AllBetter

Bridging Divides: with Pennsylvania Senator John Kane

November 24, 2023 Joe Van Wie Season 3 Episode 73
AllBetter
Bridging Divides: with Pennsylvania Senator John Kane
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

What does it truly mean to overcome personal trials and advocate for those who are struggling? Join us for an exploration of resilience, recovery, and advocacy, as we share conversations that shed light on these significant aspects of life. Our guest, Senator John Kane, reveals his life journey from his humble beginnings as a plumber and labor leader to becoming a beacon of hope for working families. Going through his own battles with addiction and cancer, he articulates how he journeyed through recovery, highlighting the crucial role affordable healthcare and union benefits played in his survival and ultimate victory.

A captivating story of addiction and recovery follows as we host a brave guest whose personal struggle and eventual sobriety shines a spotlight on the challenging reality of addiction. The conversation underscores the importance of seeking help and finding support in overcoming addiction. It's a profound exploration of the humanity behind the statistics, a testament to strength and the possibility of recovery. 

Rounding off our episode, we engage in a candid chat with a Pennsylvania state senator, focusing on unity during crises and the necessity of bridging political divides. As an advocate for recovery programs, he's committed to helping those on their recovery journey and even shares his personal contact for those seeking help. As we close the episode, we extend our deepest gratitude to our guests for their raw honesty, candor, and their commitment to inspiring change. Stay tuned for more insightful discussions on recovery, resilience, and advocacy in our forthcoming episodes. Follow us on our social media for updates!

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Speaker 1:

Hello and thanks again for listening to another episode of All Better. I'm your host, Joe Van Wheat. Today's guest is my friend, Senator John Kane. Senator Kane is a plumber and a local labor leader who has spent his life fighting for working people and working families. He's personally battled through many of the challenges that are facing Pennsylvanians today. After graduating high school in Delaware County, Kane joined Plumbers, Local 690. The union. He represented as a business manager for five terms. Kane led his union through the Great Recession, which put nearly 500 members out of work. As members struggled with mental health issues and substance use disorder, Kane provided strong, steady leadership and worked to deliver a recovery that brought his local back stronger than ever. Kane's union benefits also helped him through his own personal struggles. At the age of 22, Kane saw treatment for alcohol addiction. His union benefits allowed him to the treatment he needed. Now he proudly has 37 years of sobriety. 2015,. Kane was diagnosed with stage 3 cancer. Thanks to his union, his union health care, the incredible doctors, nurses and hospital staff, Kane has been cancer free for six years. He knows that his experience isn't unique and he's ready to fight for affordable health care for all Pennsylvanians. Kane lives in Birmingham with his wife Lori. He sits on a board of the Living Grin Foundation, which provides addiction treatment across Southeastern PA. Let's meet the senator.

Speaker 2:

So, and it's only a couple minutes away, let me just tell them to check Three o'clock. Yeah, three o'clock, I'll have you out before three.

Speaker 1:

Senator, thank you for coming on today. Bye, we've been very excited to talk to you. I've been an admirer of your advocacy since you've been in the state senate for addicts and people of recovery, and the way you frame addiction is so easily accessible and understandable, and to see it from your position is really refreshing, because that wasn't always the case the last hundred years.

Speaker 2:

Right Well you know it's been a while. I've been in recovery for such a long time, you know, and when I'm around people that are in recovery it brings me right back home, man, like I know what it's like to struggle. I know all those feelings that everybody's going through, you know, and it gets emotional because you know the further I get away from it. You know I'm with other people and you know politics and stuff like that. You don't think about the people that are struggling until you see it firsthand. Whether it's going to a meeting, you know, whether it's being around a lot of people that have been through the opioid epidemic, you know. Or when it comes to suicide, because of you know, I look at it as though it's suicide. A lot of times they get on heroin and actually know it's fentanyl and then before you know it, they're done. But it breaks my heart to see, you know, people that are going through this like I did, and you know it's a reminder.

Speaker 1:

How close is your district to Kensington?

Speaker 2:

I'd say it's probably about a good 45 minutes to an hour away and Kensington Avenue I mean it's, you know, in the city of Philadelphia. There I spent many times down there, not only because we did a lot of good down there to help out rock ministries, which caters to a lot of the young children down there. It's a boxing club and you know boxing is a big sport in the Philadelphia area and I think every kid that grows up in my neck and woods gives it a shot. And you know Buddy Osborn. I honestly believe the guy is like a walking saint for what he does down there to provide, you know, a gym training. And then we open up a school for kids to get up there at night time, you know, because they don't have access to a safe community. You know where they can go to a place like that and you know they have dinners and lunches served for people down there and that's right in the heart of Kensington Avenue. But Kensington Avenue was probably about 25 minutes away from my union hall and you know coming from, you know running a union and having members that were addicted to drugs and getting phone calls from family members like, hey, listen, pat's right down there right now. Can you do me a favor? Can you send a couple guys to go down and get them? And you know we wouldn't have a problem doing something like that, but Kensington Avenue is right down there. Many a times there's a lot there.

Speaker 1:

Asking someone to get sober in a neighborhood where basic needs aren't being met isn't the same as someone who you know just lost the job selling insurance. I think compassion lets you see that empathy. And your friend was just on here, brian Eddis, and we had a large discussion about he's a what I'm a good man. Just so we got to really unpack the idea of what not only unions and labor organizations do for democracy and how they keep them healthy, but how this brotherhood is evolved in the last even 30 years in approaching mental health addiction, especially with seasonal work and the unemployment being a part of that cycle, and what can happen in those periods. But I thought maybe just real quick for a summary, let's start with your story of where did it all begin?

Speaker 2:

Ah, the good old days. All right. Well, I was. I started my drinking career, I guess we could say, probably in high school. I wasn't an athlete, I wasn't the smartest kid in school, in fact, I was undersized. I was pretty dumb. I wasn't a ladies man and when I found alcohol, it was everything I ever wanted to be. You know, it made me that person that I wanted to be. I was charming, I had a sense of humor. I, you know, I was likable, I was a tough guy. All of a sudden, you know, I wasn't afraid to go at it when I got a couple beers with me and then, all of a sudden, when ended up happening over years is what I found out was I was getting into trouble. And every time I got into trouble it was linked to drinking or drugs. Every time, you know. And then when ended up happening to graduate. We, you know, we used to go to the keg parties. And then, you know, we're hanging on the corners and everyone, from the corners to the cars, from the cars to the bars. And then before you know it. You know you're getting yourself into trouble. You know whether it was jealousy and that was probably the eye opener for me, because I was never a jealous person. I mean, yeah, I wish I was a better athlete, stuff like that, or I wish I was smarter. But the jealousy started acting up with me which I never saw before. You know, drinking in a bar and you know your girlfriend and somebody's over there talking to her. You know what's going on and, yeah, I started to become angry. And then you start, you know, you start going from the drinking and that was the beginning. That was my gateway was drinking, you know. Then, you know I always wanted to keep the drink going. You know I wanted to drink myself sober so I could continue to drink. And then back in the day we were doing speed, you know. Then I got introduced to Quailudes and Angel Dust and I was just off the charts with certain things and Quailudes was the worst thing in the world because it was knocking me out and I was, you know, really going into what I like to say a lot of black.

Speaker 1:

What took you to this, Senator? Is it the 70s? Are we talking about the 80s?

Speaker 2:

This was the 70s going into the 80s. Yeah, this I would say probably. I was 20 years old and I was a full blown drunk. You know it was like I had to get to the bar. You know I couldn't hold the job and when I did work I was taking shit off the job and stealing. And you know I was a plumber. So copper was worth about I don't know, close to a dollar a pound. You're walking out with a bag about a hundred pound of copper I was. A hundred bucks, a lot of money. It was a good weekend. And then started getting involved in cocaine. I always looked at there was nothing. I was afraid of a needle, scared of death, of acid, scared of death of heroin. To me they were the drug addicts. Little did I know I was worse than half them guys. They only did a little bit of heroin and stuff like that Me. A good night for me was getting drunk and, of course, getting locked up. That was a perfect night for me If I didn't get drunk, locked up, trouble with the cops into a fist fight, getting thrown out of a bar that to me that was an accomplished me. I love how you draw the line with acid.

Speaker 1:

That's a bridge too far. What do you think it was? Was it the store?

Speaker 2:

The location. I was in a corner and the guys that hung up over at the ball an hour. They were all the heroin addicts and the acid guys. Guys would be talking about acid and psychedelic and stuff like that. That was way, way, way out of my mind. That's like the Beatles versus Elvis people.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, my dad. I was just getting into psychedelic culture when I was a teenager. T-shirts loved it. It's starting to listen to the dead and my father caught me with a dead T-shirt on and he ripped it right off me. I'm like what are you doing? I just bought this T-shirt. He goes. I know guys that are in diapers because of that bed, so I was just lying there.

Speaker 2:

Wow, well, I was like the blowing stones with the tongue hanging out. Because if you think about it back when I was growing up and you look like you're a little younger than me, but you'll probably remember you used to have I guess it was the patches and stuff like that on the back and the jackets or right on the jeans and stuff like that, the purple lights and the posters up at nighttime in your room, and that was when I grew up. But I was scared to death of having a flashback.

Speaker 1:

That was like oh hell no, I don't think that's right. I've got a band enough problem right here.

Speaker 2:

I was a violent type of guy. I mean, I'm probably the same size as I was. I lost a lot of weight. Some of my story goes into about having cancer and stuff like that. I sound nasally but that's all due because of cancer. But I'm not the weight that I used to be, where I was 235. I'm about 165 pounds now and when I was drinking back in those days I was a good middleweight fighter. I used to do a lot of sparring and stuff like that. So I didn't mind throwing with people and I look at a bigger guy and it's like I got nothing to lose here he does. So getting drunk it just brought me to that level where I was always looking for a fight, always looking for a fight, and I like to joke that Snows didn't get this way from back and up and I probably should have backed up. In fact I probably should have wracked, because I don't win too many fights Back in the day I won a fight.

Speaker 1:

I felt I won a lot in grade school, but the first time I got knocked out was your colleague there, marty Flynn knocked me out in high school.

Speaker 2:

Marty probably couldn't even lay a glove on me.

Speaker 1:

I'm much better at the fight than he is, so this is the summary of youth the way the culture around you, how you cope, how you connect and bond with, say, alcohol and fetamines, and that it's meeting a need that you couldn't really provide. Or the idea of image, your self-image, who you think you are, doesn't really kind of gel until you're under the influence of these, Even today. Do you surprise not only constituents? Or sometimes, when you're on panels or advocating for addiction and recovery means to recovery, Do people seem surprised just because of the title, the stature, that what they hear coming from your mouth about addiction? Do you see any surprises out there?

Speaker 2:

There are that I'm so open about my recovery and my story.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

It's emotional and I let them know that I was a drunk. I was a bad kid, you know, and I enjoy being around people that are like me, just to show them like, listen, man, I know it gets dark and I talk about suicide and I talk about it all. I didn't want to live. I hated the person I was or I was becoming, and I knew deep down in my heart I was a good guy, but just my actions were showing it and somebody just pulled me off and all it took, all it took was one person to pull me off to the side and have a heart-to-heart talk with me during a coffee break. Like, yes and dude, I'm reading about in the paper again what the hell happened to you, man. You got into a freaking high speed chase on a motorcycle with the cops and you got a thingy-y looting and, you know, looting the police and you've got a drinking problem. Don't you see it? And I knew I probably did, but I would prove to people look, I don't have a drinking problem, look, I don't have a drink in a mug. And that was me, my mental thinking, like I can stop at any time. But when I went back, man, if I didn't get drunk and into a fight, I didn't accomplish a good load and that's you know. That's what ended up. The moment of clarity, even though this guy had talked to me, didn't mean I was going to get straight and I knew it. But around that same time, when the guy had the conversation, who was in AA, who was a steward on my job, billing Deaney, passed away and I can use his name because he always allowed me to use his name. Well, I ended up. I got on a load down in Philadelphia after I hadn't been drinking all night and I decided I got to get to school. I didn't have a license. You know, I'm putting in my. I promised me a ride. We go down to Philadelphia. We got closer to my school for my apprenticeship program and I blacked out. We both blacked out. In fact, I think we were given what they so-called Mickey's or something like that. I had a busted head. I ended up with a whole bunch of tickets in my pockets for public drunkenness, disorderly conduct. I can't even tell you. It's fricking half the stuff that I had that night. I had peppers in my pockets and we were probably out trying to get something to eat. I don't know. My while was stolen Peppers, hot peppers, you know. I guess we were at a place trying to get a homey, I don't know. I probably stole them. I was a thief, it was just. You know, I had blood all over me and I was down on Front Street and I wake up in my buddy's car and he doesn't have his keys to his car, he doesn't have his while. So somebody rolled this. And I remember walking home, seeing people it's about eight o'clock in the morning and seeing, like you know, it was like the morning people are getting up and they're going to work and traffic, and I'm walking home and I'm like something wrong. Man, this is life, this is what life's supposed to be. I'm supposed to be going to work, I'm supposed to be getting up. I'm not supposed to be drunk and beat up. You know, there's something I didn't like this person that I had just became, and that's when I actually went. Right after that I'm going to say that was probably a Thursday or a Friday Sunday I ended up in another drunken fist fight where I got my ass handed to me again, and that Monday I ended up. I decided I'm going to go to AA and give it a shot and I was glad that I did, because I ended up that Monday I didn't go, but that Tuesday there was a meeting near my house and I rode my bike because I didn't have a car. I had a ride of bike and you're looking at a twenty two year old kid, you know, almost twenty three and doesn't have a driver's license, don't even have a vehicle, don't have a pot to piss, and I was able to, you know, go to that meeting that night and you know, listening to what people were telling me what to do, and it was the simplest things in the world. I'm not a smart guy, but I'm a blue collar type of guy, making basic and making simple and I can take that in. And a guy grabbed me to the side and he goes 90 meetings in 90 days. Are you able to do that? And it sounded like a lot. And he goes. It's only one meeting a day. I was laying off I could do that, so I ended up I did that and in the construction industry we look at it as a strong foundation is able to build, you know, a high rise building, and I kept it simple like that, Like I need a good, strong foundation and I did. I was young. I had all these old timers in the AA meeting Can't talk about drugs, stop. You got to stop right there, I found even though alcohol was my drug of choice. You know hard for a guy like me not to talk about it. So I used to get reprimanded and then I used to go to the AA meetings, which was perfect because I was meeting a lot younger people at the time and I got involved. You know I started going to meetings and you know we had a soulful team. You know it was a bunch of young guys and the old timers. They were playing chess and pinocchio and I couldn't give a shit. You know I was more or less like hanging out and even though people, places and things I was told and somebody, younger guys like John, you could be anything that you want to be, don't let that hold you back. Don't believe what somebody's old times are telling you, that you can't continue to do what you do because there's alcohol involved in it. You'll be okay. Just remember you can't have that first drink. Just remember that. And it was so true. I never lapsed, I never. I never fell off the wagon. I always stung in there and even in the day I still think of a drink. My wife told her or she drinks, but I go and I take her out and I see people drinking Does it bother me. Yeah, it bothers me that I can't drink, but I'm all right when it goes right in my hand it comes right out. I move on. But I always try to advocate to people. I was at the bottom of the barrel and I'm on that pink cloud that we like to talk about, but it wasn't easy. It wasn't easy. It's still not easy for a guy like me. You'd like to think it was. Even when I was a plumber. I quit 1983, my drinking October the 3rd, but we can go into 1987 when I met my wife. 1989, 1990, 1991, and those three years I only worked six months. I was out of work, out of unemployment, out of money and I felt less of a man like I did back in my drinking days. But the only thing I did differently this time was I didn't drink. I picked up side work. I ended up delivering flowers, I worked in a bowling alley, I cattied what I could Whenever I had to do it, until times got picked up and I was able to do a little bit more side work and things got better. And then somebody gave me a second chance in my union. I was a bad kid. They knew I didn't go to work and stuff like that. Nobody wanted to give me a chance because I ruined my reputation. And then, when it ended up happening, the guy that was running my union offered me a position in my union as the political action committee that got me involved in politics, because he knew I was a good guy and he knew that I was trying to change my life for the better. And if it wasn't for my good friend, annie Keenan, I wouldn't be where I'm at. I know that he's the guy that turned over after all those years working underneath them, turned around and said you're going to take over this union. Wow, you think of a snot news kid growing up and hung up on a corner all of a sudden, now going to be a labor leader in the city of Philadelphia, one of the strongest labor towns, cities in the entire nation. Man, what a goal. And then when it ended up happening, that was in 2007. I was on cloud nine. I had full employment. We had money in our local 2008. Just like that, dropping the dime, unemployment, a recession that we'd never seen before. I saw my members run out of unemployment, coming in begging for a job and I had nothing. From 2010 to 2012, my members were running out of unemployment. I had 10 members of mine commit suicide From 2007 to 2020, 22 of my members overdosed and died because of the overdose epidemic. I never in a million years thought I was going to have to take on something like this. Never in a million years would I have ever thought something like that was going to happen to me. That was a huge weight on these shoulders, man. When I thank people on recovery to keep myself open minded and I was able to think of clear clarity, knowing that I got to help this family, what can I do to help these people? So I advocate for people that are in addiction, for people that are dying because of you know when I think of people that are depressed. You know dealing with anxiety. I've been there, man and when I get the high risk burden, I'm able to talk about these types of things because I live it they in and they out, and I want people to know that this is my number one and my number two. I deal with depression and I deal with recovery and I know that if we can come together, we can save a life. If I can save one life, I did my job and I'm happy to say I've saved a lot of lives and I'm going to continue to save a lot of lives. I'm extremely proud to say I'm John Cain. I'm an elected senator in Pennsylvania, but before all that, I'm an alcohol and I'll never forget that.

Speaker 1:

Your work is meaningful and profound in our area to people. I know our recovery community that doesn't go unnoticed. It actually is helping tremendous amounts of people and myself is included in that. I didn't notice you until I got back from a relapse about four years ago. I said who the hell is this guy? Holy God, what a breath of fresh air. I did want to talk a little bit about your first campaign and run in and the anxieties, the stress and the guts it takes to run, but not only run run as a person in recovery which we know historically, 25, 30 years ago could have been a point of attacking you. How did you deal, confront and plan for that now that you entered politics? When you entered politics, yeah, what were the people around you?

Speaker 2:

saying that's a good question, john. I was surprised and it was kind of taken back. I ran in 2014 and I got my ass handed to me. Joe, it was all the stuff that came out before 1983 that really took me down and it was uncalled for. But unfortunately I found out through that campaign and it was like the bad news bears against the Yankees man. I was on an uphill battle. We were down, I think. When we started the race we were down in the team. So I want to say probably about 15 points we lost by four points.

Speaker 1:

Wow, that's a climb.

Speaker 2:

So we lost, but that's high. It was a hell of a climb but I'm ending up. I was asked to consider running but they didn't know all the negativity about John Cain. I think if they would have known they probably would have looked for another candidate. But what? I think what ended up happening and this is part of my district in Delaware County. I don't live there anymore, but I still have part of Delaware County in my district and I'm a Delco guy. I'll never change it, but I live in Chester County. Now I like to joke and tell everybody they kicked me out and they just have me in the county. But when ending up happening after that race, a lot of people realized you know I was willing to take them blows for my party and I ran a race like they had never seen before and we raised more money than they've ever seen before in the county and they never turned my back and we could say the smartest and the smartest that are out there way smarter than me. You know the doctors, the lawyers, the teachers, and then you had the blue collar. You know we all came together to help this guy and you know it was even though I lost that race and it hurt and it almost destroyed my marriage. I mean it was. There was parts of my background that my wife even said if any of this comes out, I'm leaving. And I sold her and I promised her there's no way they would ever go down that road. And they did. And if you know, things my kids didn't even know about now, fine, now my neighbors you know I was involved in the CYO program and my neck and woods and they're all looking up and like holy shit, you know. But that being said, there were people in the community that I never you know the professors, the lawyers, you know that I never even knew before. They embraced John Kane. They loved my story. They loved the fact that you know what I'm a guy that was able to bring the party together from people that were blue collar to, you know, the, the, the most wealthiest of people. And even when I got my ass beat, I ended up. I was diagnosed with cancer right after that. That's why I'm the size I am now, you know, from a 225, 230 guy down to 160 pounds. Now they embraced the fact that I showed up with cancer and a tube running down my nose, you know. You know they all aligned. I mean, they all told me how great I looked. I looked like shit, I looked like hell and I survived it. It wasn't easy, you know, and that was all for the grace of God. I wasn't ready and I showed up and everybody appreciated it. I didn't care if I was in Philadelphia, bucks County, montgomery County, birks County, lehigh County, delaware County, chester County. I showed up at every event that I could possibly show up to let people know. Yeah, I'm glad I got my ass beat, but I didn't lose. I'm a winner. I've always felt as though that when you get knocked down, you can get that home backed up, and I did. I'm sorry, joe, I got emotional. I moved. My daughter graduated high school. My wife and I have been looking. We decided to move out to Chester County after I ended up. You know I had cancer and things were five years behind and you know my wife and I were getting along great. And when I moved out to Chester County I found out through a personal friend that I was in a Republican district. And when I consider running again, I was like man, I don't know. And we got no money. Would you want to do it? And my wife knew as much as the poor woman I had gone through. She knew I didn't like, not lost and she knew I still have one good fight left in me and I'm you know, cancer was probably at that time, was probably six years behind me and I asked her would you allow me to run again? And she was like, yeah, once I got the approval man, I laced them up. I went to my members at my union and they approved it and you know the deal was, if I won then I would retire immediately. We won, I retired immediately. I never thought that I was going to win from time one because I already knew what a loss looked like. You know I was up on another uphill battle but I knew I had one fight left in me and I always said the only fight you know I ever won was the fight for cancer. But you know Chester County, they loved me because they knew who I was. You know it was very supportive for all the candidates in Chester County in the past. They loved me, I love them. I love my Delco people. So you know I'm happy to advocate for people out there. There are people that don't like my story because I'm a drug addict and an alcoholic. You know the kind of like. You know there's, you know there's some nationalities out there that's like, oh, he's got. You know he's got a problem, he's got it. You know I no, I faced that problem. Man, I'm a recovery and I always tell people you know people like yourself, that you know relapse I'm only one drink away. That could happen at any time. Do I ever think of drinking Absolutely Online? You today if I didn't? But I know one day at a time I can do this. And I know I'm looking for people. I look at my close friends that have passed, that have died because of their addiction or who had died never in recovery. I think of them. Often when I have those weak moments, people say you know, what would Jesus do I have a friend? What would Joe do? He was my closest friend, the guy that used to hang on the corner, that used to get me my beer. The old timer who ended up being my best friend died of cancer. And I know, when I have those weak moments, I lean on him and I know, even though he's not here, I can feel his left. I can feel the break in my balls. Tell me to get up. Things are going to be okay, and he's right. They will be okay, and I'm not being sober.

Speaker 1:

I honestly I like the idea Catholics always had the idea of the saints or influences of souls that have passed on. You know I'm not too Catholic these days, but I was raised Catholic To have a memory of a friend that's that close and touching. I think all of us get to. A lot of people in AA get to experience that, not only with childhood friends but people that we meet in the rooms or in recovery communities. People don't die if you're alive, if they live as a memory, a voice. I could hear those people in my head and that's something real, and I'm not talking about the spirit world. The actuality that it's happening in my head is beautiful. Along those lines I wanted to hey. Your agenda and your advocacy has not only helped understand and reduce the stigma to access to treatment, other programs that could have been provocative to either you or I, even when we entered recovery that helped save lives. And you know some forms of recovery don't look the same as others and some are just measures to save people's lives. I see you fighting for that every day. I see it in the presence of social media, I see it from your colleagues and my friends in Harrisburg of the passion and it takes a person. What you just described sums up one word to me it's grit. And grit. Is this resiliency, that failure isn't the end of something. It's this distraction to a mission, not even a goal. You're driven by a mission With all that exertion, recovering from cancer. What are the rituals you keep for self-care for John that nourish the marriage, your mental health, that keep you in the fight? Because not many people are built to fight the way you fight for recovery communities in Harrisburg. What do you do to care for yourself?

Speaker 2:

Another good question. Well, I spend every morning. I spend a moment in prayer, more like meditation, and I'm grateful for what I have, and I guess through social media I send prayers out to people that are in need of prayer. I also like and, joe, this is probably one of the greatest feelings that I get when I'm feeling down and after I give my story. It's a lot of pressure and I kind of you know it just brings back so much. I'll call a friend, somebody I haven't talked to, and you know whether they take the call or they don't. And I got a lot of friends out there and it breaks my heart. You know, I haven't talked to them in a long time and when I do reach out to them they don't return the call. And I could be like that. I could be that person and just say you know what? I'm not going to call them again. I'm dumb with them and I the other way. I think the other way and I reach out to them, or I may reach out to a person that I know is not doing well, maybe sick, just to talk to them because they may not be getting a phone call all day long, or a senior citizen, or I love doing that. That makes me feel very good. I also am a huge proponent on giving. You know, I learned at an early age the greatest gift is the gift of giving. And I might see a street person, I might give them a couple of bucks. I know what they may be using that money for, but it makes me feel good because, you know, for the great guy there go I and I think of my friend, joe, that used to be on a corner hanging waiting, you know, begging for money and stuff like that. So it reminds me that I've had a friend that was like that. It could be me. It could be a family member at somebody's child. Nobody ever wanted to grow up to be a drug addict or a drug and I always think that with me. If I get that moment of clarity in the morning and I don't miss it, you know, if I get an opportunity to help somebody out, joe, before I get off this program, I am more than happy to give my cell phone. You let me know when you want me to do it because I'll be playing the note, because I'll tell you this. I'll tell you this I've gotten calls. I've gotten a phone call where a kid not far from here called me up and heard my message and got the phone number and he said I'm not doing good and this, and that when it's family and it's kids. And I took him to an AA meeting that afternoon, I never I'm telling you. If I can do that for somebody, I'll do it. I'm in a position where I can walk away from a meeting and just say hey, listen, I got it out, or I could cancel a meeting. This is the top priority for this guy. I don't have a problem. No, well, I well I traveled to Florida. No, I'm not going to do that, but I'll be happy to talk to you on the phone and get you some help and I'll follow up on it and I'll give you my cell phone. You can call me anytime.

Speaker 1:

That makes me feel good because I can't get the AA meetings like I used to anymore.

Speaker 2:

I'm sure as happy as hell to talk to somebody in addiction and somebody that's heard Wow.

Speaker 1:

I love to do that. That was amazing. I'm not going to let you be late for a parade, but I do have one other idea I want to explore because I think it's at the heart of a lot of us with the next upcoming year is partisanship, the polarization of the two parties, now well beyond Pennsylvania or Harrisburg. Just this anger and this anger. And this almost not a delusion, the illusion that we're so different because I just told you I'm a Democrat or you just told me you're Republican, and I'm not trying to equivocate like any kind of moral standards between the two parties. I don't want to step in that. What I wanted to say is you have a platform that is about human dignity, so social work, the dignity of labor. How do you stay above the fray to get the greater good done? Are you meeting people across the aisle there like John, I get it, I get what you're doing. There is no ideology here. We're going to save people. How are you coming across that? How do you meet that nonpartisanship? I gotta say a lot of people.

Speaker 2:

I can have a conversation, like you just said. You know party differences. When you're sitting here talking one on one with somebody, we get along. It's just that when you get the groups together I don't get along with so many people. On my side of the aisle I scratch my head, thinking like what are you thinking about? And then I look at some people on the other side of the aisle. I think the same thing. But when I have the one-on-one conversations, they're awesome conversations. People want to hear my story. You know they want to know a little bit about some of the people that I've met in my life that got me into recovery. Or would you recommend? Do I believe in like methadone for people that are heroin addicts and do I believe that short-term care versus long-term? I said I'm old school man. Long-term care for me is the only thing that works. But I'm old school. We talk about these. You know these recovery homes. I live with three other guys. Back when I got in recovery it was the greatest house. Little did I know it was probably the billionaires that came in with the help we were doing. Well, us. It was awesome and really they do work, man. I'm telling you they do work. I worry about some of them that are out there and they might not have any oversight, but we were oversight. We watched out for each other and it was great, it was a lot of fun. But when I talk to people on the other side of the aisle and I know there's so much hatred out there, I said but we also know at times, at times we come together. When we saw what happened on 9-11, this country loved each other. There was no hate. We all believed we were all American, we all loved our flag. We all loved each other. We were attacked and I believe there's certain moments in this state that I see that we can come together. Even if you're a Steelers fan and I'm an Eagles fan, go words. When the Phillies were doing so well, the people out in Pittsburgh, they were rooting for the Phillies. It didn't matter what party you were. We all loved the Phillies at that time and I'm sure everybody's going to love the Eagles when we're back in the Super Bowl again this year. But there's moments of clarity and I try to tell them change your station. My family, they're all Republican and their job would happen. It's like stop, hit the pause button, don't change the station, and I'm the same way. I look at my party like we're the greatest and sometimes I think, all right, maybe you are right. I love opinionated people and I always say because I ran a union and I used to hear it all the time we shouldn't do this, we shouldn't do that. I get it. I respect opinionated people, but I don't have to agree with them. But I will say from time to time they're not wrong and I always look at it. So you know what? That was a great opinion. I like what he had to say and I will consider it and I do sometimes consider it and sometimes I think as a whole we should be like that, be open-minded. I look in that Senate chamber, I look throughout the entire Senate chamber. 75% of them people in that Senate chamber are lawyers, extremely smart people.

Speaker 1:

There's only one master club in that room and that's me. You know they might be smart, but they don't have what I got.

Speaker 2:

I acknowledge them being a blue-collar street person. I'm in hell of a bummer. I'll challenge anybody when it comes to bummer.

Speaker 1:

And we wind down to close to get you to a parade. I want to summarize a few things Just so it's clear to anyone listening. Your advocacy in the last few years, and in Pennsylvania specifically, has produced and advocated and promoted some really special things happened in our state. One of them was the designation we were talking earlier of the recovery house. Now what this did is allow our state to give you a designation. With this designation you could get funding up to three months six months For a person to live in a sober environment. That now has standards. Dignity is really well run. We're one of the first states to really do that effectively through D-DAP. I've seen that part of you. I've been on panels listening in of your application for that. Other things is the access to MAT programs. That saves lives. It might not be the total abstinence recovery one, but dead people don't get sober. I've heard you speak and understand this and ask the most poignant questions on these panels and work sessions. It was moving. I'm really proud to have you on to promote what you're doing. I think all of our recovery communities should know that they have a friend in Harrisburg who's about to give out his cell phone number to help another alcoholic. It's amazing.

Speaker 2:

Joe, I'm very fortunate. Like I say, if I'm doing my job, I get reelected. If I didn't do my job, then I won't. I'm getting up on my election year. I know I've been like I tried to tell the people in my district if I can leave my district a little bit better than the way I found it. I achieve my goal. I've advocated for people in recovery and I will continue to advocate for people in recovery to the day.

Speaker 1:

I die.

Speaker 2:

Save this kid's life. There's other people on both sides of the aisle that are in recovery. Someone is open about the recovery than I am, but to me it's an emotional story. It's my story. I own it. I want to share With that my cell phone 215-764-9114. I may not answer your call because I don't recognize your number, but I will tell you. If you leave a message or shoot me a text, I will call you back and get in touch.

Speaker 1:

Beautiful Senator. I'll stay in touch. Anything you ever need, I'm always here, whatever I could do.

Speaker 2:

Thank you, Joe. It's really nice meeting you. Thanks for joining us Enjoy the parade. Thank you for your time. I don't know about that. All right, I'll see you.

Speaker 1:

I'd like to thank you for listening to another episode of All Better To find us on allbetterfm, or listen to us on Apple Podcasts, spotify, google Podcasts, stitcher, iheartradio and Alexa. Thanks to our producer, john Edwards, an engineering company, 570 Drone. Please like or subscribe to us on YouTube, facebook, instagram or Twitter and, if you're not, on social media you're awesome. Looking forward to seeing you again. And remember, just because you're sober doesn't mean you're right.

Senator's Recovery and Advocacy Journey
Overcoming Addiction and Rebuilding Life
Resilience, Recovery, and Self-Care
Coming Together and Advocating for Recovery
Appreciation and Farewell