Later this month, in Portsmouth’s Tracy Park, Ascend Counseling and Recovery Services plans what could possibly be, and is certainly intended to be, a moving and dramatic remembrance of persons lost to drug addiction in Portsmouth and Scioto County.
“We do need drug prevention in our area,” said Ascend counselor Heather Timberlake. However, Timberlake added those persons affected by drug addiction locally are somewhat into different groups.
First of all, Timberlake said, there is a huge recovery community in Portsmouth. There is also unfortunately a second group consisting of persons still suffering from active addictions. Finally, there is what she said could be called “innocent bystanders,” persons who are not addicts but have been affected by addiction in one way or another. Perhaps they have lost friends or family members. Perhaps they have had their home burglarized by persons hoping to fund their addictions.
Timberlake believes there is only one way to permanently solve the area’s addiction crisis.
“The community needs to come together, to be unified,” Timberlake said.
Largely Timberlake’s brainchild, “Project Remember Me” will be a quiet memorial for the estimated 354 plus persons who have been lost to overdoses locally since 2000. Timberlake is quick to note that number came from Lisa Roberts of the Portsmouth City Health Department. According to Timberlake, Roberts feels that number is probably low, inaccurate. Timberlake agrees the figure is almost certainly lower than the reality.
“Clearly, there are more than that,” Timberlake said.
In any case, Timberlake emphasized “Project Remember Me” will be a silent memorial. Upon entering Tracy Park, visitors will be requested to remain silent during the event. Timberlake said one idea is to give persons a chance to sort of clear their heads and reflect on what they’ve lost or what they have experienced.
Timberlake noted many of her clients have problems with grief. Grief over losing friends or family members or at least losing connections with family members, and others, because of their addiction problems. In many cases, addicts have found themselves incarcerated at one point or another. In some instances, being in jail has meant missing the funeral of a friend or loved one, a situation which makes dealing with the grief of that loss even more difficult.
An important aspect of “Project Remember Me” is contained in its subtitle “A Night of Luminaries at Tracy Park.” Participants are encouraged to bring luminaries memorializing those lost to addiction to the park the night of the event. The luminaries should consist of a bag with a battery-powered votive candle inside. Personalized luminaries memorializing specific loved ones are available for a donation from Ascend Counseling.
Timberlake stated the intention is not to leave bags behind in the park, creating some kind of mess in the park. She added organizers hope to make the event an annual happening and therefore wish to reuse the luminaries next year.
“Project Remember Me” is slated for 7-10:30 p.m. Oct. 20. To obtain a personalized luminaria, contact Timberlake at (740) 876- 8290, ext. 289. More information also is available on the Facebook page of Ascend Counseling and Recovery Services.