Photos by Kevin Matyi.
Last Thursday, Aug. 29, Recovery Advocacy in Saratoga (RAIS), held a candlelight vigil in remembrance of everyone who has died of drug overdoses in America.
Maureen Provost, Chairperson of RAIS, said that the vigil was in response to the number of community deaths from drug overdoses, and because International Overdose Day was in a few days, on Saturday, Aug. 31.
The vigil started with various speakers giving their accounts of how overdoses had affected them and their family, starting with Provost, who said that she lost her son in 2004 to a heroin overdose, and that “an overdose stops more than one heart.”
During her speech, Provost also gave data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, such as how in 2018 overdose deaths were down 2.8%, and attributed the fall to increased access to Narcan, treatment programs and family support navigators.
“We want to spread the message that overdose is preventable and recovery is possible,” Provost said. “As long as an individual is alive, there is hope for recovery.”
Later speeches also mentioned that RAIS meets every third Thursday of the month at Healing Springs Recovery Community and OutreachCenter,andthattheGrief Recovery sessions were every second Tuesday at the same location.
Brendon Norton of Healing Springs said that the first question when someone comes through the doors at the Center is “how can we help you with recovery today?”
Other speakers included Congressman Paul Tonko, who said “one death is too many, but to look at a number like 17,000, we have a crisis,” and Town Supervisor Tara Gaston, who had gone to the Narcan training held earlier that evening at the Presbyterian- New England Congregational Church to officially be able to administer Narcan to someone who is overdosing, potentially saving their life.
After all of the speakers concluded, Provost came back to begin the candlelight part of the vigil. After the first few flames were lit by lighters, some personal, others provided by RAIS, the audience began a chain of assisting each other. Those with lit candles looked around and shared their flame with anyone who needed it.
As the chain continued, RAIS began passing around a microphone so that people could voice whom they had lost to addiction and overdose. Answers ranged from all of the victims to a sister or father to a close friend, many including the name, year and the drug that killed them.
For more information, contact RAIS at www.raisaratoga. org, or call 518-306-3048.