Opioid addiction is a public health crisis that is wreaking havoc on families all around the country, including right here in Western New York.
It takes away brothers, sisters, daughters, sons, mothers and fathers. It does not discriminate – finding a way into every community, every neighborhood. On March 6th, the community will come together to remember those who’ve died, and those who are left behind.
At 6:00 pm on Tuesday, March 6th, on the steps of Old Erie County Hall, 92 Franklin Street in downtown Buffalo, members of the Erie County Opiate Epidemic Task Force’s Family & Consumer Support Advocacy Section, along with the West Side Youth Development Coalition, will remember and pay tribute to the individuals who have succumbed to opioid addiction in Erie County.
The display of black balloons outside the entrance to County Hall–representing our collective community front door–will pay silent tribute to the victims of opiate addiction. This event hopes to increase awareness of the daily struggles faced by members of our community who suffered the loss of a loved one, and by those who are still battling, working tirelessly to help their loved one manage their addiction.
Erie County District Attorney John Flynn and Erie County Commissioner of Health, Dr. Gale R. Burstein, along with other speakers, will offer brief remarks reflecting on the effect the epidemic has had on our community, and in particular, on the families who have lost loved ones. Upon conclusion, attendees will take balloons home to affix to their front porch or mailbox. Black Balloon Day hopes that every person in America affected by this epidemic will hang a black balloon outside their house so that the widespread nature of addiction is recognized in each community.
“The loss of each member of our community to the opioid epidemic is truly tragic,” said Burstein. “In their memory, we strive to find effective ways to help others affected by opioid addiction overcome this challenge and prevent the loss of additional lives. I encourage all Erie County residents to provide support and understanding to all affected and to recognize opioid addiction is a disease, not a moral failing.”
“I have dedicated 18 years helping families cope with addiction issues as a volunteer and leader with Kids Escaping Drugs,” said Erie County Legislator John Bruso. “Fighting the opioid crisis is at the top of my agenda as a County Legislator. As Chair of the Health and Human Services Committee, I am proud to join with the Poloncarz administration in remembering those we have lost to the drug crisis.”
About the West Side Youth Development Coalition
The West Side Youth Development Coalition (WSYDC) is a substance use prevention coalition that targets the West Side of Buffalo and operates from SUNY Buffalo State’s Institute for Community Health Promotion. Through the enactment of strategies to reduce use based on identified community risk factors, the Coalition seeks to improve the health and well-being of youth living on the West Side of Buffalo. WSYDC is supported by the Drug Free Communities Program of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA), a Partnership for Success Grant from the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) and SUNY Buffalo State.