Easthampton residents gather to remember loved ones lost to opioid overdose

This week, people across the globe will join together and remember those who have lost their lives to the opioid crisis.
Published: Aug. 29, 2022 at 10:57 PM EDT
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EASTHAMPTON, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) - This week, people across the globe will join together and remember those who have lost their lives to the opioid crisis.

International Opioid Awareness Day is set to take place on Wednesday, August 31st. In Easthampton, neighbors offered community resources and reflected on those who have been affected by overdoses.

The town of Easthampton assembled at Nashawannuck Pond Monday night to observe International Opioid Awareness Day. Residents gathered to honor loved ones who have died, and event organizers provided resources to help those in need.

“We really wanted to be able to offer resources and education,” said Elizabeth Plouffe, an Easthampton social worker, “so that people don’t always feel like they have to go outside of Easthampton if they are looking for help for themselves or for someone in their family or friend group.”

The annual event is held across the world on August 31st, but in Easthampton, their community gathering and vigil was held two days early.

“Our neighboring communities have events that day, so in order to not overshadow them, we had an event today to just provide resources to Easthampton residents,” Bridget Diggins, an Eastahmtpon public health nurse, told Western Mass News.

Across the state, Governor Charlie Baker and state health officials joined those affected by overdoses at the Boston Common. 20,000 purple flags signified the number of Massachusetts residents who died of drug overdose in the last decade.

Closer to home, Easthampton officials handed out supplies, including fentanyl tests, Narcan, and partnered with multiple organizations, including Learn to Cope.

“If they want to participate in group support moving forward, accessing providers who work with those with a substance use disorder, we had a little bit of everything,” Plouffe said. “It was really nice.”

Purple ribbons and special pins were worn to recognize the day, and candles were lit for loved ones.

“I think it was just really nice for us to be able to connect with families in the community and recognize this day and honor that it is an important topic for us to keep talking about,” Plouffe told us.

Other communities in western Massachusetts will also hold days of remembrance on Wednesday:

  • Holyoke:
    • Light Up Holyoke Purple
    • Wednesday, August 31st from 2-5 p.m.
    • Veteran’s Park, Holyoke
  • Northampton:
    • Remembrance & Survival Overdose Awareness Event
    • Wednesday, August 31 6-8 p.m.
    • Pulaski Park, Northampton
  • Westfield:
    • International Overdose Awareness Vigil
    • Wednesday, August 31, 6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
    • Park Square, Westfield