Hannah Carpenter, ’16, G’18, knows the heartache of losing a relative to an opioid overdose. Now, she wants to ensure other families don’t face the same pain.
Carpenter, who studied criminal justice as an undergraduate and graduate student at Bridgewater State University, lost her father, David, last year.
“It’s hard not having him here,” she said, recalling how he was her longtime softball coach, and so much more. “He inspired me every day of my life. He was a phenomenal, phenomenal dad. You don’t know what you have until it’s gone.”
Now, Carpenter, a Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative/AmeriCorps program coordinator, is doing her part to help families battling addiction. She serves with Plymouth County Outreach, a collaboration of the county’s district attorney and sheriff’s offices, as well as more than two dozen police departments, including BSU Police. Numerous non-law enforcement organizations are also involved.
Carpenter credits BSU and its criminal justice faculty with helping shape her future.
“I was very, very shy up until probably the end of my junior year,” she said. “I just had no interest in talking in class. I was very, very reserved. I had a couple really good professors I clicked with who helped me come out of my shell and become a conversation starter.”
Those public speaking skills come in handy during her AmeriCorps service, where she has a multi-faceted role at Plymouth County Outreach that includes running meetings and building partnerships in the community.
The organization helps people access treatment and supports those battling addiction and their loved ones, through home visits after overdoses and more.
“We’re taking the stigma away from it,” Carpenter said. “There are people here who care about you. When you’re at your lowest, we can give you and your family resources.”
Plymouth County Outreach will enhance its services thanks to a nearly $500,000 grant from the federal Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act Program.
The funds, which will be dispersed over two years, allow the organization to add a project coordinator and an operations supervisor. Plymouth County Outreach will also improve a database that tracks the number of overdoses in the region and supports analysis of that data.
Meanwhile, Carpenter keeps her dad in her thoughts as she tackles her almost year-long service at Plymouth County Outreach.
“I wouldn’t be doing this with as much passion as I have,” she said. “It’s why I do everything I do to the degree I do it.” (Photo also by Brian Benson)