Keeping Hope: International Overdose Awareness Event

“Lives lost.  Lives Changed,” said Jen Shapiro.  It is important to remember lives lost from the use of drugs in our community, but it is more important to realize that lives are changed because of it too.  Jen is on several of the Drug Free Council Action Teams, is celebrating three years of sobriety and will be providing the music for the Keeping Hope: International Overdose Awareness Event on Friday, August 31st at 6:30 PM at Crossroads Community Park.
Officially, drug overdoses have taken the lives of 17 people in Jackson County in 2017. That’s 17 mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, children, brothers, sisters and other loved ones who have died from drug use.  This event is a partnership with the Jackson County Drug Free Council and United Way. 
Charlotte Moss, Drug Free Council Board Member and Turning Point Domestic Violence Services Community Service Director shared, “This is important for healing.” 
“And educating the public,” added Becky Bujwid, Public Awareness Co-Chair.  She continued, “Having an event like this allows the community to see that others can come together to see there are others facing the same challenges and learn about the support services in place.” 
Jackson County Judge AmyMarie Travis, President of the drug-free council, said the event is for everyone. “It’s really hard not to know someone who is dealing with addiction or who has overdosed,” she said.  The first step is realizing there is a problem and talking about it, Travis said.  “If we don’t talk about overdoses and drug addiction, we aren’t doing anything to help,” she said. “We want to help heal individuals and that will help heal the community.”
On Friday, several residents will share stories about how drug use and overdose have changed their lives.  The event will encourage those to remember lives lost through a balloon release, encourage those in recovery to a life without addiction, and connect those in search of candlelight vigil and awareness walk are being conducted to remember all of those in the community lost to drug overdoses and to stand in support of those who currently are battling addiction.
The event is being organized by the Jackson County Drug-Free Council’s Public Awareness Team and the Jackson County United Way in observance of International Overdose Awareness Day. International Overdose Awareness Day provides an opportunity for the community to reflect on the lives lost and create connections for people battling addiction to find support services.
The Public Awareness Team’s Subcommittee was informative of planning this event and will have music, stories of hope from the perspective of a family supporting someone in active recovery, a life lost, intervention and support, and of overcoming an overdose and working a recovery plan.  The event will also have information and resources available for those who are looking for help or support. 
Debbie Pettay is a mother, a mother that has lost a son to addiction.  She is sharing her story to honor Zack and his battle working to overcome addiction.  “It gives our community a chance to support those who have lost a loved one to overdose, it allows them to honor and remember that person’s life,” added Moss.  Neal Langley, who will be speaking about overcoming an overdose added, “This event and telling my story helps me more than anything ensure that I am living a sober life in active recovery.” 
Tonja Couch, Public Awareness Co-Chair and Executive Director of Jackson County United Way share, “Our county through the conversations we’ve hosted over the last two years shared clearly that as a community we need to realize that drug overdose issues do not discriminate. It doesn’t just affect a specific socio-economic, age demographic, or profession.”  She added, “Substance use is impacting everyone from all walks of life and residents need to how they can help change our communities future story. We invite the whole community to come out and support those who are working to change their lives.”