When Blevens has more time (e.g., backstage with Klobuchar), she starts with a mattifying gel and follows with a creamy concealer-foundation all-in-one, applied with a flat, synthetic, foundation brush: “Always downward strokes.” Afterwards, she uses pressed mineral powder, precisely blended to their skin tones. For men, she bakes a little extra over the jawline to conceal five-o’clock shadow.
Onstage, candidates are answering a question from a local reporter about how they would address the opioid crisis. Pete Buttigieg and Andrew Yang call to decriminalize drug possession. Klobuchar outlines a plan to hold drug companies accountable. New Hampshire has among the highest opiate death rates in the country. It’s a key issue for a lot of voters.
Blevens is one of them. In 2014, her 23-year-old stepdaughter, Amber, died of a heroin overdose.
A creative teenager, Amber read philosophy with her dad and ran dog rescue missions, driving to faraway states to save the animals from being put down. Later, when she was addicted to heroin and living on the streets, she was a de-facto coach and counselor for fellow addicts. Five hundred people came to her wake.
Backstage, Blevens is listening. She’s spoken to all three of those candidates before about their policies. For years, Blevens did what any good career bureaucrat does, eschew partisanship for versatility: “Have a great show!” But after her stepdaughter’s death, she resolved to bring up the opioid crisis to every politician she encountered. None of this year’s candidates share her view that grassroots community building, and not government or big funding, can solve the crisis.
In 2015, Blevens founded Amber’s Place, a Manchester emergency recovery center with 20 beds to provide temporary shelter for people with nowhere else to go while they wait for drug treatment. It’s the type of facility that Blevens believes could have saved Amber. It served 350 guests in its first four months, before eventually moving under the operation of Farnum Center, a large nonprofit organization.
Blevens, who became an EMT in 2006, worked at Amber’s Place as a recovery coach. She’s trained to administer Narcan, a medication that helps reverse opioid overdoses. (Because she’s asthmatic, Blevens was not able to volunteer to help with COVID-19 hospitalizations.) When I first Googled her name, one of the articles that came up was about a woman who saved the life of a fellow traveler in the Philadelphia airport by administering CPR. That woman was Kriss Blevens.