Black Balloon Day; Day of Remembrance for those lost to Opioid Addiction & Their Loved Ones

Modified: February 14, 2018 5:33pm

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From the Office of the Commissioner of Health, Dr. Gale R. Burstein

Date: February 14, 2018                       

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— At 6:00 pm on Tuesday, 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. This event hopes to increase awareness of the daily struggles faced by members of our community who suffered the loss of a loved one, and by those who are still battling, working tirelessly to help their loved one manage their addiction.

Erie County District Attorney John Flynn and Erie County Commissioner of Health, Dr. Gale R. Burstein, along with other speakers, will offer brief remarks reflecting on the effect the epidemic has had on our community, and in particular, on the families who have lost loved ones. Upon conclusion, attendees will take balloons home to affix to their front porch or mailbox. Black Balloon Day hopes that every person in America affected by this epidemic will hang a black balloon outside their house so that the widespread nature of addiction is recognized in each community.

“The loss of each member of our community to the opioid epidemic is truly tragic,” said Burstein. “In their memory, we strive to find effective ways to help others affected by opioid addiction overcome this challenge and prevent the loss of additional lives. I encourage all Erie County residents to provide support and understanding to all affected and to recognize opioid addiction is a disease, not a moral failing.”

“I have dedicated 18 years helping families cope with addiction issues as a volunteer and leader with Kids Escaping Drugs,” said Erie County Legislator John Bruso. “Fighting the opioid crisis is at the top of my agenda as a County Legislator. As Chair of the Health and Human Services Committee, I am proud to join with the Poloncarz administration in remembering those we have lost to the drug crisis.”


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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For More Information:

Erie County Department of Health Opiate Epidemic Task Force

Frequently Requested



Phone: (716) 858-7690

Fax: (716) 858-8701

Erie County Department of Health (ECDOH)
95 Franklin Street
Buffalo, New York 14202

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