County to unveil new memorial honoring those battling opioid addiction

Memorial will feature a large purple ribbon, the universal symbol of opioid addiction awareness

The following is a release by Camden County:

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On Monday the Board will be unveiling a place of reflection and hope for the thousands of residents who have passed away to opioid use disorder. This public health crisis continues to plague our nation and our county and building this special place will allow families to honor their family members.

“We want to offer a place for reflection to the families who live in, or are visiting, Camden County that lost a loved one to a opioid use disorder, we want them to feel like their lives have been honored properly,” said Freeholder Director Louis Cappelli, Jr. “If this memorial can start a conversation between two people about opioid use or about the stigma surrounding this disease, then that alone makes the entire project worth it. We want to show people that they’re not alone and that our community is facing this epidemic together.”

In 2019, a joint Rutgers-Eagleton/Farleigh Dickinson University poll found that roughly a quarter of New Jersey residents or their family members had taken a prescription opioid painkiller in the previous 12 months, and seven in ten respondents rated prescription drug use as a serious problem in their community. Since 2013, there have been more than 1,600 suspected overdose deaths in Camden County alone, according to data collected by the Office of the New Jersey Attorney General.

The memorial will feature a large purple ribbon, the universal symbol of opioid addiction awareness, surrounded by a spiraling, sloped wall, with benches nearby for seated reflection. Additional parking areas are planned near to the memorial to help visitors access the site in the 128-acre park.

“Our communities, our schools, our families have all been impacted by this disease, and for a long time, it was taboo to talk about it; addiction was something society wanted to ignore,” Cappelli said. “We can’t undo years of overdoses, but we can prevent the next decade from looking like the one that just ended. Our hope is that this memorial addresses both our past and our future in a meaningful way as we further combat this epidemic.”

For a video rendering of the site, please visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?edufilter=NULL&feature=youtu.be&v=IAjIy5gky8s.

In concert with the opening of the Hope and Remembrance Memorial, the Freeholder Board will be observing international Overdose Awareness Day today, Aug. 31. Throughout the county workforce colleagues and peers will come together, wear purple and reflect on the thousands lost to the scourge of opioid use disorder that continues to consume our towns, county, state and nation.

“Heroin and opiates are a public health crisis that have had devastating effects on all of us. These narcotics are ubiquitous in every community and no one is immune from their devastating impacts,” said Freeholder Director Louis Cappelli, Jr. “I want to thank the employees of Camden County for joining in the campaign by raising awareness and reducing the stigma of opioid use disorder.”

Tonight, the Camden skyline will be bathed in purple light to mark Overdose Awareness Day. The Camden County Courthouse/City Hall building, the Governor James J. Florio Center for Public Service and the Ben Franklin Bridge will be illuminated in purple light.

“Some of the most recognizable structures that make up the city’s skyline will take part in this observance,” Cappelli said. “These buildings and the bridge will serve as a visual representation of the ongoing public health crisis the nation is experiencing.”

We know that treatment works. If you, or someone you know, are battling addiction, please contact (877) 266-8222 for help. For any assistance related to Camden County’s Office of Mental Health and Addiction and its programs, call (856) 374-6320 or email patty.direnzo@camdencounty.com.

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