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Family turns tragic loss into 'Lissy's Legacy of Love' for children impacted by addiction

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Posted at 6:00 PM, Mar 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-05 10:27:26-05

NORTON, Ohio — A battle with pill bottles quickly escalated into a heroin addiction for Elissa Garland.

“She fell in with the wrong crowd,” said Elizabeth Metheney. “She was in several different rehab facilities, she was in jail for a while.”

Her mom Elizabeth was by her side through the good sober times.

“The more freedom that she got she would fall backwards again,” said Metheney.

But also, for those painful moments when Lissy started using.

“I would appear in court and beg the judge to please don’t let her leave the courtroom because there were days that I felt like if she did that, I wouldn’t see her again,” said Metheney.

Lissy's struggle came to an end on April 26, 2020.

“My youngest son’s 13th birthday,” said Metheney. “She made a very costly mistake.”

Despite being clean during the pregnancy with her son, Lissy returned to the drug and overdosed when he was just 2 months old.

“Lissy’s still here. Lissy is with us. That’s Lissy’s smile. Malachi has Lissy’s smile,” said Emerald Cancel.

Cancel is Lissy's aunt.

“Losing her was like losing like a part of me,” said Cancel.

Within months of her niece’s death, Cancel was looking for ways to turn her family's grief into action.

“We had to do something to keep Lissy’s memory alive,” said Cancel.

Through Facebook, Cancel discovered there was a sober house in Norton.

“I feel like everybody deserves to open something on Christmas,” said Cancel.

But instead of giving presents to the guys who lived there, they bought gifts for their children.

“We originally were just those 13 kids at the sober living house,” said Cancel.

In less than two weeks, 51 children in the community had presents to open.

“There was 15 of those kids had lost a parent in the last 18 months from an overdose,” said Cancel.

And that help during the holidays turned into Lissy's Legacy of Love.

“With her having left a baby behind, it just made sense to start with helping children who have been affected by addiction,” said Metheney.

Right now, the nonprofit is collecting items for Easter baskets.

“We’re hoping to help 100 kids,” said Cancel.

All of them have a parent in a sober house, jail or one who died from an overdose.

“God promises that he won’t bring pain without something else being reborn from it. And I really feel like Lissy is gone and we’re grieving and hurting, but he’s bringing something good,” said Cancel.

At the Safe Harbor sober house, less than a mile from where Lissy is buried, the support born out of sorrow is helping recovering addicts rebuild their lives.

“The impact that Emmy is having on the community is pretty dramatic. What Emmy’s program did is really allowed the guys to provide for their kids and family something that they couldn’t do today,” said David Wells.

Wells said regaining that trust provides the hope addicts need to stay clean.

“Any time they have an opportunity to make amends and bring relationships back together the outcome is dramatic,” said Wells.

It's the positive impact and addiction awareness that comforts Lissy Metheney's family as life continues without her.

“I want other families to know that it’s ok to talk about it. She’s not here to make this dream happen, but we are,” said Cancel.

If you would like to help, Lissy's Legacy of Love is currently accepting donations for its Easter basket giveaway for children touched by addiction.

You can call 330-604-1118 or email for more information.