We've had a few days to process and tonight in Belfast, as we stand alongside so many others in grief and gratitude, we will honor the life of Jesse Harvey whose death on Monday is being considered an overdose.
Jesse was known by many as having both struggled and succeeded throughout his young life. Among his many accomplishments, he stablished Journey House as one of the first recovery residences in Maine to accept people using medication assisted treatment. Jesse also founded the Church of Safe Injection in 2018 after being disheartened by the lack of needle exchange programs in the state. Per a 2019 Portland Press Herald news story, Jesse's goal in starting the program was to "reduce diseases caused by sharing needles, and to provide drug users with sterile syringes and the overdose reversing drug Narcan until they are able to get into a recovery program." Jesse also founded the Portland Overdose Prevention Society. April Turner, a social worker and candidate for the Maine House of Representatives District 99, wrote of Jesse, "he wanted to bring so much change and understanding for those affected by substance use disorders. He wanted to educate those that sought to be part of the much needed change. He wanted, and most certainly did, change the lives of everyone who met him."
Although Jesse actively struggled with his own sobriety, he never hid his experience using or his struggles with additction and many would say that out of those struggles came his success and his legacy.
Jesse fundatmentally believed in showing care, concern and compassion for marginalized and dis-empowered people. It is imperative that we as a society understand that addiction is a disease. It is imperative that we respect it as such and advocate for treatment. It is imperative that we respect the people who are fighting for their lives. We must do all that we can as a community to show up for them regardless of where they are in their fight.
A celebration of Jesse's life will be held at 6pm Sept 19th on the Eastern Promenade in Portland.
Tonight, in Belfast at the First Church (8 Court Street), from 6-7pm, join the community in vigil, honoring the lives lost to overdost, share the grief as well as the hope.