KOKOMO — Things happen, and that is why a Kokomo woman created Ship Happens. It is a service that makes life-saving medication accessible, for free, to those who are experiencing homelessness.
Surrounded by family, friends, and strangers, Antonia Sawyer is making 665 naloxone kits for anyone who asks her for one. It is a project that she coordinates out of her home, and it has become a free life-saving tool for Hoosier families.
"I started it because there are so many barriers that families and communities continually face in Indiana, and I wanted to reduce or remove those entirely," says Antonia Sawyer, the founder of Ship Happens. "It is zero-barrier, you don't have to face me, you don't have to feel judged, it is confidential, and it comes in the mail. It is so simple."
Any person who needs or wants a naloxone kit can easily access Sawyer's Ship Happens facebook page. On the page, they can request an overdose reversal kit.
"No one is immune to substance use disorder and so let us do our work, let harm reduction really come to the forefront, and let us show that evidence-based practice really is an answer to the opioid epidemic," says Sawyer.
An answer that some Hoosiers, like 34-year-old Michael Earnheart of Kokomo, have been searching for. Earnheart has overdosed three times. Now, almost four years in recovery, this dad of four has his family back and is making kits with Ship Happens for others who need help too.
"It just gives someone a second chance, and it gives someone the opportunity that I had, and you know, you don't ever want to see someone go out like that and this gives them the chance to get out and find those resources that are out there for them," explains Earnheart.
Other volunteers, like Amber Weaver, want to make sure no one feels the pain that she knows all too well.
"I couldn't save her, so I just want to help other people," explains Weaver.
During Sawyer's kit-making event, Weaver's sister, Amanda, would have been celebrating her 35th birthday. She lost her battle with addiction in December of 2018.
"I do understand addiction," states Weaver. "A lot of people think it is a choice, but it is not, it is a disease. Yes, it is a choice at first, but then it takes control over you, and I think a lot of people are losing their lives that maybe they just needed one more chance."
Sawyer has shipped almost 200 naloxone kits since March, and she is still going. So far, she has at least 40 reports of her packages being used to reverse an overdose.
"It is hard to explain how it feels, to get these messages because I don't know, they catch me off guard," explains Sawyer. "I am driving down, and a mom says, your kit revived my daughter twice today, how do you respond to that. It is like oh my gosh, I need to start driving these kits to people. You know, are we shipping fast enough, is it going to get there in time. It is really hard to put into words."
Sawyer is awarded the Jefferson Award for Multiplying Good because of the work she does with Ship Happens. Her naloxone kits are saving lives and not only giving the people who get these kits a second chance but giving families to have more life with their loved ones.
"It means all lives matter, it means people with substance use disorder matter, they are people, and you are not defined by your disease, you are worth it, everybody is worth it," says Sawyer.
Sawyer's naloxone kits are free to take and free to have shipped.
More information on how to access Ship Happens Naloxone Kits and how to get involved.