H.E.R. Home is here to help – Something good happened in Erie, 9/13/2019

Jessie Nelson with her friend and business partner, Leanne, at 713 Walnut Street, the site of a soon-to-open “three-quarter house” in support of recovering addicts. | Photo via https://fundly.com/m2/h-e-r-home.

Without further ado, your Idiotville feel-good story of the week:


Addiction and recovery is something I think about all the time. It’s not just that I know someone who has died from an overdose; it’s that so many people are dying. The opioid epidemic is a failure at every level – medical, moral, political, individual.

It’s easy to throw your hands up and walk away from this problem, too. “Drug addicts,” you might say. “They’re doing it to themselves.” “They knew what to expect when they started.” There is an element of truth to these sentiments, sure, but it ignores so much.

Sometimes good people lack a support system through no fault of their own, and find “friends” that lead them astray. Sometimes good people just make a bad decision. Sometimes chronic pain leads to an open-ended prescription, which leads to disaster. Sometimes good people do all sorts of things that might set them down a path they regret. Hell, sometimes bad people get addicted, then right their ship through years of continuous hard work before spending the rest of their lives helping others not to make the same mistakes they once made – in which case maybe they weren’t so bad, after all.

The point here is that you just don’t know. Unless you’re an addict, you have no idea what this battle is like day to day, what the pressures are to quit or to use, what any one of these people are thinking when they lay their head down on the pillow at night.

By and large, addiction is a problem we ignore. Addicts tend not to be the most sympathetic of folks, and there are always more issues deserving of tax dollars than there are tax dollars.

So then, what is an addict to do? If you’re someone who is in the fight of your life to stay clean, and spent every last penny you had on rehab, and now you’re back out in the world without any resources or friends, where do you start?

Well, if you’re a woman, now you can start with Jessie Nelson’s H.E.R. House, which stands for Heal, Empower, Recovery. H.E.R. House is what’s known as a three-quarter house, for women who have completed rehab but don’t feel 100% confident yet to be released into the wild.

Nelson is doing this purely out of a sense of service, too – she is a recovering addict helping others dig out of the position she found herself in years ago. She is doing this with no government money, either. She just went out and bought a three-story apartment house at 713 Walnut Street with her team of volunteer donors and got to work.

It’s a lot of work. She is currently leading the effort to replace 43 windows, sand some of the wood surfaces, paint everything, relay some flooring, plus redo much of the electrical and plumbing on this 105-year old place. For a three-story home that may eventually house 16 women, that’s quite a job.

After all that work, there will be certification issues to iron out. Nelson already received a zoning variance to operate the place, and it doesn’t sound like certification will be much of a roadblock after all the hurdles she has already cleared.

Simply put, she is on a mission to dig as many women as possible out of addiction and is dedicating her own renewed life to achieve it. Jessie Nelson’s labor of love is something good to happen in Erie, and I for one will be watching in admiration.

If you’d like to donate to H.E.R. Home, please visit https://fundly.com/m2/h-e-r-home.

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