Modified: February 16, 2017 2:42pm
From the Office of the Commissioner of Health, Dr. Gale R. Burstein
Date: February 16, 2017
CONTACT: Mary C. St. Mary/Mary.StMary@Erie.Gov
Phone: 716.858.4941/ Mobile: 716.253.3925
Black Balloon Day
Day of Remembrance for Those Lost to Opioid Addiction & Their Loved Ones
ERIE COUNTY, NY— On an almost daily basis, news stories in our community and across the country detail the seemingly unending number of fatal overdoses caused by heroin and other opiates.
Often lost in this coverage are the stories of the people left behind; family members and friends who have suffered through this chronic disease with their addicted loved one. Many have pursued countless strategies and sought help for their child, friend or loved one, to manage their addiction.
At 6:00 pm on Monday, March 6th, on the steps of Old Erie County Hall, 92 Franklin Street in downtown Buffalo, members of the Erie County Opiate Epidemic Task Force’s Family & Consumer Support Advocacy Section, along with the West Side Youth Development Coalition, will remember and pay tribute to the individuals who have succumbed to opioid addiction in Erie County. The display of black balloons outside the entrance to County Hall--representing our collective community front door--will pay silent tribute to the victims of opiate addiction. The event’s objective is to increase awareness of the daily struggles faced by members of our community who suffered the loss of a loved one, and those who are still battling, working tirelessly to help their loved one manage their addiction.
Erie County Commissioner of Health, Dr. Gale R. Burstein, along with others, will offer remarks reflecting on the effect this epidemic has had on our community, particularly families who have lost loved ones. Upon conclusion of the brief program, attendees will take balloons home to affix to their front porch or mailbox.
“We are truly saddened by the loss of cherished members of our community to opioid addiction,” said Dr. Gale Burstein, Erie County Commissioner of Health. “Their memories inspire us to work together to help others affected by opioid addiction overcome this challenge and prevent additional lives lost. I encourage all Erie County residents to provide support and understanding to all affected and to recognize opioid addiction is a disease, not an undesirable behavior.”
“We come together to support each other and as a reminder that the opiate epidemic has greatly affected numerous Erie County residents,” commented Erie County Legislator Lynne Dixon. “So many families have suffered. There is much work to be done. It is my hope that we continue our efforts to address this issue and save other families from this devastation.”
Black Balloon Day is a nationwide commemoration that originated in Peabody, Massachusetts by Lauren and Diane Hurley. It is hoped that if every person in America affected by this epidemic hung a black balloon outside their house, the widespread nature of addiction would be apparent and recognized in each community.
About the Erie County Opiate Epidemic Task Force Family Work Group
One of the seven work groups that make up the Task Force, the Family & Consumer Support Advocacy Section is mainly comprised of family members and loved ones of those currently struggling with addiction, as well as those who have already lost a loved one to opiate addiction. Their mission is to support, participate in advocacy efforts and to develop an integrated support network for family and friends dealing with the effects of addiction in a loved one. The Group is chaired by Debra Smith who may be reached at 716-800-9173.
About the West Side Youth Development Coalition
The West Side Youth Development Coalition (WSYDC) is a substance use prevention coalition that targets the West Side of Buffalo and operates from SUNY Buffalo State’s Institute for Community Health Promotion. Through the enactment of strategies to reduce use based on identified community risk factors, the Coalition seeks to improve the health and well-being of youth living on the West Side of Buffalo. WSYDC is supported by the Drug Free Communities Program of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA), a Partnership for Success Grant from the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) and SUNY Buffalo State.
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