MIAMI COUNTY —Where there’s hope, there’s help.
More than 40 churches, 30 social service organizations and 300 volunteers will reach out to addicts, families, friends and community members for the first Hope Over Heroin event at the Miami County Fairgrounds this weekend.
Upper Room Worship Center Pastor Aaron Simmons, who also is a Troy firefighter/paramedic, shared the event’s message that there is hope within the disease and a supportive community willing to help addicts overcome their addiction.
“It’s not just for addicts. It’s for families of addicts. It’s for our community, for us to come together and stand together as we rage war against the heroin/opiate addition and substance abuse. This is an open event and we are encouraging everyone to come because we want to stand together as a community,” Simmons shared. “There is hope to overcome this disease and addiction. There are resources, churches and agencies willing to help. We are looking for Hope Over Heroin to be a catalyst and a launching pad for all the churches and resources getting together.”
Simmons said he hopes the community feels a “trickle effect” with less transports to the hospital, less incarcerations and less crime tied to the heroin epidemic in Miami County following the event.
“We definitely want to see a long-term effect with lives being transformed,” Simmons shared. “What we are planning for is follow-up. We want to see the lasting impact long-term. We want to see transformed lives.”
Simmons shared how heroin addiction has personally touched his life as a paramedic and a pastor.
“I’ve seen it first hand on all levels. As a person, as a friend and family, and as a first responder and paramedic and also as a pastor counseling families who have lost loved ones and doing funerals. It’s been hands-on in all aspects of my life.”
Simmons said volunteers will reach out to neighborhoods around the county to invite people to attend both Friday evening and Saturday morning.
Hope Over Heroin kicks off Friday, July 8, at 7 p.m. at the fairgrounds. Saturday’s events will include a free cookout meal beginning at noon. Activities also include family and children’s activities as well as a “City of Resources” to educate the public about the county’s social services and support organizations, which will be open until the main event at 7 p.m. at the grandstands.
Also on Saturday, a memory and awareness march will begin at 5 p.m. The walk will take participants to the Miami County Courthouse for prayer and then back to the fairgrounds.
Hope Over Heroin is a Cincinnati-faith based organization that formed after 14 deaths from heroin overdose occurred in one week in Hamilton County in 2014.
Simmons said the community has been generous with their donations of goods, children’s activities and other resources for the first-ever event. Simmons said cash donations are still being sought to cover miscellaneous expenses.
“To have three to four hundred people step up and volunteer has been tremendous to witness,” Simmons said. “Part of this goal of the event was to get the churches and agencies together to do something about this. We want to see lives touched and see people there.”
Simmons encouraged those who are planning to attend to reach out to friends and neighbors and provide transportation to the event to bring the community together to fight the epidemic.
“We want to see lives touched. We want to see people there. Come, and if you know people, provide them transportation. … We want to see lives and communities impacted,” Simmons said.
Donations also can still be made at any Fifth Third Bank branch or visit the Hope Over Heroin website at www.hopeoverheroin.com and designate funds to the Troy event.
Reach Melanie Yingst at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @Troydailynews