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Racial Equity & Women’s Intercultural Ministries to host Narcan webinar

Patricia Osterhoudt honors the memory of her late son by helping others

by Shani E. McIlwain | Presbyterian News Service

Photo by NEXT Distro via Unsplash

Many years ago, this reporter attended a funeral service for a young family friend who, by all accounts, was “gone too soon.”

During a hot summer day in a church filled to capacity with no air-conditioning, a small man slowly walked to the pulpit, and with a commanding voice, he said, “Loss is God’s biggest attention- getter.”

That statement is captivating, to say the least. Five minutes into speaking with Patricia Osterhoudt, one realizes that it is through her personal loss that she found her purpose in life.

She speaks about her “golden child,” as she describes her son Matthew, a 22-year-old who, by all accounts, was love personified. Matthew died from an accidental overdose just five days after his 22nd birthday.

Since that day more than six years ago, Osterhoudt has dedicated her life to making sure families do not have to lose someone to an overdose. A Family Service Recovery Coach and Narcan Training Coordinator at Foundations Recovery Community Center in Nanuet, New York, for the Rockland Council on Alcoholism and other Drug Dependence, Osterhoudt  explained that RCADD’s mission is “to serve the community as a comprehensive resource for preventing substance use and supporting recovery from addiction.”

From 4 p.m. through 6 p.m. Eastern Time on Tuesday, March 19,  Racial Equity & Women’s Intercultural Ministries will be hosting a Narcan training webinar featuring Osterhoudt as the facilitator.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, opioids — mainly synthetic opioids other than methadone —are currently the main driver of drug overdose deaths. Mikyle Johnson, a RE&WIM mission specialist, said, “the Narcan training is important because it recognizes a need in our community and meets it. If we are truly practicing radical welcome and Matthew 25, we should play an active role in community resourcing.  De-stigmatizing the conversation around Narcan/naloxone removes a barrier to support for our kin. Normalizing training, access, and use of this medication saves lives.”

Nearly 88% of opioid-involved overdose deaths involved synthetic opioids. Opioids were involved in 80,411 overdose deaths in 2021, or about 75% of all drug overdose deaths. Congregations across the country are having to face this epidemic, with many incidents occurring on or near church campuses.

Commissioned Ruling Elder Le Quan Turner, who leads Southminster Presbyterian Church in Oxon Hill, Maryland, attended the training last November. Turner called the training “informative and new learning for me. The training allowed me to explore the benefits of the Narcan kit and being familiar with first aid/CPR. I left the training empowered and equipped.”

Patricia Osterhoudt

Osterhoudt recalls the night of her son’s death, when her sister was mysteriously given a Narcan packet and was told, “You’re going to need this, you may need this. Make sure you have it.” Neither Osterhoudt nor her sister knew what it was, what it meant, or even how to administer it.  For this reason, Osterhoudt now offers these training sessions.

As a ruling elder at Brook Church and member of the Ramapo Munsee Lenape Nation in Hillburn, New York,

Osterhoudt has served in many capacities. She says she did not really understand God or was even spiritual before she lost Matthew. Since then, she said she has been more faithful.

Matthew had remained sober for eight months prior to his relapse. In that time, he made amends for every broken relationship he had.  Because of this, his mother said, they were able to celebrate him instead of mourning his disease.  Her message for those considering attending the March 19 webinar is this: “My hope is that those people that are meeting in the basements will be invited up into the pews. Because there are these amazing people that meet at these 12-step meetings that are in the basements of these churches” or “in the community rooms on a Saturday. They’re there at night. They’re looking around the church, they’re looking at the things on the wall, they’re saying how beautiful it is.”

To register for the March 19 webinar, click here. Each participant will be sent a complimentary Narcan kit upon completion of the training.

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