Help is available, but not everyone will accept it

BRATTLEBORO — As a bus driver for Medicaid riders in the past, I met and transported recovering addicts to and from various appointments, including the respective clinics for methadone or Suboxone.

Some of the riders were diligent and persistent in their choice of recovery path, sticking to the program and protocol recommended for them by physical and mental health care providers. I sometimes see them in the community and feel good about what I see.

Other riders, however, were/are less committed to recovery, some actively choosing to go back out and continue using drugs and alcohol, sometimes ending up living on the street.

Recently, I have met some of the “choosing-non-recovery group” in the Harmony Parking Lot, panhandling as drivers pay for parking. I feel sad to see someone who once had an apartment and a path to recovery choose to live on the street, begging for spare change.

I disagree with Allison Teague's overgeneralized op-ed, which claims business people are all about capitalism without an ounce of compassion for those in need. A recovery counselor at HCRS has told me, and others, not to give money to panhandlers, that when I give money, I then become an enabler to their addiction.

I much prefer - as the businesses that wrote the recent Open Letter suggest - to donate funds, goods, and energy to the local organizations offering help to those willing to accept it. For those unwilling to accept help as offered, I can say, “Good luck and godspeed.”

I am not a business person, yet I do agree with what was written in the anonymous letter. And I am curious about the outcome of the community forum recently held at the fire station.

At this critical time of life on Earth, is the greater Brattleboro community ready and willing to think outside the box and take bold action to address some pressing needs? All the while allowing for those who think differently from us to make choices we do not like? It is a conundrum, is it not?

By our current choices, we frame the future of who we are.

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