Prevention Point Philadelphia celebrates 30 years of providing harm reduction services
The Philadelphia nonprofit that focuses on community harm reduction says it served 36,000 people over the last 12 months, three times the amount served in 2019.
Prevention Point Philadelphia celebrated its 30th anniversary Tuesday night.
Since July 1992, the Kensington-based organization has provided resources for people affected by poverty and drug use.
It was founded by Jon Paul Hammond, who focused on what the community needed, including hiring people from the neighborhood. Hammond died in 2010. According to the Philadelphia Gay News, he worked to bring awareness to harm reduction, including pressing Mayor Ed Rendell to sign an executive order allowing drug users to carry syringes.
At the anniversary celebrations, Co-founder José DeMarco said the organization has kept Hammond’s spirit alive throughout the years.
“It’s taken harm reduction to places that’s much further than condoms or clean syringes,” DeMarco said. “He realizes that treating people as harm reduction, giving people a place to shower that are homeless, giving people a bathroom to use, clothing, people, all of these things are harm reduction.”
PPP says it has provided services to over 36,000 people in the last 12 months. That’s more than three times the amount seen in 2019. Executive Director José Benitez said the organization focuses on building connections with the people it serves.
“What we’ve done is basically asked our participants, ‘What do you want? What’s next?’ And they’re the ones that draw the map for us,” Benitez said. “We don’t make this stuff up. They’re the ones that said we want a shelter. We want a low barrier shelter where we can come in and out, and we can feel safe at night and lay our heads down, and get some refuge from the street.”
PPP provides food, medical services, and other resources for people seeking aid. The Drop-in Center is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and provides case management, mail services, D&A referrals, specialized surveys, clothing, and hygiene products distribution.
The nonprofit has brought in more used needles than it has distributed this year, a first in the organization’s history. Nearly 9 million new syringes from the nonprofit were distributed, but 10 million used ones were turned in.
Syringe exchange programs work to provide active users with clean needles to lower the risk of disease through contaminated needles. PPP collects syringes both at their main building in Kensington and through a mobile service.
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance use, SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24-hour hotline that offers referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations. Call 1-800-662-HELP for more information.
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