Outreach group goes into neighborhoods to help people find sobriety


EAST COLUMBUS- There is a movement beginning in a Columbus suburb each week that helps guide people struggling with addiction in Central Ohio to rehab. The East Columbus couple behind the organization "Columbus Relief" knows they won't change the heroin epidemic overnight, but each morning they vow to help the one person in front of them.

"Well I come from the world of drugs and alcohol abuse," said Columbus Relief Founder Kevin Ramsey.

Ramsey says he knows the sense of living to get high. His crusade began after his life fell apart. Drug abuse caused him to lose his wife, house, job and sense of purpose, he said. Ramsey had a moment of reckoning.

"I was addicted to Fetanyl, morphine, all of it that's going on now. Then the lid blew off this whole opiate crisis. And who else? I know that route and I know how to get clean. Who else? God chose me to go into the streets and in small ways. Just the one in front of me ," said Ramsey. "I've been clean now for 13 years. God saved me from that world. He saved me for a mission and purpose."

Now, Ramsey drives an old bus into the hangouts he once knew well in the days of his drug abuse to do outreach in the hotspots. He is not alone. His wife Amy Ramsey has joined him in the push to pull drug addicted people out of neighborhoods where they may be able to find drugs easily. She said she was unsure when Columbus Relief first began, but now she has no doubts.

"We are loving them into recovery. It can seem like a big task considering the drugs that are around Franklin County, but we just focus on the person standing in front of us today," said Amy Ramsey.

The Ramseys said they know heroin is a huge problem and are aware state statistics show on average three people are dying each day. They are responding by driving their re-purposed bus each Saturday into Franklinton Park. They set up a picnic, regardless of the weather. With about a dozen volunteers each week, they make soup and sandwiches. They bundle hygiene kits. The volunteers pray then they open the bus to anyone who wants to drop in to warm up in the winter and cool down in the summer. While feeding people, they get to know them. The conversation, Ramsey said, is casual and Columbus Relief doesn't force anyone to go sober, instead offering support and reminding each person a ride to a treatment center is ready when they are ready.

"Instead of getting overwhelmed, it's just the one in front of me," said Ramsey. "You never know who needs help. I worked at COTA for 22 years. All I knew was buses, partying and things like that," said Ramsey. Now his self-employed job is trying to give people a one-way ticket out of addiction.

"Our faith inspired us. We are trying to share God's unconditional love and we know that we were meant to help these people," said Amy Ramsey.

The couple is also launching another initiative called "Heart of the Home." They say within that program they follow up with anyone coming out of a treatment facility with help furnishing a home, find a job and settling into a lifestyle that may no longer be familiar to a person.

Learn more about Columbus Relief here.