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Too Many Garretts


There is always Hope.

This morning I read an article published in the Bangor Daily News – Garrett – Inside the Life and Fall of a Young Maine Man Addicted to Heroin.

It brought back a flood of memories, some good, some bad, but mostly it made me very sad, because I knew too many young men and women who were like the people and families described in the article.

You see, once upon a time, I worked at Good-Will Hinckley, back when it was a home for children that didn’t have homes. The programs I worked for several years were often either the last stop before a correctional facility/mental hospital or first stop after having been in one. Then I moved to the middle school/high school and got to see them in a different light.

Which meant that I got to see a different side of young people’s life, not always the one that is depicted by many, who only see the middle-class (usually white up here in Maine) American Dream where “anything” is possible, if you study hard, work hard you will get ahead.

I learned, from the youth that I supervised at GWH, because I did not work with them, there is a huge difference (working with someone to me means that you are in the same boat as them, which I definitely was not), that the American Dream was not and probably would not be the reality for many of those young people.

I got to seem them cry, get angry, break things, assault others and I also got to see them smile, laugh, give back, have eureka moments and start to believe that there was a future out there that didn’t involve criminal activities, drug addiction, selling their bodies and all the other bad things they had been through.

Unfortunately, too many of them had come there with two strikes and several foul balls already in the books.

While many were able to break the cycle and move on to what would be considered more traditional lives (finish school, maybe go to college, get married, hold jobs, etc.), I have a feeling that many did not and lived or are living the transient life style of Garret in the article. The life style of drug addiction, homelessness, jail, multiple entry-level jobs with little hope of escape.

I want to believe that any of them could overcome their past and go on to be productive members of society. Some can, the lucky ones. Others can’t and become statistics or numbers in a life that is foreign to a majority of the people in this Country. The merry-go-round that they can never get off, until like Garrett they “accidentally” overdose or “accidentally have a fatal accident or are sentenced to life in prison or become shells of human beings and just pass through life until they die.

I salute those who escape the merry-go-round and while I have no words of wisdom for those who are still on the path that Garrett went down, I wonder who you might have been, if things had been different.

Yeah, while reading the article, I did shed more than one tear. The memories can tear quite a whole in your heart, especially when you remember, the smiles and the eureka moments that you shared with them. I know that it does mine.

This is part of the safety net that too many do not want to see and too many do not support, except to say “the little bastards in jail”.

So damn sad.



  1. Well expressed. It is such a difficult problem that steals away the lives of those who are too young to realize the consequences. As hope is stolen away by the drugs, violence and other criminality, their vision of the future narrows and darkens. When hope goes dark, death is not far away. Sometimes what makes the difference is a person like you who says the right word at the right time; who is present in their lives and serves as a constant image of possibility. Sometimes we lose them and it breaks our heart. But then, there are those few glorious days that we see someone break free. The blessing of their change in direction, their positive choices and the possibility of a future is a gift to them and us.

    That indwelling sense of what could be, is present in all of us. No one is compelled to follow it. It is always an exercise of individual choice and free will. When we help by providing the opportunity and circumstances for hope to cause growth in the awareness of what could be, it is a blessing for both.

    Your investment in the future will bring dividends for generations.

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