Difference Makers: Levi Grace Foundation is saving lives through free Narcan, free to rides to rehab for opioid addiction

A man is using his past experiences to help others move forward with a nonprofit organization he started last year.

Jean-Paul Angelle founded the Levi Grace Foundation, named after his two children, which is geared toward saving lives by providing free rides to rehab facilities and providing free Narcan to those who need it.

“Over the years, due to my past, I’ve lost and gained custody of my kids several times,” he recalled. “I’ve also learned a lot over the last year that it’s more important for me to give and help more than I receive. I think that before I become permanent in my children’s lives, I’d like to be able to set an example and have something for them to carry on after I’m not here so they can learn to give more than they receive as adults. My son’s name is Levi Paul and my daughter’s name is Sophia Grace.”

NARCAN Nasal Spray is a prescription medicine used for the treatment of a known or suspected opioid overdose emergency with signs of breathing problems and severe sleepiness or not being able to respond.

Angelle explained that his path to recovery has helped him relate and empathize with others.

“I started on my path to recovery when I was about 18,” Angelle said. “And from then until now, when I started going into sober living, I became involved. When my friends or homies that would be getting released out of jail or changing their life and wanting to live different, they would reach out to me.”

Angelle said the process started like that and through connections, he gained being in various different positions, including the state level reentry chairman for Oxford House Louisiana, he knew what places needed what and that helped start the idea of the organization. He also served in multiple positions at the Oxford House’s Lafayette Chapter, while he lived there in a non-paid capacity.

Oxford House is the largest network of sober living houses anywhere, with houses in all major areas of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, according to the website.

“While I was living in sober living, I noticed they were struggling with keeping Narcan on hand and having a supplier,” he said. “I’d get me and my homies to go to any kind of pharmacy get the max allotment through Medicaid and spread them out through all the sober houses.”

Angelle said one of the first supporters of his vision was Lilly Harvey who started her organization, Millie Mattered, as a way to remember those who died during the drug epidemic.

Harvey’s daughter Camille “Millie” Harvey died of a fentanyl overdose in 2017. Michelle Pepin, whith Picking up the Pieces in Florida, supplies the Levi Foundation with Narcan.

“Everybody shared everything I did. And it’s here now,” he said.

Angelle said helping others helped keep him away from drugs as well. He said the foundation’s co-founder Casey Adrienne Leleux and advocate Christy Myers-Couviller were also drawn to help after losing loved ones.

“It just kinda happened that way but all the moms and loved ones that lost people due to ODs have gravitated towards us to join the movement and help save as many lives as possible,” he said.

The Levi Grace Foundation has a chapter in Tennessee as well as three chapters in Louisiana in Lafayette, New Orleans, and Monroe.

“I’ve OD’d 11 times in my life from 18 until now, so that’s just who I was,” Angelle said. “And it was like a part of my life and I accepted it and something happened the last time and I can’t explain it in words what happened. I started helping, and it would take away the urge. So the more I help, the longer the urge would stay gone. So I just continued helping and giving and helping more and the urge stays gone. I haven’t put a needle in my arm in over a year. I haven’t had a drink in over 130 days.”

Angelle said his organization’s goal is to help others and to be known globally for doing so. As of now, the organization has over 40 volunteers devoted to the same cause.

“I’d like to be globally known and I’d like to supply Narcan to any and everyone and any and every entity that I’m allowed to so it’s readily available,” he said. “I want it to be available everywhere and anywhere that I can put it so that I can save as many lives as I possibly can save.”

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