DELAWARE COUNTY, PA – September 5, 2023 – Senator Tim Kearney (D–Delaware) and Senator John Kane (D-Delaware/Chester) hosted their annual community overdose vigil on August 31, marking International Overdose Awareness Day.
This year, the senators were joined by several elected officials including Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon, Delaware County Council, Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer, state Representatives Lisa Borowski, Heather Boyd, and Dave Delloso, and dozens of community members and family and friends who have lost a loved one due to drug overdose.
Reflecting on the vigil, Senator Kearney expressed gratitude for the unity shown by the community. “While the evening was indeed somber, I am glad that so many people took the opportunity to come together and remember those we’ve lost too soon,” said Kearney. “This year, I am humbled to share that we’ve achieved a legislative win in our fight against the opioid pandemic, which will certainly help to curve overdose-related deaths. House Bill 1393 was passed and signed into law earlier this year, making the use of fentanyl test strips and other drug checking tools to prevent overdose deaths now legal in Pennsylvania.”
According to data from the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics, drug overdoses have claimed nearly one million lives in the United States since 1999. In Pennsylvania, the overdose death rate stands at over 4,300 deaths annually, which is 71.9 percent higher than the national average.
For the last two years, Senator Kearney’s office worked with harm reduction advocates and spoke with people in recovery and families impacted by opioid addiction. Kearney introduced a version of HB 1393 into the Senate and worked alongside Senator Kane to get it through the Senate and across the finish line.
“I am so grateful to everyone who came out to remember those we’ve lost due to overdose,” said Senator John I. Kane. “Standing with the families and loved ones of those no longer with us is always impactful and heartbreaking. We must continue to come together as a community to fight this epidemic and provide support and resources to those who need it most. The memories of the beautiful lives we’ve lost will live on through us, and we will continue to do all we can to let their light shine onto the ones who still need our help.”
Similarly, to last year, attendees gathered in a circle with lit candles just as the sun set while the senators took turns reading names of fellow Delcoians who died due to overdose in the past year. Once the list of names was read, the crowd took a moment of silence to honor their memory.
“We all know the devastation that opioid addiction and substance use disorder can have on a person’s life and family, said Senator Kane. “In the last several years, we’ve lost hundreds of Delcoians because of an overdose.”
Following up on Senator Kane’s sentiment, Senator Kearney highlighted the reason they decided to host the event. “We’ve been gathering here for the last three years to let community members know we are here for them. Whether they are grieving the loss of a loved one or still struggling to win the battle against substance use disorder— We are here to help.”
Several local organizations that offer substance-use disorder resources and other helpful information were also in attendance. Those organizations included Savage Sisters, Mirmont Treatment Center, Keystone Center and Delaware County Human Services, and MVP Recovery.
Additionally, the Senators announced that their district offices now offer FREE Narcan. Any business, group, or individual interested in obtaining Narcan should contact one of their district offices.
For more information about this press release, contact Senator Tim Kearney’s office at 610-544-6120.