Community Vigil highlights
by Jazz Clark
The Morgan County Partnership held their second annual community candlelight vigil on Saturday, April 21 at the Berkeley Springs High School Auditorium, the event’s rain location. Music was provided by the eight-person Refuge church choir band.
Guest Emcee and social worker Gary McDaniel educated the gathered people of all ages on the dangers of the disease of addiction.
“People think of disease of the body as real disease, but not the mind,” McDaniels said. “It’s difficult for anyone to find treatment for mental illness in Morgan County.”
Drug addiction ravages people of all ages in our community, he said. While programs like Alcoholics Anonymous are helpful, they only have a 10% success rate.
“There’s only one guaranteed cure for addiction-abstinence,” said McDaniels.
Special guest Mayor Susan Webster spoke to the crowd about how addiction has personally affected her life.
“I would give anything not to be here tonight, for there not to be this problem in this community,” said Webster.
Webster’s own son Aaron Moss passed of an accidental overdose in February 2010.
The Mayor said that government alone can’t fix the problem.
“We need to touch those affected personally, because one person in the right situation can avert tragedy,” Webster said. “We have to meet this challenge for the families in this town.”
Even local law enforcement can only do so much, said Sheriff Vince Shambaugh.
“We do what we can, give free drug tests, but eight, 10, 12 people a year die from this,” said Shambaugh. “A lot of people don’t want to come forward and say anything, to be labeled as a ‘snitch.’”
Other moments included three recovering addicts giving personal testimony on how drugs affected their life, and how much being clean has saved them.
The recovery quilt was unveiled at last, put together to memorialize the fight against drug addiction. The quilt will continue to grow alongside awareness in the community, McDaniels said.
And with roughly 30 people standing outside the gym holding lit candles in memory of those who have passed from overdose, the vigil closed on a somber but hopeful note.
The Morgan County Partnership has a vision of building a supportive network of resources for young people, their families and others connected to them to create a safe, healthy and drug free community. They can be contacted at 304-258-7807 and online at their website.