Will Turner started volunteering with The People Concern in 2019. Will’s creative spirit initially led him to engage with residents of Skid Row at our Studio 526, but when the pandemic disrupted on-site volunteering, he found a new path that would not only align with his schedule but also make a profound impact: harm reduction packing events.

When COVID-19 shut down in-person volunteering, Will was determined to continue his contribution to the community. Intrigued by the concept of harm reduction, he signed up for a packing event without fully knowing what to expect. Little did he know that these simple two-hour sessions would change his perspective on community service.

“I felt like I was doing direct and real good,” Will reflected. “Each kit felt like saving a life, in the future or down the road.”

Harm reduction was a novel concept for Will. His first-hand experience with an overdose incident during one of his art classes stuck with him. The quick and efficient response of the staff, administering Narcan to revive the participant, made him realize the straightforward effectiveness of harm reduction practices. No theatrics, no panic—just a life saved and a participant back to creating art.

As Will became a familiar face at harm reduction events, he started incorporating harm reduction principles into his daily life. He began distributing fentanyl test strips at bars, encouraging patrons to use them without judgment. He even carried Narcan while participating in parkour activities with friends, demonstrating his commitment to making a difference wherever he went.

Participating in harm reduction packing events doesn’t require any specialized skills. As Will puts it, “If you can put on a pair of latex gloves and stuff things in bags, you can volunteer effectively.” This simplicity underscores the accessibility of harm reduction initiatives, opening the door for individuals from all walks of life to contribute meaningfully to their communities.

Will Turner’s story reminds us that even the smallest actions can have a profound ripple effect. When it comes to harm reduction, a few hours of packing materials can equate to countless lives potentially saved—a testament to the remarkable potential of community-driven efforts at The People Concern.

If you’re interested in volunteering at harm reduction events, email volunteer@thepeopleconcern.org.