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Jim Smith/El Hispano Philadelphia – Nydia Flores and Francis O’Neill were turning the corner of Kensington and Lehigh, Monday morning, when they noticed a man slumped over behind Lucky’s Cheesesteaks. “I knew he was having a problem,” said Mr. Flores. “When I went over to him, he just fell down.” An obvious victim of an overdose, Nydia immediately made sure the man was breathing fine and called for assistance. Both veterans of the “Prevention Point” community organization that serves this neighborhood with a variety of drug counseling, treatment and syringe-exchange programs, Ms. Flores withdrew medications to respond to an emergency situation that she says occurs “too regularly” in Kensington. Francis O’Neill noted that Ms. Flores quickly sedated the man by giving the recommended dosage of “naloxone and narcan.” According to a recent Drexel University some 425,000 people use a syringe to inject illicit drugs each year in the United States and 16,000 die from overdoses. In 2008 -the most recent data- 442 Philadelphians died of drug overdoses. The Drexel study further notes that the majority of such overdose victims are found in the “street,” 75 percent are male and in less than 10 percent of the cases do those coming to the aid of the individual have training and are carrying naloxone. After this intervention at Kensington and Lehigh, Ms. Flores and Mr. O’Neill proceeded to the corner of Front Street where they met Elvis Rosado, a Case Manager at Prevention Point. Rosado, Flores and O’Neill were scheduled to participate in a neighborhood beautification effort, leading a group of students from across the country in a three-hour clean-up blitz under the aegis of Philly Rising. Philly Rising is an initiative spearheaded by Philadelphia Deputy Mayor Richard Negrin, which targets neighborhoods besieged by chronic crime, streets littered with needles and other quality of life issues. Philly Rising brought together nearly 40 students from the City Year program, – ranging in age from 17 to 24 – as well as volunteers from the New Kensington Community Development Corporation and Prevention Point. “We’re out here in this neighborhood every day” Ms. Flores told the student clean-up crew, cautioning them to avoid “picking up needles” they were likely to find in the street.” With students pushing brooms and scooping with shovels in a part of Front and Kensington Avenue where a busy Alcoholics Anonymous Center stands opposite St. Francis’s Inn which provides food and shelter for the needy, Ms. Flores praised the efforts of Philly Rising, “They make it possible for families to feel safe about bringing their kids outside.” Watching from the entrance of her Kensington Avenue business as a dozen students collected neighborhood litter in trash bags, Alice Aikens, a longtime store owner offered curt advice: “I wouldn’t do that,” referring to the potential to come across discarded drug paraphernalia. “I just kick ‘em in the sewer.” Despite facing the prospect of working three hours in the afternoon heat , M. Toto Milagro, 18, a first-time member of City Year and California native was enthused about the work: “It’s a great way to get to know the neighborhoods of the city and beautify the community.” Milagro added that he was looking forward to working with local students and “help and encourage students with low morale.” While acknowledging the upcoming visit of Pope Francis will be a great event for a city with a 25 percent poverty rate, Joanna Winchester, the Economic Development Director of New Kensington Community Development Corporation was doubtful he would notice this clean-up: “I don’t think the Pope will stop here.”

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