Boyd Hemp has battled depression for much of his life, and at a young age was abandoned by his family.
“I was given up and adopted to another family," he said. The decisions took a toll on his life and caused him to fall into making a string of bad decisions.
On Thursday, Hemp, a Frederick resident, joined eight people at a talent show called Recovery's Got Talent at the Baker Park bandshell. The talent show kicked off a month-long awareness campaign to bring attention to opioid use and recovery. The singers ranged from veteran performers to newcomers.
Hemp, a newcomer to the talent show, sang a song called “All I Need,” explaining that it’s very dear to his heart, and explains his relationship to his mom.
"I actually started reconnecting with my family again and me and my mom are now closer than ever," he said, adding the song was meant for her in that the lyrics say to not tear him down because she’s all he needs.
It was his first time performing, and afterwards he said it felt amazing.
“I thought I was going to be nervous when I got on that stage, but I wasn't,” he said. “I was like, 'I nailed it.’”
He described music as a way to refrain him from making bad decisions as well as to give him so much hope for the future.
“If I sing in front of all these people, and it brings them joy, it brings me joy too,” he said. “That's a major part of my recovery, to see people happy and smiling and just enjoying life.”
Cheryl Ford-English, a veteran singer from Frederick, sang “Better Days are Coming” because the lyrics are about people going through a hard time and reminding them that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
“We’ll make it through,” she added.
Even though she’s performed before it was scary to sing in front of her peers, but singing helps her with her recovery.
“Music is vital,” she said. “It can change the atmosphere, not just for me but for everyone.”
Although Frederick County observed National Recovery in the past, with events like the talent show, this year the county decided to go purple. Frederick County Goes Purple is a grassroots effort to bring different agencies together to advance prevention efforts.
Frederick County Goes Purple technically kicks off Saturday with a kick-off event. Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner and Health Officer Dr. Barbara Brookmyer are expected to attend and speak.
As part of Frederick County Goes Purple, county buildings will light up purple, using purple light bulbs, from dusk until dawn throughout the month, according to a release from the county government. Other municipalities will join in as well, including Mount Airy, which officially goes purple Thursday evening.
The idea behind Frederick County Goes Purple is to start a deeper conversation about and with those who currently have an addiction to opioids about what it is like and how to better connect them with resources, co-organizer Jonathan Switzer previously told the News-Post.
Frederick County Goes Purple is Switzer’s initiative and a partnership with several county agencies, organizations and municipalities.
There are 13 additional events throughout the month, including several screenings of the documentary “Heroin’s Grip” and fundraisers at Ledo’s Pizza.
Throughout the month, Frederick County residents are encouraged to wear purple to show support and be part of the movement.
Another initiative happening through September is a thank you letter writing campaign. First responders have been at the forefront of the opioid epidemic throughout the country, including in Frederick County. As of July 3, there were 26 fatal opioid-related overdoses, with an additional 127 non-fatal opioid overdoses, according to numbers from the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office. There were 55 fatal opioid-related overdoses in 2018.
Throughout the month, organizers of Frederick County Goes Purple are encouraging residents to send thank you letters or notes to first responders, emergency department personnel, public health officials, social workers and grass root organizers. These can be physical letters, messages through social media or emails, Switzer said.
Letters can be mailed to crossedBridges, Switzer’s organization, or dropped off in collection boxes that will be at all the events, including Saturday’s kick off.