Families visited the Remembrance and Hope Memorial at Timber Creek Park in Blackwood during an unveiling and vigil ceremony on Monday.
Camden County dedicated the memorial as a place of reflection and hope to recognize the thousands of county residents who have died due to opioid use, and to let their families honor them.
Ray Massi, a retired Camden City police officer currently with the Camden County Addiction Awareness Task Force, was the guest speaker. His son Shain “lost his fight with addiction” in August 2019 at the age of 25. “I don’t care what people think, or people say, behind my back. I know that this in time, too, will pass as people become more and more aware. I don’t care who judges me and I didn’t care who judged my son,” said Massi, who has been in recovery for 35 years.
Since 2013, there have been more than 1,600 suspected overdose deaths in Camden County. A 2019 joint Rutgers-Eagleton/Fairleigh Dickinson University poll found that roughly a quarter of New Jersey residents or their family members had taken a prescription opioid painkiller in the previous 12 months.