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May 7, 2018 4:36 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Community To Remember Lives Touched By Opioid Crisis At Vigil In Hampton Bays On Saturday

Alfredo Merat, a musician living in Springs, will play his guitar at the vigil in Good Ground Park in Hampton Bays on Saturday. AMANDA BERNOCCO
May 10, 2018 9:25 AM

As the sun sets on Good Ground Park in Hampton Bays on Saturday night, members of the community will stand in solidarity, remembering lives touched by the opioid crisis.

Dotting the stone amphitheater in the new park, 400 candles will shine toward the sky while soft acoustic music drifts through the air.

Each candle at the vigil, which will take place from 7 to 9 p.m., will symbolize one of the approximately 400 Suffolk County residents who died of an opioid overdose last year. Nineteen of the those who died were Southampton Town residents.

Alfredo Merat, a musician living in Springs, said he thinks 
the vigil, sponsored by the Southampton Town Opioid Addiction Task Force, will be an effective way to remember the lives lost to opioid addiction. 
He will be playing his guitar alongside a handful of other 
musicians throughout the course of the night.

Mr. Merat, a recovering alcoholic who sits on the town’s task force, noted that music was one of his go-tos during hard times in his own life—especially during his recovery.

“Music has always been there for me,” Mr. Merat said. “It’s always been a passion.”

The opioid addiction task force sponsoring the vigil was formed in the fall by Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman and retired News 12 anchor Drew Scott. When Mr. Scott retired from the news network, he pledged to use his newfound time fighting the opioid crisis. His granddaughter, Hallie Ulrich, 22, a graduate of Pierson High School in Sag Harbor, died in September of a drug overdose.

Mr. Schneiderman said during last week’s work session that he hoped for a big turnout at the vigil. There will not be an agenda full of speakers, he said. Instead, attendees will be able to speak, one by one, when they feel ready to share their experience.

Mr. Merat said he is optimistic that the task force will help defeat the opioid crisis, explaining the impact of the discussions in the community—and the fact that hospitals and insurance companies are joining the conversation.

“I think it’s great,” Mr. Merat said. “I think we’ve done some good work. We’ve been very active for the past five to six months already.”

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I will be at vigel and show my sorrow for the dead and survivors. I am sad Mr Shaw never called me to set up an appt he told me in an email he wanted to sit and chat that was December .I have worked with substance abuser people for 40 years.and attended too many funerals.I understand I am not famous but to be ignored by the press is hurtful I DO NOT HAVE THE ANSWER but I HAVE held the hands of many people as they detoxed and some as they left this world...we will show respect but i will be very ...more
By watchdog1 (486), Southampton on May 7, 18 5:14 PM
1 member liked this comment
It might be helpful if the time of the vigil was included in the article.
By ShelleyB (28), East Hampton on May 7, 18 5:49 PM
1 member liked this comment
It's 7:00 to 9:00 PM - Saturday (May 12th - Good Ground Park, Hampton Bays)
By Robert I Ross (238), Hampton Bays on May 7, 18 7:25 PM
Thoughts and prayers won't save a single life. Regain control over our borders and all ports of entry, stop allowing liberals to coddle "non-violent" heroin dealers. 2nd offense should be life without parole for these death dealers.

Either that or light a few hundred more candles and hope for the best.
By MoronEliminator (151), Montauk on May 8, 18 8:18 AM
Any kind of punishment for our domestic opioid manufacturers (Depomed, Insys, Janssen, Mylan, Purdue Pharma) for their massive contributions to the heroin epidemic?
By Pacman (188), Southampton on May 9, 18 10:34 AM
1 member liked this comment