Second Annual Adopt-a-Pole Campaign to Start August 20

By Marianne Salza

The second annual Adopt-a-Pole campaign will be hanging purple ribbons and name tags along Charlestown’s Main Street and Thompson Square in late summer in memory of loved ones who lost their lives to substance-related causes.

Photo by Marianne Salza
Adopt-a-Pole organizer, Shannon Lundin, Director of Recovery and Community Engagement, Chapters Recover Center

“It’s a way to bring awareness, remember those who are lost without stigma, and bring hope to families that are left behind,” said Charlestown resident, Shannon Lundin, Director of Recovery and Community Engagement, Chapters Recovery Center, Danvers.

In observance of Overdose Awareness Month in August, and National Recovery Month in September, Adopt-a-Pole will be raising awareness about the public health crisis, acknowledging the grief of family and friends, and compassionately honoring those who have passed away.

“Charlestown is a small, tight-knit community. We’re all connected; so when we lose someone, we’re all impacted,” recognized Lundin, who celebrated 19 years in long-term recovery in May.

The Adopt-a-Pole organizer became sober from her heroin addiction at 25-years-old, and is dedicated to helping individuals and families find appropriate support and care. Lundin has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years to assist families with unexpected funeral services.

“I am grateful that I am alive, clean, and able to give back to my community,” shared Lundin, mother of four daughters.

Ludin recently founded her non-profit organization, Scars in Heaven, which provides financial assistance to families with connections to Charlestown. Scars in Heaven offers recovery scholarship opportunities for individuals in treatment, promotes healing, and provides addiction education to the public. Donations can be made through Venmo @ScarsInHeaven.

“We still have a lot of work to do in terms of stigma,” recognized Lundin, member of the Charlestown Trauma Response Team. “The overdose crisis is still plaguing our community. It’s the number one cause of death.”

Lundin recalled how Charlestown had the highest fatal overdose rate in Massachusetts in the early 2000s, and admitted that it can seem like the predicament is worsening. She has observed the difficulties caused by the pandemic, when isolation and depression provoked alcohol and substance use problems. 

Quarantine was detrimental to the recovery community that relies on social connection and comradery; and so Lundin held outdoor meetings, providing support for some 80 people.

“A lot of people in recovery felt like the risk of relapsing was greater than the risk of catching Covid,” Lundin revealed. “We had over 50 people celebrate one year of recovery during Covid – that’s unheard of.”

Bows will be provided for free through sponsorship by Chapters Recovery Center, All Roads Lead to Charlestown, North Suffolk Community Services, Think of Michael, and the Gavin Foundation. Last year, Adopt-a-Pole hung 100 bows; and Lundin hopes that more communities will continue to join the campaign in the future.

Adopt-a-Pole bows will be on display beginning the week of August 20 through September. Submit names for remembrance by August 15 by contacting Shannon Lundin at [email protected] for light poles in Charlestown, or Rose Stone at [email protected] for poles in Winthrop, Revere, Chelsea, East Boston, South Boston, and Roxbury.

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