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Days of Hope and Action: Trinity Episcopal Church to address opioid epidemic throughout September

By Staff | Sep 6, 2019

SHEPHERDTOWN — West Virginia remains the state with the highest rate of death due to drug overdose, with 57.8 people per 100,000 dying from opioid misuse in 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Churches across the state are doing their part to address the epidemic, with the West Virginia Council of Churches having designated the weekend of Sept. 13-15 as The 2019 West Virginia Day of Hope: A Celebration of Prevention and Recovery.

For the second year in a row, Trinity Episcopal Church’s Opioid Crisis Committee will be holding events in conjunction with this weekend. But the committee has decided to raise even more awareness this year, by hosting informative events throughout the month of September in Shepherdstown.

“Churches statewide are calling to turn attention to addiction and recovery,” said committee chair Jan Hafer. “Last year, we only did the vigil on Saturday night and had Mike Chalmers as the guest speaker for the Hope Service on Sunday. This year, we have expanded it and partnered with the Shepherdstown Community Club.”

SCC’s president, Nancy Stewart, met with the committee to think up ideas for this month. One of which, was a change in the vigil location, which was held on the church property last year.

“We wanted the vigil to be more accessible to people, and people who were just walking by could walk in and join, rather than having to walk into church. So the vigil will be now be held at The Wall on German Street,” Hafer said about the vigil, which will be held on Sept. 14 at dusk. “In the vigil, people are free to say a name or share a story. Last year, people did share stories. It’s very free-form, and will last maybe a half hour.”

The next morning, the 10 a.m. Hope Service will be held at Trinity Episcopal Church, featuring Ronda Eddy, executive director of the Jefferson Day Report Center.

“The Jefferson Day Report Center is the court-ordered treatment center for people who have been arrested because of possession, so often they can have the option of going to jail or treatment. They deal with drug testing, medical treatment and comprehensive services,” Hafer said of Eddy’s work, which will inform Eddy’s speech on Sept. 15.

Following next weekend, the committee will host three more community events.

On Sept. 19, a potluck supper and viewing of the award-winning documentary, “Heroin(e),” featuring three women in Huntington who are making a difference in their community’s approach to helping those addicted, will be shown at 6 p.m. in Trinity Parish Hall.

At Shepherdstown Night Out on Sept. 21, the committee will have an information table on addiction, support and treatment on King Street, from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

Sept. 26 will feature the final event of the month, a free Narcan (Naloxone) training to help save lives of those who overdose. The Jefferson County Public Health Department will teach the one-hour class at 7 p.m. at the Shepherdstown Community Club.

“The public health department will give [attendees] a certificate for the hour-long training, and they will get a container of Narcan. Narcan has two doses in it – sometimes you need one, sometimes another one,” Hafer said, mentioning prospective attendees don’t need to worry about carrying Narcan with them. “The only use of Narcan is to revive people from an overdose. It has no effect, except on someone who has had an overdose. It is totally safe. That means they don’t die and maybe can get into treatment.

“We have an opioid epidemic in the nation, and West Virginia has the highest number of overdose deaths in the nation. Jefferson and Berkeley counties have a very high number, due to the availability of drugs on I-81,” Hafer said. The opioid epidemic strikes every socio-economic level. Nobody is exempt from it. With these events, people can be educated about the real facts about addiction and recovery.”