On Christmas Day in 2016, Memphis artist Ronnie “Betor” Bobal lost his life to a drug overdose. His family and friends watched him struggle with addiction for years while trying to get him the help he so desperately needed. Betor’s father, Ron Bobal made it his mission to help support others suffering from addiction. Ron founded “A Betor Way”, a charity organization in 2017, which is a syringe service program that also offers Narcan (an opioid overdose emergency prescription), counseling and other substance abuse resources. The mission of the organization is to be a source of assistance to addicts and those affected by addiction, to advocate for improved treatment options and to erase the stigma associated with substance abuse. The charity includes 15 board members and 5 full time employees. The 5 full time employees are all recovering addicts and consist of two certified Peer Recovery Specialists and two certified PrEP and PEP (pre-exposed prophylaxis and post-exposed prophylaxis) Navigators.
A few years ago, Ron contacted Air-Tite Products and was in search of insulin syringes with fixed needles for the charity organization. We happened to have several cartons of insulin syringes which were about to be destroyed as medical waste due to a rapidly approaching expiration date. The team at Air-Tite chipped in to cover the shipping costs and sent the syringes to Ron, who put those to good use. Ron has since become a steady customer, routinely ordering these fixed-needle insulin syringes, as well as other syringe and needle combinations from us.
Syringes & Counseling
A Betor Way has previously received grant money under certain programs, but these government support programs come and go. Ron is not currently receiving grant monies to support the organization, but he still manages to raise over $30k per year, which helps him provide between 5,000 and 6,000 syringes weekly (300,000 syringes yearly) to those in need. Every Friday evening the syringes are exchanged, and counseling is offered to participants. On those Fridays, after working long hours at his full-time construction job, the exhaustion is quickly forgotten when Ron sees the impact he is making on those individuals who are in desperate need of help.
Syringe Services Programs
Ron’s group has made a profound difference in the Memphis community. He recently shared with us that they have data from the city which shows that ER visits have been reduced for addicts, that HIV is trending down in the addict community, and that a small but growing number of addicts are in recovery. The group also shared that they have 2033 reported overdose reversals, that’s 2033 people that got a second, or third chance at life. Some of those are in recovery. According to the CDC “The majority of SSPs (Syringe Services Programs) offer referrals to medication-assisted treatment,and new users of SSPs are five times more likely to enter drug treatment and three times more likely to stop using drugs than those who don’t use the programs.”
The Road to Recovery
The charity group hopes that by providing resources and awareness of the programs, they can help prevent others from enduring the loss of a loved one to drug overdose. Brad Yackey, an employee of A Betor Way shares, “I know personally, being a former client of A Betor Way, I was convinced I was going to die a junkie. I was stuck in the grips of addiction, but once I learned and admitted it was an illness, someone that had lived the experience talked to me and planted that seed of hope. Now, I get to be that person to connect with that human and share my experience, strength, and hope.” Ron said it best when he said that these addicts are the forgotten members of society – “They have been completely ostracized by the community, disowned by their families, every male has been beaten and every woman has suffered sexual assault. While we can argue that each person made their own decision to use and abuse drugs, we can each acknowledge the difficult road to recovery from such lows.”
Air-Tite is proud to support and supply programs such as A Betor Way in an effort to make the world a better and safer place. We are excited to see the positive impact A Betor Way is making on the Memphis community.
For more information about A Betor Way, please visit abetorway.org.