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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 the non-judgmental acceptance of drug users.

Our History

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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

Allie Huffman

California Clearinghouse Program Assistant

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Allie Huffman

2021

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."

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 Senior Customer Service Representative

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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."

Cristina Tapia

Community Health Outreach Worker

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Cristina Tapia

2022

"Hi my name is Cristina and I’m currently a community outreach worker with TNE. I like to be outside surrounded by nature or just snuggled up reading a book. I have started working in harm reduction because I believe that what we do makes a difference. Everyone deserves to have resources and programs to help them where they are, and I see that TNE provides that."

Gayle Marticio

AP/AR Specialist

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Gayle Marticio

2021

“I come to DPP with over 30 years of accounting experience from manufacturing, casino, corporate trust accounts, to an accounting firm. Yet the most rewarding thing one can do is work where helping others is the main focus ~ serving with a purpose.  Can't help but feel good when you are doing good for others.”

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.”

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."

Kira Brist

California Clearinghouse Program Assistant

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Kira Brist

2021

"Strong believer in the positive difference syringe service programs, supervised consumption sites, and safe supply can have on a person's life. Outside of work, I'm often busy with taking naps, building Lego's, and playing Animal Crossing New Horizons."

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."

Rebecca Arriaga

Shipping and Receiving Clerk

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Rebecca Arriaga

2021

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."

Stephanie Prohaska

Director of Operations

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Stephanie Prohaska

2016

Everyone is somebody's someone and everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.

Ransom

Community Health Outreach Worker

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Ransom

2020

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