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05 – SHOWING BIGG LOVE






showing bigg love

West Virginia was where it happened for me—that first real USU (Urban Survivors Union) experience that makes a real impression, where you see the mission of this organization in action and suddenly you realize you’re not alone. There are other people out there who share your passion and vision for a better world for people who use drugs.

West Virginia was in crisis, HCV rates were rising to the highest in the nation, entire pocket areas of HIV were being reported, and needle exchanges were being shut down.

A call for help went out from Shannon Hicks, the director of Exchange Union, located outside the capital of Charleston, West irgina. Although I had done a few minor jobs for USU, all of them had been from behind my computer screen at home. I knew fellow members and leaders mostly by voice through our national call, but these names and voices had become the icons of harm reduction in my mind.







A call for help went out from Shannon Hicks, the director of Exchange Union, located outside the capital of Charleston, West irgina. Although I had done a few minor jobs for USU, all of them had been from behind my computer screen at home. I knew fellow members and leaders mostly by voice through our national call, but these names and voices had become the icons of harm reduction in my mind.

Louise Vincent, who has the courage to always speak the truth openly and stand behind what she believes in, was one of those iconic figures for me. Although we had met before on Overdose Awareness Day and often talked on the phone about our parallel struggles and hopes, I was both terrified and excited when she called me and asked if I would come participate in the actions planned for West Virginia.


“WHEN YOU HAVE A DEATH LIST SO LONG YOU CAN’T EVEN REMEMBER ALL THE NAMES OFF THE TOP OF YOUR HEAD, IT’S TIME TO START FIGHTING.”
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