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Lancaster County woman using son's death to help others | Jefferson Awards

Stacy Emminger's son died in 2014. She has spent the past nine years trying to prevent another family from feeling the trauma she did.

MOUNT JOY, Pa. — Stacy Emminger’s son, Anthony, died in 2014 from a heroin overdose after 10 years of living with addiction.

"Grief is a heavy thing, especially when it’s your child," said Emminger. "The second year I went through a suicidal period."

Instead of giving up, Stacy invited other moms struggling with loss to her house for support groups.

"The more I learned about addiction I was like, 'I need parents to know all this,' and so that really started the whole thing, to work with families,” she said.

Her passion led her to open the doors of Donegal Substance Abuse Alliance in Mt. Joy, Lancaster County. 

Stacy works with clients and their families living in transitional housing facilities who have already completed a 30-day treatment program. 

From 12-step yoga classes twice a week to art lessons, Stacy says the people that walk through the door know they are welcome. 

"I have game Saturdays and one of the facilities comes and rotates through them and we play games all afternoon," she said.

She even has toiletries and clothing for anyone who needs it. 

"I just want them to feel cared for and at home, so later if they really need it, then they may remember that and come back here and help them wherever they are,” she said hopefully.

It’s a selflessness her co-worker Beth Brandt says needs to be recognized. 

"A lot of people, when they lose someone, they just—'well, my kid is not gonna be affected anymore, so why should I help someone else?' and Stacy never did that," Brandt said. "She knows it’s not gonna bring her son back, but she always prays she can help somebody else. She deserves this award, if nothing else, just for the fact of who she is."

Stacy says for as much as she helps others, it’s been a two-way street.

"This is my grief recovery. If I didn't have this organization and the work, I don’t know if I would have made it," she admitted.

And she says she's not slowing down anytime soon.

"If something would happen and we would lose all of our funding, I would be doing this out of my house; I need that and they need me.”

For more information on Donegal Substance Abuse Alliance, click here

For more information on the Jefferson Awards, click here.

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