Proclamation issued recognizing Aug. 31 as International Overdose Awareness Day

by Angela F. Durkin | The Journal

MARTINSBURG — A proclamation was presented to the Berkeley County Commission Thursday by Jobs & Hope West Virginia Transition Agent Erin Gaertner to coincide with International Overdose Awareness Day. She thanked the commission and all the member of Jobs & Hope WV in attendance.

“The whole reason we’re here specifically today – it wasn’t just the next block that was available,” Gaertner said. “We sought out the 31st. Today is International Overdose Awareness Day. That’s why the room got really purple when we all came in, and so today is a tough and solemn day, cause folks are dying….”

Gaertner also took a few moments to talk about her organization. Jobs & Hope WV is a program that was introduced in 2019 by Gov. Jim Justice to work with people in recovery to overcome barriers.

The proclamation recognizes September as National Recovery Month. This is a time to honor and support individuals who have overcome substance use disorders and promote the importance of recovery in the community.

The Berkeley Day Report Center was recognized in the proclamation. It states “the Berkeley County Commission wholeheartedly celebrates the dedicated staff and resilient participants of the Berkeley Day Report Center, whose unwavering commitment has positively impacted the lives of countless individuals and the community as a whole….”  Jobs & Hope WV is supported by the commission as part of the proclamation, celebrating their partnership with the Berkeley Day Report Center.

In addition, the commission extended a heartfelt “congratulations” to the recent graduates of the Jobs & Hope WV program who have triumphed over their own challenges. Those recognized for their accomplishments include Andrew Knoeller, Michael Marchesani, Daniel Anno and James Davis.

“Now therefore it be resolved that the Berkeley County Commission reaffirms its commitment to being a recovery-friendly and second chance-friendly employer, recognizing the immense contributions of individuals in recovery both within the workplace and the broader community,” Gaertner said.

Community Corrections Director Tim Czaja addressed the audience, explaining the perils of active addiction.

“I just wanted to highlight the average person can’t appreciate how challenging it is to come out the other side of active addiction,” he said. He asked the audience if they were familiar with the television program, “The Walking Dead,” and said active addiction is much like the zombies shown on the program, which changes the functionality of the brain.

“Coming out the other side of active addiction is probably one of the single most difficult things a person can do,” he said. “And you all put in the work to do that. I mean, you all are normal, intelligent, valuable people, but active addiction changes a person and literally puts you inside this prison and, you begin behaving in a way that’s not who you are in your heart. I’m proud of you guys.”

The proclamation was unanimously passed by the commission.

Commission Vice President Eddie Gochenour gave his congratulations and remarked on what a great success story for Knoeller, Marchesani, Anno and Davis. He also complimented the work Czaja has done to “hire the right people” to help those struggling with addiction reclaim their lives.   |   833-784-1385   |   304-583-4008