Voices of Hope joined forces with Youth Empowerment Source (YES), Maryland Coalition of Families and local churches to host a day of activities for International Overdose Awareness Day on August 31, 2018. A Prayer Breakfast was held at Wesley United Methodist Church to start the day. Members of the church and the Paris Foundation served a breakfast donated by Chik Fil A. After breakfast, members of the community offered prayers out loud for the families and loved ones of those lost and for those who still suffer.
After breakfast, a Memorial Wall was constructed outside the old County Courthouse. Names that had been emailed to YES were placed on the wall. Others were added by friends and family as the event was carried out. There were crafts for children, drinks and snacks while people shared about the lives of those lost. Marc Butler, from Ashley Addiction Treatment, brought donuts to share with the group. Dr. Alan McCarthy, the County Executive, and Judge Will Davis, stopped in to pay their respects. Family members and friends braved the rain to express their grief for those whose lives were cut short by overdose.
In the evening, a candlelight vigil was held at the North East Community Park. Attendees were invited to design a luminary for their loved one and to speak about their life and loss. Josh, from an Elkton area recovery house, donated his talent and played music throughout the event. Jim Kamahachi from St. Mary Anne’s Episcopal Church, gave the closing prayer as storms were approaching. A huge fire on Route 40 kept many from getting to the event on time or at all. Nonetheless, respectful space and condolences were expressed for those lost.
Thank you to the many Voices of Hope volunteers that made this day possible. Their service to those who grieve and for those who have passed made this event possible. Thank you to YES who gave extra attention to this issue that impacts too many of the youth they serve. We are also grateful for the Christians from many organizations who participated, even when this has not effected them personally. Thank you for your compassion and active involvement. You make the new culture of Cecil County.