Night Brings Hope To St. Marys

Ben Budde addressed the crowd at the Night of Hope: A Concert Against Heroin, about his personal struggles with addiction on Sunday.
Staff Writer

Gloomy and rainy weather cleared up just in time for the Night of Hope: A Concert Against Heroin in Memorial Park. 

The night opened with a prayer from Ben and Missy Budde, the planners of the event. Many St. Marians came out with their lawn chairs and blankets to enjoy the live music and speeches from several guests who have experience — both working and personal — with those who are struggling with addiction to opioids. 

Mayor Pat McGowan started the speeches off by noting that addiction doesn’t just affect the person, but also their families as well as communities. He continued by thanking police and firefighters for their role in helping combat the opioid epidemic. 

Without giving too much detail, he also mentioned that the city of St. Marys is teaming up with other cities in Ohio by suing drug companies for their role in creating the problem of opioids due to overprescribing. 

He ended his speech with reminding everyone that it can take several tries to break an addiction and that the community needs to be patient. 

“We have to give people one, two, three times to do this, maybe even more, whatever’s possible,” McGowan said. “In the city of St. Marys we do have several industries that openly give people a second chance and allow them to come in and work and I believe that’s all part of the recovery process.”

Auglaize County Sheriff Al Solomon, spoke next focusing on how solving the problem with opioids is not a situation “we can arrest our way out of.”

He went on to share that there are people in Auglaize County and surrounding counties that want to help, like Coleman Professional Services that offer services in addiction counseling, crisis intervention and stabilization, job placement, job coaching and many others. 

Solomon also addressed that there will be ups and downs when someone is struggling with addiction and that it is important to have strong family and friends for support. He mentioned that it’s important for both families, friends and those who are fighting their addiction to work together. 

“It takes all of us to get work together to try to fix this issue,” Solomon said. “Don’t give up. Stay the course and believe that this is a long and hard journey.”

The next person to speak was Jennifer Lloyd, the director of the statewide outreach on substance abuse for Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. She started her speech by sharing a story about a picture in her office when she first started working with DeWine. At that time, Lloyd and DeWine were doing a lot about awareness and showing the faces of the people they were advocating for. 

Lloyd works with many faith leaders, creating ways to incorporate faith groups into every response to the opioid epidemic. For example, in Pickaway County, after indicting 72 people, the county realized that wasn’t helping. Lloyd went to help and they created a program where once those inmates are released from jail, they’re assigned a faith family to walk alongside them. 

“Not in front, not in back, alongside to help them along this journey,” Lloyd said. 

The last person to talk was Ben Budde, someone who struggled for many years with addiction. He shared how he grew up the youngest of eight children and feeling like he wasn’t good enough and how those thoughts and doubts led to him struggling with addiction. 

He found things such as music, which he really connected with, but it didn’t change the feelings he was having about himself. 

“It got me high, but it left me low, just like with smoking weed, it got me high but left me low,” Budde said. 

After 10 years, he called up a friend and told them he was sick. 

“I was scared to admit that I had a problem because I didn’t want to admit that I had a problem because I didn’t want to tell people.” Budde recalled. 

It was the friend that he called that shared that the Bible with him and he asked for forgiveness. That’s how he found his way to sobriety, Budde said. 

Budde and his wife will be host another Night of Hope event in Celina on Aug. 19.