A community fights back: residents seek to stop a deadly trend

The number of drug-related deaths in Black River Falls is rising rather fast.

In the past week, there have been two drug-related deaths and seven close calls.

Saturday, a group of about 30 people got together in Black River Falls.

The host was the S.H.E.L.B.Y. Project, a group wanting to start a conversation and hopefully find a solution to stop the high rate of drug use and drug-related deaths in their town.

Shelby Perkins is described by those who knew her as a smart, happy young woman, with a smile that could light up the room. But at 20 years old, Perkins’ life was cut short by a heroin overdose.

“Something needs to be done,” her mother Peggy Perkins said.

In Shelby’s memory, her mother and several of her friends and family started the S.H.E.L.B.Y. Project.

“Our goal is to just get education and support out there to the community. We just want to wake people up,” Peggy said.

“It’s time for somebody to step up and do something, to be proactive, to help,” said Christine Riggins, a member of the S.H.E.L.B.Y. Project.

Riggins said the people of Black River Falls cannot sit back and watch another person die of a drug overdose.

The S.H.E.L.B.Y. Project is focused on getting out into the public to create more awareness through education.

“It’s important to get information into the school districts to get the kids informed about what’s going on, the drug problem,” Riggins said.

Riggins said there needs to be more programs available to those struggling with a drug problem, and the S.H.E.L.B.Y. Project wants to make that happen.

“I’d really like to see a lot of change happen,” Riggins said.

“I hate the thought that anybody else has to go through what I’ve been through,” Perkins said.

On Saturday, members of the S.H.E.L.B.Y. Project asked the public what they feel needs to be done to curb this problem. Residents asked for a support group for parents with kids struggling with addiction and more drug-awareness activities in the school district.

To find out more about the S.H.E.L.B.Y. Project click here.