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Community members invited to ‘Light Up the Night’ in honor of overdose victims

By Jordyn Grzelewski

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Plans include luminaria lighting, candelight vigil

By Jordyn Grzelewski

jgrzelewski@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

On Friday, about 100 luminarias will light up the night in the city.

Each lantern will represent a person in Mahoning County who died of an overdose in the last year.

Community members are invited to participate in Ohio Change Addiction Now (C.A.N.)’s International Overdose Awareness Day event, “Light Up the Night” Friday at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Youngstown, 1105 Elm St.

The event aims to “remember everyone we’ve lost to an overdose, support loved ones left behind, offer hope to those in active addiction, encourage each person in recovery and educate the community,” said Ohio C.A.N. Mahoning County coordinator Hope Lovrinoff-Moran. “We’ll be lighting luminarias tagged with everybody we’ve lost in these last 12 months. ... We offer a luminaria [to attendees] to remember anyone they’ve lost or who is still struggling.”

The event will begin with a naloxone distribution and training session led by the Mahoning County District Board of Health. Naloxone is a medication that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose. Naloxone will be available to attendees to bring home with them.

Registration for that portion of the event begins at 5 p.m., with the training session running from 5:30 to 6:30.

Luminaria lighting will begin at 6:45 and a speaker session will begin at 7.

One of the featured speakers will be Linda Ogden, leader of an organization called Project 3MP.

Ogden will share her life story and talk about topics such as human trafficking, abuse and homelessness, and how people struggling with addiction are vulnerable to such issues, Lovrinoff-Moran said.

“Her story is not only one of vulnerability and exploitation, but also one of resiliency and recovery,” she said.

A candelight vigil will take place after the speaker portion of the event, about 9 p.m.

Lovrinoff-Moran noted the staggering number of overdose deaths in the U.S., Ohio and locally. Recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate drug overdoses killed more than 72,000 Americans in 2017.

Unintentional drug overdoses killed about 250 people in Mahoning and Trumbull counties last year.

“With numbers like that, this truly is staggering and we have to bring it out of the darkness. That’s why it’s called ‘Light Up the Night,’” Lovrinoff-Moran said.

“It’s giving people an opportunity to come out of the darkness and into the light.”