Global initiative in an educational opportunity will span two nights
Spectrum Health and Human Services says, “The statistics are startling. Here in Erie County, there was a 57% increase in confirmed opioid-related overdose deaths from 2019 to 2020. Nationally, there was a 30% increase. The trajectory for 2021 is not any better: As of July 14, there were 85 confirmed opioid-related deaths, and as many as 75 more once full toxicology reports are reviewed. While tragic, death from overdose is also preventable with education and intervention.”
As such, it will present a free evening of education and information starting at 5 p.m. Monday, Aug. 30, at Veterans Park, 1250 Union Road, West Seneca (behind Town Hall).
Headlining the evening is a free concert by The Patti Parks Band at 5 p.m. South Buffalo native Parks is a blues singer and the founder of “Nursin’ Blues,” a music therapy program that helps high-risk youth cope with the emotions as they recover from drug addiction. She’s also the mom of a young man who lost his life to an overdose in 2019.
“It is imperative that we as a community stand together in our fight to save those who suffer from chemical dependency,” Parks said. “The strongest force we have is through education. I encourage everyone who has lost a child as I have, or those who seek self-help and empowerment, please join me on this memorable day in solidarity.”
Also happening in the park, the Erie County Opiate Epidemic Task Force will have Narcan information and a limited supply of Narcan kits with education provided by certified trainers. Narcan, when properly used, can rapidly reverse the ill effects of opioid drugs and prevent death.
Representatives from Nursin’ Blues, BestSelf Behavioral Health, WNY Blues Society, Spectrum Health’s C.A.R.E.S. program, and crisis counselors from NY Project Hope will also be stationed at informational tables. Food trucks and a remembrance pinwheel garden will complete the night.
Spectrum Health Associate CEO Cindy Voelker said, “We hope you will join us at this very important event. We are so fortunate to have Patti and The Patti Parks Band with us to commemorate the memories of the loved ones and members of our community we have lost. We also want to spread hope for others going forward. I personally know the pain that comes from losing someone before their time to this epidemic we are continuing to fight.”
On Tuesday, Aug. 31 – which is International Overdose Awareness Day – Narcan trainers from Spectrum Health will be on hand at the final “Food Truck Tuesday” of the season at Larkin Square (5-8 p.m.). The Buffalo LIT (Landmark Illumination Team) sites – including Buffalo’s iconic City Hall dome – will be lit purple that evening as a visual reminder, and Niagara Falls will be bathed in purple light from 9:45-10 p.m.
For more information, visit www.shswny.org.
Spectrum Health and Human Services is a Certified Community Behavioral Health Center (CCBHC) providing mental health, addiction, rehabilitation, care coordination, housing and crisis services in locations throughout Western New York. Spectrum Health promotes hope, empowerment and self-defined improvements to adults, children and families as they recover from behavioral and/or addiction-related disorders. Visit www.shswny.org for more information.