Drug advocacy concert comes to Front Royal

Bands and speakers will lend their message to an advocacy event on Saturday to raise awareness of heroin addiction and treatment.

Music Stops Heroin will kick off at noon at Skyline Ranch Resort in Front Royal as an extension of efforts elsewhere in the Northern Shenandoah Valley. Jeff Jenkins said he had worked with Jay Powell on a similar event, Rock to Stop Heroin in Winchester, and wanted to bring awareness efforts to Warren County.

“I’ve never done drugs personally but I started out wanting to help him…and when I put the event on Facebook and got involved with the social media side of it, I got emotionally involved,” Jenkins said.

After learning about the event, people with deceased or imprisoned loved ones who used heroin came to him with their personal stories, and Jenkins said he was touched.

“I never expected to talk to people that lost close relatives,” he said. “You see it on TV and your hear about it, but when you hear about it firsthand…it’s overwhelming to me.”

Although admission to the event is free, Jenkins said donations will be accepted at the resort. All proceeds will go to the Northern Shenandoah Valley Substance Abuse Coalition’s Road to Recovery, which Jenkins said provides a wealth of helpful resources for those seeking recovery.

“If people need help, they have it; if they need to go to a clinic, they know where to send them,” he said.

Powell said that although he saw success with donations from Rock to Stop Heroin to individuals, he’ll be working with Road to Recovery for his future fundraisers.

“There’s one lady out there right now that is completely free of it, and that’s due to her family and a lot of people giving money to get her into treatment,” he said of efforts from last year’s event. “But I’d like to claim a lot more success than that.”

According to the coalition, there have been 17 overdose deaths in the Northern Shenandoah Valley so far this year. One solitary overdose death in 2012 increased to more than 20 in 2013 and 33 last year, and the number of overdose injuries has increased alongside it. Lauren Cummings, who serves as chairperson for the coalition’s community outreach subcommittee, called the increase of heroin and synthetic drug use a public health crisis.

Cummings said the coalition will use proceeds from the event to fund community outreach efforts, spreading its message to more individuals who might be able to use their resources for support and recovery.

“We’re just really excited that the public is noticing and taking an interest in the heroin epidemic and addiction or substance abuse as a whole,” she said.

Four bands will perform from noon into the evening on Saturday, interspersed by several speakers providing multiple perspectives on heroin use. Performing musicians will include Beacon of Light, Freeing the Prisoners, The Kingdom Blues Band, Impeached and Donnie Carter.

What’s more, each band has agreed to waive the costs of booking, and Skyline Ranch and Resort offered to host the event for free as well. The only money spent on Music Stops Heroin has been for fliers.

“I’ve got $39 in this event right now, and that is because everyone in the community has been coming together and that is a beautiful thing,” Jenkins said.

Speakers will include religious leaders, a Warren County Drug Task Force agent and representatives from area rehab clinics.

Cummings said the event will help the coalition reach out to more individuals who can seek out any number of solutions through its network.

“The more knowledge we have out there and the more education, the better off we’re going to be able to be able to combat the issue,” she said.

IF YOU GO: Noon Saturday at Skyline Ranch Resort, 751 Mountain Road in Front Royal. Admission is free.

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rmahoney@nvdaily.com