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Camden County to hold second annual vigil for those lost to addiction

Remembrance and Hope Memorial offers solace now more than ever.


One year since its establishment, The Camden County Remembrance and Hope Memorial at Timber Creek Park in Gloucester Township is once again offering a place of reflection to families who have lost a loved one to the disease of addiction, showing them that they are not alone. 

After the worst of the pandemic — when those struggling with addiction as well as their families faced fear and isolation — pausing to remember a loved one may be more important than ever. 

Kyle Sullender, external affairs manager for the county office of communications, had this to say on July 29: “I think it’s extra important for a couple reasons.The pandemic fueled some of these issues that already existed during quarantine and beyond. 

For the families who suffered a loss prior to the pandemic, this period was triggering  another intense situation without the comfort of a loved one.

“Coming out of this,” he added, “it’s important we provide a space for the community so those who are suffering can stand together.”

This year’s memorial vigil is slated for Aug. 31, at 7:30 p.m., rain or shine.

Pavers were again offered as part of the memorial to honor the lives lost. Camden County offered two options for residents: a single paver option that included up to four  lines for a message, and a shared paver option that accommodated two lines for a message, both with 17 characters to a line. 

“Pavers give the chance for families to see their loved ones’ names on the memorial,” Sullender explained. “When you can see your loved one’s name, and know that others can see them, we’ve learned how important that was. With the design of the memorial having the pavers spread throughout, we found that to be really impactful.”

As the memorial grows, Sullender said there would be more room for residents to acquire either paver option. As of now, there is a limit of one paver per customer, but there is no set number of total pavers to accommodate future expansion. Pavers were chosen in large part due to a relatively small imprint that can be added if more room is made along the memorial’s walking path or an external wall is constructed. 

In August of each year, community members will gather for a candlelight vigil in remembrance of those lost to raise awareness about the scourge of drug addiction and overdose throughout the country. 

Sullender also revealed that the county logged 288 suspected overdose deaths during calendar year 2020. 

“The good news is, that number was down from 2019,” he noted. “We were up over 300 over the previous three years (2017-’19). So we’re happy to have come out of the pandemic without seeing a jump in those figures.”

Families have been invited to submit names and photos of their loved ones prior to the event for a slideshow as part of the vigil. To include your loved one in the 2021 vigil program, submit the information at  https://sparkcreative.wufoo.com/forms/q1ixaqea1pml0ma/.


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