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Did you know that today, September 5, 2022, is, (among other things,) the 9th observance of the International Day of Charity?

The General Assembly of the United Nations chose this date in commemoration of the passing of Mother Teresa of Calcutta on this date in 1997. I’d be willing to wager that anyone Gen X or older knows who Mother Teresa is, but just in case, she was the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 for her lifetime of philanthropic work.

“Charity can alleviate the worst effects of humanitarian crises, supplement public services in health care, education, housing and child protection. It assists the advancement of culture, science, sports, and the protection of cultural and natural heritage. It also promotes the rights of the marginalized and underprivileged and spreads the message of humanity in conflict situations.”

In the spirit of the day, I’d like to use my debut as a guest contributor to introduce everyone here at The Table to a charitable organization that is very dear to my heart and has an incredibly fun event coming up.

Hope Dealers BTC Inc. is a charity organization that I helped found and where I am proud to sit as the Executive Director. We are a grassroots organization, run by volunteers who are committed to providing support to anyone affected by substance use disorder, mental health issues, and poverty, including friends and families, through outreach, community service, and education. We deal HOPE because we DO recover, and we do it TOGETHER.

On October 1st at Cobbs Hill in Rochester, NY we will be hosting our second annual Color Run. This is a family-friendly, fundraising event where we invite both participants and sponsors to join us for an unmeasured, untimed, run (or walk) around Lake Riley while getting (gently) blasted with non-toxic, biodegradable colored powder.

Last year was a lot of fun and we would love to see some new faces this year.

This fundraiser supports a large percentage of our annual budget that we use to offer a wide variety of services to the community, completely free of charge. We welcome anyone into our family with no criteria for participation, or receipt of services. We assist anyone in need, no questions asked.

Member Support

We are first and foremost a support group for our members and volunteers. All of us have been affected by substance-use disorder either directly or through family or friend's use, or the incomparable heartbreak of loss. Our organization was born from a need for a different kind of support that was offered freely with absolutely no judgment and we uphold that in everything we do. This job, providing hope, is a difficult one. While extremely rewarding, we recognize that it is also very emotionally taxing and we are always there to support and recharge each other when we're feeling depleted. As they say, you can’t pour from an empty cup.

Multiple Pathways to Recovery Support Group

MPtR is our structured support group targeted toward, but not limited to, volunteers and community members who are in recovery from substance use disorder and other addictions. Complete, judgment-free acceptance of the multiple pathways philosophy is one of our official core values written into the by-laws of our organization. We firmly believe that the only "correct" pathway to recovery for an individual is the one that works for them. We accept any and all ways that a person chooses to refrain from something that has made their lives unmanageable. During the Multiple Pathways to Recovery meetings we teach and inform people of all the different structured avenues of recovery that are available within the community, as well as share personal experiences of what has worked for others. We embrace the fact that recovery is a dynamic process that changes and evolves over time. What worked, in the beginning, may not be effective forever, and that's ok. There are other avenues to explore and we're here to help people learn about and embrace those alternatives.

The Multiple Pathways to Recovery Support Group currently meets online on the 1st and 3rd Thursdays of each month from 8pm - 10pm. The meeting is led by our Board President and Certified Peer Advocate, Karena Gordon-Smith, supported by Board Member and Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Maria Panitsidis.

Resource Navigation

Another of the core principles written into our organization's by-laws is to act as, essentially, a middle-man between community members in need and resources that already exist to assist them. We “bridge the gap” between people and services. Where once we focused solely on assisting people through substance-use recovery and detox programs, we have since expanded to assist with additional types of community service resources such as food, clothing, housing, medical treatment and obtaining insurance, and mental health treatment programs. Community members can reach out to us in a variety of ways, like our website, social media, and 24-hour message service that I’ll tell you more about in a minute.

We also host two resource-sharing events each year where we provide space for other organizations and resource providers to come together all in one place. We call it the Bridge to Change Resource Fair. It’s held at the International Plaza on North Clinton Avenue. Our next Bridge to Change Resource Fair will be held with our annual Hopesgiving Dinner event in November.

Street-Level Outreach

Yet another of the core principles written into the by-laws of our organization is to provide some form of street-level outreach. We provide resources and information directly to the people who need it, through physical presence where the people in need exist. Our current outreach team operates out of a space graciously shared with us by the Latino Youth Development organization at 980 N. Clinton Avenue. On the 1st and 3rd Sundays of every month from 9:30 am - 11:30 am we provide bagged lunches, hygiene kits, clothing, shoes, and any other survival and household items we have in our inventory, as well as harm reduction items and information, and resource navigation. This is also how we let people know that there IS hope. We do recover, and we’re here to help. We have trained members who are able to offer immediate assistance to people interested in beginning a journey in recovery. We’ve even taken people directly off the street and brought them to treatment facilities during Sunday outreach.

We are currently recruiting new volunteers in an effort to increase our street outreach services to weekdays as well. If you are interested in joining us, please visit our website.

Harm Reduction

“Harm reduction is a set of practical strategies aimed at reducing negative consequences associated with drug use.”

We are an official Opioid Overdose Prevention Program certified by New York State. This program allows us to distribute and officially certify individuals in the proper use of Narcan©/Naloxone, the life-saving opioid overdose reversal drug.

We also furnish condoms/safe sex kits and information at outreach, upon request.

We also, in partnership with the Monroe County Health Department, provide fentanyl testing strips to the community.

Sharps Removal

True to our roots, one of the very first community services our organization ever offered-from before we were incorporated to this today- is our sharps removal service. That is picking up wantonly discarded needles and drug paraphernalia from public and abandoned spaces within our target service area. Even after removing over 140,000+ needles since the inception of our organization, the Ibero neighborhood and the surrounding areas continue to be plagued with this dangerous debris.

Though the problem still exists, the impact made by our organization and others like ours is clearly evident from our data and observations. Where once we could retrieve upwards of 1000 - 2000 needles week after week, we now find 200 - 600 every two weeks.

Our current sharps removal operations take place on the 2nd and 4th Sundays of each month, beginning by meeting at 980 N. Clinton at 10 am. We then carpool through a pre-determined route, while also providing mobile street-level outreach to anyone we encounter in need of assistance.

This service is also available to anyone in need of it. We are able to arrange emergency operations on other days or times as necessary for individuals and businesses outside of our service area, such as landlords and stores.

Community Education

There is not enough education surrounding what Substance Use Disorder actually is, what it can look like, and how interconnected it is with other mental health and trauma-related disorders. To address this, we offer free educational presentations to anyone for any reason. We have presented in many different environments over the years, including schools, church groups, rehabilitation facilities, businesses, youth groups, scouts meetings, and industry conferences.

The Hopeline

Last, but certainly not least, is the Hopeline. (585) 633-8690

Our automated answering service is there to provide information to people 24 hours a day. They can also leave messages to request any of the services that we provide. Trained Hopeline Representatives return calls, texts, emails, and other messages to provide information and services to anyone that makes a request.

That was the extra long way of getting to the point, which is that we deal hope to as many people as we can as often as possible and do whatever we can to #BeTheChange that we want to see in this world.

We have been officially incorporated in the state of New York as an NFP since April of 2019, and in June of that year were granted our public charity and 501(c)3 designation. As such, all donations to us are completely tax deductible. We are an all-volunteer organization, meaning that we have absolutely no paid staff, not even me. We operate on an incredibly small budget. A large majority of our funding comes from individual contributions directly from local community members and small businesses.

While we all know that money makes the world go round, what is even more essential to our organization's success is volunteer participation. As I mentioned before, there are little to no criteria for participation within our organization. We’ve got jobs for all ages and skill sets.

One of the most important recurring duties that anyone in the family can help with is making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the lunches we hand out during outreach. Having these made by volunteers allows us to drastically reduce the cost of these lunches so that we’re able to serve more people on a weekly basis. Other in-person opportunities include participation in outreach or sharps removal operations or assisting at events. We have remote/work-from-home opportunities on our Hopeline and Social Media teams. We also have other jobs that require more professional experience or education, like fundraising, grant writing, IT support, or web development.

We would love to welcome you into our volunteer family. If you are interested in joining us, please visit either of the links above or visit our website and let us know how you’d like to help. If you would like any additional information or have any questions about volunteering, you may call the Hopeline at 585-633-8690 and choose Option 6 from the main menu, or dial x600, send us an email at, or use the contact form on our website.

If you are interested in making a contribution, we accept both monetary and in-kind donations. Monetary donations can be made online through our website or Facebook Page. Letters and packages can be sent to our mailing address:

Hope Dealers BTC Inc.

1485 Howard Rd, Unit 64264

Rochester, NY 14624

Donations can also be dropped off during our outreach operations at 980 N. Clinton Ave on the 1st or 3rd Sunday of the month from 9:30 am - 11:30 am, or at any of our public, in-person events.

If you would like any additional information or have any questions about making a contribution, you may call the Hopeline at 585-633-8690 and choose Option 4 from the main menu, or dial x400, send us an email at, or use the contact form on our website.

All of us at Hope Dealers BTC Inc are looking forward to our friends at Danny’s Table helping us continue to improve our community while giving the priceless gift of HOPE to those who most need it. We would love it if you would join us at our Color Run, make a donation, or sign up to volunteer with us.

Thank you.

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