Ongoing Project Will Document and Remember Those Lost
Reading, MA — Chief David Clark and the Reading Police Department, along with the Reading Coalition for Prevention and Support, and the Mystic Valley Public Health Coalition, are proud to report they led a community recognition of International Overdose Awareness Day.
Observed on August 31 every year, International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD) seeks to create better understanding of overdose, reduce the stigma of drug-related deaths, and create change that reduces the harms associated with drug misuse.
“Overdose can affect anybody and one of the messages of this day is that the people who overdose are our sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters – they are loved and they are missed. We want local families to know that their pain does not go unnoticed,” said Chief Clark. “We are strongly committed to addressing the complex issue of substance misuse, and ending overdose particularly fentanyl poisoning. The Reading Police Department is proud to continue the work of the Reading Coalition for Prevention & Support. We recognize the importance of a collaborative approach to improve prevention, intervention, and enforcement efforts. In the past year, we have expanded our reach by adding a Mental Health Clinician to our team. Together, our Officers, Dispatchers, Coalition staff and Coalition Advisory Board want to encourage our community to get involved and be part of our efforts moving forward.”
Erica McNamara, director of the Reading Coalition for Prevention and Support, said the hundreds of purple ribbons on the Town Common symbolized the hundreds of lives in Reading that have been impacted by substance misuse and overdoses.
McNamara and other organizers also sought to bring attention to a regional story-gathering effort — A Walk to Remember — that is being led by the Reading Coalition for Prevention & Support in partnership with the Mystic Valley Public Health Coalition.
The organizations will be gathering stories from around the region (Malden, Medford, Melrose, Reading, Stoneham, Wakefield and Winchester) to honor those lost to substance misuse. These stories will be displayed at a special event on Sept. 28 to promote understanding, compassion, and change. An online story display will also be made available.
“We hope families will share their stories and join us on the Reading Town Common for our special Recovery & Remembrance Event on Sept. 28, from 6-7:30 p.m.,” said Reading Town Manager Fidel Maltez. “We will celebrate those living in recovery and remember those that lost their life to substance misuse. Communities become stronger by coming together. We will have resources, guest speakers, and conclude with our Walk to Remember & Candlelight Vigil.”
Reading Public Schools Superintendent Tom Milaschewski also spoke, touting a new peer leadership group at Reading Memorial High School called Rocket Leaders in Action, which was created by Krystal Mellonakos-Garay, Outreach Coordinator for the Coalition, and Michelle Hopkinson, a Health Educator at the High School.
“Rocket Leaders in Action will be a great opportunity for our students to develop leadership skills. Students will create their own projects centered around the Coalition’s mission of promoting mental health and preventing substance misuse,” Superintendent Milaschewski said. “It is a chance for students to make a difference in Reading and make meaningful connections with community members.”
Additionally, Reading Police and the Reading Coalition for Prevention and Support have teamed up to offer a special Reading Coalition police patch that officers will wear during the month of September to raise awareness of substance misuse and mental health initiatives.
The patches combine the Reading Police logo with the logo of the Reading Coalition, and can be obtained by members of the public who contact Officer Kristen O’Shaughnessy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about International Overdose Awareness Day, visit [HERE].
About The Reading Coalition
The Reading Coalition for Prevention & Support, formerly known as RCASA, was established in 2006 in Reading. The coalition started as a town, police, school and community initiative focused on improving collaboration and reducing substance abuse. Today, the coalition funded under the Reading Police Department, offers programs and services that focus on substance misuse prevention and mental health promotion. Visit our website. Follow us on Instagram @rcps_rpd, like us on Facebook @reading coalition and follow us on Twitter @rcoalition4prev
About the Mystic Valley Public Health Coalition (MVPHC)
MVPHC connects seven towns and cities including Malden, Medford, Melrose, Reading, Stoneham, Wakefield and Winchester. Together, we collaborate on importance prevention initiatives to support our communities. Find more info here.