OXFORD - Heroin is a problem everywhere including Chester County. The latest
Town Hall meeting in Oxford on June 19 drew a large crowd of teens to seniors to hear more on the subject of drug abuse in the community. At the center of thepresentation was Andy Rumford, who lost his daughter Kacie to heroin and has responded for founding Kacie’s Cause, an organization aimed at saving lives.
Kacie Rumford died at the age of 20 in her Kennett Square home this spring.
Before she was buried, the www.kaciescause.com Web site was up and running. In eight weeks the site has had nearly 10,000 hits, similar town halls are being planned throughout the region, and chapters of Kacie’s Cause are already being founded in several states and Canada.
“Kacie always wanted to change the world and now she does,” Rumford said. The Kacie’s Cause chapters are helping increase awareness of the scope of this problem, and educate families and friends of drug users on how to know when someone is using heroin, or other drugs and what resources are available and how to get them. The town hall meeting at the Oxford Presbyterian Church Hall showedthat people want to learn more, and do something.
“I knew we would have a good turn out but never in my wildest dreams did I think we would fill this fellowship hall,” said Oxford Mayor Geoff Henry who organized the event after attending a similar meeting May 4 at the Longwood Fire Company.
Henry explained that at the end of the meeting he was told by Rumford, “My daughter used to make frequent trips to your borough to buy heroin.”
The fact that the drug is readily available and inexpensive leads to its broad impact on the community. The fact that the Church where the meeting was held is also the site of regular NA, and ALANON meetings attests to its presence. “The drug is here and has been here for years, and the proliferation is staggering,” Rumford said.
Rumford noted that 36,000 lives a year lost to overdoses. “From statistics, we know that of users that don’t seek treatment in rehab, 90 percent will die,” he said,warning that everyone needs to be aware of the signs of heroin addiction.
“Change your thinking or you may bury your child.”
Members of the audience stood and gave their insights from all sides of the issue. There were drug counselors as well as recovering addicts and people whohave suffered as family members have fallen victim to heroin.
There were harrowing stories like Rumford’s, as well as uplifting stories from people in recovery. Most had both highs and lows to speak about. One resident stood to tell how he was a child in an alcoholic home, became a drug user - is 8 years clean but is now dealing with his son’s addiction.
The Town Hall was about more than education - it was about change. Mention was made of State Senate Bill 1147, good Samaratin legislation, that protects someone from arrest for their own drug use if they call 911 for an overdose victim. That bill appears dead, but the audience was asked to contact their legislators to tell them they want it revived. The audience was also encouraged to support house bill 317 which would set up a system between pharmacies so that one person can not fill multiple prescriptions at the same time.
The meeting wrapped up with a quick overview of the Kacie’s Cause Web site where a list of resources, information and other town hall events can be found. Theconclusion of the meeting was just the beginning of the work to be done in Oxford where a new chapter of Kacie’s Cause has been formed with resident Kristin Gent as the group coordinator.