Published September 18, 2019
By DAN TOMASELLO
LYNNFIELD — The first annual A Night of Hope walk and ceremony will take place on Sunday, Sept. 22, beginning at 6 p.m. at Lynnfield Middle School.
The town’s substance abuse coalition, A Healthy Lynnfield, and the Think of Michael Foundation are hosting the inaugural event. Selectman Dick Dalton and his family formed Think of Michael in memory of their son and brother, Michael, who passed away from an opiate overdose while in outpatient treatment in January 2018. The nonprofit organization seeks to help people suffering from substance abuse by funding scholarships that allow people in recovery to stay at a sober house.
“This is not a fundraiser,” said Think of Michael President Carmela Dalton during the Board of Selectmen’s Sept. 9 meeting. “A Night of Hope is a community gathering showing support for those impacted by substance abuse.”
Carmela said attendees will gather at the middle school, where they will receive a purple T-shirt.
“The color purple symbolizes recovery and September is National Recovery Month,” said Carmela. “We will then walk to the Common, passing Centre Farm. The Miglieros have allowed us to decorate their home in purple. The Kimballs’ home on Main Street will also be decorated in purple. We would like to thank both families for their support.”
Carmela said the Town Common and surrounding buildings will be decorated in purple as well.
“There will be purple lights in the Centre Congregational Church windows, the Meeting House, the library and Town Hall,” said Carmela. “Purple bows will be hung on all of the doors of these buildings. All of the schools will have purple ribbons on their front doors.”
After walkers arrive on the Common, Carmela said they will be given a star that will be hung on the Common. She said walkers will be able to write a name or a special message on the star “representing hope for all of those in recovery or those who have died due to addiction.”
After Selectmen Chairman Phil Crawford gives an overview of the initiatives A Healthy Lynnfield has undertaken the past two years and Selectman Dalton shares Michael’s story at 6:30 p.m., Carmela said Lynnfield native Alex Costa will serve as the event’s guest speaker at 7 p.m.
“Alex grew up in Lynnfield, attended Lynnfield Public Schools and graduated from Lynnfield High School in 2010,” said Carmela. “He is currently the director of marketing at Allure Detox.”
Carmela said the event will end with a lighting ceremony and the Lynnfield faith community will give a blessing. She encouraged townspeople to attend the first annual A Night of Hope.
“Please join us on Sept. 22,” said Carmela. “When someone you love becomes a memory, the memory becomes a treasure. Let’s continue to hold on to the special treasures of those who have succumbed to this insidious disease. Let’s give hope, love and support to those in recovery who are trying to overcome these demons. Let’s erase the stigma that is attached with addiction.”
Carmela thanked Centre Congregational Church Rev. Nancy Rottman and Town Administrator Rob Dolan for the support they have given to the two nonprofit organizations while planning A Night of Hope.
Substance Abuse Prevention Coordinator Peg Sallade noted communities across the country are hosting similar events as part of National Recovery Month.
“Communities nationwide are doing some event to recognize that there is hope to recover from substance use,” said Sallade. “Together, we invite the community to come. Just by being there, you are showing support for a really difficult issue. It helps breakdown the stigma and is a way to gather as a community and say, ‘We acknowledge this and we support people in their journey.’ It’s really important.”
Selectman Chris Barrett concurred with Sallade’s point of view.
“Seeing what Think of Michael and A Healthy Lynnfield have done, I am confident to say we are at the forefront in the state,” said Barrett. “The work Mrs. Dalton and Mr. Dalton have done has touched so many people already. We will always remember Michael.”
In the event of rain, Sallade said A Night of Hope will be held inside Centre Congregational Church. In an interview with the Villager, Dick Dalton said residents will still be able to walk even if it rains.
“If people don’t want to walk, they can just show up at the Common or the church,” said Dick.