This past Tuesday afternoon I met with a former member of Redeemer who raised her family in our church decades ago before moving out of state. She was accompanied by her close friend who is an active member of the parish. The former member had returned to Baltimore Saturday because her 35 year old son had died the night before from an accidental overdose; a story that is all too familiar. This young man had loving parents and a great education. He had a brother and grandmother with whom he was very close. He was kind hearted, hardworking, had many friends, and a great sense of humor. He has left a legacy of pure goodness. But he also was impacted by a challenging disease:  an addiction to drugs and alcohol. He fought hard and often to overcome that illness, finding success at times and relapsing at other times. His mom, even though in the early stages of grieving, wanted his story to be told. She wants his life to have meaning even in his dying. She knows how unproductive it is to keep addiction a ‘secret’ and therefore is anxious to destigmatize the topic by having open and honest conversation. “Please share my story” she pleaded. I promised her I would. I mentioned that our current initiative for mental health includes a workshop that covers substance abuse.

The crisis facing our city (and country) continues to make headlines. I am aware of how naïve I have been personally when it comes to the situation. It was out of that awareness that I watched a documentary on Netflix called “Dope”. It is a series of 5 episodes about the drug emergency enveloping our nation. The 2nd episode is focused only on Baltimore. (I have not watched the other episodes yet.) I highly recommend you watch it. Several weeks ago, I showed it to the Women Who Wonder.  It was ‘hard’ to absorb the grim reality and it was important to absorb the grim reality. Their eyes were opened.

On Monday David will be participating in an Interfaith Institute dialogue sponsored by the Baltimore Hebrew Congregation Sisterhood. It is entitled: “The Opioid Epidemic: Community Impact and Response.”  The keynote speaker is Dr. Leana Wen, Commissioner of Health in Baltimore. Along with David, Howard Reznick (MSW, LCSW-C) and Rabbi Andrew Busch will be part of the discussion. Unfortunately the deadline for tickets has passed, but we will share our reflections with those who are interested.

Thank you to the Mom who wants her son’s story told. Redeemer wants to continue to provide you with our support, even decades later. And PS: Mom was very vocal about supporting the Kolmac Recovery Program at Shepherd Pratt and the outstanding care her son received there.