- [Announcer] Tonight on WPBS Weekly Inside The Stories, WPBS sits down with local advocate, Lisa Jones.
Lisa lost her daughter in March of 2021 to a fentanyl overdose and shares her daughter's story.
And a movie rental business in Ottawa is beating the Streaming odds.
Movies And Stuff, offers films and an experience that online streaming can't.
Also, Oswego County musician, Gary Carpentier visits the studios with his catchy original lyrics.
All this and more coming up right now on WPBS weekly, Inside The Stories.
(gentle music) - [Narrator] WPBS Weekly, Inside the Stories is brought to you by the Watertown Oswego Small Business Development Center, Carthage Savings, the JM McDonald Foundation, and the Dr. D. Susan Badenhausen Legacy Fund of the Northern New York Community Foundation.
Additional funding from the New York State Education Department.
- Good evening everyone.
Welcome to this edition of WPBS Weekly, Inside The Stories.
I'm Stephfond Brunson.
Tonight we go inside the story of one of the most challenging issues in America today, the opioid crisis.
As part of WPBS's Overdose Epidemic Project, we sat down with the parent of a young woman who lost her life to a drug overdose.
In the case of Lisha May Skeldon, her accidental death centered not just around her struggle with addiction, but also because her dose of heroin was actually pure fentanyl.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 50 to a hundred times stronger than morphine.
And as we're about to learn, the pull to use is an experience that 28 year old Lisha wanted desperately to let go of, but she just couldn't.
- Talking about accidental overdose deaths are not easy, especially when you're sitting with a parent.
But tonight we want to talk a little bit about the overdose epidemic in America.
And here I am joined by Lisa Jones of Watertown.
First of all, welcome.
- Thank you.
- And we are here to talk about your daughter.
Her name was Lisha May Skeldon and I want you to tell me about her.
I wanna know who she was.
- So Lisha was a wild child.
She was full of spunk, full of energy, and was on a hundred percent a hundred percent of the time.
You lived in Lisha's world.
We didn't, it wasn't our world, it was her world and she enjoyed every bit of her 28 years, I can absolutely tell you that.
- When did you lose her and how did you lose her?
- I lost her March 10th, 2021 and I lost her to a fentanyl, they called accidental overdose, but in poisoning.
- What was the drug she was taking?
- She thought she was getting heroin.
Heroin was her drug choice, but her autopsy report came back and it was pure fentanyl.
There was no heroin, there was fentanyl, marijuana and nicotine found in her toxicology.
- You learned quite a bit as a parent about fentanyl.
I know you were educated about it prior.
Let's talk a little bit about that because we talk about the overdose epidemic and that's the umbrella.
And then we talk about the opioid crisis.
And within the opioid crisis is fentanyl, which is a synthetic version and it's not just found in heroin.
- It absolutely is not.
It's in everything now.
It's in cocaine, it's in methamphetamines, it's in any drug, marijuana.
I've heard cases of children, children 21 overdosing or poisoned by fentanyl in a marijuana, and it takes a pin drop to kill you and it's not worth the experimenting.
It's just not worth it.
- When we were talking to someone from Farnham Family Services in Oswego County, the term he used when we were talking about fentanyl is he was saying users are seeking such a powerful experience, they're not thinking about the risk they're taking with fentanyl.
And even though users have to, they're able to use what are called fentanyl strips to determine if the drug they're using has fentanyl in it.
What has been your experience with those strips?
Are folks using them?
What are their thoughts with that?
- If you use, you know fentanyl's in almost everything.
So the fentanyl strip, unless you're recreational user is how it was put to me, and you wanna go out that night and do your cocaine or whatever, you're gonna test it for fentanyl and you won't use it.
But most people that have a substance abuse disorder know it's there and they're not going to use it or if they test it, they test the part that it's not in.
Maybe you have a 50/50 chance it's gonna show up, its not.
So they just want that high, it's not gonna matter.
- Yeah, they're after that experience.
Is that what happened with Lisha?
- I don't believe that Lisha did have a fentanyl strip with her, I don't.
She did have Narcan with her in the bedroom so she knew the chance she was taking, but she knew the chance she was taking every time she used.
She was a long-term user and she struggled from 17 to 28 in and outta rehab, jail, prison.
She knew what she was doing, but the pull is so strong, the demon is so strong.
It just takes hold of you and it's a very hard fight to get out of.
- It's a fight a lot of people don't understand unless they are in it or so close to it, like you were so close to it.
What were some of those conversations like with her when you knew she was struggling?
You told me about one time you were on the phone with her when she was in prison and you knew she had accessibility then.
- Well, usually Lisha was pretty honest with me and usually she would be, what's done is done, mom.
I did what I did.
But there's one in particular time that I picked her up outta places no mother should have to go.
And this was later on in her use.
And I picked her up at a house and she couldn't even walk.
I had to carry her.
Me and one of her friends carried her into the car.
We got her in the car, we got home.
Now I normally would not let her be around her children like this ever.
And one of her daughters was there and she still remembers it.
She was like four, she's 11 now.
She still remembers it.
So I brought her home and after she was released, I gave her, I helped her take her shower.
I did whatever I had to do and fed her and whatever, and she's like, I gotta leave.
And I'm like, Lisha, please don't leave.
Please don't go back.
And this is the day I realized it's not just a matter of fact to putting the drugs down.
She couldn't put 'em down.
She's like, mom, I don't wanna leave.
I have to leave.
You don't get it.
You don't understand.
It's not, do you think I wanna live like this?
Do you think that I wanna put you through this?
Do you think I wanna put my kids through this?
I have to.
And I gave her a hug and let her leave.
Tell her I loved her.
She said, I love you, you're the best mom and if I could kill that man that put that needle in my arm the first time when I was 17, I would because it has ruined my whole life.
Your life, the life of my children and our family.
- Your reaction alone is why it's so important that people understand exactly what you said.
It is a pull that it cannot be defined and I think addiction is often judged.
But the way you have described it is perfect because the pull is so great and you saw your own child going through this torture.
And now because of that, because of the loss, which is tremendous, and I'm so grateful that you're here to share your story, and I'm sorry 'cause I know it's difficult.
Now you are on a road to educate people on this pull on even how accessible the drug is laced with fentanyl on the streets of Watertown.
When she was released from prison, how long before she was back on the streets did she have access to the drug?
- I'm gonna say by the time she got into Watertown, she probably had drugs in her hand within two hours.
- That speaks to how easy it is to get.
- Not to mention she'd been gone two years so she had to reconnect, but she had six hours to work on that on the way home.
- So that shows that the accessibility is still very much there and the ease is still very much there.
- [Lisa] Absolutely.
- How does she get in touch with people when she needs the drug we talked about?
- She had already set up to have a cell phone, so she had a cell phone as soon as she got out of prison and I'm sure that's how it all came about.
And so it's a six hour trip back to Watertown, within two hours, I'm sure she had the drugs in her hand and she had money already on a green card.
But Lisha had like 10 girlfriends and 10 boyfriends at all times.
So people were drawn to her.
- What are you doing now to raise awareness and get the word out about the dangers of opioids?
- I do a lot in the community, as much as I can.
On Lisha's birthday, we went out and held up signs in the square.
Her first birthday gone, handed out cupcakes, held up signs telling about the 93,000 people that have died in 2021 to fentanyl.
The kids held up signs.
We do the recovery walk, we've done it for seven years.
The kids have lemonade stands and hold up signs and all the money we earn goes towards the bridge program here in Watertown to hopefully help some family not go through what we're going through.
And education, education is the key.
If you're gonna listen to me, if I have on a shirt like this and you ask me about it, I take every opportunity to say this is what happened and I don't want your family go through that.
And it's very accessible and it's in your backyard.
Lisha got home, she was in the city of Watertown 48 hours and she was gone.
That's how easy it is to get on the streets.
- I really appreciate your vulnerability and your willingness to have this conversation.
I know it's not easy, but thank you for helping us spread the word as well.
It's truly appreciated.
- [Lisa] Thank you.
Thank you for the opportunity.
I appreciate it.
More things like this need to be done.
- This interview is part of the Overdose Epidemic Project in New York.
A service of WPBS in the New York State Department of Education.
For more interviews and stories, visit wpbstv.org.
Support services for addiction have no borders.
The St. Regis Mohawk Tribal program offers an alcoholism and chemical dependency prevention program that includes creative alternatives for youth, including cultural activities and teachings for the Mohawk community.
Carrie Hill, a renowned basket maker offers a scratch basket making workshop.
Take a look.
- When we're putting our pieces in we're keeping that in mind that we're making a square for the bottom.
- ACDP prevention provides activities for college students in order to promote a positive, drug-free lifestyle for the college students.
Just another avenue for them to do something hands-on, something cultural, something to bring it back, to tie towards.
We have a really good partnership with Carrie Hill.
She's always done an excellent job with doing presentations for our youth, as well as our college students.
So anytime that we reach out to her, without hesitation she's always willing to put on a presentation for our youth, as well as our college students.
- [Carrie] That's nice.
So I'm applying pressure with my legs.
I'm squeezing this thing together, like blocking them.
What happened was I brought in kits that were already prepared for the students to put together so they would get the feel of how to do the weaving and to touch the materials and everything.
Yesterday I invited them to my home to show them how to pick sweetgrass, and what it looked like, and what kind of environment that the sweetgrass grows in.
And then I had some practice strips soaked for them.
We came back here to (indistinct), we scraped the splint with knives and then we peeled it with the splitters, and we used the gauges to cut them, and a lot of them it seemed really good because they got that hands-on experience.
And today, what they're doing is they're making their own baskets with the materials that they prepared yesterday.
So I think that was really neat.
- [Cheyenne] I loved it.
I always wanted to make baskets, learned how to do it.
I never had the opportunity to ever be around it or even a try.
I would look up stuff like on YouTube and it's not the same at all.
And just doing like hands-on work is really fun.
I think it's getting back to like our cultural ways, doing stuff more hands-on, and really like learning how to do stuff like on your own if you really wanted to.
Oh you did a good job.
- One of our favorite pastimes is taking in a good movie and in Ottawa, there still survives a movie rental store like no other.
It's called Movies And Stuff, and its classics are what make this small business the heartbeat for movie lovers in Ottawa.
- If you haven't seen this then I would do this.
- [Jolene] You're not looking at video from the past.
You're looking at a brand new future, where a brick and mortar video story in Ottawa is beating the odds when it comes to competing with streaming video.
Peter Thompson owns Movies And Stuff in Ottawa's South End and he says it's the rare films or popular detective shows that keep him afloat.
- I think there's a lot of opportunity to find movies that you may not find streaming in a store like a brick and mortar store where we can bring in foreign films.
We can bring in a lot of British detective series, a lot of British series period, a lot of stuff that you may not find streaming on the major streaming networks.
- [Jolene] Thompson is no stranger to the business.
He grew up in it, working behind the counter when his parents owned it.
Letting it go was an option he considered, but then he remembered why he thrived in the first place.
- When the time came to make a decision on whether or not to take over, the answer was no.
I was not going to.
I was gonna move on and accept a job offer I had, and my wife and I sat down and said, okay look, you know the business community loves you.
They were not happy when they heard I was gonna shut down.
Why don't you try it?
And I'm really glad we had that conversation 'cause the community's great and I'm very happy.
- [Jolene] Regulars scour roughly 12,000 titles.
Certainly they have access to streaming networks, but with a remote control as their only line to the film, they see the personal touch is missing.
- We do have streaming, but I find it very overwhelming trying to find down, narrow down, find something that I want to watch.
And coming here, Peter's so informative.
I can usually ask him what he's watched and what he recommends and he'll point me in the direction.
- I come to this store because the selection is awesome.
The discussion about movies is awesome.
The series, the BBC series are fabulous and the owner of the store will go out of his way to get anything we want and also discuss the shows with us afterwards.
So all of that is a real plus to streaming.
- [Jolene] So where do these series popular movies and sometimes rare independent foreign films come from?
- [Peter] Oh, I have 40 or 50,000 at home probably.
I buy so many collections from people that I end up having to stack them at home until I can go through them and clean them and either sell them online or sell them in here or bring them in here for rent.
Usually I'll go through a collection and I'll say, okay, this, this and this.
I don't have those.
I want them, I'm gonna put 'em in my collection.
Sort of the rest of them will get put aside and looked at later.
I want people to come in to the store and go, oh my gosh a video?
And then realize, oh my gosh, there's 12,000 movies here.
I could be here all day.
And then realize that there's somebody to talk to that's not an algorithm behind the counter.
I can show you what I think you would like.
I can show you what I liked, and all of a sudden, hopefully you have a customer for life.
- [Jolene] Thompson's passion for good film has paid off and customers of all kinds agree.
And while his model may not cause a revival of video stores, it does spark fresh interest in foreign and independent films and for that, he's all in.
In Ottawa for WPBS Weekly, I'm Jolene DeRosier.
- He was a contestant on season 13 of The Voice and was given the Green Light by Adam Levine of Maroon 5.
He didn't make it to the next round, but this Oswego County native is still pushing to make his name known.
Gary Carpentier visited the WPBS studios to share his musical talents with us.
Here he is tonight with his original tune called "Drive."
- What inspired me to become a musician was something that I had really kind of been taking for granted for most of my life.
I went to college to play sports and just kind of did music as a hobby.
And then after college ended I was trying to find what I wanted to do in life, what my purpose was.
I went to an open mic and kind of every head in the place kind of turned and I was like, oh, this is kind of exciting.
And you know, just kind of went with it from there.
Started writing my own stuff, traveling, playing shows, and almost 10 years later and now I'm here, and traveling the country, getting to write and play music.
I surprised myself a little bit.
I knew that I had, I always felt like I had something kind of special and unique, but I didn't realize how special or unique it was in the sense of, you know, I didn't know the most of music like theory wise or what I was doing.
It just kind of came from within.
But I think that also kind of gives it a raw sense of personality that most people don't have and it made me stand out a little bit more where people were, you know they wanted to see what was coming next, 'cause I was kind of learning with them about myself, which was a fun process for me.
It still shocks me every now and then too.
It's kind of fun.
So the song I'm gonna perform is called "Drive."
I wrote it at the beginning of the pandemic actually after I think all of us being sick and tired of being quarantined inside, trying to find some sense of normalcy and to just get, you know outside the four walls that you're basically confined in.
So "Drive" was about literally that.
Getting on the road, feeling free.
One of the big things that I think a lot of people found during the Pandemic was chasing after their passion project or something that they've always wanted to do, and realizing that we don't have a whole lot of time on this earth.
So "Drive" was that.
It's the drive from within to push yourself to be the best you that you can be and to chase after that.
And I wanted a song that people could really get out on the road, especially with the weather changing, and just feel like they could let their windows down, let their hair out, and just go for it.
Hi, my name is Gary Carpenter and this is "Drive."
♪ She's an East Coast girl with a West Coast heart.
♪ ♪ Treat that city like a fresh start.
♪ ♪ Let the winds move you like I never could ♪ ♪ Go and spread your wings ♪ ♪ I'll grab the firewood ♪ ♪ And we'll burn, burn, burn ♪ ♪ That fire inside ♪ ♪ Let it run, run, run ♪ ♪ So we can fly ♪ ♪ And lets jump off the edge and leave it all behind ♪ ♪ Grab your keys, drive to that sunrise ♪ ♪ Burn ♪ ♪ So lets pack up our bags and head for the coast ♪ ♪ Feet in the sand, dancing alone tonight ♪ ♪ Let's drive ♪ ♪ You don't know me but ♪ ♪ I see the light in you ♪ ♪ And its just deep inside ♪ ♪ Waiting to break through ♪ ♪ Lets go and find the key ♪ ♪ So we can shine bright ♪ ♪ Like a full moon ♪ ♪ In the midnight sky ♪ ♪ And we'll burn, burn, burn ♪ ♪ That fire inside ♪ ♪ Let it run, run, run ♪ ♪ So we can fly ♪ ♪ So lets just off the edge and leave it all behind ♪ ♪ Grab your keys, drive to that sunrise ♪ ♪ Burn ♪ ♪ And lets pack up our bags and head for the coast ♪ ♪ Feet in the sand, dancing alone tonight ♪ ♪ Let's drive ♪ ♪ Don't be afraid anymore ♪ ♪ Of what life's got in store ♪ ♪ Just be the (indistinct) ♪ ♪ And free your soul ♪ ♪ So lets jump off the edge and leave it all behind ♪ ♪ Grab your keys, drive to that sunrise ♪ ♪ Burn ♪ ♪ So lets pack up our bags and head for the coast ♪ ♪ Feet in the sand, dancing alone tonight ♪ ♪ Let's drive ♪ ♪ Let's drive ♪ - That does it for us this Tuesday evening.
Join us next week for a fresh look Inside The Stories.
Our senior population defeats loneliness and depression with robotic pets.
We'll tell you how they help.
And Mark Alteri of Alteri's Italian Market joins Johnny Spazano in the kitchen to make a hardy stuffed sausage bread.
Also Ottawa's own Renee Landry shares more of her powerhouse vocals.
Meantime, we wanna tell your story.
If you or someone in your community has something meaningful, historic, inspirational, or educational to share, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let's share it with the region.
That's it for now, everyone.
We'll see you again next week.
- [Narrator] WPBS Weekly Inside The Stories is brought to you by the Watertown Oswego Small Business Development Center, a free resource offering confidential business advice for those interested in starting or expanding their small business.
Serving Jefferson, Lewis and Oswego Counties since 1986.
Online at watertown.nypdc.org.
Carthage Savings has been here for generations, donating time and resources to this community.
they're proud to support WPBS TV online at carthagesavings.com.
Carthage Savings, mortgage solutions since 1888.
Additional funding provided by the JM McDonald Foundation, the Dr. D. Susan Badenhausen Legacy Fund of the Northern New York Community Foundation, and the New York State Education Department.
♪ Grab your keys, drive to that sunrise ♪ ♪ Burn ♪ (gentle tune)