Candlelight ceremony, holiday project to show support for recovering drug addicts

Holly Viers • Updated Dec 6, 2017 at 11:22 AM

JOHNSON CITY — Since starting The JOSHUA Tree earlier this year, Cyndi Ramsey knew she wanted it to be not just a grief-support group, but also an outreach group.

As one of its first outreach events, the organization will hold a candlelight ceremony next Tuesday, where attendees can show their support for a local group of recovering drug addicts.

Event details

In place of The JOSHUA Tree’s December meeting, Ramsey decided to hold a candlelight ceremony to remember those who have died from drug overdose. The Rev. Todd Adams will conduct the service, which Ramsey hopes will be a little more uplifting than the regular meetings.

After the ceremony, Christmas cards will be laid out for each member of a local group of recovering drug addicts. Ceremony guests will be encouraged to sign the cards with an encouraging note to help lift the group’s spirits this holiday season.

“I just really think it will be a huge blessing for these people because they are struggling,” Ramsey said. “So we want to encourage them keep their sobriety.”

The event will be held Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Our Saviour Lutheran Church, located at 212 Sunset Drive in Johnson City.

About The JOSHUA Tree

Ramsey got the idea for The JOSHUA Tree after her son, Josh, died of a heroin overdose at 24. Her experience inspired her to start a grief-support group for those who, like her, have lost a loved one to drug overdose.

The organization has grown slowly since its first meeting in May and now has about 10 regular members, Ramsey said. She believes part of the reason for the slow growth may have to do with the stigma that surrounds drug addiction.

“Everybody thinks (The JOSHUA Tree) is a great idea and people thank me for having it out there,” Ramsey said. “There is just that huge stigma and people just don’t want to talk about it, although it’s the best place to go to talk about it because everybody else is in the same boat.”

Becoming a member

Those who are interested in becoming a member of The JOSHUA Tree can simply start attending the meetings; no signup is required. The group meets on the second Tuesday of every month at 7 p.m. at Our Saviour Lutheran Church.

Ramsey said the organization welcomes anyone in the community who has known someone that’s died of a drug overdose — not just parents or immediate family members.

“It’s not just families. It’s not just parents. It is siblings, boyfriends, neighbors, just anybody,” Ramsey said. “We welcome everybody who’s grieving.”