Raising awareness, remembering loved ones


On Friday from 6 to 8:30 pm, members of the community who have been afflicted with drug addiction, whether directly or indirectly, will gather at Owen Park in Vineyard Haven for a candlelight vigil to raise awareness for those still struggling, and to remember lost loved ones.

Across the globe, individuals and organizations recognize International Overdose Awareness Day on August 31. The day aims to raise awareness of overdose and reduce the stigma of a drug-related death. It also acknowledges the grief felt by families and friends remembering those who have died or had a permanent injury as a result of drug overdose.

The vigil, originally organized by Dolores Borza after the death of a close family friend, will light up the evening sky with candles that represent those who were lost to drug addiction.

“We need to stop the stigma surrounding overdoses and addiction,” Borza told The Times during a phone call. “People need to have the courage to come forward, because if you can’t come forward, your voice won’t be heard.”

People are encouraged to bring photographs of lost loved ones to be seen and recognized by the community. The Rev. Vincent (Chip) Seadale will read the names from the board and from a piece of paper that will be passed around to those who don’t have pictures. He will say a prayer for those who are gone, and for those who are still struggling with addiction.

“When you say someone’s name out loud, it really has an impact on everyone who hears it,” Borza said.

Martha’s Vineyard Community Services, alongside other Island organizations (National Alliance on Mental Illness, Learn 2 Cope, and more) will be participating in the event — available to answer questions and share information and resources.

Borza stressed that this is a community event made possible by the support of many different Island residents and organizations. Information about Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcan administration will be available at the vigil.