Candlelight Vigil Hosted by Malden Overcoming Addiction

On November 3rd, Malden Overcoming Addiction hosted its 5th Annual Candlelight Vigil to remember those who lost their lives to addiction. People who participated began to walk in front of Malden High School at 6:00 PM and then made their way down Salem Street, and then Ferry Street, and ended back at the courtyard.

Lining the entrance to the courtyard were lanterns with the names of those who lost the battle against addiction over the past five years. The people whose families attended were not exclusive to the city of Malden. Each name represented a person who had a family, a life, happy and sad times, and ultimately were not able to succeed. 

Person wrapping hands around candle. Photo taken by Ana Pirosca.

One of the aims of the event was to reduce the stigma associated with addicts and addiction. In other words, it attempted to bring attention to those who are suffering from addiction while also trying to honor those who have lost their lives to it. Some families who attended the event recalled their honor students who obtained an addiction to opiates after a sports injury. Others recalled their mothers or fathers, a husband or wife. 

Many citizens came forward and expressed their grief for the people close to them that they lost. In attendance were Mayor Christenson, Jason Lewis and Police Chief Kevin Molis, who all spoke about the seriousness of the disease of addiction and their desire to help Malden. Molis expressed that when it comes to saving lives, there’s only one side to be on and that is the “caring and loving side.”

Richie Evans, a person in recovery, explained that “[the] room [was] full of success stories” and came forward and stated that “we have the best community; recovery is possible.” He also thanked the first responders who worked quickly to ensure that he was still alive.

Keriann Caccavaro, another person in recovery, spoke about the difficulty of feeling deserving of recovery and the immense strength required by families and people with addiction alike, to overcome the disease. 

Malden Overcoming Addiction stage. Photo taken by Ana Pirosca.

Finally, Paul Hammersley, president of Malden Overcoming Addiction came forward with his story. Hammersley shared that 16 years ago he attempted suicide because he “did not like [himself],” and this affected his entire family. He would not be alive today if his father had not found him. His own experiences drove him to work for Malden Overcoming Addiction and help other people who may be struggling. 

The vigil ended with the reading of all names of the lives lost, accompanied with a slide show and bell ringing to commemorate. This was followed by an opportunity for people to learn skills in helping someone who is overdosing, find and get involved with treatment centers, and talk to several survivors. 

If you or anyone you know is suffering from addiction, contact 1-800-662-HELP (4357), and remember, the first thing one should do when near someone who has overdosed is call 911.

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