PURPLE RIBBONS including this one on the Town Common have been installed around town in observance of National Recovery Month. A Healthy Lynnfield and the Think of Michael Foundation installed the ribbons. (Courtesy Photo)
By DAN TOMASELLO
LYNNFIELD — Townspeople will come together to celebrate people in recovery and remember those who lost their battles to addiction during the fifth annual “A Night of Hope” on Sunday, Sept. 17, beginning at 6 p.m. at Lynnfield Middle School.
The Think of Michael Foundation and A Healthy Lynnfield are holding “A Night of Hope” once again in observance of National Recovery Month. Last year’s event featured over 400 residents in attendance.
The Dalton and Cook families formed Think of Michael after Michael passed away from an opiate overdose while in outpatient treatment in January 2018. The nonprofit organization funds scholarships that allow people in recovery to stay at a sober house. The foundation also supports a number of recovery-related initiatives.
Think of Michael Foundation President Carmela Dalton and Think of Michael Foundation Treasurer Dick Dalton are looking forward to the return of “A Night of Hope” on Sunday.
“National Recovery Month, which started in 1989, is a national observance held every September,” Carmela wrote in a recent op-ed. “It’s a time when we take the opportunity to remember those who have lost their lives to addiction, those who are struggling with substance use disorders and those who are coping with mental health issues. It’s also a time to applaud the efforts and dedication of the service providers, clinicians, recovery coaches, law enforcement, the judiciary, first responders and all those who lend a hand to someone in need. But most importantly, it’s a time to recognize and celebrate the successes of those individuals in long-term recovery.”
Dick concurred with his wife’s sentiment.
“This year is a very special anniversary for Carmela, myself and our family,” said Dick. “We are so happy that we have been able to sustain this event year after year, and have the attendance that we do each year. ‘A Night of Hope’ helps raise awareness and educates people about the world of addiction.”
Substance Use Prevention Coordinator Peg Sallade is also looking forward to this year’s event.
“We are once again thrilled to be part of this annual Recovery Month event and the outpouring of community support that Lynnfield families are so gracious in sharing,” Sallade wrote in an email sent to the Villager. “We are also appreciative of our partner organizations that come out to share their resources and to the many people who help make the event possible.”
In order to kick off National Recovery Month, Carmela said Think of Michael and A Healthy Lynnfield placed purple ribbons on utility poles going from LMS to the Town Common because purple is the official color of recovery. The foundation co-sponsored last September’s Adopt-a-Pole Campaign that was featured at recovery centers around the region.
“They are called memory poles,” said Carmela. “Other towns have put ribbons up each September in memory of someone who has passed or someone who is in treatment. People have told us how nice the ribbons look. We are going to be installing more ribbons this week.”
The purple ribbons include a message that states: “Recovery is for everyone: Every person, every family, every community.”
Think of Michael Vice President Jamie Dalton brought the memory pole idea to both Think of Michael and A Healthy Lynnfield. Jamie has shared his recovery story at past “A Night of Hope” events as well as at the foundation’s annual “Trivia Night” fundraiser.
“Jamie works for North Suffolk Community Services,” said Dick. “Jamie has been involved with memory pole initiatives, and suggested that we have memory poles in Lynnfield. We thought it was a terrific idea. It’s great that we are able to raise awareness by putting them up for the month of September. We have gotten a lot of compliments about them.”
Carmela said the Lynnfield Public Library, Meeting House and Town Hall will have white candles placed in the windows of each building this week.
“All of the trees on the Town Common are going to be lit up in purple as well,” said Carmela. “We are also going to place purple flags around the Town Common on Saturday.”
Similar to previous years, “A Night of Hope” will begin at 6 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 17 when attendees will walk from Lynnfield Middle School to the Town Common for the ceremony. Carmela said attendees will be able to write notes in honor of someone on star-shaped note pads at a tent located on the Town Common.
“We will be hanging them up with strings,” said Carmela.
Dick said the fifth annual “A Night of Hope” will feature two special guest speakers. He was very moved by last year’s guest speaker, North Suffolk Community Services Recovery Coach Supervisor Caitlin Gillespie, who recalled while holding her daughter Harper that she was living in a tunnel underneath the Zakim Bridge before she began her recovery journey.
“Caitlin is a successful woman in recovery who is a good mother,” said Dick. “She showed everyone last year that there is hope.”
“There is hope and help out there,” said Carmela. “That is very important. It was never attainable before. We have received letters from people who donated to the Think of Michael Foundation, who said they had a child with a problem and they didn’t know where to turn. There was no hope. One family had to move up to New Hampshire to get help for their daughter. We have come a long way.”
“But there is a lot more to do,” Dick added.
Dick encouraged the young people in attendance, especially middle school and high school students, to listen to the guest speakers’ messages.
“It’s important for the young people in the audience to listen to their stories,” said Dick. “That’s very important.”
Dick also said Boston Bruins National Anthem singer Todd Angilly will be singing, “You’ll Never Walk Alone” by Frank Sinatra, at “A Night of Hope.” Angilly also performed the song at the Think of Michael Foundation’s “Trivia Night” fundraiser in May.
“It’s very moving,” said Dick.