HomeWashington Twp. NewsWashington Township sheds light on addiction

Washington Township sheds light on addiction

Awareness and remembrance vigil planned for June 19

A group of parents and volunteers have gathered to shed light on an issue that has plagued Washington Township and the surrounding towns for several years — the opioid epidemic. An awareness event is planned for June 19 at 7 p.m. at Washington Township High School 11/12 auditorium (Playhouse), located at 529 Hurffville-Crosskeys Road, Sewell.

Each year the Washington Township Public School District offers a Senior Service Day during which high school seniors give back to the other area schools and the community. This year, some of the seniors made lanterns with the elementary school children, dubbing it The Lantern Project.

- Advertisement -

During the planning of this event, two parents in the town were lost to the disease of addiction within two weeks of each other, leaving their three children in the care of grandparents. A suggestion was made to use the lanterns to hold a candlelight vigil in the summer to remember those the community has lost. The event turned into a community activity focused on prevention, education and remembrance.

“The event started as remembrance but then evolved into something much more powerful,” said Julie Yankanich, one of the organizers. “We partnered with City of Angels, Kennedy Hospital, the Municipal Alliance, the school district, and local law enforcement to put together an all-ages evening of live music, moving speakers and useful resources.”

From 7 p.m. to 8 p.m., the community will hear from several speakers including: Mayor Joann Gattinelli; Superintendent of Schools Joe Bollendorf; Gloucester County Prosecutor Sean Dalton; Lindsay Parker, resident in recovery; Chief of Police Patrick Gurcsik; Michelle Perez, City of Angels and recovery advocate; Amanda Vacca, resident in recovery; and Gloucester County Freeholder Jim Jefferson.

Members of the Washington Township elementary school choirs will sing “It’s Up To You, It’s Up To Me,” an original song written by teacher Eileen Lucarini. They worked with their music teacher, Nancy Leong, on the arrangement.

Other performers include several members of the Washington Township High School Choir and WTHS student Amanda Peacock.

According to Yankanich, there will be “a variety of resource tables available to the community to browse,” coordinated by City of Angels.

At 7 p.m. there will be a ribbon cutting for a remembrance bench dedicated to community members lost from the opioid epidemic, thanks to the Municipal Alliance and the mayor’s office.

Parents of students are encouraged to have their children bring the lantern made on Senior Service day. Lanterns will also be available for sale on site.

A moment of silence will be held with the lanterns at 8:15 p.m.

This is a family event and children of all ages are welcome — people will tell their personal stories with the understanding that the youngest community members are listening. The goal is to connect the community to address this issue going forward.

For more information, contact Julie Yankanich at (856) 298–3035.


Stay Connected

- Advertisment -

Current Issue