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“Day of Hope” to inform the public, remember those affected by the opioid epidemic

By Staff | Sep 5, 2018

SHEPHERDSTOWN — Sometimes people think of addiction as something that only happens to the underprivileged or poorly educated. But the nationwide opioid epidemic is proving these assumptions to be incorrect, according to Jan Hafer, of Shepherdstown.

“Yesterday was International Overdose Awareness Day,” Hafer said on Saturday. “72,000 people in our country have died from an overdose last year. It’s in every community, it crosses all socio-economic boundaries — it’s an epidemic.”

According to Hafer, Trinity Episcopal Church’s Opioid Committee chair, bringing awareness of opioid addiction and how to fight it is essential, which is why the committee was established in January by Rev. G.T. Schramm.

“Our opioid committee was put together on the weekend when the West Virginia Council of Churches announced its plan to raise awareness about the addiction crisis in West Virginia,” Schramm said, mentioning the committee’s first community awareness event will be held next weekend, on Sept. 15 and 16.

“We really hope the community will come and join us,” Schramm said about the “Day of Hope” event. “Mike Chalmers, who is the editor of The Observer and has personal experience with the opioid crisis, will speak on Sunday. We really hope people will join us and learn and pray for the victims, those who are left behind by the victims and for those who are still addicted.”

The “Day of Hope” will begin Saturday evening at 7 p.m., with a short worship service focused on recovery and a candlelight vigil for those who have died from an overdose, and will conclude Sunday morning after the 10 a.m. service, which will be followed by an information fair and small group discussions on topics led by people involved with the opioid epidemic — representatives of those in recovery, families, medical personnel, law enforcement, recovery coaches, business officials and elected officials.

The events are intended to not only start community conversations and awareness about the epidemic, but to also educate community members on how they can be prepared to help in potential overdose situations, according to Hafer.

Hafer herself will be part of the information fair, where she will share her personal knowledge of how to become a certified Narcan carrier. After going through the Jefferson County Health Department’s brief training on how to assess a potential drug overdose situation and administer Narcan, Hafer was given a tiny container of Narcan, which she carries wherever she goes.

“People can overdose anywhere — in the store, in the drop off lane at Jefferson High School — if you can carry Narcan, you can save a life,” Hafer said about the overdose reversing drug. “It’s nothing to it — it’s like administering a nasal spray.”

According to Schramm, Hafer is one of many Trinity Episcopal members who have stepped up to fight the epidemic in their own ways. For one grandmother in the church, rocking addicted babies in Winchester’s hospital once a week is her way of fighting the epidemic’s results. For other members, volunteering with the committee is the way they hope to stop the epidemic.

Through all of the church’s efforts, Schramm hopes the church will be able to make a difference in the local opioid addiction scene.

“As Christian people, we needed to do something to respond. I think this is just the beginning of what we will be able to do,” Schramm said about the “Day of Hope,” which is open to all members of the community.

For more information, contact Hafer at janhafer52@gmail.com.