CINCINNATI — More than 4,000 Ohioans died due to an unintentional drug overdose in 2019, according to the latest data from the Ohio Department of Health.
That’s why one Ohio family is bringing the community together through a new fundraiser called Haircuts Over Heroin. It's helping raise awareness around drug addiction and helping those struggling by providing them with the resources they need to succeed.
One hairstylist participating in the fundraiser is Emily Fenske. She works at the Wild Hare Salon in Cincinnati and loves helping her customers find the cutest styles to wear.
“I fell in love with doing color and making people happy,” said Fenske. “I’ve always been a people pleaser.”
But Fenske hasn’t always been passionate about hair. Before her love for hair began, she battled a drug addiction. It all started back in high school.
“I started with pills and things kind of escalated from there,” she said. “I was full-blown into my addiction. I was homeless. I’ve been to prison.”
After several attempts to get clean, Fenske sought treatment again. But this time, she was determined to stay clean. Now, three years later, she’s still sober.
“That’s like my main goal here today is just to let people know that they do recover and you’re only standing in your own way,” she said.
Memrie Harness, 17, also knows the impact of drug abuse far too well. She lost her brother and close friend Whit last year due to a drug overdose.
“That was pretty difficult and then in the midst of COVID and everything, everything just seemed like a mess and then when that happened it just added,” said Harness. “So we all had to take a while to get over it.”
Even with all the pain and grief, she and her family decided they wanted to pay tribute to his death and help others struggling with addiction. So they came up with Haircuts Over Heroin fundraiser. Those who donate toward the fundraiser get a chance to get a free service from more than 50 hairstylists in Cincinnati.
“The more people we reached out to, we realized that everybody had a connection to this heroin epidemic,” she said. “So we decided that it would be a great idea to just tie the two together.”
Fenske is one of the 50 hairstylists giving away free services for the fundraiser. All of the money donated will go toward helping clients at the Center for Addiction Treatment. So far, they’ve raised almost $7,000.
“When you look good you feel good so I’d like to give back in that way,” she said.
To learn more about how you can donate visit the Haircuts Over Heroin Facebook page.