Hope for Huntington lies beyond solving drug epidemic

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Hope for Huntington lies beyond solving drug epidemic

Huntington has been named by Mayor Steve Williams as the “epicenter of the solution” to the drug epidemic, but some residents said they believe Huntington is missing an opportunity by failing to include lower class residents in discussions of possible solutions.

Huntington has been named by Mayor Steve Williams as the “epicenter of the solution” to the drug epidemic, but some residents said they believe Huntington is missing an opportunity by failing to include lower class residents in discussions of possible solutions.

Hanna Pennington

Huntington has been named by Mayor Steve Williams as the “epicenter of the solution” to the drug epidemic, but some residents said they believe Huntington is missing an opportunity by failing to include lower class residents in discussions of possible solutions.

Hanna Pennington

Hanna Pennington

Huntington has been named by Mayor Steve Williams as the “epicenter of the solution” to the drug epidemic, but some residents said they believe Huntington is missing an opportunity by failing to include lower class residents in discussions of possible solutions.

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Huntington has been dubbed the “epicenter of the solution” to the drug epidemic by Mayor Steve Williams, but some citizens say, although there’s hope, there is still a lot that has not been addressed.

“I used to see Huntington as a good place,” said Bre Britton, a sophomore biology pre-med major at Marshall University.

Having lived in a low-income household in Huntington her entire life, Britton said she has grown to realize that Huntington “looks over” those below the poverty line.

Williams’ viewpoint represents a positive perspective, but Huntington resident Eddie Hinson said he has lived in Huntington since he was eight and that the lower classes do not share that same perspective about the drug epidemic.

“I think we are perceived, all too often, solely around the drug epidemic here and the stigma around it,” Hinson said.

The punishments and stigma that surround drugs and poverty encourage people to continue that lifestyle because they are not being given the proper options or opportunities, Hinson said.

“Depending on how you were brought up around here, some people look down on the less fortunate people of this town,” Britton said.

What the city needs is more understanding between all social classes, Hinson said

“I feel like a majority of Huntingtonians react to adversity as though we do everything, for everyone, in the city,” Britton said.

Both Britton and Hinson said the solution is not only looking at every part of the city, it’s offering and receiving equal, or at least nearly equal, input from all social classes when deciding on any plan of action.

“Being exposed to them (low income individuals, prostitutes and drug addicts) has opened me up to the idea that they’re people too, with lives just as complex as my own,” Hinson said. “Try to give everyone a chance.”

Britton and Hinson said that by being exposed to situations where people are struggling to survive, they have been humbled and learned to treat everyone with kindness.

“They’re all people too,” Hinson said.

The idea that all people are “broken” is one that Hinson said encourages him to remember that it is “what you do about it” that makes a difference.

Despite media attention and politicians’ praise, Britton and Hinson said Huntington has actually not done well about coming together as a community when faced with adversity.

“We could change that by looking at every part of Huntington and not just one,” Brittonsaid.

The drug epidemic could be not only an opportunity to be the center for change but an opportunity to redefine how social classes interact.

“We need measures above and beyond Huntington,” Hinson said “If you put them (low income individuals, prostitutes and drug addicts) in a corner, they’ll have nowhere else to go.”

Having grown up below the poverty line in Huntington, Britton and Hinson said it is going to take a lot more understanding and communication in order for the city to become Williams’ “epicenter for the solution.”

Makaylah Wheeler can be contacted at [email protected]

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