By Ryan Miner
I have known Emily Keller for almost fifteen years, dating back to our high school days when we were both gregarious competitors of rival high school jazz bands. Emily’s instrument was her voice, a tantalizingly melodious throwback in the likes of Billie Holiday and Elle Fitzgerald. People from all over Washington County (and elsewhere) invariably came to hear Emily Keller bellow out classic jazzy tunes, nostalgic of decades that I wish I had been around to see. When Emily sang, people smiled.
Now, when Emily speaks, people listen intently.
Emily may no longer sing for the South Hagerstown High School Midnighters Jazz Ensemble, but now she’s using her potent voice to satisfy a new harmony in Hagerstown in speaking out and tackling Hagerstown’s unrestrained heroin problem.
As a first-time candidate for the Hagerstown City Council, Emily’s campaign is focused on bringing light to the devastating and unrepentant heroin crisis pervading Hagerstown.
Emily, 30, understands, like many Hagerstown families, the calamitous consequences of heroin and opioid addiction. Recently, Emily lost a close friend to heroin, a friend who struggled much of her adult life with an addiction that eventually claimed her life. Now, in an effort to honor friend’s legacy and shed some much-needed awareness in a community suffering the fatal consequences of heroin addiction, Emily is speaking out – as a candidate, as a friend, a mother, a daughter, and a leader.
In a video posted on her campaign Facebook page, Emily spoke with courage and refreshing frankness about her friend’s struggle with the deadly addiction that has claimed so many young lives.
Captioning the video above, Emily wrote,
As each day goes by, we are reminded that heroin and opioid addiction does not discriminate. It is destroying lives in our community at an alarming rate. Like many others, I believe it is time to break the silence and overcome the stigma involved with this disease. It is time to come together and start sharing our stories. In order to ask YOU to be vulnerable and have these very personal conversations, I too must be willing to be vulnerable. Please watch and share my story below of how heroin has impacted my lifelong friend. There is a seat at the table for everyone to discuss addiction and how to help. From those of us who have lost loved ones, who are watching loved ones suffer, as well as those who are being impacted by the many by-products of addiction. I am humbly asking, Hagerstown and everywhere, let’s talk, let’s give people the hope they so desperately need. Let’s win this fight.