I am so saddened to hear of the passing of our harm reduction champion, Mark Kinzly. I met Mark in 1996, when I started as an outreach worker on the Community Health Care Van. The CHCV was a mobile clinic operated by Yale University School of Medicine and provided vital health care to persons who injected drugs in the New Haven area.
My brother, who operated the needle exchange for the city of New Haven, introduced to me Mark. I decided to go visit him in Bridgeport, Connecticut, where Mark worked on the needle exchange program van. He took me under his wing and let me observe and showed me the ropes of how to engage clients.
Mark was wonderful with clients. He knew how to connect and made everyone feel so comfortable which made it easier for folks receive services for screening and referral. He would call me to pick him and give him rides to work. I would love that because we would catch up on stuff. We would fight about Yankee vs Red Sox. (I always won.)
He was a great mentor and funny as hell. I love the way he would always keep clients first.
He kept it real, and many times he pushed for better NEP reform and drug overdose policy — way before it was on anyone’s radar in Connecticut. He was instrumental in our Connecticut DPH Overdose Prevention initiative — OPEN Access CT — which was Connecticut’s first community naloxone distribution program. For the last 18 years, I have been working in the state of Connecticut, I am grateful for Mark’s guidance and friendship.
I hope to continue to carry on with Mark’s vision and legacy. Love and miss you, Mark!
Submitted by: Marianne Buchelli, HIV/HCV prevention program director in the TB, HIV, STD & viral hepatitis section of the Connecticut Department of Public Health
We at AIDS United know many in our grantee networks and partners across the harm reduction community knew and loved Mark. If you would also like to share a memory or story about him with us to be featured on our website, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.