EATON — A solemn ceremony and candlelight vigil at the remembrance tree planted in Fort St. Clair several years ago marked the county’s first Overdose Awareness and Remembrance Ceremony on Thursday evening, Aug. 31.
Preble County Mental Health and Recovery Board Executive Director Amy Raynes welcomed everyone in attendance at the ceremony. She also thanked PCMHRB staff and its substance use and mental health service providers for their hard work and dedication.
“I just get up here and talk but they do all the hard work, so I love them so much. I would also like to express my heartfelt condolences to those who have lost a family member, or friend, to an overdose,” Raynes said. “We decided to have this candlelight service at this spot because we planted this tree in 2018 in remembrance of those Preble County residents we’ve lost to overdose. This tree is special also because it reminds us that we can all grow in the knowledge around substance use. For instance, substance use disorders are treatable health conditions. Stigma brings shame and fear which can lead individuals to not seeking the treatment that they need. Remember, every individual we’ve lost to this disease is someone’s child, parent, sibling, spouse, friend — and they are missing their people,” she continued.
Raynes concluded by reading a poem entitled, Missing You Always: “You never said I’m leaving. You never said goodbye. You were gone before we knew it and only God knows why. A million times I needed you; a million times I’ve cried. If love alone could have saved you, you never would have died. In life I loved you dearly, in death. I love you still. In my heart I hold a place that only you can fill.”
Preble County Commissioner Rachael Vonderhaar also spoke at the ceremony. “As we come together today, in remembrance of our family, friends and loved ones who have struggled, the importance of caring for our people in our community and reflecting the love of Christ when we can is the leadership that we try to show from the Commission,” she said. “And we are thankful to have this time together so we can remember.”
Commissioner Vonderhaar went on to read a proclamation from the commission proclaiming Aug. 31, 2023 as overdose Awareness Day in Preble County.
The state of Ohio recognized its third annual Overdose Awareness Day on Thursday, Aug. 31. Established in 2021 by Senate Bill 30, Ohio Overdose Awareness Day aims to raise public awareness and remember the lives lost to the ongoing national opioid epidemic. It also helps usher in September as Recovery Month.
“Overdose Awareness Day is a day when we can come together as a community, remembering those who have lost their lives due to overdose and celebrating those who are in long-term recovery from substance use disorders,” said Governor DeWine in a press release last week. “Overdose Awareness Day is ultimately about hope.”
“Overdose Awareness Day honors those who have lost their lives to drug overdoses. It also emphasizes the importance of raising awareness about overdose risks, reducing stigma around substance use, and advocating for accessible treatment and harm reduction strategies,” said Aimee Shadwick, director of Governor DeWine’s RecoveryOhio initiative. “The day encourages communities to come together to support individuals struggling with addiction and promote education and prevention efforts.”
In recognition of Overdose Awareness Day, state flags displayed at all state buildings and public institutions were also flown at half-staff from sunrise to sunset.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4061 and follow on X @emowenjr.