By MIKE LEBOEUF
FULTON — For those who have lost a loved one because of drug addition, there is support.
For those who have a loved one still battling addition, there is help.
That’s the message Jody and Kelly Wells of Granby want the community to hear. Their daughter Celeste died at age 28 of a drug overdose in May 2016. They still cope with the overwhelming grief of losing their child at such a young age. And they have sought ways to help others dealing with the same situation.
On Sunday, Jody and Kelly hosted the second annual Celeste Wells Memorial Golf Tournament at Stone Creek Golf Club in the town of Oswego. Last year’s event raised more than $10,000, including a $5,000 donation from Exelon Generation. The money went toward starting a HOPE For Bereaved program based at State Street United Methodist Church in Fulton. The group is specifically for those dealing with the death of a loved one by drug overdose.
The group meets from 6:30-8 p.m. the first Thursday of each month. It offers support from other parents, brothers, sisters, friends, and significant others who understand the grief associated with an accidental overdose death. Everyone is welcome.
Jody Wells said he knows that drug addiction is a big problem everywhere, including Oswego County.
“Whatever small thing that we can do to do our share of combating it, that’s what we’re doing,” he said.
He said his daughter was a Hannibal High School graduate who went on to become a certified nurse assistant at St. Luke Health Services. She enjoyed painting and playing guitar.
He wants to help other young adults recover from addiction and avoid a tragic ending.
“I’ve had guys come up to me from work in similar situations that what we were in, and fortunately their young adult children are still with them, but they’re still battling what we battled for years,” Jody Wells said. “These people are in the same boat. The only thing I can do is offer them the groups to go to for support and counseling and trying to get them to beat it.”
That’s the reason that this year’s fundraising golf tournament will have part of the proceeds going to Road2RecoveryCNY (www.road2recoverycny.com).
Darlene Endy, whose son is now sober after he battled heroin addiction and got help, is on the Candidate Selection Board for Road2RecoveryCNY. She explained that Road2RecoveryCNY helps those who do not have the resources to pay for treatment themselves.
“It helps to fund long-term effective treatment for opioid addiction,” Endy said. “We pay for 90 days of residential treatment and 90 days of sober living with a coach. At the end of that time they are employed and they don’t need our financial assistance anymore.
“We’ve helped 11 people thus far, seven just this year since May, and they are all still sober. We are continuing to work to raise funds to help other people.”
Endy said she is grateful for whatever amount is raised through the golf tournament.
“We’ve helped so many this year. Now we’re completely out of funds. I have people who are waiting for help and we can’t do it until we get some more funds,” Endy said.
Wells said that a portion of the proceeds will go to HOPE For Bereaved to ensure the group has what it needs, with the rest going to Road2RecoveryCNY.
“They really don’t have much of a budget to operate on,” he said of the HOPE For Bereaved group. “We’ll take what they need for fliers, publications, advertising, small things for the group setting. Whatever the rest is will go to the Road2Recovery.”
Even if the amount raised is just enough to sponsor one person’s rehabilitation and recovery, it’s worth it, Wells said.
“It’s a big problem in our county. Law enforcement is doing their job. The medical community is now stepping up,” he said. “It’s not something that happened overnight. This is something that compounded over time. It’s going to take a while to beat it.”
As awareness and support grow, he said he may look into other fundraising opportunities to expand what they can do.
For now, they are taking small steps and accomplishing what they can.
“One person at a time. Hopefully it helps,” he said.