Oct. 7, 2021 – “Nobody looked like me. That was another barrier that I didn’t think about, you know,” Choi said. “It was like, here’s a Korean American kid in Boynton Beach, Florida, you know, in rehab with faces that don’t look like him, with people that may not understand my family structure, may not understand my culture.”

That experience put Choi on the map many years later. He’s now the founder of the Harm Reduction Center in Boynton Beach.

“There are other communities and pockets of people that have the same type of experiences and same barriers that I had,” he said. “It may not be the fact they’re Asian Americans. It could be that, you know, they’re Haitian Americans.”

Choi now has a drive and focus to provide accessibility for all, to make sure those barriers are at last diminished. He just did a microscopic study of his facility.

“Our commercial basis, I would say less than 20% seeking help are minorities,” he explained.

The Rev. Rae Whitley, an assistant pastor for Healing Hands Ministry and an organizer for Faith in Florida, called it “a big problem.”

Part of the solution is getting leaders in the community actively involved, especially those who really understand the people who live here.

“Using our churches as their safe space that they can come to and having conversations like these,” he explained, are important steps.

Whitely addresses what he calls a stigma from both the pulpit and in the neighborhoods. He’s working on getting people into treatment.


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