Standing on the Side of Love in RI – Remembering a fallen friend

Vigil honoring David "Doc" St. Germain

David “Doc” St. Germain

David St. Germain
David St. Germain

While many of us were going about our business as usual,  Unitarian Universalist, activist and friend of my family, David St. Germain was hard at work embodying our popular “Standing on the Side of Love” campaign.  He worked for justice on behalf of the poor and the homeless.  He worked to make prostitution behind closed doors illegal. He worked for democracy, justice and Barack Obama.  He was doing the work I think many of us aspire to, the work our faith calls us to.

On July 23rd David took his life.  Why?  As I understand it, he lost a piece of paper and he was poor.

David had been suffering horrific pain from an accident he was in while serving as an EMT.  Doctors found the only treatment for his pain was narcotics.  Poor and in low income housing, his treatment was governed by the policies and provisions for medicating the poor.  One of them is that you can’t give away or lose a prescription.  That would suggest you’re either addicted or selling.  When David lost a recent prescription on the way to have it filled, he violated his pain contract and was instantly tagged a drug seeker and was banned from receiving what doctors had found to be the only effective treatment. Soon thereafter David took his life.

I met David through my mother, Ruth.  They were dear friends and fellow members of the First Unitarian Church of Providence, RI.  I was fortunate enough to have some good conversations with him, share meals, listen to him play the guitar and make the children laugh.

David was “Standing on the Side of Love”  in Providence, working for justice for all people with a huge loving heart and sharing countless bear hugs along the way.  We held a vigil for him on July 28th at the RI State House with over 200 people attending from a huge range of organizations, coalitions and congregations.

For those wondering how to make Unitarian Universalism more multicultural, multigenerational and representative of the greater population — of great interest these days — just follow David’s lead.

Work for justice.
Use a bullhorn.
Give lots of hugs.
Never stop.

In Loving Memory of Dave “Doc” St. Germain
Providence Journal story

Bob Kerr’s Projo article

Providence Journal Video
by Kris Craig
Remembering Doc Video from Candlelight Vigil
by Robert Malin
Photos of the vigil
by Tobias Goulet

Donations in David St. Germain’s name may be made to the following.

  • David St. Germain Social Justice Fund
    First Unitarian Church of Providence
    1 Benevolent Street
    Providence, RI 02906-1167
  • Open Table of Christ Kingdom Fund
    1520 Broad St.
    Providence, RI 02905
Vigil honoring David "Doc" St. Germain

Photo in this post by Tobias Goulet used by permission via Kate Eliot.

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