By John Lynds
For one hour this coming Sunday residents will gather on Revere Beach at the bandstand and remember those lost to the substance-abuse disorder epidemic.
The gathering began 13 years ago when a group from the Revere residents who had lost someone to opioids or other substances were looking for a way to express their remembrances, grief and the stories of those who were lost.
This annual candlelight vigil is funded by donations including MGH Revere Cares and will take place this Sunday, Sept. 15 at 7 p.m. at the Reinstein Bandstand on Revere Beach.
According to Viviana Cataño, of Revere Cares, the Revere Beach Memorial serves as a way to remember those who lost their lives to substance abuse. It is an opportunity for family members and friends to gain strength and support from others who have experienced a similar loss, and it is a reminder to those struggling with addiction that treatment can save lives.
Cataño said the event will kick off like in years past with introductions from North Suffolk Mental Health’s Kim Hanton. She’ll be followed by inspirational readings, and prayer.
“Then we will read the names of those lost to addiction,” said Cataño. “There will be 279 names that will be read and more are usually added the night of the event.”
The event will close with some testimony from graduates of the Chelsea Drug Court program.
Cataño said Revere Cares does accept donations at the event that helps to plan the next vigil as well as scholarship money for a Revere High School student.
“Any additional funds we raise is put towards this scholarship for a Revere High School student who has been affected by substance abuse, either their own or that of a family member,” said Cataño.
Last year there was enough money left-over to fund a $500 scholarship for a Revere High School student. Students have to write an essay about the impact of addiction on their lives.
“Those stories are the most touching to me,” said Cataño. “We get the essays from the students in the spring and then read them. It’s really hard to chose one student because you realize there are a lot of young people in our community that have a lot of hardship and hurt because there are people in their lives struggling with addiction.”
As far as the long-term future of the event, Cataño can’t imagine it going anywhere anytime soon.
“We just discussed this recently and Kim Hanton said we have to keep this going because a lot of families find this event really important,” said Cataño. “They need it to feel supported and that they are not alone.”
This important annual event is made possible through the support of local residents and business owners. If you are interested in making a donation to the Revere Beach Memorial fund, please send checks (made payable to the ‘Revere Beach Memorial Fund’) to the Revere Beach Memorial, c/o Revere CARES Coalition, 300 Ocean Ave., Revere, MA 02151. Monies raised will not only go towards continuing the memorial, but it will also be used to support local addiction treatment programs and youth education. Funds raised in the past have been donated to the North Suffolk Mental Health Meridian House, East Boston Rehab and a Revere High School scholarship fund for youth impacted by addiction.