GREENVILLE — Glen Bryant, of Greenville, Ohio, was not always a fan of drug addicts.
“I had a real problem accepting all of these people doing drugs, like heroin,” he said. “I had things stolen and I was really angry at the city. I didn’t realize the bigger problem we had.”
Then one day God sent Bryant an angel, he said. One February evening, after closing up his shop, Greenville Transmission & Engine Repair, he saw a young woman getting beaten by a man. Bryant told her to get in his truck. She explained that she was a recovering drug addict, just getting out of treatment. She told Bryant that the man beating her had hooked her on heroin and he was trying to keep her hooked.
“At first, I almost said, ‘Get out of my truck’”, Bryant said. “But I looked at her and I saw a little girl who was terrified for her life. She was crying and was covered in spit from the man beating her.”
She told Bryant that her co-workers called her names because she was an addict, he said. When he dropped her off at home, she told him that her parents were addicts too and she hated living there. Bryant asked her if she wanted to pray. Four days later, he heard about a girl that was found dead, laying by a garage in Greenville. She was covered in a blanket, beat up and shot up with heroin.
“That is how this place started,” Bryant said, referring to his Addiction Information and Help Center, at 200 Martin Street, in Greenville. “I have to do something. People need to be aware of what is going on.”
Bryant opened the center in March. He and his girlfriend, Kathy Smith, both work first-shift jobs and spent until late in the evenings cleaning and painting the rented building. Bryant just filed with the Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
“Some people see this town is full of hate, and I am not seeing that,” Bryant said.
He asked for paint donations and received them in all colors. Donations of furniture and art showed up. Others in the community immediately started donating their time and offering support and resources. Bryant wants to thank FRAM employees, Road Hogg Motorcycle Club, Recovery in Wellness, counselors, Darke County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Mark Whittaker, the courts, recovering addicts, pastors, churches, Sara Shaffer and other friends. As soon as Bryant put the sign in the window, people started coming in and seeking help for themselves or others.
“The people on the streets and using are very spiritual people,” Bryant said. “They don’t want this. The only reason they are going back to get a shot is to try to be normal for a little bit, because they are in pain. They are willing to take that chance that they aren’t going to die. I prayed and put it in God’s hands. Mostly we just listen – that is all they want most of the time. They are here to tell us about themselves.”
Bryant is trying to meet the people where they are with his center. He feels them out and adjusts to their needs. The center is evolving and based on the number of those seeking help so far, about 300, Bryant expects the need will eventually outgrow the rented building. The ultimate goal is to have enough volunteers to keep the place open 24/7.
“What I love about this is God working here – the way he is bringing people in and making this happen,” Smith said.
In order to better facilitate the center Bryant is building a board of directors with different applicable areas of expertise. He also plans on seeking training in counseling and having the workers certified in Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
“This is not easy,” Bryant said. “To set a goal saying we are going to save them all would be failure. But, we know we are going to save at least one out of 100. It feels good that they come here, instead of getting another shot. We are friends for life and the dealers aren’t. God took everything in my lifetime and it all adds up to this. I am just waiting to see what he wants.”
And Bryant has never forgotten his angel.
“That day God knew that little girl was hurting,” he said. “She was battling too hard, so He took her to be one of his angels. But before He did that, he sent His angel to see me. I know that and I know she is still here. This place wouldn’t be if it wasn’t for her.”
Bryant is looking for volunteers with a spiritual background who have time to listen. For more information contact 937-621-3163. Donations can be sent to Addiction Information and Help Center, P.O. Box 262, Greenville, Ohio 45331.
EDS NOTE: This story is part of an ongoing series titled “Fatal Addiction” that will address the drug problem and effects on residents and resources in Darke County.
The writer may be reached at 937-569-4354. Join the conversation and get updates on Facebook search Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.