Memorial garden dedicated to victims of addiction

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — More than 200 people have helped dedicate a new memorial garden in Virginia to commemorate loved ones lost to addiction.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that the dedication on Saturday was part of Recovery Fest, an event put on by the McShin Foundation to celebrate National Recovery Month.

Many people who attended wore T-shirts that read, “Make Recovery the Epidemic.”

Virginia is on pace to exceed the 1,626 overdose deaths recorded last year. In the Richmond area, emergency calls for non-alcohol-related overdoses are up nearly 65% in the first half of 2020.

The event, which in other years might draw closer to 1,000 attendees, was limited to 250 this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

People played cornhole, listened to speakers, grilled burgers and walked around to tents, including one that housed an opioid overdose treatment clinic.

John Shinholser, president of the McShin Foundation, said the event and garden are intended to serve as communal spaces for grieving and processing among people who have lost loved ones and experienced similar trauma at the hands of addiction.

“It’s so important for people to realize that recovery is abundant, it’s out there," Shinholser said.