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News 8 Exclusive: A look at a new memorial quilt to help fight Connecticut’s opioid crisis

Connecticut

MERIDEN, Conn. (WTNH) — A new memorial quilt is helping Connecticut families who have lost loved ones during the opioid crisis.

It will debut Saturday, but News 8 was granted a sneak peek on Friday.

The quilt will tour the state to bring more awareness to the opioid crisis and highlight the need for more programs to help people fight addiction.

Connecticut lost more than 1,000 people last year to the crisis, and a group called TriCircle, Inc. is working to lower those numbers. Working on this quilt has been their passion.

“To end the stigma of the disease of addiction and substance use disorders,” said Angela Graichen, of TriCircle, Inc. “These people have value. They were loved.”

The quilt is a patchwork of squares that mostly include pictures of those no longer with us, along with artwork or lettering that gives us a glimpse into their personalities — what they loved to do, what exceptional skills they may have had or who they loved — like family or friends.

For Ceci Iliff, whose late son, Benjamin, has a square on the quilt, having her loved one be part of the fabric of this fight against addiction is significant.

“I feel like it’s a way that we have to make our loved one a part in something that will live on,” Iliff said.

TriCircle plans to take the quilt all over Connecticut, hoping that when people come out to see it, it will spark conversations within their own families about substance abuse or any possible addictive behaviors.

That’s part of the goal — for people to see the images of the people on the quilt and realize this problem could affect anyone, anywhere.

“These lives weren’t lost in vain,” Graichen said. “And we need to work on the solution to long-term recovery.”

TriCircle, Inc. offers support to families dealing with addiction problems or for anyone having problems themselves. They offer support groups and special programs to help get through it.

Their memorial quilt will make its Connecticut debut Saturday, Aug. 22 from 1-4 p.m. in the Chauncey Building at Gaylord Hospital in Wallingford. Due to COVID19, only 25 people will be allowed in at a time to see it. Social distancing will be followed, and you must wear a facemask.

If you lost a loved one to the opioid crisis, there will be an opportunity for you to register with TriCircle, Inc. if you’re interested in creating a memorial square.

TriCircle got the idea to make this special quilt thanks to a statewide Remembrance Quilt Initiative, which launched in 2017, by the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, with resources provided through Connecticut Clearinghouse, to honor loved ones who have died from a substance use disorder.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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