Pioneering harm-reduction strategies since 1988

It was August, 1988. Dave Purchase set up a TV tray and a folding chair near a house frequented by heroin users in downtown Tacoma, WA. He exchanged clean needles for used — to anyone who wanted them, no questions asked. Dave wanted to stop the spread of HIV. What he started was a movement.

Mission

We develop and operate health-promoting, illness-prevention programs for the benefit of the general public with a primary focus on serving the drug-using community.

 

Vision

Drug use and misuse is a public health issue. Through our initiatives and advocacy, we support unrestricted access to the tools and information drug users need to make healthier choices. We also promote non-judgmental acceptance of drug users.

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Our History

Icon: TV tray

Our Origin

With his TV tray, Dave launched Tacoma Needle Exchange (TNE), the first legal exchange in the U.S. To support TNE and other programs, Dave soon joined with a handful of like-minded folks to form a nonprofit, Point Defiance AIDS Projects. The mission? To stem the tide of AIDS one life and one syringe at a time. Since then, our mission has grown. Our new name, The Dave Purchase Project, reflects the spirit of our founder while allowing us to provide leadership on a larger range of public health issues.

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Dave would go on to become a founding member of the Harm Reduction Coalition, a founder of the harm-reduction movement in the U.S., and a pioneer in establishing the needle exchange program as one of the most successful public health intervention strategies for combatting the spread of bloodborne pathogens.

 

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Our Evolution

As Tacoma Needle Exchange grew and we learned more about our clients' needs, we helped pioneer the concept of mobile needle exchanges. We also brought SSPs across North America together to increase our buying power, reducing supply costs and increasing impact. The success of the U.S. AIDS movement and of Syringe Service Programs (SSP) like ours have dramatically reduced the prevalence of AIDS. But now there are new challenges to tackle like the opioid crisis and the rise of hepatitis.

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We continue to work tirelessly to keep HIV at bay with the Tacoma Needle Exchange and through NASEN, our network that supports SSPs throughout North America with low-cost harm reduction supplies, education, research, and syringe-service advocacy. We’re excited to continue to push new harm-reduction strategies forward by being a local leader in coordinated care in Pierce County and leveraging what we learn to better support SSPs nationally.

 

Board Members

Dale Christensen

Board Member, Senior Manager of Business Development, Microsoft Corporation

Douglas Tufts

Board Member, Attorney

Dr. Jay Patel, MD

Board Member, Hospitalist, CHI Franciscan

Federico Cruz-Uribe

Board President,Vice President of External Affairs, SeaMar Community Health Center

Kara Koehn, RN

Board Member, Comprehensive Life Resources

Kendall Harman

Case Manager, Comprehensive Life Resources

Mike Carroll

Board Secretary, Attorney

Pat Virgil, MD, PhD.

Our Staff

Brielle Wright

Buyers Club Manager

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Brielle Wright

2015

"Our former Executive Director, Alisa Solberg, introduced me to the field of harm reduction and I've been here ever since. I love learning more about the field and introducing it to others. I love the PNW but I am actually from the midwest and will always consider Iowa my home."

Camille Hoorn

Community Health Outreach Worker

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Camille Hoorn

2020

"I've been working in harm reduction across the country since 2014 and originally fell in love with the work because of my personal lived experience as a PWUD. Since then, my passion has been to fight for the rights and safety of people who are involved with drugs and to build meaningful relationships with members of our community. My favorite part of this work is being out in the field doing outreach and delivering services to folks exactly where they're at. When I'm not slinging supplies or educating folks on how to respond to an overdose, I am making sad music and playing with my cat, Cyd Vicious."

Cedric Picard

Outreach & Buyers Club Support Specialist

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Cedric Picard

2019

"I believe that harm reduction is doing the right thing. I enjoy sailing, spoiling my dog, and teaching kids to sail and be constructive with their hands."

Christiana Parker

Buyers Club Operations Assistant

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Christiana Parker

2019

"Harm Reduction to me, means meeting a person where they're at, in a non-judgmental environment, to help or support them in making safer decisions regarding their lifestyle. I am the clumsiest person on this planet."

Guadalupe Hurtado

Community Health Outreach Worker

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Guadalupe Hurtado

2021

“I’m originally from Seattle, moved to Pierce County a few years ago. I’m passionate about harm reduction as it saved my life, and continues to save lives in my community. Harm reduction means treating people with dignity and respect. It means involvement and participation with the people we serve.”

Hanna Carroll-Day

Director of Outreach Programs

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Hanna Carroll-Day

2018

"Passionate about social justice, the rights, and dignity of people who use drugs and removing the stigma and criminalization of drug use. I've seen The Office 11 times and I've been a vegetarian for 16 years."

Jacob Ball

Community Health Outreach Worker

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Jacob Ball

2020

"I am a community health outreach worker and interface directly with participants. As a former I.V. drug user who has spent years living outdoors and in public all around the country, I was very pleased to find employment that serves both communities. Advocating against the inhumane war on drugs and private prison systems is something very important to me, and getting to directly serve communities affected by them has a worth to me that can not be measured. I have been to all 48 states in this country with my dog Ransom, and this is one of my favorite places. I love raccoons I am learning the banjo."

Jennifer Hayes

Staff Accountant

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Jennifer Hayes

2016

"I am a mother of one, g’ma of 2, lover of travel, golf, and all things outdoors."

Kyle Cook

California Clearinghouse Program Manager

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Kyle Cook

2018

“Harm Reduction is meeting people where they are at, without judgment, and providing the resources for them to make the healthiest/safest choice they want.”

Paul LaKosky, Ph.D.

Executive Director

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Paul LaKosky, Ph.D.

2017

"I have worked in the field of Public Health since the early 1990s. Good Public Health talks about Harm Reduction. Great Public Health integrates Harm Reduction. I'm an avid runner and recently my son and I have taken up archery."

Pinkos Young

Community Health Outreach Worker

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Pinkos Young

2021

“Community building, mutual aid, and transformative justice!  Coming together to take care of each other and keep each other safe! I feel inspired when folx take direct action!  Ransom and I are best friends because I give him the best butt scratches.”

Ransom

Community Health Outreach Worker

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Ransom

2020

Sandra Moore, MBA, CPA, CGMA

Accounting Manager

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Sandra Moore, MBA, CPA, CGMA

2020

"Everyone is somebody's someone." And everyone is worth taking care of. I grow fruits, vegetables, and chickens in my spare time."

Sean Harrison

Peer Care Navigator

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Sean Harrison

2019

"Harm Reduction is highly personal to me. Coming from a history of SUD/OUD, I have firsthand experience of the obstacles that community members face to remain safe. I see it as a paramount importance that the needs of all our neighbors be met and that we work in cooperation to offset the discrepancies felt by late stage capitalism. Harm Reduction means meeting people where they're at and to help dispel the myths of drug users having some moral failing. People who use drugs deserve agency and advocacy. I have an extensive action figure collection."

Stephanie Prohaska

Operations Assistant

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Stephanie Prohaska

2016

As Dave taught us all, "the point is the point" and as I like to say "everyone is somebody's someone." I make up and sing random songs while I go about my day and I am studying to become an animal herbalist.