PORT JEFFERSON, NY — Around 50 people all bearing their grief — family and friends alike — approached a group of moms at a table at the Port Jefferson Farmer's Market this weekend with hopes the people they lost might be remembered for Fentanyl Awareness Day on Tuesday.
They inscribed their names on rocks that were collected from a local beach and then painted purple.
"Surprisingly a lot of people brought pictures of them," said organizer, Carole Trottere. "So, thank goodness I brought the craft supplies." The photos were attached to the rocks using the art of decoupage.
Trottere, an Old Field resident who was inspired to begin her drug awareness education campaign, after losing her 30-year-old son, Alex Sutton, in 2018, put a call out last week for people who lost loved ones so that their names could be included in a display at the Suffolk County Legislature to highlight the rising number of overdoses on Long Island at a news conference on Tuesday.
Altogether, Trottere and Legis. Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) painted 175 rocks symbolizing the number of people who die each day from a fentanyl overdose in the United States. Many of the people who contacted Trottere or showed up to the farmer's market saw a story Thursday about the callout in Patch and wanted to have their loved one included, she said. A total of 75 names have been collected for the display at the Legislature.
Some people did not know about the callout and just got to talking with others at the table and decided to participate. "That said, we were at a farmer's market," Trottere said. "It shows you how vast this is." One thing remains certain.The people who came forward wanted the name or photo to be seen by others.
"I think people had a lot of comfort in it," she said.
While not all of the rocks will have names or a photo, the blank rocks will lend just as much symbolism to the occasion. They will still "illustrate" the daily death toll, according to Trottere.
In addition to the memorial rocks, nearly 100 visitors to the market were trained by Suffolk police officers in the administration of the opiate overdose reversal drug, naloxone, and they were issued free kits to take home should they ever need it.
"It was right there on the street — just people walking around the farmer's market," Trottere said.
Trottere and the group of moms will join along with Hahn, law enforcement, and members of the drug treatment community to highlight the issue at the news conference. It will include Steve Chassman, executive director of Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Anthony Rizzo of Seafield Center, and Families in Support of Treatment.
The news conference will begin at 11 a.m. at the William H. Rogers Building, 20 County Center Road, Hauppauge. Trottere said everyone is welcome to the news conference. "There are alot of parents who lost children who want to hear what everyone has to say," she added. For more information, email Carole Trottere at firstname.lastname@example.org.
LICADD is thrilled to welcome FIST, GGT and Open Arms EAP into the LICADD family. During Recovery Month, more than ever, we need to work hard to remove the stigma of substance use disorder and give people the freedom and confidence to reach out for help.