Earlier this month, at the ninth commemoration ceremony organised by the Northstar Family Support Project, people stood united.
Some remembering their lost ones, some thanking god for his kindness and some simply enjoying an independent peaceful life.
The Northstar Project seeks to provide a non-judgmental and independent environment for family members of drug addicts and alcoholics.
In 2004, a group of women got together to support families who were living with loved ones in addiction and came together to identify the needs and to help each other cope with what was going on in their homes as a result of substance misuse.
At the heart of the initiative, Family Support Worker Terry Byrne has been working for the program from day one and has seen it move from strength to strength.
“We here at Northstar always encourage people to reach out and look for the help that is available it’s very hard to take the first step when looking for support but that step is the most vital step you will ever make it’s the beginning of a journey not just for those living with substance misuse but also for the person in addiction,” Ms Byrne said.
“Hope is at the heart of our Home”, was the theme of the evening.
Men, women and children trickled in one by one at the Augustinian Church for an evening full of nostalgia and remembrance.
Surrounded by a warm gathering of people from different walks of life, the choir struck its notes resonating what was in the hearts of all seated there.
“Started around a kitchen table by two women in Moyross, the Northstar Project has only grown in time. The commemoration ceremony allows families to remember lost loved ones and provides them the space to share their grief,” said Patricia Whelan, Co-ordinator of the Project.
Ms Whelan explains, “In a time and space where there were no drug services aimed at the family members suffering from the constant pressure, an initiative like this was highly required.”
The ceremony struck several chords and the night gave way to several emotions. Some cried for their lost ones, some cheered for a wonderful life ahead while some were mesmerised by the entire aura.
Director of Mental Health Week, Patrick Fitzgerald joined the ceremony in support of the Northstar Project.
“It is really important for an organisation like Northstar to do the work that they are doing, in order to make a difference in society. It is very hard to make a difference but it is being made small bit at a time,” Mr Fitzgerald said.
The organisation arranges for members to interact with each other within a peer support group. It is a safe and non-judgmental environment, which allows everyone to share their problems.
The Northstar Project has influenced many lives and continues to do so even now.
Stay tuned for the Limerick voice print edition in December, for a personal account of a courageous woman as she tells us her story.