The festival-like Hope over Heroin event will be coming to a Middletown church for the first time

A local church will be hosting Middletown’s second Hope Over Heroin event in early June.

Hope Over Heroin organizers said that their outreach event will be held at June 8-9 at Berachah Church adjacent to Lefferson Park.

This will be the first time Berachah Church has hosted the event. Middletown and Hamilton last hosted such events in 2014.

“We’re excited and we’re blessed to hold it,” said Pastor Lamar Farrell. “When the (city of Middletown) Heroin Summits convened, we were there and said we could do something but the first thing we needed to do is pray.”

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Farrell, noting that his church’s name, Berachah means a place of blessing, believes the Hope Over Heroin event will change lives.

“We believe it will be a powerful, powerful weekend,” he said. “This has affected everyone and the fiber of the community. … We believe that God put us in the center of the city to be a beacon of hope and proclaim that life is precious.”

Farrell, who is a chaplain for the Middletown police and fire departments, has seen first-hand what heroin has done to people, families and the community both on the streets and in the city jail in addition to how its impacted his church and community.

An organizational launch meeting has been scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday at Blast Furnace Pizza, 1126 Central Ave. The meeting will be in the restaurant’s banquet room on the lower level and is open to anyone interested in getting more involved.

Hope Over Heroin is a nonprofit based in the Cleveland area that holds outreach rallies in cities that have been hardest hit by the heroin epidemic that has impacted many communities across the state and the nation.

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Karen Peacock, the organization’s event coordinator, said the rallies, which have been in different communities in Ohio such as Columbus, Hamilton, Harrison and Cincinnati, and in Florence, Ky., help to unify the entire community by engaging local businesses, government agencies, churches and addiction and grief resources to help those suffering from drug addiction.

Peacock said the events average in attendance between 2,500 and 3,500 people and have been as large as the 10,000. She said this year there will be several events this summer in Ohio and Kentucky.

“People who attend can expect a family friendly event in a festival atmosphere that is free to all,” Peacock said. “The event features live music, live entertainment, free food and giveaways, and a very emotional and powerful message of hope.”

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She said the event also features a “City of Resources,” a tented area with representatives from community health and addiction services, churches, businesses and any organization supporting those touched by addiction.

“Our goals are to unify the community, raise awareness, reduce stigma, ignite hope and connect people with local resources and a support system that can help them transform their lives,” she said.

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She said by gathering the community together as a unified force, the power we each have to impact and transform becomes exponentially greater.

In addition to Middletown hosting an event in 2018, Hope Over Heroin has scheduled events this year for Hamilton, Cincinnati, Columbus, Chillicothe, Painesville/Eastlake, Portsmouth in Ohio, Florence, Ky. and Kannapolis, N.C.

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