By Christina Hager

BOSTON (CBS) – “I pray every day. I get on my knees, and I thank God for waking me up,” said Joey Bump. He was talking about “waking up” from his previous life as a drug addict.

On the day Boston’s mayor declared a state of emergency in the tent city known as “Mass and Cass,” Bump walked along the sidewalk. “It feels good to be able to get clean out here, because my best friend died out here,” he said.

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He has lost a lot of friends to drug overdoses, some at Mass and Cass, the city’s epicenter of the opioid crisis that has exploded during the pandemic. Acting Mayor Kim Janey has directed a team to gradually dismantle the tents and relocate the homeless.

Joey Bump (WBZ-TV)

“I’ve been an addict for over 20 years,” said Bump. He’s been clean for more than a year now. “Don’t give up on addicts. We all need help, and we need support.”

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He says he found support at Hope House, a recovery center just steps away from the scene around Mass and Cass. “I feel like support and love is something that we’re really not used to receiving, because it’s not in our agenda when we’re out getting high, you know, it’s just about getting your next fix.”

Mass & Cass tent city in Boston (WBZ-TV)

For those who drive by the tent city and think it’s hopeless, Bump offers a different perspective. “If I can do it. Anybody can do it,” he said. “It’s hard to get through that, and just admit to yourself, yea you messed up. You chose drugs over everything…but you don’t have to be that person. You can change,” he said. “Life’s such a precious gift. I wouldn’t want to waste another day sleeping on the sidewalk.”

They are sidewalks he still passes sometimes, but now with a different perspective. “It’s a good reminder that I’m one bad decision away from joining the madness out there,” he said.

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Bump is 14 months clean, attends trade school, and volunteers on construction projects for people in need. He’s reconnected with his family and says if anyone’s looking for a sign of hope from the misery at Mass and Cass, just look at him.

Christina Hager