Mobile Needle Exchange Program To Service North, NW Suburbs

Bernie Tafoya
February 28, 2020 - 1:56 pm
Mobile Needle Exchange Program To Service Northwest Suburbs

Live4Lali

Categories: 

WAUKEGAN, ILL. (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- A mobile needle exchange program is kicking off next week in the north and northwestern western suburbs. It’s a stepped-up effort to help drug users and sex workers.  

“This is mobile harm reduction,” said Laura Fry, chief programs officer for Live4Lali, an advocacy group for those who use drugs.

Live4Lali’s purple Stigma Crusher truck will stop in Waukegan and McHenry every week passing out clean needles, condoms, Naloxone and toiletries.

Live4Lali co-founder Chelsea Laliberte Barnes said the organization intentionally went bold when designing the truck.

“We made this truck purple because we didn’t want to hide what we were doing. We want people to find us. We want people to be able to see, 'I know that I can get help from the purple truck people,'" Barnes said. 

Fry added: “What you see in these neighborhoods when you bring syringe exchange into them, you see hepatitis C drop. You see HIV drop.”

She said people who use drugs are human beings deserving of love, compassion and respect.

On Monday, Live4Lali will have an open house celebration from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at its headquarters at 3255 N. Arlington Heights Rd. in Arlington Heights.

Then, the purple food-truck-looking vehicle will be stopping on Wednesdays from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. in McHenry at Veteran’s Memorial Park and on Thursdays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. in Waukegan at 10th and Prescott streets.

Mobile Needle Program
Bernie Tafoya

Fry said the two locations were chosen after doing overdose data research to find out where there were a number of overdose and drug calls.

The Stigma Crusher truck was mostly funded by the Inspiration Outreach Foundation, which was started by Stacy Harding. Her son is more than three years clean after years of heroin use.

“I’m so overwhelmed with joy, elation to be able to do this. I don’t have words yet," Harding said. 

Ana Gossman, director of Harm Reduction and Outreach Services for Live4Lali, said: “We obviously know there are people in those communities that really need those services and, if we’re able to go to them, it’s going to make a world of difference.”

Barnes helped start the organization more than 10 years ago after her brother died of an overdose.

“I am so grateful to wake up every day to do this work and to be able to say, 'Alex. We did it. We’re doing it for you every single day,'” Barnes said. 

And she knows the mobile needle exchange and naloxone distribution program will help even more people.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re using, if you love somebody who’s using, if you work with somebody who’s using, you’re welcome and we will help you," Barnes continued. 

The purple Stigma Crusher will be adding more locations, including in DuPage County in the months ahead.

To find out more about Live4Lali, visit Live4Lali.org.

Mobile Needle Exchange Program To Service Northwest Suburbs
Bernie Tafoya