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Project Live Memorial Gathering Emphasizes Hope
Written by Ernie Quatrani, Correspondent
2018-10-04

            Project Live UP held its second annual Memorial Gathering last Friday night before the Upper Perkiomen High School football game. The purpose of the Gathering was to remember Valley residents who have lost their lives to overdose and to assure survivors and the community at large that they are not alone.

            Several speakers shared their thoughts before the group made its way into the stadium for a moment of silence on the field.

            Project Live UP president Will Pike set the tone for the Gathering. Pike recounted the many drug-related deaths he has mourned, including his aunt and former students he knew during his career as a middle school teacher.

            But, he struck an optimistic note. "I'm extremely hopeful," Pike said. "This is an exciting time in the Valley. The 'no-talk-rule' was very, very ripe here, just didn't want to discuss [drug issues]."

            Pike cited Project Live UP's partnerships with several area groups including the YMCA, Be a Part of the Conversation, PRO-ACT, The Open Link, and the Upper Perkiomen School District.

            "We're all partnering to try and make a difference. We believe that we're going to see something that will bear fruit."

            Dr. Alexis McGloin, Upper Perkiomen's superintendent, seconded Pike's opinion in her remarks.

            "This organization does so much good for both our school and the community. We really appreciate the partnership as well," she related.

            "It is so important because we have students who have addiction problems, and we have students with family members that have addiction problems. We're constantly working on fighting this battle as a school district."

            Project Live UP Executive Director Cathy Fried began her remarks by reading from a Facebook post written a friend of Lenore Gates, another Project Live member. The post was a reflection on the death of a loved one from substance misuse.

            "People have so many opinions about drug addicts, and I get it," Fried read. "I get the anger. I get the indifference and the lack of compassion. They deserve it. Right? Good riddance, right? I was like that, too until it affected my life. Don't forget: the families of addicts suffer, too."

            Fried then told the Gathering, "We have many friends and neighbors involved in Project Live ready and willing to help. We have trained mentors who are able to give guidance and offer resources. We offer programs that those needing support and education on substance use disorder, and people in long-term recovery are volunteering to assist others in recovery.

            "If you need help, if you have questions, or you just need someone to listen, all you have to do is ask. There is hope; we hear you."

            The last speaker of the evening, Kellie Myers, underscored the points of the previous addresses by relating the story of her mother's addiction and overdose death.

            Kellie wore a custom-made T-shirt in memory of her mother who passed on June 4, 2015, a week before Kellie's graduation from Upper Perk.

            "Drug addiction does not just harm the addict, but it harms the addict's loved one as well. I know my mother loved me deep down, but she was fighting an addiction that was stronger than herself.

            "I believe that today many people see addicts and believe that there is no way to help them because they are too lost in addiction."

            Kellie talked about the stigma and shame that often amplifies the pain of dealing with substance use disorder. As many families do, she worked to hide what was happening from the outside world.

            "Whether you are currently addicted, recovering or the support to a loved one, take care of yourself, and take care of your health both mental and physical."

             Kellie quoted the slogan on the front of her T-shirt: "True freedom begins the moment you have nothing to hide." She said the words were a turning point for her.

            "Today, I am proud to say that I can live by this quote."

            Last Tuesday, Project Live UP with help from several its members and Perkiomen Prep students, finished work on a Rock Garden at The Center outside of the Project Live UP office in East Greenville.

            The goal of the garden is to literally spread hope. Rocks left in the garden display messages of inspiration, painted by volunteers, and are meant to be taken and shared with others who need encouragement.

Contact Project Live UP through its website (projectliveup.org), Facebook page, email (projectliveup@gmail.com) or call 724-617-2703. 


 

 

 

 

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