Tri-County re­mem­bers those lost to drug ad­dic­tion at 2016 Mem­ory Walk

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By TIFFANY WAT­SON twat­son@somd­news.com

Drug over­dose has touched the lives of many res­i­dents in the South­ern Mary­land re­gion. Ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Sur­vey on Drug Use and Health, 129 Amer­i­cans die each day from drug over­dose and more than half are from pre­scrip­tion drugs alone. For this rea­son, many loved ones, par­ents, chil­dren, broth­ers, sis­ters and friends have been lost to the dis­ease of drug ad­dic­tion.

On May 14, Seren­ity Farm in Bene­dict in­vited res­i­dents in the tri-county re­gion to the sec­ond an­nual Tri-County Mem­ory Walk for friends and fam­i­lies to mourn those that they have lost to drug ad­dic­tion.

Bernie Fowler Jr., founder of Farm­ing 4 Hunger in part­ner­ship with Seren­ity Farm, said the idea for the mem­ory walk came from Lori Hony and her boss Henry Trent­man, who are both a part of the homeless shel­ter non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion Project Echo. Fowler sug­gested that they do the mem­ory walk at Seren­ity Farm since it is cen­trally lo­cated be­tween each of the three coun­ties and a peace­ful, sym­bolic place to come to.

“We need peo­ple to un­der­stand that although these lost loved ones strug­gled with drug ad­dic­tion, they need to be honored be­cause they are still hu­man,” said Hony, house man­ager at Project Echo in Prince Fred­er­ick. “We have hope and aware­ness here be­cause we hope that more peo­ple en­ter into re­cov­ery and don’t end up on the wall. It over­whelms me be­cause I col­lect the pho­tos and I know every one of those peo­ple’s names. But I’m grate­ful that I had the idea and was able to bring it to life.”

“This is a cause that is near and dear to me be­cause Dave Robin­son, co-owner of Seren­ity Farm, lost his daugh­ter due to a drug over­dose and my own daugh­ter, Lau­ren Fowler, was a drug ad­dict for seven years,” Fowler said. “I wanted to cre­ate a place that brings hope and cre­ates aware­ness but is also a place for the preven­tion

side as well.”

The mem­ory walk be­gan at 9 a.m. when more than 300 fam­i­lies who have lost a loved one came early for re­fresh­ments, met oth­ers who have ex­pe­ri­enced sim­i­lar losses and dis­cov­ered re­sources avail­able for ad­dicts, al­co­holics and their fam­i­lies. Fowler had all of the guests par­tic­i­pate in plant­ing seeds of hope for those who still strug­gle with ad­dic­tion. Fam­ily and friends then walked a half-mile path while view­ing pho­tos of 80 loved ones lost to drug ad­dic­tion.

“Hav­ing the tri-county re­gion here, it shows an aware­ness that its not an iso­lated prob­lem. It is a ma­jor prob­lem and epi­demic in South­ern Mary­land and in the state of Mary­land,” Fowler said.

Dur­ing the walk’s open­ing cer­e­mony, Gin­ger Rosela shared her ex­pe­ri­ence of strength and hope af­ter her son, Ja­cob Paddy, died from a drug over­dose sev­eral years ago.

“My son started with pre­scrip­tion drugs af­ter a bike ac­ci­dent. He had a cou­ple of clean years but then he had an­other ac­ci­dent. When he told his doc­tor that he was in re­cov­ery, the doc­tor said it’s for pain so he would be fine. Well the drugs ran out, heroin was cheap and he died July 19, 2013,” Rosela said.

Rosela said she is still a bro­ken-hearted mom but she uses the mem­ory walk as a time to con­tinue her heal­ing process and now stands as an ad­vo­cate for a drug-free com­mu­nity.

Ac­cord­ing to the Mary­land Depart­ment of Health and Men­tal Hy­giene, 75 per­cent of heroin users used pre­scrip­tion opi­oids be­fore heroin.

“All of the griev­ing fam­i­lies here have come to­gether to learn how to heal and fig­ure out that even though it’s hard, they have to go on. I’m try­ing to help other par­ents pre­vent the hell that all of these fam­i­lies live now. No shame, no blame,” Rosela said. “I’m not proud that’s how Jake died but its a true fact and drug ad­dic­tion is a dis­ease.”

Susan Wil­son, St. Mary’s County res­i­dent and co-founder of Par­ents Af­fected By Ad­dic­tion, said she helps par­ents like Rosela who think they are the only par­ents with chil­dren who strug­gle with drug ad­dic­tion.

“There has been more at­ten­tion brought to drug ad­dic­tion now be­cause there have been so many deaths,” Wil­son said. “Death by opi­oid and heroin over­doses have now sur­passed death rates by car ac­ci­dents in the United States. Our goal is to help other par­ents un­der­stand that the opi­ate heroin ad­dic­tion is af­fect­ing other par­ents as well. We have seen that 8 out of the 10 times, a fam­ily finds out that their loved one is ad­dicted to opi­ates so they feel em­bar­rassed and think that they are the only ones.”

Par­ents Af­fected By Ad­dic­tion is one of the or­ga­ni­za­tions that were at the sec­ond an­nual Tri-County Mem­ory Walk in or­der to help par­ents de­velop a sup­port sys­tem and re­sources for their loved ones who are cur­rently strug­gling with drug ad­dic­tion. The group wants to re­move stereo­typ­i­cal il­lu­sions of what a par­ent who has a son or daugh­ter strug­gling with drug ad­dic­tion looks like.

Fowler said the res­i­dents who have ex­pe­ri­enced loss also come out as a com­mu­nity to sup­port those who are cur­rently in re­cov­ery them­selves. Frankie Sauder, a Bene­dict res­i­dent cur­rently re­cov­er­ing from drug ad­dic­tion, has been clean for 13 months and be­lieves that the walk helps peo­ple re­al­ize that this dis­ease is pro­gress­ing.

“From per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence I know the dis­ease is a fam­ily prob­lem,” Sauder said. “My 16-yearold daugh­ter, Sa­man­tha Sauder, is in re­cov­ery as well. She’s been clean for 13 months and she’s prob­a­bly one of the youngest ad­dicts in the tri-county area. She saw me get high and she got high. Then she saw me get clean, so she got clean.”

Sauder felt the event brings out even more emo­tions be­cause he has lost a lot of good friends over the last few years to drug ad­dic­tion.

“It’s im­por­tant for us to share our sto­ries be­cause be­cause get­ting clean again got me my life back,” he said.

STAFF PHOTO BY TIFFANY WAT­SON

Monique Pierre, a Calvert County res­i­dent, gets a hug dur­ing the sec­ond an­nual Tri-County Mem­ory Walk on Satur­day as she re­mem­bered her fi­ancee, Dou­glas Bea­z­ley, who died from a drug over­dose on June 17, 2015.

Mem­bers of the Robin­son fam­ily, Dave Robin­son, Denise Robin­son and Austin Robin­son, own­ers of Seren­ity Farm in Bene­dict, re­mem­bered their daugh­ter Ash­lee Robin­son, who died due to a drug over­dose, dur­ing the sec­ond an­nual Tri-County Mem­ory Walk. At Seren­ity Farm there is a memo­rial gar­den called “Ash­lee’s Gar­den” ded­i­cated to Dave Robin­son’s daugh­ter.

STAFF PHO­TOS BY TIFFANY WAT­SON

Gin­ger Rosela, a Calvert County res­i­dent, shared her ex­pe­ri­ence of strength and hope dur­ing the sec­ond an­nual Tri-County Mem­ory Walk’s open­ing cer­e­mony on Satur­day, and told the au­di­ence about her son, Ja­cob Paddy, and his strug­gle with drug ad­dic­tion.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.