'I need to get off the street,' said Darryl Logan; with help, he did

The Baltimore Sun

One summer night, Darryl Logan picked up the phone in his mother's house and called me. It took a lot for him to do that. He'd been using heroin for a long time. He'd squandered an education that had been given to him - a poor kid from Lanvale Street - at one of Baltimore's fine private schools. He'd dropped out of college and gone into "the life." Long before I knew him, Darryl Logan had become a hustler, selling dope on trash-strewn corners to support his habit. Asking for help was not easy for him.

But that night in 2005, he asked.

At first he was suspicious of my offer, published in this column, to help dealers get off the streets, drug addicts secure treatment and ex-offenders find jobs. But we talked for a long time, first on the phone, and then at his mother's house, and Logan opened up. He told me a lot, though far from everything.

He was 45 and had been in "the life" for 24 years, shooting heroin even during his 12-year stint with a picture frame company in Timonium. On the job, Darryl Logan had been good at hiding his habit.

He'd called me because he was unemployed, selling heroin to support his addiction, feeling sick, tired and afraid. There was a lot of pressure on the streets; Logan worried about getting locked up as Baltimore police cracked down on the drug corners. More than that, he feared for his life - punks with guns often popped older addicts who got behind in paying their debts.

"I need a job," he said. "I need to get off the street."

But Logan was still using; he had to get clean first.

In the summer of 2005, a CBS News crew produced a report about Logan's struggle - and those of thousands of other drug-addicted Baltimoreans - to get into a detox program, stop using and find a job. A national television audience saw Darryl Logan pick up the phone in his mother's house to get the good news that a treatment slot had opened up at Hopkins Bayview. I wrote a column about Logan, putting out a plea for any employer willing to take a chance on him, and Ralph Moore, at the St. Frances Academy Community Center, helped him produce a resume. "I've demonstrated all my life a willingness and an ability to learn things quickly," the resume said. "I can do many things. I work hard and I am a great and loyal team player. I can be an asset to whoever employs me."

Right after that, a high school classmate contacted him.

Tim Hearn, who had attended Friends School and who had played basketball with Logan there, was president of KLNB Management, one of the area's leading commercial property companies (now Hearn Burkley). Hearn and Logan had not been in touch since a few years after their graduation in 1978. Clearly, their lives had gone in different directions.

Hearn met Logan on a patio at Bayview, outside the clinic where he was getting treatment. "I never want to use again, for the rest of my life," he told Hearn.

So Hearn gave his old classmate a clerical job. "It was like bringing Rip Van Winkle into the office," he says, noting how Logan had never seen the inside of a modern white-collar workplace, never used a computer, experienced the Internet, or composed an e-mail. But he was smart and adapted quickly. He became a reliable worker.

"Darryl could get to work each day, but he had to go back to Bayview during his lunch hour to get methadone," Hearn says. "So that became the next challenge." Some interns in the office agreed to drive Logan back and forth to get his daily sip of therapy.

Hearn helped Logan get a driver's license and assigned him a company car. He also helped his old friend get a personal checking account, though everything was complicated. "Under the Patriot Act," notes Hearn, "Darryl needed two forms of identification for the bank to get a checking account. Well, he didn't have that."

The experience, resolved through Hearn's connections at the bank, made him appreciate the difficulties recovering addicts and ex-offenders have as they try to step back into the mainstream - or, for many, enter it for the first time.

Hearn helped Logan catch up on badly needed dental work. They went to Orioles and Ravens games together. Logan frequently dropped me an e-mail from KLNB to comment on politics or sports or something I'd written, or to give a personal update. Once he remarked about how much he liked his job and appreciated the chance he'd been given. "Each day," he wrote, "I walk past my old life," meaning the streets where he'd been hustling just a year earlier. "Sometimes I can't believe I was part of that life."

Last May, overcoming the embarrassment that made him so self-conscious, Logan finally attended a Friends reunion - and he chose his class' 30th as his first. It turned out to be a wholly positive experience for him, Hearn says. Logan chatted the night away with old friends at a classmate's house in Homeland.

It was around that same time, however, that Darryl Logan's health started to fail. He'd stayed away from heroin, but Logan was diabetic and, say both Hearn and Logan's mother, not very diligent about seeing doctors and getting checkups. By late last spring, debilitated by the diabetes and the long years of heroin addiction, he was too sick to continue to work for Hearn's company.

Darryl Logan died last week. Hearn's e-mail reporting the death to employees gave "complications from diabetes" as the cause. His family held a service Thursday for Darryl Logan at March Funeral Home. Tim Hearn closed the Hearn Burkley office for a few hours so those who'd worked with Logan could attend.

It's a tough time, with more people becoming jobless, and almost every corner of the economy affected, almost every business feeling a squeeze. It will be tougher for those who finally want to come in from the cold, shake their addictions and get on with work. When I mentioned this to Tim Hearn the other day, he said, "We all need to look out for one another," and there was nothing more to say after that.

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