PIQUA —“Is there hope here?”
A crowd of approximately 100 concert-goers responded with “Yes!” during the kick off for the second annual Hope Over Heroin event Friday night at Mote Park. The free concert faced a minor hitch due to weather, beginning after an hour delay due to a sudden rain pour.
Luckily for attendees, the Mote Park community building housed booths letting people know about the resources available to help treat addiction.
“The city of resources is great,” Community Outreach Specialist Amy Cost of the Miami County Recovery Council said. “There’s 21 agencies represented.”
The community building also housed a memorial remembering around a dozen people who passed away from heroin addiction. For those memorialized, though, heroin did not get the last word.
Underneath their names, their birth dates, and the dates they passed away — such as for Rebecca Lanting, 25 — were words like, “Kind. Generous. Real.” The memorial showed that someone like Danielle Wynne, 33, will not be remembered for how she died, but how she lived, being described as, “Kindhearted. Loving. Mother.” One of the youngest victims memorialized, a 13-year-old boy named Nathan, was described as “Smart. Tough. Funny.” Another person, Jeff Remmel, 53, was described as “Loving. Caring. Amazing.”
More people were being added to the memorial even on Friday before the concert, including one mother who wanted her daughter Cheyenne Profitt, 23, to be remembered.
“She drove all the way from Bellefontaine to add her daughter to the memorial wall,” Cost said. “She wanted her daughter to be memorialized.”
While also humanizing addiction and providing real faces to the epidemic, the memorial served to reinforce why the attendees and volunteers were all gathered together at Hope Over Heroin. Cost said that she believed events like Hope Over Heroin and local agencies working together were part of what was contributing to the recent decline in heroin and opioid-related overdoses.
In January, Miami County exceeded over 100 drug overdoses in one month. Cost, citing statistics from the Miami County Health Department, said that in recent months like May, June, and July, overdoses had dropped to approximately 50 per month.
“I think everything we’re doing is combating that and making a difference,” Cost said.
Cost added that the consolidation of resources and the different agencies working together is key to overcoming the heroin epidemic.
“All these things working together is what I think is affecting the drop in overdoses.”
The various organizations working together to provide resources and make their resources known during Hope Over Heroin included agencies like the Miami County Recovery Council, the Tri-County Board of Recovery and Mental Health Services, Recovery and Wellness Centers of Midwest Ohio, Families of Addicts, Next Step Recovery, Safe Haven, HEART (Heroin Education Awareness and Recovery Team) of Piqua, and more.
“I think working together is going to kick this epidemic. It’s the only thing that can,” Cost said.
Numerous attendees came out in support of this vision of working together to help combat the heroin epidemic, including recovering addict Chris Mills, who has been sober for nearly three years.
“I think it’s great the community trying to pull people in,” Mills said. “We need as much awareness as possible. … There is help.”
Hope Over Heroin will continue with more events as well as a free meal for up to 3,000 people on Saturday at Mote Park, 635 Gordon St. in Piqua. On Saturday, local dignitaries will speak at approximately 4 p.m. and a prayer march will be held at 4:30 p.m. The free meal will be held at 5:30 p.m. along with more music and stories of deliverance at 7 p.m.
Reach Sam Wildow at email@example.com or (937) 451-3336