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Vigil offers hope to addicts and their family members

Vigil offers hope to addicts and their family members
Vigil offers hope to addicts and their family members
Music is part of a candlelight vigil Saturday night at the Hurley D. Conrad Memorial Bandstand in Corydon on International Overdose Awareness Day. Photo by Marie Mills
Marie Mills, Contributing Writer

More than 75 people turned out Saturday night in downtown Corydon for a candlelight vigil to remember those who have lost their lives to drug overdose and to encourage those who are struggling with the addiction.

For the last three years, the vigil was hosted by Angela Pease. This year, she passed the torch to Barbara Wyman Carver, founder of Hannah’s Angels of Hope, and Bill Walsh, founder of Mercy Street.

Several people spoke to the crowd in front of the Hurley D. Conrad Memorial Bandstand about their own personal experiences with addiction. One such speaker was Eric, who told the crowd, “I was the worst of the worst. Even the other druggies didn’t want to be around me.

“I asked God to help me and he did, but it wasn’t what I expected. God’s help,” he paused to laugh, “came in the form of the Harrison County police.”

Once in jail, Eric said he was able to “come off” drugs and was given hope by Gary Decker, who does a prison ministry inside the Harrison County Jail. Eric, who said he’s been clean now for two years, helps others with their addictions.

The co-hosts each told their stories as well.

Carver spoke tearfully of her daughter, Hannah, who died of an overdose at the age of 20. She encouraged others to not turn away from the addict, but to help them by showing them love.

“The one thing I know is that when my daughter died, she knew I loved her,” she said.

After her daughter’s death, Carver began Hannah’s Angels of Hope to raise awareness about the horrors of drug addiction and to raise money to one day open a drug-recovery center for women.

To underscore the seriousness of the drug epidemic, Carver said, “One hundred seventy-two thousand people died of drug overdose in the United States in 2018; 1,800 of those were in Indiana. That means that there were five drug overdose deaths in Indiana today alone.”

Walsh, who runs Mercy Street, an outreach ministry for addicts, said he found hope, like Eric, nine years ago, thanks to the police, a minister and Decker. Walsh talked about the feeling of hopelessness an addict has.

During his time in jail, Walsh said he not only realized there was hope, he felt drawn to bring that hope to others.

Mercy Street meets Thursdays in the fellowship hall of Pfrimmer’s Chapel United Methodist Church east of Corydon. Since its inception about a decade ago, three additional Mercy Streets locations have opened elsewhere in Indiana.

Both Carver and Walsh said they look at the candlelight vigil as a reminder to addicts, as well as family members of addicts, that there is always hope.

Saturday’s vigil coincided with International Overdose Awareness Day.