County will hold vigil to memorialize lives lost to substance use disorder

The Night of Tribute & Support vigil is held annually on International Overdose Awareness Day to help eliminate stigma surrounding substance use disorder

Burlington County officials will join with local advocates, residents, providers and families Thursday evening for a vigil memorializing county residents who have died as a result of substance use disorder.

The Night of Tribute & Support vigil is held annually on International Overdose Awareness Day to help eliminate stigma surrounding substance use disorder, remember those who lost their lives to the disease, and provide support to loved ones left behind.

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“Substance use disorder has stolen the lives of hundreds of Burlington County residents of all ages, races and backgrounds. We gather to remember these victims and to show support to their loved ones and to those who are waging their own battles against the disease,” said Burlington County Commissioner Director Felicia Hopson. “We must continue to provide help and support to those who need it and continue to speak out and take action to eliminate stigma surrounding substance abuse and all mental illnesses.”

The vigil and remembrance ceremony will be held at 7 p.m. this Thursday, Aug. 31, at the Burlington County Amphitheater, 5 Pioneer Boulevard, Westampton. It is being organized by the Burlington County Coalition for Healthy Communities, Burlington County Department of Human Services, Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office and the support group Shouting 4 Shelby.

This year marks the sixth year the Burlington County vigil has been held.

Joe Conlin, director of community relations for Prevention Plus of Burlington County, will serve as the Master of Ceremonies at the ceremony, and State Senator Troy SingletonBurlington County Prosecutor LaChia Bradshaw and Colleen Howard, executive director of the support group, Rap Room 2P2, are among the scheduled speakers.

“It’s an honor to be part of the team that plans and organizes this event,” said Conlin. 

The vigil will also feature musical performances and remembrances, including the reading of 150 names of loved ones lost.

The Burlington County Hope One Mobile Outreach Unit will also be present at the amphitheater along with information tables from more than a dozen support groups and providers, including Prevention Plus of Burlington County, Shouting 4 Shelby, Kings Crusade, the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office, Marlton Elks, Aspire Youth Development, Contact of Burlington County, 1-800-Gambler, Center for Family Services, Narcotics Anonymous, and Britney’s Justice 4 Overdose Awareness

The Hope One unit is run by the Burlington County Sheriff’s Office in partnership with the Burlington County Department of Human Services and Burlington County Health Department. Virtua Health, Maryville and the Deborah Heart and Lung Center also contribute staff to the unit, which regularly travels to different communities in the county to help link residents with recovery specialists and treatment facilities. The unit also trains people on how to administer overdose antidote.

The creation of the Hope One unit is one of several actions the county has taken to assist residents suffering from substance use disorders and their families and loved ones.

Burlington County is also distributing overdose emergency kits to high schools in Burlington County that requested them. The wall-mounted contain the overdose reversal drug Naloxone, commonly called Narcan.

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