Source: The Trentonian
Parking spaces will never be mistaken for life preservers although a Trenton Police Dept. satellite lot provides a lifeline to help and support local residents dealing with addiction.
The lot on North Clinton Ave. serves as a ground-zero location for organizations that support addiction recovery. Since May, guests have received free food, clothing, haircuts and even a gifted cigarette.
“Hey, Stace, you got a smoke?” inquiring minds wanted to know.
Stacey Ross, executive director for Recovery Advocates of America (RAA), knows about addiction — been there, done that. She understands recovery, too, with one-day-at-a-time success that has gained her eight years of freedom from drug and alcohol use. And, Ross had the hook with parking lot attendees, too, a pack of cigarettes that connects her to many people dealing with addiction.
“That one cigarette can spark a conversation. Sometimes that’s all it takes for a person to open up, perhaps even attempt recovery,” she explains.
Supported by a City of Trenton grant, Ross and RAA have made inroads with many residents being challenged by addiction, housing insecurity and food insecurity. In fact, Ross and staff visit local encampments hoping to make important connections that may help a person surrender and take a valuable first step: an admission of their disease, plus, acceptance that addiction had made their lives unmanageable.
“It’s a matter of consistency and trust,” Ross explained. “It’s not about going out just once. We make regular visits, enough hopefully that they begin to trust us.” And, part of that trust interaction involves Ross telling her story of addiction with no shame from her old game.
“Trenton is where I ran during my active addiction. There’s a lot of good people on the street, many are just lost. One of our most important goals is to help people get 30 days of sober living and then start to rebuild their lives.”
On this day in early August, guests received haircuts, food, and clothing and had conversations with numerous addiction recovery organizations. Ross said RAA delivers toiletries and clothing to women working on the street, always with an understanding that a minimal connection may serve as a catalyst for change.
Recovery Advocates of America is scheduled to return to the North Clinton Ave. lot on Oct. 20 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Ross hopes to move indoors when colder temperatures arrive.