In the state of Kentucky, 5 people die per day from something preventable. This statistic caught my attention because prevention is possible. That something is an overdose.
I grew up in Kentucky, and drugs were not far from me. In fact, the house next door was a meth lab. There were actually several meth labs on the block I grew up on. At the time, I had no idea. I knew they “did drugs,” but they were still people… they were my neighbors. We played together, we stood at the street corner every morning to catch the school bus, we talked over the fence. It was only as an adult researching safety data on a government website that I learned that my neighbors were actually running a meth lab.
As an adult looking back, I can see that my kid-lenses forced me to see people before I could judge them. I didn’t see them as a label, diagnosis, or problem… I saw them as people. They went to school, had bad days, and struggled with poverty just like I did.
I think this has been heavy on my mind because I’m realizing that not everyone looks at other people that way. Whatever the topic, it seems normal or acceptable to learn a detail about someone – like his income level, her racial background, his dietary choices, or anything, really about her – and somehow we think we can immediately judge his or her character, life aspirations, and worth.
Personally, I disagree with this way of approaching other people. Each one of us has a story… that story is the backbone of our experience and has shaped who we are. We are each unique and worthy of being given respect.
One place I found that exemplified this is the Isaiah House, the most recent recipient of Hyssop Tree soaps. After doing my initial vetting process, I made a quick phone call. My call was transferred to Jordan. He answered my questions with enthusiasm, and he immediately invited me to take a tour of the facility at my convenience. This was the first time I had received such an offer, and I immediately made time in my calendar.
These are the words I shared on Facebook after my initial visit:
Isaiah House is not the first treatment center that I have visited for donation purposes. But I was completely overwhelmed with the approach at Isaiah House. It’s palpable from the parking lot. I actually mentioned this to Jordan as I was leaving. He was not shy to let me know that there are many people who pray over this facility and the work they do. And I can honestly tell you – I could feel it in my bones.
It is my honor to tell you that the Hyssop Tree community has been part of encouraging over 300 men & women at Isaiah House with bars of soap. I am also excited to let you know that during a market in April, I asked the community to sign a matte with encouraging words. When I delivered the soaps to Isaiah House, I also took the framed poster with the thoughtful notes.
It is my hope that as men and women work their recovery, and they come to a difficult day, that they can find some inspiration… some comfort in knowing that a total stranger cares for them. That they are indeed a valuable member of our society, that they matter, and that they are loved. It is my hope that together, we the Hyssop Tree community, have played a small but not insignificant role in challenging the statistic.