MHA/St. Luke’s Hold Overdose Awareness Events

The Undercroft of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Jamestown was the venue for the recent Art In Recovery exhibit presented by St. Luke’s and the Mental Health Association in Chautauqua County. MHA staffer Sean Jones is pictured with Melita Lyon, one of the participating artists, standing in front of her work. Submitted photo

St. Luke’s Episcopal Church recently hosted the work of 10 artists from the Mental Health Association in Chautauqua County Art in Recovery classes in both Jamestown and Dunkirk.

The Art in Recovery Exhibit was held in St. Luke’s Undercroft in downtown Jamestown to raise awareness for International Overdose Awareness Day.

The works on display were by participants under the leadership of MHA staffers Sean Jones in Jamestown and Roseann Crocker in Dunkirk. Artists who shared how they celebrate their own creativity and recovery included Diana Bloom, Jessica Boutelle, Carriee Clark, Randal Hallett, Becky Hemmis and Bev Michaels, as well as volunteer Diane Valvo and interns Melita Lyon, Megann Panek and David Wolcott.

The show was coordinated by Jones and the Rev. Jessica Frederick, Curate for Children, Youth, and Families at St. Luke’s. They were also responsible for the special “prayer flag” public art installation outside the church. Participants in St. Luke’s Sunday service on August 28 could write the name of a friend or family member suffering from addiction on a piece of fabric to be added to the flag.

Jones delivered the sermon at that service, during which candles were lit and bells tolled to honor the 53 people who lost their lives to drug overdose in Chautauqua County over this past year.

Steven Cobb, MHA executive director, said if Jamestown’s City Hall were the center of a circle that extended a mile in all directions, 80% of those deaths were within that circle – and people within that circle who overdosed were twice as likely to die as those who overdosed in the rest of Chautauqua County. At the current rate, more overdose deaths are expected this year.

Other MHA staff and participants had roles in the service, including CFO Jenny Rowe, who closed the service playing a duet of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” on violin with St. Luke’s Minister of Music Ron McEntire on piano.

After the service, refreshments were served in the Undercroft after the service, where the art was viewed and Cobb offered Narcan training. Narcan is the brand name for naloxone, a safe, easily administered medication that has saved hundreds of lives in Chautauqua County from possible opioid overdose.

Free Narcan was available as well as fentanyl test strips and Deterra drug deactivation bags. The test strips can identify the presence of fentanyl in unregulated drugs and are recommended in this area even for occasional users. The deactivation bags are a simple, environmentally safe at-home method to destroy leftover prescription drugs so they cannot be misused.

The products can also be obtained free from the MHA.

With programs in both Jamestown and Dunkirk, the Mental Health Association in Chautauqua County is a peer recovery center offering support groups and individual coaching for people looking to improve their lives, deepen wellness, thrive in recovery, or support those on a recovery path. Peers use their personal stories to help people find recovery in their own lives in their own way.

All Mental Health Association services are free.

To learn more about the Mental Health Association, call 716-661-9044 or visit MHAChautauqua.org or Facebook.com/MHAChautauqua.


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