How Jake’s Reach is Helping Start a Dialogue about the Heroin Epidemic
Words by Noor Hindi
After his grandson Jake passed away from a heroin overdose, Frank Marr made it his goal to save at least one life. Through Jake’s Reach, a project that is helping educate families about the heroin epidemic, Marr is working to end the shame that is keeping people away from getting the help they deserve.
“While going door to door promoting our meetings, there wasn’t three households we’d go to where someone wasn’t experiencing this problem,” said Marr.
Jake overdosed on fentanyl on March 9, 2017 at 22 years old. Marr describes Jake as the type of kid who’d say “I love you, grandpa” each time they left one another. After his passing, Jake’s Reach was created. This summer, the project is hosting community meetings around Akron in hopes of igniting a dialogue about heroin and how we can help those in recovery.
“Jake’s favorite prayer was the serenity prayer. We’re trying to have the courage to change the things we can and this project is what it’s about,” said Marr.
For Marr, a 71-year-old resident of Ellet, community outreach programs are the heart of solving the heroin epidemic. As a child growing up in Kenmore, Marr recalls knowing all of his neighbors. He says communication is what we’re currently missing.
“What you never see anymore around the country is block parties. We live in our own silos” said Marr. “We don’t talk to each other enough.”
Aside from communication, the other problem Jake’s Reach is tackling is education. Although Marr describes himself as the “old guy who told you to get off my lawn,” Marr says asking the right questions regarding the heroin epidemic is key to understanding the problem and tackling it.
“The human mind is like a parachute. It works best when it’s open,” said Marr. “And we’re not very open minded when it comes to addiction and alcoholism. I’m the guy who thought addiction and alcoholism was a weakness, not an illness. I know better now. But I only know better because I’m educated.”
This is why these summer meetings are so important. At their June 21 meeting at the Joy Park Community Center, lieutenant Shumaker of the Akron Fire Department will be available, along with Gerald Craig of the Summit County ADM Board. Aside from this, Project DAWN will be offering Naloxone (narcan) training and Jake’s mom, Jennifer Woods, will be speaking alongside Paula Scaglione, whose son is currently in recovery.