Damian DePauw and his team at Onward Recovery in Newburgh know firsthand how hard it is for those who need help with substance abuse addiction or mental health to get the services they need.
"I am a person living in recovery, in long term recovery," DePauw said, "and for me, that means I haven't used drugs since, well, since 17 years."
They're using their lived experience and sharing strength and hope to help mid-Hudson Valley residents overcome substance abuse.
"It's huge ... the majority of people who come through our door and say 'I'm actively using; I just used a while ago and I think I need help,' " DePauw said. "Those people are coming in addicted to heroin or opioids ... you know, prescription pills."
DePauw says using direct outreach on the streets is a less intrusive and more personal method to get people into treatment.
Otilia Olinsky struggled with substance abuse since her early teens and even gave up one of her children because of her addiction. She dedicated her life to sobriety and helping others seeking it after a run in with the law in the 1980s.
"What I love to do most is being able to be there for someone else and sharing my story if they need to know, and letting them know that I went through this, and that you can do this, too," Olinsky said. "And that recovery is definitely possible."
With President Donald Trump's announcement today that addiction to opioids is a public health emergency, the people at Onward hope it will mean more support for the work they do and spark a greater, more honest, conversation about substance abuse overall.