2017-09-28 / Front Page

Awareness

Club wants to give addicts a ‘Second Chance,’ turn around drug dealers
By Grant McPherson
Staff Writer


Matt Ingles, left, is superintendent of a construction company based out of Saco and Sean McKenna is a direct support professional who works with disabled adults in various group homes in southern Maine. Outside of their day jobs, they ride as Second Chance Soldiers and raise awareness of the opiate epidemic in the state. The two are founding members of the motorcycle ministry and have been riding for more than a decade each. (Grant McPherson photo) Matt Ingles, left, is superintendent of a construction company based out of Saco and Sean McKenna is a direct support professional who works with disabled adults in various group homes in southern Maine. Outside of their day jobs, they ride as Second Chance Soldiers and raise awareness of the opiate epidemic in the state. The two are founding members of the motorcycle ministry and have been riding for more than a decade each. (Grant McPherson photo) BIDDEFORD – A new group of motorcycle enthusiasts want to help people in southern Maine who struggle with addiction. Second Chance Soldiers are a motorcycle ministry that focuses efforts on Biddeford and the surrounding area.

They formed in June and have six members so far, but are interested in growing. Their first Ride for Recovery was held Saturday, Sept. 24. The group left Hannaford in Biddeford and rode to the corner of Island and Thompson Avenue in Sanford. The ride was part of a rally in Sanford to raise awareness of the area’s drug problem. Sanford police arrested an Island Avenue resident Wednesday, Sept. 13 for aggravated trafficking of scheduled drugs within 1,000 feet of a school zone.

Sean McKenna, president and founding member of Second Chance Soldiers, made connections in the Sanford community after attending a rally held their earlier in the summer. McKenna, 35, grew up and lives in Biddeford. He hopes that by raising awareness of the drug problems people face, communities at large will become more comfortable talking about them.

“It generates a conversation. Communication, to me, is one of the antidotes for addiction,” McKenna said.

McKenna has struggled with his own addiction to alcohol and pain medication. Last year his girlfriend died of an overdose in her home in Sanford. That spurred McKenna to get sober and become an advocate. He met Brunswick resident Matt Ingles through a mutual friend on a ride to Owls Head Transportation Museum in August of last year.

“We started throwing around the idea of starting a motorcycle ministry to help rehab addicts, alcoholics and criminals,” McKenna said. “After pitching ideas we came up with Second Chance Soldiers. Our communities need peer to peer mentoring and positive role models.”

Traditional motorcycle ministries area faith based and while members of Second Chance Soldiers believe in God, they come from different religious backgrounds. Ministries also differ from motorcycle clubs, which typically ride for recreation and occasionally support a cause. Clubs wear a three-piece patch, which identifies the club’s name, mascot and territory. Second Chance members wear a two-piece patch bearing the club’s name and mascot, a skeleton with hands pressed in prayer.

“We don’t claim any territory,” McKenna said. “We have our ministry patch and bottom rocker that says, ‘til death,’ which is a commitment to our lifestyle.”

Second Chance Soldiers don’t deal directly with law enforcement officials. McKenna said news outlets have tried to portray the group as vigilantes, but feels this is inaccurate. Members of the group also have the phrase, “We hunt heroin dealers” on the backs of their helmets but McKenna said this is not a literal statement.

“We are actively looking for heroin dealers in problematic communities,” he said. “We go and try to offer help by any means necessary to get them out of the life they are in. We are by all means not looking for violence. We are not looking to instigate altercations.”

In Sanford, Second Chance Soldiers arrived at Kari Zielke’s home Saturday, Sept. 9 because she felt threatened by the drug dealers in her neighborhood. Second Chance members stood in front of her building for support but also talked to the dealers in Zielke’s neighborhood and handed out cards with the group’s information on them. “We’re trying to show them alternatives and get them into recovery if they’re willing to,” Ingles said.

Maegan Lambert-Irish, coordinator for the Saco- Biddeford Opiate Outreach Initiative, wrote in an email that she had heard of the group’s work in Sanford but did not know anything else about them. The Saco-Biddeford Opiate Outreach Initiative was started in January as a way to more efficiently connect people dealing with substance use to the services they need. Lambert-Irish wrote that, as of the beginning of September, the Saco-Biddeford area had seen a slight increase in overdose deaths from last year.

The stigma surrounding drug and alcohol addiction keeps many from seeking help, McKenna said. He hopes that a dialogue around the issue will help change that. He wants to open chapters in other cities such as Lewiston and Bangor, and eventually other states. In the meantime, he hopes local people will start to take action soon.

“Communities need to step up and help,” McKenna said. “The problem is not going to resolve itself. We need compassionate people who want to devote time to helping others. These people need someone to listen to.”

Contact Staff Writer Grant McPherson at news@inthecourier.com

FMI

For more information on the organization and how to join, visit Second Chance Soldiers M/M on Facebook.

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