Mosinee man who lost daughter to overdose creates safe space for people struggling with addiction

in Community/Wisconsin news

By Evan J. Pretzer

WAUSAU – On July 20, 2015, Gabrielle Campo, the daughter of Jeffrey Campo, succumbed to her addictions.At 23, the young woman left behind a young son, a grieving sibling and a father who — in his own words — “faded away” after finding out about the fatal overdose of heroin that took his child from him so quickly.

Many don’t overcome the death of a loved one. A 2016 report published in The Independent details what scientists call “complicated grief,” where the pain and sorrow of bereavement simply doesn’t go away with time. But Jeffrey Campo, of Mosinee, has been using his experience to help those who are struggling with the addiction that took his daughter just three years ago.

 

Gabrielle Campo was 23 when she died of a heroin overdose. Her father, Jeffrey Campo, is now turning his grief into action through the M.O.S.A.I.C. initiative. (Facebook photo)

In April 2018, Campo launched the Mending One’s Self and Inspiring Change (M.O.S.A.I.C) program in Wausau. Originally developed while Campo was with The Neighbor’s Place, the program is now independent, based at Immanuel Lutheran Church and, according to Campo, is primarily a safe space for addicts who all too often can turn to drugs or alcohol when they find themselves alone or have too much time on their hands.

“Really what we do here is ask people what they need,” Campo said. “If you want to talk, we’ll talk; there’s music, arts and crafts and if people want to learn about different services where people who want help can get help, we have all of this too. This is a networking conglomerate, we’re one of the dots for connecting to.

“In the first few months, more than 200 people have come in to work with Campo. Every week, five days a week for three hours, the 58-year-old grandfather makes the trip from his home in Mosinee to be present and an aid to anyone who needs him.When asked what stood out to date, Campo reminisced on how he helped a man obtain transportation. Though the act was simple, the M.O.S.A.I.C head believes it made a difference.

“We helped an individual who needed a bicycle for transportation,” he said. “So, we looked and found a donor willing to buy a bicycle, the bike was brought here and we made an arrangement he would work 12 hours of community service to pay for the bike. These kinds of things where we reach out to people and let them know we care is so important. If someone walks through the doors, we’re here. Doing this is healthy for what I’ve been through. Others, they get it, they’ve been through the same kinds of challenges and get how hard addiction is.”

According to those who use the program and have used it previously but no longer do, it works well and the shared experiences are what make a lot of difference. In a letter obtained by Wausau Pilot & Review from a former patron who did not want to be identified, M.O.S.A.I.C was described as “the next step in recovery to get back to living.”

On a similar note, program user Ashley Nicolai, who has struggled with alcoholism, said she felt at ease when inside the space with others who have experienced challenges with alcohol or drugs like she has throughout her life.

“Having a place to go like this means a lot,” she said. “When you walk through the door and know everyone is struggling with addiction or has experienced it with someone they know, the stigma just goes away. I would love to see this grow in the future to offer even more assistance.”

M.O.S.A.I.C. is funded through a grant from the B.A. & Esther Greenheck Foundation.M.O.S.A.I.C. is open daily at the Immanuel Lutheran Church in Wausau and will be changing its hours to 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday beginning July 9.

To learn more, call Jeffrey Campo at 715-551-5859 or contact him via email at jeffcampo59@yahoo.com.

Top photo: Gabrielle Campo, left, and her father Jeffrey Campo pose for a photo shortly before her 2015 death. Photo courtesy of Jeffrey Campo

Evan J. Pretzer is a journalist and multimedia professional originally from Saskatchewan, Canada. To learn more about him, visit evanjpretzer.com