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MOA’s 8th Annual Memorial Candlelight Vigil

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  On Sunday, March 26, Malden Overcoming Addiction (MOA) hosted their 8th annual Candlelight Vigil to memorialize those individuals taken from all of us by the insidious disease of substance use disorder. An estimated 150 people gathered as a community to remember and honor the lives lost.

  As has become custom, the night began with a somber and slow walk from the steps of the Jenkins Auditorium at Malden High School around the corner on Ferry Street into the Malden High School Gallery area. Before embarking on the journey, MOA Board Vice President Dana Brown spoke to the attendees about the “ministry of presence”; that just being here tonight was a gift to families, friends, survivors and those continuing to do recovery work.

  Once the attendees were inside, Pastor Gerry Whetstone from Malden First Church of the Nazarene opened the ceremony with a prayer; Pastor Whetstone later closed the event with the well-known Serenity Prayer. The Pastor leads the Malden Warming Center and is a member of the City of Malden Opioid Task Force.

  Guests heard from Mayor Gary Christenson and State Senator Jason Lewis, two political giants in the recovery work happening in Malden and beyond. Each spoke of the great work being done by MOA. They recalled the lives lost and offered words of hope and encouragement to those left behind. Police Chief Glen Cronin spoke to the crowd about the partnerships and collaborations in Malden with police, fire, the Mayor’s Office and MOA working together to reduce stigma and help lead people to recovery resources. MOA Board President/City of Malden Addiction Recovery Resource Specialist Paul Hammersley offered words of comfort and solace to the silent audience.

  The power of the evening came in the form of storytelling as guests heard from parent Tracey Hunter, mother of Tremani Hunter – lost to substance use disorder two years ago. She delivered a gut-wrenching and powerful message of despair and then hope. Donnell Bailey spoke of his 14 months in recovery, while Kenny Gumes highlighted his more than 10 years in recovery. Each credited the resources available to them in their journey and the connections needed to be successful.

  MOA members and Recovery Coaches read the names of the victims; in the background photos of those lost slowly scrolled through a giant screen. As each name was read, Fire Chief Bill Sullivan rang the Fire Department Bell – one note for each soul. The evening ended with Andrea Tracey singing “Amazing Grace.”

  MOA member/Recovery Coach Suzie Jesalonis said about the night, “The powerful stories from all the speakers still sends chills up my spine. It was really a spiritual experience that left us all in the audience speechless; very memorable. The singer ending the night singing ‘Amazing Grace’ was AMAZING and I still hear her in my mind singing. Amazing night for all to remember.”

  Malden Overcoming Addiction would like to thank everyone who contributed to the event. We remain committed to erasing the stigma associated with substance use disorder and to bringing resources to those in need of help and support.

Pictured from left to right: Kady Smith, Bella Hammersley, Lisa Hammersley and MOA Board President/City of Malden Addiction Recovery Resource Specialist Paul Hammersley.
Every bag represented someone who has lost their battle with substance use disorder.
Andrea Tracey sang “Amazing Grace” to end the night.
Kenny Gumes shared his very powerful 10-year recovery journey.
Tracey Hunter shared her emotional story about losing her son, Tremani, two years ago.
It was a very emotional evening.
Around 150 folks came up in support of the Vigil.
State Senator Jason Lewis addressed the crowd.
Fire Chief Bill Sullivan, Police Chief Glenn Cronin and Pastor Gerry Whetstone are shown listening in support of a person’s recovery story.
Folks supported one of the speakers after hearing their story.
Mayor Gary Christenson brought greetings from the City of Malden.
Mayor Gary Christenson, Fire Chief Bill Sullivan, Police Chief Glenn Cronin and Paul and Lisa Hammersley led the way to begin the march.
Everyone gathered on the Malden High School steps before they marched around the school and into the courtyard.
MOA Vice President Dana Brown addressed the crowd before the event began.

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