Harvey, who founded Journey House Recovery and dedicated his life to helping others, was found dead on Monday in a home on Douglas Street in Portland. Portland Police Lt. Robert Martin said Tuesday that Harvey might have died of an overdose “because of drug paraphernalia that was present” where his body was found.
Harvey was a vocal advocate for needle exchange programs, as well as safe-injection sites to prevent fatal overdoses. He created a mobile operation to distribute sterile needles, which he called the Church of Safe Injection. Journey House Recovery, which he founded, now operates four recovery homes in Maine for low-income people, the Press Herald reported.
April Turner, a social worker and candidate for the Maine House of Representatives District 99, was among those who took to social media to express their sadness at Harvey’s passing.
“He wanted to bring so much change and understanding for those affected by substance use disorders. He wanted to educate those that sought to be part of the much needed change. He wanted, and most certainly did, change the lives of everyone who met him,” she wrote on Facebook. “I am honored to have known him, and will keep his message going. Rest Easy Jesse Harvey.”
Another safe-injection advocacy group, Harm Reduction Ohio, is helping raise money to cover Harvey’s burial costs. The group wrote, “Jesse, a fireball of a harm reduction activist, lived in Maine and, despite official opposition and threats of arrest, distributed sterile syringes, naloxone and a whole lot of love in his community.”
The group that Harvey founded had this on its Facebook page: “We send our sincere condolences to his family and many friends. Jesse helped hundreds and hundreds of people. His legacy will live on at our recovery residences and in the greater recovery community. Please take care friends.”
The state medical examiner’s office will conduct an autopsy to determine the cause of Harvey’s death, the Press Herald reported.
Harvey’s Church of Safe Injection announced plans to hold a memorial for Harvey on Saturday, Sept. 19, at 6 p.m on the Eastern Promenade in Portland. The service will be available on zoom, Church of Safe Injection said.