Clara Cardelle, 51, is an outreach worker at the Washington Heights Corner Project, a syringe exchange.
"We've picked up 2- and even 300 needles from behind that rock," said Clara.
She knows where to find people who need help because she was once one of them.
Clara said she smoked crack for nearly 20 years.
"If I didn't have it, I would go out and do anything and everything, like whatever I needed to do to get it," Clara explained.
But it’s what Clara did not do that left a scar: raising her daughter.
"I missed out on so many things," said Clara. "So many things that, that I, too many.”
Clara's daughter Isabel knew her mother while growing up but was raised by relatives.
"At 10 years old, you know more or less what is happening, and that’s what hurts," Clara said.
Clara got treatment and stopped smoking crack for several years, she said. But then, she was prescribed pain medication for a back injury. She said she became addicted and then tried heroin.
"I was embarrassed that I had gone back to using," Clara said.
She found an escape from the stigma at the Corner Project. That's where she got information and support.
Clara now takes methadone, a drug used to treat heroin dependence and addiction. She said it helps her get through the day and embrace her job at the Corner Project.
"I educate people, I talk about overdose, I talk about the epidemic," she said.
In October, a death in the family reunited Clara and Isabel. Now, Isabel, who says she never tried drugs, volunteers almost daily assembling needle kits, called "one shots," that Clara distributes.
“It feels good. It feels like we have more of a relationship. We're closer now," Isabel said.
Now, the pair say they share a future, too.
"I want grandkids, so hopefully she'll get married soon," Clara said.