By FRANK LEWIS
PDT Staff Writer
There were tears and embraces as members of SOLACE (Surviving Our Loss And Continuing Everyday) spent Friday afternoon removing photos of their loved ones, who were lost to drugs, and other signs from the display windows of the former Marting’s building on Chillicothe Street in downtown Portsmouth.
“Today we’re removing the ‘Be The Wall’ SOLACE display at the request of the city,” said Jo Anna Krohn, founder and president of SOLACE. “There are other groups who want to use the center window. So we understand, everybody deserves the opportunity. But it’s just a really emotional day for those of us who put so much work into, not just this wall, but everything that we’ve done to try to get the drugs out of the community.”
Krohn said she believes the display in the window has been the focus of not just all of Ohio, but the nation, and she said the wall display has saved lives. Krohn said most of the U.S. believes other communities should model their anti-drug programs around the efforts made by the citizens of Scioto County.
“I think it made an impact on people,” Krohn, who up until recent months, was a teacher in the Portsmouth City School District, said. “I brought my students down to look at it. They talk about it still — everybody on the wall — that drugs are bad. That’s something that’s important.”
Krohn said some of the family members will be taking their photographs home, with the other signage going into storage until a permanent location can be found for the display.
“We have many ideas about what we can do,” Krohn said. “whether it be a window, or something behind glass in a brick memorial. We’re working on that because we believe it deserves to be seen.”
Krohn thanks several people, including Frank Thompson, Lisa Roberts, Portsmouth Police Chief Charles Horner, the staff at The Counseling Center, the Portsmouth Daily Times, and everyone in the community she said who stood side-by-side with the organization, in saying, “This is enough. We’re not going to take anymore.”
While those involved in the anti-prescription drug efforts still say the problem is far from over, they also say eliminating all the pain clinics in the community is significant.
“This past year has been a huge victory,” Krohn said. “It has helped me to heal. I’ve been able to give myself back to my family. And just seeing the impact on the community, the people that we’ve helped, has been great.”
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 232, or at email@example.com.