Lending an ear

(First published in the August 16, 2018 issue of City Pages)

Three years ago Jeff Campo lost his daughter to a heroin overdose. Now he runs MOSAIC to give addicts a place to feel safe and to talk


Jeff Campo created MOSAIC, a place for addicts to talk.

Three years ago, Jeff Campo lost his daughter to a heroin addiction. Campo still tears up to think about it. He is raising her surviving son.

Since his daughter’s death, Campo has dove head first into finding ways to help those still in the throes of addiction, to prevent others from sharing a similar fate. He helped organize a summit, and he’s been meeting with county and law enforcement leaders.

His latest effort is MOSAIC — Mending Oneself And Inspiring Change — run in a former day care room at Immanuel Lutheran Church at 630 Adams Street. Nearly 300 people have come through the doors to Mosaic since it opened in April. All of them are suffering from an addiction of some kind.

Why are they there? MOSAIC isn’t a treatment center, and it’s not a counseling service. There are no Narcotics Anonymous or Alcohol Anonymous meetings, there’s no confession. So what happens there?

They talk to Campo, who offers them a friendly ear more than anything. When someone comes through the doors at MOSAIC, they’re offered a cup of coffee and a friendly ear from Jeff or another volunteer (there are three now besides Campo.) Addiction rarely comes up at first. Campo rarely brings it up, though eventually might do some prompting. “The people who come here are just trying to figure out what they want to do,” Campo says. “They just want someone to bounce ideas off of, not be judged or told what to do.”

That doesn’t mean Campo isn’t ready to make a suggestion for services a person might take advantage of, or help nudge them a bit. The point is the initiative comes from the person. And most of what Campo does is just listen.

MOSAIC was started with a grant from the BA Esther Greenheck Foundation, and Campo has good relationships with organizations such as Lakeside Recovery, the 21-day medically monitored addiction treatment program that recently expanded. In fact, a graduate of that program ended up working at MOSAIC for a week or so, Campo says, giving him something to fill his time.

“I find when someone is ready and asking for help, that’s a really good place to meet them,” Campo says.

MOSAIC has a seven-member committee now, and they will help shape the future of MOSAIC, Campo says. But at its core, MOSAIC is about providing that friendly ear, without judgment.