WOODBURY — “Supporting the Fighters, Admiring the Survivors, Honoring the Taken and Never, Ever Giving Up Hope.”
That’s the message printed on T-shirts the Woodbury-Bethlehem Parent Connection will hand out to those attending the 12th annual Walk Supporting Addiction Recovery, set for this Friday evening, September 6, in Woodbury.
The event will kick off at 5:30 p.m. when participants are invited to gather at Hollow Park for a meet-and-greet and networking. Free T-shirts and flashlights will be available as supplies last.
Also on hand with information and support will be members of ASAP, Advocates for Substance Abuse Prevention, which serves as the local prevention council under the Central Naugatuck Valley Regional Action Council.
At 6:30 p.m., the assembled group will embark on an easy stroll along Main Street to Mitchell Elementary School.
At the midway point, walkers will encounter a display of lanterns and crosses on the lawn in front of Munson-Lovetere Funeral Home, one for each person known to have died from drug-related causes in the Woodbury-Bethlehem area in recent years.
This year’s display is expected to have 35 crosses, three more than last year’s.
Following an optional group photo outside Mitchell School, walkers will return to the Hollow for a candlelight vigil in support of those fighting the disease of addiction and in celebration of those who have survived, honoring those lost and reminding families and friends that there is hope for their loved ones.
A nondenominational prayer will close the event.
“We ask that those who walk go back to the Hollow for the candlelight vigil,” said Lesley Gomez, co-founder of the Woodbury-Bethlehem Parent Connection. “It’s very beautiful. It can be very emotional for some people.”
WBPC sponsors the walk each year in support of National Recovery Month, and what started as a small show of solidarity has grown over the years.
“Last year, we had about 150 walkers,” said Lesley. “We’re hoping for even more this year.
“It makes for quite a presence down Main Street,” she said. “Any and all are invited. It’s a family-friendly, stroller-friendly, dog-friendly event.”
The recovery walk offers an opportunity for the entire community to come out in support of families and in recognition of the devastation opioids can cause, even in small towns such as Bethlehem and Woodbury.
The dangers are worse now than they were when WBPC was founded, Lesley said. Heroin is now often laced with fentanyl, or worse yet, carfentanyl.
“That’s deadly,” she said. “These are scary times for all communities. More have died in the U.S. from overdose than were lost in the Vietnam War.”
Addiction affects not only the individual, she said, but families and friends, classmates and co-workers.
“There’s a ripple effect,” she added. “One addict can affect 10 different people.”
The Woodbury-Bethlehem Parent Connection is a nonprofit organization designed to educate and empower parents whose children of any age are using or abusing drugs or alcohol.
Established in 2008, WBPC provides hope and support in a strictly confidential setting to those who are trying to cope with adolescent or adult children who are currently addicted to alcohol or drugs or are in recovery.
The Hope and Support group meets weekly from 7:30 to 9 p.m. Mondays at North Congregational Church in Woodbury.
“We welcome anyone who’s currently in the chaos of a child struggling with addiction,” Lesley said. “There isn’t anything we haven’t already heard.
“Several parents have kids who have been clean and sober for several years,” she said. “They continue to come to share their stories and to provide hope to the others.”
Rain date for the Walk Supporting Addiction Recovery is Saturday, September 7. Weather updates can be had by calling 203-733-1147.
“We’re already having a lot of support from the community,” Lesley said. “We’ve been putting up flyers in all the shops. The Lions Club has generously donated the T-shirts for the walk.”
To ensure enough T-shirts to go around, those who have shirts from previous years are asked to wear them.
Donations to help defray costs associated with the event are appreciated but not required.
“All we ask is that you come and walk with us,” said Lesley. “We want people to know they’re not alone.”
Those seeking information about the walk or the Woodbury Bethlehem Parent Connection may call 203-266-0487 or email to email@example.com.