IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIDK/KXPI) - Members of a local advocacy group are using their personal experiences to raise awareness about the rise of drug overdoses in our communities, but they've run into a challenge due to COVID-19.
KIDK Eyewitness News 3 anchor Todd Kunz wanted to find out more and Pay It Forward.
Kathy Chin lost her daughter to heroin in December 2016, after her daughter went through rehab three times. She wanted to make sure this never happened to anyone else.
"And then February 2018, I met Allen (Abood) and he was doing talks at Brigham Young University-Idaho to the graduating class of the sociology department. And I wanted to get involved and doing what he was doing and doing anything I could to be involved in the recovery community," said Chin.
The group Soldiers of Hope was later formed August 31, 2019. It has about 10 members currently and a board of directors. Doctor Jared Morton of Idaho Falls sits on the board. Every member of the group has gone through recovery at some point in their life.
"We turned our pain to purpose," said Chin.
Now they want to help others and let the community know there's a real problem.
"People don't talk about drugs and addiction and overdose here in Idaho Falls. It's kept very quiet. It's swept under the rug. And just here in the lettered streets, we have over 30 overdose calls a month that EMT's are responding to," said Chin.
The recent COVID-19 pandemic is proving to be its own challenge. They said some of the people they are trying to help are too fresh in their recovery process to be facing this pandemic alone without their support system or the accountability of a specialty court. Plus, the pandemic has halted their awareness events and fundraisers to raise money for Narcan which is used to treat an overdose in an emergency situation. Chin said it is $120 a box, which is only two doses. With the help of Doctor Morton, he can get it for about $38 a box.
"Just the biggest hurdle we've had to overcome has just been financial. So we need a lot of support there to keep this ball rolling," said Abood.
Time to Pay It Forward.
"How are you? Are you Kathy and Allen?" asked a man walking into the backyard during the interview.
"I'm Kathy and Allen," said Chin, pointing to Abood seated next to her.
"I'm Kory (Carling) with Mountain America Credit Union," said the man.
"Oh," said Chin.
"And we've heard about the awesome stuff that Soldiers of Hope is doing for our community and because of that, we're here today to Pay It Forward. So I have brought with me today $500 in cash that I know you guys are going to be able to use it to further your reach and touch those who really need it in our community," said Carling.
"Oh my gosh. You don't even know you're talking to a cry baby here," said Chin.
"Thank you for all that you guys are doing," said Carling.
"Oh my gosh!" said Chin.
The community outreach Soldiers of Hope depends on is limited due to COVID-19 restrictions. The group only receives boxes of Narcan every three months.
August 31 is also International Overdose Awareness Day.
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction or would like to donate, you can contact Soldiers of Hope at 208-357-6220.
"Pay It Forward" airs the second Wednesday of every month. If you know of a nonprofit organization or someone who deserves to be recognized for their contributions to the area, click on "News" then "Pay It Forward" under the menu stack at the top left of our homepage. Fill out the submission form, or send an email to KIDK Eyewitness News 3 anchor Todd Kunz at firstname.lastname@example.org.