or near Glen Mills, Pa. If you are my literal neighbor, then you are a literal neighbor of the currently misplaced Kassidy and Destiny.
The moral of this story dear suburban neighbor is this…
The "Kensington Issue" is not an issue of Kensington.
This miss phrased issue is YOUR issue involving YOUR actual, factual, and in all realms of reality very real literal neighbors!
Please get involved accordingly.
These true accounts are three of several other actual experiences that I had in one visit on Sunday, September 26, 2021, with the awesome people of Kensington, many of whom are patients with Substance Use Disorder and others who are not and simply know Kensington as their multigenerational home.
If you had told me 6 years ago that I would be involved in such an experience, I would say you're nuts. But here I am.
I would encourage you, no, I would urge you, no, I wish I could demand of you to become fully involved in some aspects of what is happening in Kensington.
I can guarantee you your life will never ever be the same and I mean this in the most positive way.