Join the EASTIE Coalition (East Boston Alliance for Support, Treatment, Intervention, and Education) and East
Boston Neighborhood Health Center (EBNHC) for the first annual Community Vigil: Remembering Those Lost to Overdose, on Sunday, September 30, at Piers Park. Friends and family are encouraged to gather for a supportive candle-lit ceremony to reflect on loved ones who have passed away due to overdose or longterm drug use.
“This vigil is about remembering people who have succumbed to this disease,” said Joanna Cataldo, EASTIE Coalition Coordinator. “We hope it helps people find comfort.”
Cataldo, whose family members have experienced substance addiction, hopes that the vigil will also help people find assistance for their loved ones who are currently struggling.
East Boston Neighborhood Health Center has a clinic for those with opioid addiction; and welcomed a new recovery coach, Anita Cunha, who works with PAARI (The Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative). Along with the Boston Police Department, Cunha works with individuals to begin treatment and help them gain access to detox facilities.
“We want people to know that hope isn’t lost,” assured Cataldo.
Cataldo hopes to destigmatize addiction with the Vigil Committee: Nicole O’Brien, Founder of the sober house, Ruth’s Way for Women; Joe Ruggiero, Co-Owner of the Ruggiero Family Memorial Home; Pastor Britta Carlson, All Saviour’s Luthern Church; Sharlene Hicks, local resident, parent, grandmother, and foster mother; Sandra Nijjar, Founder of the East Boston Community Soup Kitchen; Erin Bourgault, Coordinator of the EBNHC’s Trauma Team; Kim Hanton, Director of Substance Abuse Services, North Suffolk Mental Health Association; and Emma Uppal, resident and social worker.
“It’s not a choice,” explained Cataldo. “Nobody sets out to become addicted to a chemical substance, whether it’s heroin, alcohol, or marijuana. It may be that someone starts using as a coping strategy or as a stress reliever. Some often start using because it was a prescribed medication for pain management. Anyone is susceptible, and no one chooses this disease.”
The Community Vigil will be held on Sunday, September 30, 5-7 p.m., at Piers Park, Marginal Street, East Boston. Registration is at 5pm, with the ceremony beginning at 5:30 p.m. For more information contact Joanna Cataldo at (617) 568-6492, or [email protected]
“If we have one person who is remembered this year, it will have meant something to that family member or friend of that person,” said Cataldo.