Addie Arbach and Rebecca Parr may not have much, but they are passionate about serving the homeless and drug-using population in their community of Knoxville, Tennessee. Working under Next Step Initiative, which they founded in 2017, they make it work.
The siblings provide everything from food, hygiene products, naloxone training, free rides (to the needle exchange for example) and most of all, love.
“We love them until they either get treatment or they get it together, or they die, but at the end of their lives they’re going to know that somebody genuinely loved them,” said Arbach, who has been sober since 1989.
Any Time, Any Place
Arbach and Parr venture to any place, no matter how dangerous, to deliver sandwiches and Narcan to people they like to refer to as their “friends.” They do this to “build a relationship and a level of trust,” they told WVLT.
And finally, if or when a “friend” is ready for change, the sisters will work hard to connect them to treatment. No matter how long it takes, or how many times a friend will fail, they are there with them back at square one.
“It’s hard. This repetitive, falling back into addiction doesn’t mean to give up,” said Parr. “It just means it’s an issue, and how do we work around it? Well, you just keep coming and keep coming and keep coming. We don’t give up.”
Next Step is growing, slowly but surely. They hosted a block party for their community twice this year, with a third planned for the fall in East Knoxville.
At their block party last Saturday (July 20), at Sam Duff Park in South Knoxville, they provided food, entertainment, art and donated items, as well as a range of services including HIV and hepatitis-C testing, Narcan training, voter registration, wound care, child care, housing services and more.
In August, they will welcome an AmeriCorps volunteer to their team, who will help them track and organize their data and apply for grants, the Sentinel reported.
They’re hoping to someday add a van, a chest freezer and a washer-dryer to their arsenal to make their jobs easier.
“We’re not just feeding people, we’re lining them up with services,” said Parr. “Our motto is ‘Come as you are.’ We keep them alive until they decide they’re worth (getting clean).”