The focus of these events is to examine how the community can become more involved in eliminating the causes of addiction and improving recovery efforts.
In April 2015, New Hampshire Public Radio reported that more than 320 people died from drug overdoses in the state in 2014; that’s more than the number who died in traffic accidents that year and nearly twice the number of overdoses as in 2010.
After being inundated by news about overdoses, babies born addicted, crimes committed to pay for a drug habit or arrests for selling narcotics, Dover resident and St. John’s member Larry Holman decided: “ … enough is enough and something has to be done.”
So St. John’s is bringing in speaker Michael DeLeon, a recovered heroin addict, ex-con, former drug abuse counselor and founder of the New Jersey nonprofit Steered Straight.
“(DeLeon) has traveled the country collecting statistics and stories of narcotic abuse as well as spreading his message to school children, parents and teens about the need for more awareness, avoidance, prevention and recovery programs,” said Holman.
“Heroin addiction has claimed the lives of many – both literally and figuratively. Into this reality, the Church offers a connection to the hope that can restore life, and bring it to fullness,” said Rev. Mark Monson Alley, pastor at St. John’s. “It is the responsibility of the Church today to bring ‘release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind.’ Our ministry is to offer Christ to a broken world – whatever that may mean."
“We cannot simply throw our hands up and say the problem is too big, or too complex,” he said. “We have to learn about the problem and do our best to help those whom we can help – God being OUR help!”
The church, working with One Voice of Strafford County, Youth To Youth, Dover Rotary and SAU 61, has planned a series of community and church events between June 5-8, 2015.
Friday, June 5 – In the morning, DeLeon will address Farmington and Nute students. At 6:30 p.m. there will be a public forum to discuss solutions to the heroin epidemic at Valley View Community School, 79 Thayer Drive, Farmington. The evening event is free and open to the public.
Saturday, June 6 – St. John’s will host a turkey supper from 4:30-6 p.m. to raise funds for DeLeon’s organization, Steered Straight, and local recovery organizations. Dinner is $9 for adults, $8 for seniors and veterans, and $4 for children younger than 12. The church is located at 28 Cataract Ave. in Dover. At 6 p.m., DeLeon will discuss the heroin epidemic and show excerpts from his documentary “Kids Are Dying – An American Epidemic.” There will be a time to meet DeLeon following the presentation.
Sunday, June 7 – DeLeon will be giving a sermon “From Saul to Paul” at the 9 and 10:30 a.m. worship services at St. John’s. DeLeon will meet with youth ages 12 and older from 4-7 p.m. at First Parish Church, at 218 Central Ave. in Dover. This event is free, open to all area teens and youth groups and includes a light supper. For more information or to make a reservation, call the St. John’s church office at (603) 742-3046.
Monday, June 8 – DeLeon will speak in the morning to students at the Rochester and Dover Middle schools. From 6-8 p.m., a public forum will be held at St. John’s to discuss issues and solutions around heroin addiction and how the community can become more involved with supporting and assisting awareness and recovery efforts. Panel members will include DeLeon as well as representatives from Bonfire Recovery, One Voice of Strafford County, Families Hoping and Coping, The Wellness and Recovery Place and Dover Youth to Youth. This event is free and open to the public.