PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — As Chris Wall sank deeper and deeper into addiction, his parents tried every they could, but in the end were powerless to stop his destructive descent.
When Chris died of a fatal overdose in May 2016, Bill Wall and Beth Theis promised not to hide the reason for their son’s death and vowed that his struggle would not be in vain.
“We weren’t going to hide or run away from the disease. We wanted people to know, so people could learn from it,” said Bill.
They took their pain — the loss of child — and transformed it into hope, funding the creation of Chris’s Room, a safe harbor for addicts seeking refuge in heroin-ravaged Washington County.
There’s a kitchen, a shower and rooms for mediation or counseling where they will hopefully find a path to recovery.
“They don’t have to be out on the street. They can come here and get something to eat, they can take a shower, they can relax, they can talk to other people,” said Beth.
Chris’s Room is part of the Southwestern Pennsylvania Human Services Care Center, where recovering addicts, like Natalie, can get counseling or just some peace of mind.
“Every day, if you have something gong on, you can just come back here,” she says. “There’s at least four people working. Even if just need to sit here a minute by yourself, you can do that.”
Center Director Kellie McKevitt says that kind of continuum of care is designed to prevent addicts from falling through the cracks — relapses and overdoses.
“We wanted to fill that gap. We wanted to say to people, ‘You’re okay, even if you don’t feel okay. This is a safe place, and we’ll check up on you,'” she said.
“Seeing this is so moving and really provides some hope that others may win their battle,” said Bill. “Chris may have lost his battle, but that doesn’t mean the war is lost. That doesn’t mean other people have to lose their battle.”