A Rally To Recover
A recovery event meant to help combat addiction in Chautauqua County is coming to Jamestown, and Chanda Lynn, event organizer and recovery advocate, is looking for help from the community.
Lynn has battled heroin addiction firsthand and is tired of seeing what it is doing to the community. Instead of just talking about it, she and her grandmother, Adrian Smith, decided to do something.
The event will be located at the Goranson Bandshell in Allen Park on Sept. 23 from 1-11 p.m. It will include live music from Smackdab, Bill Ward Music, Amanda Barton and REM One, who are all donating their time for the event. Speakers from across the country will also be featured, along with food vendors and tables of information on recovery and other topics. Likewise, businesses have donated items for a free raffle that everyone will get a ticket for just by showing up.
“We want everybody to come together in one place,” Lynn said. “So if anybody who is addicted shows up or who is in recovery that might be struggling sees that we have all these resources.”
Lynn said she was going to hold the event next year, but believes it is necessary to have it this year. She said she attended an event in Ohio recently as a speaker and felt that Jamestown needed an event like it.
This event is different because people who are addicted and are in need of help will be given help if they attend, Lynn said.
“(People say) that there is nothing here for anybody in Jamestown. There’s nothing here — no hope or help for Jamestown,” Lynn said. “I’ve personally seen the difference. I went from overdosing and almost dying here to being on this side. I know what is here and I want everyone to know what’s here.”
Two people died in less than two weeks in the month of August, and Lynn said she is sick of it.
“Something has got to be done,” she said. “Someone’s got to step up.”
Lynn said she was addicted to opioids for six or seven years, starting out on painkillers at the age of 15 or 16, and was later addicted to suboxone, heroin, mollie and alcohol.
“I lived in a constant state of desperation,” she said. “That’s what my life was.”
In 2014, she decided to detox at her mother’s house. Lynn said she didn’t have the option to go to a rehab, and went through the painful ordeal without added comfort.
“Then, on day three, I woke up,” she said. “I was given a second chance so other people could have a second chance.”
Now, Lynn works to connect those who are addicted to services they need all across the country. However, the dangers of doing heroin today are worse, she said. A few years ago, heroin wasn’t being mixed with stronger drugs, but Lynn said that isn’t the case anymore. The next bag a user gets ahold of could cost them their life.
“People aren’t getting the chance to hit their rock bottom anymore,” she said. “They’re dying well before that point.”
Smith, co-organizer, said they are looking for donations and sponsorship from other local businesses and organizations to help make the event a success. They are also looking for a police officer, a firefighter and an EMT willing to speak at the event. Smith said anyone who wants to come and support the event is welcome.
“We just want to do our part,” she said. “There has been several people in our family that have been addicted or are recovering addicts.”
Smith said the rally is also for those who are addicted to things other than drugs.
“We’re also trying to combat the stigma,” Smith said. “You see people and they say, ‘You need to die — you’re just a junkie.’ It could be their own parent, and not know it.”
Lynn said she hopes to get scholarships from various treatment centers to allow people to access services without worrying about the cost. Many times, what insurance will cover or the cost of the rehabilitation services add to the stress of getting help, she said.
“Anybody that shows up, we want to get them (there) right away,” Lynn said.
Changes need to be made in the community and actions need to be taken in order to stop the spread of addiction in the area and help those who are already addicted, she said. Lynn said she is trying to help foster those changes and stand in the gap. Jamestown is a beautiful community with a far-reaching history at stake here, she said.
Often times, it feels like no one wants to stand up and take the actions that are necessary, Lynn said.
“When are the people who aren’t dying going to stand up and try to help instead of this great divide that happens here?” she asked. “Wait until your child becomes addicted, you’re going to come to me to help them. Why not before then? Why can’t we just take a stand before that and take care of the people who are suffering now?”
Lynn said there is also a generation of children growing up facing this addiction epidemic that the community should think about.
Lynn said when she was in active addiction, she thought that God would just sweep in and rescue her out of it, but later realized that she had to take the first step toward recovery.
“A lot of times, reaching out for help is extremely uncomfortable, breaking anonymity is uncomfortable,” she said. “A lot of times in active addiction, we’re looking for an answer. How do you get out of this whirlwind of desperation?”
Lynn said she said the idea is to let people know there is a solution and a way out of addiction. Those who need support and help will receive it, she said. Also, judgement will be left at the wayside.
“No one is going to be standing at the door saying, ‘Get out of here, junkie,'” Lynn said. “Recovery is possible in Jamestown. You have to reach out first, and then there will be hands that grab you.”
For more information about the event or to contact Lynn or Smith regarding getting involved, find them on Facebook under “Rally To Recover Jamestown” or email firstname.lastname@example.org.