Margherita was certain that her son was going to die.
It was an October afternoon, and the Staten Island mother had been summoned to the home of her opioid-addicted 29-year-old.
She found him in the basement, ranting and raving, his eyes a scary shade of gray.
“I knew this was the last day of his life,” Margherita recalled.
Her family’s first call was to 911. The second was to a Staten Island nurse named Alicia Palermo-Reddy.
Margherita’s family had first reached out to Palermo-Reddy for advice just a few days earlier.
To Margherita’s surprise, Palermo-Reddy showed up at the emergency room and coached her on how to get the struggling young man into treatment.
Three days later, Margherita’s son, who had resisted intervention attempts for years, was on a plane to an inpatient drug program in Texas.
That was eight years ago. Margherita’s son, who has remained drug-free, now has a steady job, a wife and three children.
“She saved our lives,” Margherita said of Palermo-Reddy.
Since then, Palermo-Reddy has helped hundreds of Staten Island families like Margherita’s.
Working in her spare time and free of charge, she’s quietly become the unofficial coach, mentor and therapist to an ever-expanding network of parents and addicts touched by the city’s opioid crisis.
“She’s responsible for my son and so many others,” Margherita said. “I don’t know what her reasons are. I don’t know what drives her. That’s why I say she’s an angel.”
Growing up in Staten Island’s Huguenot neighborhood, Palermo-Reddy never imagined that she would become a one-woman addiction help line.
Palermo-Reddy was working as a dental assistant…