“We’re doing this in an effort to bring powerful awareness to the drug epidemic,” said Michele Rogers, co-founder of the nonprofit SHARE Project. “Every face shown on these banners is somebody’s son, daughter, brother, sister, grandchild, parent or friend. They all had a story, a life and a future. They mattered then and they still matter now. This is a small way that we can pay our respects to them and allow others to as well.”
The SHARE Project – Spreading Hope and Awareness and Removing the Epidemic Stigma – is a community based group founded by Rogers and Lisa Falbo, both mothers who lost sons to the opioid epidemic. In addition to public activities like the memorial, the group also holds two monthly support meetings for those who have lost loved ones, and those who have loved ones currently struggling with substance use disorder.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 200 lives per day are attributable to overdoses. In 2019, more than 2,300 North Carolinians lost their lives to overdose, per N.C. Department of Health and Human Services data.
Beginning this week, the SHARE Project will set up 13 separate 8-foot banners around the county, each with the faces of 150 people. They’re already up at the Haywood County Sheriff’s Department, at Waynesville Town Hall and at the Haywood County Justice Center.
On Monday, Aug. 31, they’ll all be moved to the lawn in front of the Historic Haywood County Courthouse. Volunteers from SHARE and the sheriff’s office will be on-site from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
“We want folks to look at each of these faces and understand the magnitude of the drug crisis,” Rogers said. “Sheriff Christopher and his department has graciously embraced our organization and advocates for our cause of awareness and destigmatizing addiction and we are proud to have their support for this event. We will be there with volunteers to be a source of information for attendees, especially those who have a loved one suffering from Substance Use Disorder or have lost a loved one to this epidemic.”
Visitors to the Aug. 31 memorial are welcome, but are asked to comply with all current COVID-19 social distancing guidance while in attendance.
For more information, visit www.theshareproject.org.