WAKEFIELD — On Wednesday, September 27, the Town of Wakefield, Wake-Up Coalition and
Wakefield Police Department hosted a Recovery & Remembrance Event, drawing a large crowd to the Wakefield Common. Over a dozen resource tables were on hand to provide information on treatment, behavioral health, sober living, prevention and family support resources.
Attendees were able to enjoy tacos from La Qchera Food Truck sponsored by Aftermath Recovery & Massachusetts Center for Adolescent Wellness. Jason Stone, Wakefield’s Social Services Manager emceed the event, inviting Council Chair Jonathan Chines to welcome attendees. State Senator Jason Lewis thanked Wakefield for being a model community that has embraced prevention, treatment and recovery, leveraging municipal resources and community stakeholder commitment. Lewis also discussed efforts at the statewide level to open up detox and treatment beds through the comprehensive Mental Health Addressing Barriers to Care (ABC) Act. The final bill proposes a wide range of reforms to ensure equitable access to mental health care and to address barriers. Wakefield Police Department’s Deputy Chief Craig thanked his staff’s dedication and collaboration with Health & Human Services to help residents and families. “We wouldn’t be where we are without the dedication and hard work of our Recovery Coordinator Tracy Rizzo, Clinician Jennifer Waczkowski and Family Services Officer Amy Rando.” Jason then thanked the team of event organizers, including Tracy Rizzo, Aftermath Treatment & Recovery, Kelly House, Ruth’s Way, Massachusetts Center for Adolescent Wellness. Health & Human Services’ Catherine Dhingra who lead the team stated, “I have worked for the town for 10 years and proud of the tremendous efforts put forth to address substance use and behavioral health. Ten years later and the Wake-Up coalition is still going strong. Just last week we had a crowded meeting with community leaders, school staff, police, business owners, local behavioral health experts, parent, and concerned community members working together to come up with solutions.”
The next speaker bravely shared her recovery story with attendees. Finally, a parent and resident sung the praises of Recovery Coach Tracy Rizzo and the kindness of Wakefield Police officers over the years. Jason concluded, “Those of you who frequent downtown Wakefield or have checked out the Item over the course of the last week have hopefully seen the flag display that’s been on the lawn outside Town Hall of 159 flags: 118 purple flags representing each Wakefield life lost directly attributable to substance misuse since January 2010; 41 yellow flags representing each Wakefield life lost due to suicide. As jarring as it is to look at and indeed as moving as it was to help place them on the lawn, the sad reality is that we know that the true number of flags could be a lot higher.”
“But there’s also the reality that if not for the efforts of local officials and of the peer recovery community and of the presence of our robust self-help community and of our partners at the network of treatment programs and of the work of our school adjustment counselors and our prevention coalition and our local interfaith leaders and family support networks, the number of flags on the lawn could be exponentially higher.” “And so we join here tonight for two reasons: to remember the people in our lives and in our community who are represented by those purple and yellow flags and to acknowledge the tremendous achievements of the people living and working in recovery and paying it forward and helping the next person out.” Participants were then invited to the luminary walk with signs submitted by family members. If you would like more information on substance use resources, please visit: https://www.wakefield.ma.us/recovery-resources