The Opioid epidemic is no stranger to Cleveland, plastering itself across headlines and news stories for months. As fear lingers throughout the community surrounding this devastating problem, because I said I would Cleveland brought hope. On Saturday, May 6th, the Cleveland Chapter of because I said I would teamed up to make fleece tie-blankets for babies born dependent on heroin and other Opioids. Over 25 volunteers gathered in the classroom at Pat Catan’s in Westlake and spent their morning measuring, cutting fabric, tying knots, raising awareness, and pouring love into these blankets. Their enthusiasm and efforts resulted in fifty baby blankets, which were all donated and taken directly to MetroHealth’s Mother & Child Dependency Program. This program offers pregnant women and their infants a welcoming, nonjudgmental environment to deal with the medical and emotional problems caused by addiction to these drugs. MetroHealth sees over 150 women per year, and over 100 babies per year.
Just hours old, many babies start to show drug withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, constant crying, joint stiffness, problems sleeping, and even seizures. A staggering 50% of all babies born to mothers’ with Opioid addictions are dependent on the medications used to treat them. Despite this unfortunate reality, because I said I would Cleveland decided to take action and spread hope. Although it’s only a baby step in helping stop this horrific problem Cuyahoga County faces, doing something is certainly better than doing nothing. This group also took the time to hand-write cards with motivational messages for the mothers trying to recover and become sober.
“This is one of those issues where many people feel helpless, like there is nothing you can do. We believe there is. If putting love into these blankets might ease the suffering and offer a little comfort for a baby, then that’s what we are going to do. It’s time to change the negative headlines regarding the heroin epidemic in Cleveland to a more positive one.” says Amanda Messer, Co-Founder of because I said I would. Mansi Ng, social worker at MetroHealth’s Mother & Child Dependency Program, was the guest speaker at the Cleveland Chapter’s monthly meeting on May 2nd, and also attended and participated in the event. (Her dedication was evident and her passion, contagious!)
Although it’s easy to feel negative and hopeless about this problem, she shared several success stories with the group to shine a light of hope. “This is a recoverable disease,” said Mansi Ng. “I have seen so many mothers change their lives by focusing on their recovery to provide a healthy and safe home for their babies. Our mothers are aware that there is a stigma for struggling with addiction when pregnant. When group like because I said I would take the time to provide support and encouraging words, it shows our moms that the community supports their recovery and their ability to be a good mom.”