It Only Takes A Spark

It was a chilly, brisk morning; but the forecast did not call for rain.  I thanked God for the day and asked that He guide my steps, expressing gratitude for the opportunity to be involved.

As the coffee brewed, I stood at the island in the kitchen and taped alphabets to poster board that would later be hung on the registration table.  The sun was just rising, and the birds were singing, they too were excited about the lack of rain.

A glance toward the window caught my eye.  A ray of sun was highlighting this little red bird sitting on the fence post; it was as if it were on stage with a spot-light and performing with song.  I felt like he was looking right at me; maybe he was…tears filled my eyes and as a few began to fall down my cheeks I looked up and said, “I love you Spencer, thank you Jesus for the opportunity to offer hugs and comfort to hurting people, who feel alone just as I did.”

After wiping the tears, pouring coffee and loading the folding tables; I was off to the 4th Annual End Heroin Bham Walk.  It was my 3rd event and this year was my most involved.  I am a committed volunteer and spend time with this group of amazing people because they work to promote awareness about the facts surrounding Heroin and other opioids; educating parents so they are armed to protect their children.

I work with passion because Heroin took the life of my 25 year-old son; and because in a very poignant, revealing conversation with him when he was of clear mind, he said, “Mom, I am telling you all of this so you can help other people.  “I want you to help other parents to know what to look for.” 

This request, such a reflection of his heart, always thinking about his cousins and his diverse group of friends is why I fold tee shirts, stuff envelopes and work the registration table for this organization.

Along the way, and after much introspective work,  I have learned that when you allow yourself to be used by God to comfort others, when you share your struggles so that others know they are not alone; it comes with blessings.  Blessings beyond the imagination.

It has been six years and God has done amazing work within me.  It is much like the song, once you know His love it is like the feeling of spring.  You begin to see color in life, you notice the budding of the trees, you hear the birds sing, the blooms on flowers catch your eye.  It only takes a spark and God does the rest!

I have witnessed the evolution of this great event and the Addiction Prevention Coalition organization evolve over the last three years.  The event has moved from Railroad Park in downtown Birmingham to Veteran’s Park in Hoover.  The organization has grown in impact; touching people and their hearts and often changing the forecast of their life.

End Heroin Bham Walk 2020

My fist End Heroin Walk Bham was painful and while I did help with the registration table, I was still in a very fragile state of mind and still feeling very broken.  I reflected on that day with a writing for the organizations web page and it was posted ironically, on my son’s birthday.

This year’s involvement was the product of God’s work in transforming my life and the way I now look at my purpose for continuing to breathe.  I now understand, that if you are still living on this earth, you have a purpose!

Leap Day in Hoover was a day of positive energy.  The weather was gorgeous and while cool and breezy, making the hanging of banners and signage a challenge; there was a warm sense of community gathering in the park.  There were tears and hugs; there was a genuine love of other humans.  You could see pain in the eyes of some and gratefulness in the eyes of others.

The cynical may ask the question, “What good does a Walk event do to end the use of Heroin?”  The answer perhaps is to spark HOPE that tomorrow can be better.

It has been said that hurting people hurt other people and having been through a season of hopelessness, I believe that hopeless people hurt themselves. By standing together, opening our hearts and embracing the hurting, maybe we can spark hope in that one person that feels alone and has given up on tomorrow.

The Addiction Prevention Coalition’s End Heroin Bham Walk started in 2017, to remember those we have lost.  It now also serves as an opportunity to celebrate recovery, encourage those in the process of recovery and to lead those searching for how to get help, to that place that might change their life.

The event is an opportunity for the offering of inspiration like the vulnerable display of love that a mother, Diane Flowers, portrayed when she talked about how the Addiction Prevention Coalition pointed her in the direction of a support class called PALS, Parents of Addicted Loved Ones, and how the support group helped to guide her through interactions with her son who is now 6 months removed from the bondage of Heroin; surprising her on stage with a bouquet of flowers.

The EHB Walk is an event that ignites emotions to the point that a woman runs across the parking lot to hug you after speaking of losing a child to this drug that has ravaged so many families.  “Thank you, for talking about your pain, I taped every word so I can take this home to my mom.  I lost my brother; but my mother lost her son.  She is in the fetal position of pain just like you described,” she said.

This Walk raises awareness about substance use disorder (SUD) aiming to remove the stigma.  So, in addition to openly talking about the problem and identifying resources that can help address them, this event raises money to provide scholarships for SUD treatment and it helps fund programs in our schools and community.

To know that the spark has been ignited is to watch a group of students carry a banner around the track, walking to symbolically stomp out Heroin and Opioid addiction.  

The healing power of helping others to know they are not alone, to share the transformative power of accepting help is reminiscent of a youth group campfire song, “It Only Takes a Spark.” 

Spending the day in Veterans Park on Leap Day I realized that we don’t really know what sparks hope or comfort in the heart of another, but I have witnessed it happening.  Likewise, we don’t know what spark grabs an individual’s heart so the Holy Spirit can take over and work to transform a life.  But, I have watched it happen and personally felt it happen.  I am a product of God’s healing transformative power.

Is it worth all the effort that goes into an event like the End Heroin Bham Walk?  If it sparks the hope of a better tomorrow into the life of one human, I say pass it on!

In closing, it seems ever so appropriate to recall the lyrics of the song that inspired the tip tapping of the computer keys:

It only takes a spark
To get a fire going
and soon all those around
Can warm up to its glowing
That’s how it is with God’s love
Once you’ve experienced it
You spread His love to ev’ryone
You want to pass it on

What a wonderful time is spring
When all the trees are budding
The birds begin to sing
The flowers start their blooming
That’s how it is with God’s love
Once you’ve experienced it
You want to sing it’s fresh like spring
You want to pass it on

I wish you my friend
This happiness that I’ve found
You can depend on Him
It matters not where you’ve bound
I’ll shout it from the mountain top
I want my world to know
The Lord of love has come to me
I want to pass it on

Thank you to everyone associated with APC for the opportunity to serve and share.  We are all in this together.  Let us join hands, knowing life is worth living and there can be a better tomorrow!

Kathy Copeland is currently a resident of Shelby County and works as a Government and Public Relations consultant.  She is engaged in her community serving as the Chair of The Shelby County Chamber, writing a community column for The Shelby County Reporter and a loyal volunteer with APC.

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