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Event raises funds, awareness for recovering addicts

Local musician Jay Powell plays his acoustic guitar. Powell started a Facebook group called Heroin Has Got To Go in an effort to raise awareness and funds for local individuals fighting heroin addiction. Katie Demeria/Daily (Buy photo)

By Katie Demeria

WINCHESTER -- Local musician Jay Powell knows first hand what it is like to lose a loved one to heroin.

He said his best friend Brian Bayliss, a fellow musician, was like a brother to him. Bayliss passed away in 2013 after using heroin for about a year and a half, Powell said.

There are few ways in which people can work at the community level to help stop the heroin problem in the valley, he said.

"I know what it's like to be sitting there in tears, not knowing what to do," Powell said. "If anybody else has it in their power to do something, they should."

Earlier this year, he decided to take action.

Powell started the Facebook group "Heroin Has Got To Go" and is working with a lawyer to start the Brian Bayliss Foundation.

The foundation will begin on June 14, when Powell will hold his first benefit concert in memory of Bayliss and to show support for those struggling against addiction in the area.

The event, called "Rock to Stop Heroin," will be held at the Rivendell Recover Center in White Post. It will feature three local bands, including Impeached, J Factor and Viper Mob.

The funds raised will go directly to addicts seeking treatment.

Powell is still in the process of creating the foundation and working out the application process for those in need of funds.

"I do know that they will never touch the money -- it will go directly to the clinic they're going to," he said.

Powell said he believes help like this is desperately needed. Many times, addicts have no means of helping themselves get away from addiction.

A lack of funds, he suggested, oftentimes plays a role in whether or not they are actually able to get the help they need.

"They're trying to stave off sickness and pain," he said. "That's when they become desperate."

Each individual has a different way of becoming involved in heroin use, he pointed out, and rarely is it as simple as people may assume.

Bayliss, for example, became addicted after he was in a serious car wreck, Powell said. His legs were crushed.

"There are so many stories that we know nothing about," Powell said. "People's families are in such private hell."

Right now, Powell pointed out, there are few ways in which local individuals can offer substantial help to those in the community battling heroin addictions.

He said he is familiar with how helpless he felt after Bayliss passed away, when he had no way of offering help to others in similar situations.

"Who wants to put that on anybody else?" Powell said.

With the foundation and concert, which he plans to hold more of in the future, he will be able to help others make a difference, as well, through participation.

He also wants to shed light on addicts themselves, helping people realize the varying situations from which they come.

"People are quick to say, 'Well, he got himself into that,'" Powell said. "Well, that's a pretty smug answer."

To learn more about the Brian Bayliss Foundation and "Rock to Stop Heroin," visit the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/heroinhasgottogo.

Contact staff writer Katie Demeria at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or kdemeria@nvdaily.com

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