GALLIPOLIS — First responders, social workers, health professionals and more gathered at the Bossard Memorial Library Wednesday evening to express thanks to Gallia community members fighting the opioid epidemic and to present proclamations and resolutions in honor of their efforts.
“Tonight, we’re here for a special privilege to come into our communities and do our first ever Week of Appreciation for people who either through paid or volunteer service are working on the front lines of what we know as the opioid epidemic in Ohio,” said Gallia-Jackson-Meigs Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Executive Director Robin Harris. “In preparation for this week, we’ve prepared tokens of appreciation to take into the three counties we serve for some 1,200 individuals who work across these three counties working day in and day out, rescuing people, helping people in various ways…placing themselves in what we consider the front lines.”
As a behavioral and mental health professional and as a government administrator, she said she feared losing the awareness at times of what it felt like to be a first responder or social worker, to be an individual first reacting to an overdose or domestic issue.
“Its been a special thrill to us to prepare this week and this time to set it aside,” said Harris. “I could stand up here and give you statistics. I don’t need to do that. There isn’t anybody sitting here who isn’t fully aware of the impact of this particular drug epidemic. We know what you do is difficult emotionally and difficult physically and most of the time I think we are having days where we feel we aren’t making any headway at all. It seems like the numbers are rising, but we also know that thousands of lives have been saved across the state and there are thousands who are actually in recovery, participating in treatment and alive because of people like you and what you are doing.”
Morgan Saunders, director of Holzer facilities and safety operations, spoke before the assembled next and shared his experience with staff having to revive patients. Saunders has also served with the Gallipolis Fire Department and shared his view as a responder as well.
Gallia-Jackson-Meigs ADAMHS Deputy Director Angela Stowers detailed various gifts and certificates to be presented to those being honored in the various departments and agencies compromised of “front line workers.” A video has also been created of front line worker supporters and will be distributed to them.
Holzer Health System, Bossard Memorial Library as well as the Gallia Chamber of Commerce worked to provide for the ceremony. Proclamations and resolutions were read from Gov. John Kasich’s Office, Congressman Bill Johnson, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s Office and the Gallia Commissioners.
Certificates were then presented to area law enforcement, health professionals and social workers for their efforts.
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.