Family, friends gather to remember loved ones lost to overdoses
A candlelight remembrance was held Wednesday in Hauppauge in honor of Overdose Awareness Day.
The Family and Children's Association hosted family, friends and anti-drug advocates to remember those who lost their lives to drug addiction.
The organization oversees the THRIVE Recovery Center and four other organizations devoted to preventing future overdose deaths. The agencies say 700 people died last year from overdoses Islandwide.
"Over the course of the last 10 years we have lost thousands of Long Islanders to fatal overdoses, those were preventable deaths," says Dr. Jeffrey Reynolds, of the Family and Children's Association. "Prior to COVID we were successful in bringing those fatalities down and after COVID they skyrocketed again. So, the message here is one of remembrance for those that lost their lives but also a reaffirmation that we are going to do the work that is necessary to prevent overdoses."
Larry Lamendola lost his daughter to an overdose and says knowing there will be no more holidays or Father's Days to celebrate with her is very hard.
"I opened the door and Lisa was there at the foot of the bed almost on one knee," says Lamendola. "I felt her arm and it was already cold, the emotions just overtook me."
Lamendola says his daughter became addicted to pain killers for a chronic back problem. He says that eventually led her to use heroin. Lamendola says Lisa went to rehab six times, but the addiction eventually took her life.
The names of the Long Islanders lost last year were read aloud and a candle was lit in honor of each one of them.