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Harford County nonprofit gives hope to those battling addiction

Posted at 11:23 AM, Dec 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-22 19:53:08-05
This Christmas marks a sad anniversary for one local mom using her own personal tragedy to inspire something positive.
 
Wendy Messner's 24-year-old daughter Kelsea died of a heroin overdose on Christmas Day 2015.
 
"You go through a lot of emotions when you have an addicted loved one. From anger to helplessness, you don't realize that there's a lot of things these families are going through," Messner said.
 
Now, the pain of her own loss is fueling her desire to help others. Messner is the founder of Rage Against Addiction.
 
"I guess I'm doing this for her. This is my relationship with her now and I had hoped that one day she'd be in recovery," Messner said.
 
She started Rage Against Addiction while Kelsea was still fighting addiction.
 
"When I would tell her about things we were doing as an organization, she said to me, 'wow mom you're really doing it'," Messner said.
 
Out of her home, Wendy formed the non-profit organization with one goal in mind. That goal was to provide those on the verge of being addicted something they may never have had: Hope. For Wendy, it's about prevention, treatment and education.
 
"Getting them the help they need is important for their survival and then to educate families so they know what to do," she said.
 
Rage, as it's called, has eight board members. John Nussle is one of them, and he has his own painful, personal history to connect him to the cause.
 
"I lost my son on Easter Sunday 2014 to a heroin overdose," Nussle said.
 
It's something he and Messner have in common with other board members, all who have been front and center to see heroin's destruction. 
 
"You have a whole generation of 20-year-olds and 24-year-olds that's gone," Nussle said.
 

ABC2 News digs deeper into the heroin crisis gripping our region at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 22. 

 
The organization is still in its infancy, but it's already made all the difference for Josh Sullivan and his family. Sullivan said he turned to the group when he needed help.
 
"This was just another group, another place to help lean on, who lent a hand to people who were suffering," Sullivan said.
 
For Wendy, offering that help is the whole point.
 
"The goal is for them to survive," Messner said.
 
 Messner's most recent project is to make the holidays better for those impacted by the abuse of heroin.
 
"We are able to guide people, connect addicts and families with resources within the community," she said.
 
While Rage won't bring her daughter Kelsea back, it is a way for Messner to carry on her daughter's legacy in a positive way.
 
"If you save one life it makes a difference. That's someone's child and they matter," Messner said.