Community members to honor lives lost to opioid crisis

Community members in Portland are honoring the lives lost to the opioid crisis. Sunday marks Black Balloon Day, a national day of recognition for overdose deaths. The Portland Recovery Community Center is inviting those who have lost a loved one to addiction to decorate a rock in their memory ahead of their ceremony this Sunday. One of the rocks bears the name of Danielle Megalaitis’s brother, Devin, who died in 2014.”Daily, I go over and put something new on the rock. That way I have a little piece of him while I’m working,” Megalaitis said. Now working as a volunteer recovery supervisor at the community center, Megalaitis said her brother’s death now serves as a driving force behind her own recovery and work to help others struggling with addiction.”The love that I had for him lives on in my interactions with people on a daily basis and that just drives the person that I am,” Megalaitis said. Devon’s name is among dozens in a display in the community center’s lobby, where anyone can visit to paint their own stone. According to the state Attorney General’s Office, 636 people died from an overdose in Maine in 2021, more than any year on record. “Every person who has died is somebody’s child. They’re a sister, a brother, a parent, a community member. They’re our friends,” said Leslie Clark, PRCC’s executive director. Clark said the COVID-19 pandemic has created a host of challenges for those struggling with addiction, including increased periods of isolation and more barriers to recovery resources. The stones will be included in a small, informal ceremony this Sunday to mark Black Balloon Day. They will then be placed into a new garden space at the PRCC this spring.

Community members in Portland are honoring the lives lost to the opioid crisis.

Sunday marks Black Balloon Day, a national day of recognition for overdose deaths.

The Portland Recovery Community Center is inviting those who have lost a loved one to addiction to decorate a rock in their memory ahead of their ceremony this Sunday.

One of the rocks bears the name of Danielle Megalaitis’s brother, Devin, who died in 2014.

“Daily, I go over and put something new on the rock. That way I have a little piece of him while I’m working,” Megalaitis said.

Now working as a volunteer recovery supervisor at the community center, Megalaitis said her brother’s death now serves as a driving force behind her own recovery and work to help others struggling with addiction.

“The love that I had for him lives on in my interactions with people on a daily basis and that just drives the person that I am,” Megalaitis said.

Devon’s name is among dozens in a display in the community center’s lobby, where anyone can visit to paint their own stone.

According to the state Attorney General’s Office, 636 people died from an overdose in Maine in 2021, more than any year on record.

“Every person who has died is somebody’s child. They’re a sister, a brother, a parent, a community member. They’re our friends,” said Leslie Clark, PRCC’s executive director.

Clark said the COVID-19 pandemic has created a host of challenges for those struggling with addiction, including increased periods of isolation and more barriers to recovery resources.

The stones will be included in a small, informal ceremony this Sunday to mark Black Balloon Day. They will then be placed into a new garden space at the PRCC this spring.

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