Hundreds of neighbors and friends made their way to pastor Dennis Matheny’s Parkamo Avenue residence on Saturday to show their support at a scheduled rally for the 69-year-old’s “No Drugs Today” movement.
Matheny has not stopped setting up shop on his Hamilton street — which he said has become known in the city as “Heroin Alley” — with a large sign reading “No Drugs Today.”
The image of him hit social media and drew support from not only Butler County, but around the country. Saturday’s rally represented a cross-section of people ranging from law enforcement, pastors and addicts who are now willing to join forces to clean not only the neighborhood up, but the county from the current drug epidemic.
Hamilton Police Chief Craig Bucheit spent the afternoon talking with the crowd and Matheny about his efforts and what can be done to keep the momentum of the “No Drugs Today” effort going.
“I said from the first day that I met him, that Denny is a good man with a great message,” Bucheit said. “We are going to get down to business. People from all over are out here and willing to make a difference. We are all going to work together to address this problem.”
Matheny was moved by the large crowd and the energetic prayer circle that opened the rally. He told this news outlet that he just got sick and tired of not speaking up about “Heroin Alley.”
“I didn’t believe all of this would happen but I am glad that it did,” he said. “Now, people are coming from all different neighborhoods and are saying if you can do it we can do it too. You can’t stop all of the drugs as one person, but we can all try to make a difference.”
Pastor Marvin Hurley said it is time for the citizens, police and the churches to get out on every street corner in order to emulate Matheny’s effort.
“If we can get on every corner and the 17 wards in the city of Hamilton and say no more like Pastor Denny is doing then we can make a difference,” Hurley said.
Vernon Layne lives in Hamilton and is a recovering addict and said he’s passionate about staying sober, which is why he felt it was important to support Saturday’s rally.
“As a recovering addict you have to get involved and people need to see you so you can talk about hope and that is why I’m here today,” he said.
Vicki Webb attended the rally and shared one of the worst tragedies in “Heroin Alley.” She explained that in April her son Joshua was found dead from an overdose two blocks from where Saturday’s rally was held. She said her son’s body was placed in an alley and it was determined that he had died from an overdose of carfentanil.
“I was praying for some answers and I found Denny and feel that I am supposed to be here today to tell Joshua’s story,” Webb said.
Matheny reminded the crowd that there will be a meeting with the Hamilton Police Department at 6 p.m. Aug. 8 at the Pater Avenue Church, 1321 Pater Ave.