Niagara Gazette

Local News

November 20, 2007

LOCKPORT: Resident starts Christmas toy drive

LOCKPORT — A city woman who has rebounded from drug addiction is hoping to give something back to the community that has helped her recover.

Helen Baldwin is working with the Niagara Community Action Program on Washburn Street to collect educational toys for kids this Christmas.

“I gotta do something that gives back what’s so freely given to me,” Baldwin said. “The community has helped me, so I’m going to help the community.”

Baldwin, 36, is a recovering drug addict who has spent time in jail. She said her problems began when she was in her early teens.

She said she remembers smoking cigarettes and drinking when she was in elementary school. As time went on and she got older, crack cocaine became her drug of choice.

Suffering from learning disabilities, she struggled in school, going no farther in her education than sixth grade.

In the late 1980s, when she was 19 years old, Helen found herself in the grip of what she calls “active addiction.”

She went in and out of jail several times, all for crimes related to her drug use. She said she became involved with prostitution and stealing, sometimes not knowing where she was going to sleep at night.

“Drugs take you back like they don’t care,” she said. “They make you feel like you don’t care. The drugs controlled me then.”

“It was the point in life when she knew there was no turning back without help,” said NiaCAP counselor Mary Ann Cox.

Baldwin moved home with her family for a while and began attending Narcotics Anonymous meetings. She eventually relapsed and fell back into her old habits and was arrested in 2003 for larceny.

She spent a couple of weeks in jail and was sent to Clearview, an alcohol and drug treatment center, for 21 days.

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