Local friends helping people fighting homelessness, drugs, any way they can

- Dark stories often dominate our news, but Bill Anderson found a group of friends, trying to find a way to help people battling homelessness and drug addiction in any way they can, For Goodness Sake. 

“Dave was an addict,” Teri Black said, describing her son. “He was in active addiction for possibly two to three years.”

Sadly, it's becoming an all too common story in our area.

“The last 22 months of his life, he was in recovery and not using,” Black explained. “Ran into some other challenges and problems. In the end, he did relapse and he ended up taking his life.”

Teri Black lost her son to suicide after years of struggle with drug addiction. His struggle to get help inspired her to get involved in many different ways. At least one continues to guide her every day.

“To this day, I will swear that David wanted me to get involved so I would stop worrying and obsessing about what he was doing every day,” she said.

The group David told his mom about is Angels in Motion. It provides services to Philly's homeless and people with addictions for years, but the service Teri and her friend Diane Bell are most involved in is handmade sleeping mats given to people living on the street.

“I’m a crochet instructor and I had seen the sleeping mat done on a YouTube video,” Bell explained. “I’m born and raised in Philadelphia so I wanted to be able to help local.”

Diane had taken it upon herself to crochet mats out of plastic bags, on her own. When she met Teri, the sleeping mat project was born. It started with just Diane, then Teri and Diane, and now months later the Facebook page shows people from all over the area who are taking time to help those in need in any way that they can.

It’s something anyone can do and anyone can play a part in, and until those people who are at the point where they’re ready to accept help, and take that help and move forward, this is something that’s going to be of comfort to them and necessary to them.

As Teri and Diane showed Bill the process, it was clear they’d found a way to get involved and were encouraged by how many people want to join them – like young children cutting bags and people in their 70’s and possibly 80’s crocheting mats.

They recognize not everyone can be out on the streets, directly interacting with those battling addiction -- something that they don’t do. But their emotional connection to the people they help was clear when Bill shared with them the response to the mats he’d personally seen distributed.

“I was out when they handed them to people. Oh that’s awesome. People were amazed by them. People were happy to have them. One man cried. Wow, my God!”

The mats made so far have all been hand crocheted, but now a Lower Merion school has taken on the challenge of creating looms so more people can make the mats and more people can be helped – something Teri says will help you almost as much as the person receiving the mats.

“You feel like you’re a part of something, to me it was like healing through helping,” she described. 

The Angels in Motion message is just help: Help in the neighborhood, or help making mats in your home, but help.

For goodness sake, I’m Bill Anderson.

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