On Sunday more than 500 religious leaders of all denominations across Northeast Ohio took time during their Sunday services to address the heroin epidemic sweeping through our region.
Those who took part deemed the day, 'awareness Sunday.'
"It is something that's happening in our region, something all of us need to understand. So that we can work together for the good of our community and for the good of your families," Father Bob Stec said during Sunday mass at St. Ambrose Parish in Brunswick.
Stec has made raising awareness about heroin his personal mission for the better part of a year after performing funerals for six people over three weeks, all of whom passed away from an overdose.
"The sadness simply overwhelmed me. I said, 'we need to talk about this. We need to do something about this,'" Stec said.
So in August 2016, Stec, along with a group of community members, launched GreaterThanHeroin.com. The website was designed to educate the public about the problem and to provide resources to get help.
But the group behind the website wanted to take the next step and address the crisis inside local churches to spread awareness.
"We all know this is impacting our community and our members. We need to do something. We need God's guidance and God's help to break the darkness, to break the grip of addiction that's impacting our state, our region and honestly our country," Stec said.
Medina County Sheriff Tom Miller attended Sunday's mass at St. Ambrose and was grateful the subject was brought to the community's attention.
"I've been doing law enforcement for 43 years - this is the worst I've seen it," Sheriff Miller said.
Miller said his deputies are responding to several drug-related calls on a daily basis. He said it's time for the community to step up and help fix the problem.
"If we don't have a societal effort to impact on it, we aren't going to be successful. It's a very difficult disease to beat and we need help everywhere," Miller said.
For more information about the efforts of Stec and others, click here.