ST. MARYS — Drug abuse and addiction is not just a “big city” problem. In smaller communities like Celina and St. Marys, people are overdosing and dying from opioids and heroin.
Sunday night at Memorial Park in St. Marys, Ben and Melissa Budde organized “Night of Hope: A Concert Against Heroin.”
The pair held two other events like this in Celina, but this is the first time they’ve been to St. Marys.
“We live in St. Marys, so we want to be a part of the community and just encourage people,” said Melissa.
The problem of opioid abuse is one that stretches everywhere.
“It seems kind of similar in every county really. Just even one or two cases it’s not a good thing because it affects one family, it affects a lot of families, your neighbors and so on, so we just wanted to share that hope in doing these concerts and letting them know there’s a light at the end of the tunnel,” said Ben.
One of the speakers was Auglaize County Sheriff Al Solomon. He’s seen firsthand the drug problem in the county.
“I think it is as bad here as it is elsewhere. It’s a problem not just in Auglaize County [but also in] surrounding counties, all over the state, all over the United States. We were just at a national sheriff’s conference, and they were talking there about how bad it is in other states and so forth. Arizona has got a serious problem. I don’t know if we can arrest our way out of it anymore. I think it takes a combination of, we still have to do our job, but with programs and people who want to help themselves and people like Ben and his wife, these kinds of things need to happen. People need to know that there’s support out here besides us, support that they can get before it gets to us and that’s what we’re hoping for,” said Solomon.
St. Marys Mayor Patrick McGowan also spoke at the event, recounting the toll addiction takes on families and the community.
“The opioid epidemic is a terrible drain on both our police and fire services,” McGowan said.
“We just want people to have hope that there is something more and we don’t have to run. There are people willing to help. I know sometimes the biggest thing is admitting there’s a problem, but there are people who care,” said Ben.
The Buddes are planning their fourth Night of Hope for 6:30 p.m. Aug. 19 at Lakeshore Park in Celina.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.