JAMESTOWN – Despite her efforts at recovery, 23-year-old McKenzie Paulson passed away this past June from her struggle with drugs.
In celebration of her 24th birthday, Be Part of the Solution is sponsoring a Drug Addiction and Recovery Awareness Walk this Saturday, Aug. 20, to help raise funds for transitional housing for those recovering from drug addiction.
The walk starts at 9 a.m. from Shawbucks, 212 West Second Street, in downtown Jamestown. Registration begins at 8 a.m. Prizes will be awarded to the person with the highest dollar amount of pledges and one for the person with the largest number of sponsors.
McKenzie Paulson’s mother, Lauri Keller of Falconer, describes her daughter as a typical All-American girl who, with her good grades, graduated a year early from Falconer High School. She worked at Heritage Green as a teenager and continued work in the health care field.
McKenzie enjoyed working with the elderly and those with disabilities and went to Jamestown Community College with plans to go into nursing. She attended Zion Tabernacle Church in Jamestown. Among those she left behind are a son, a daughter, and a stepson.
Keller said her daughter was always a party girl. About three years ago when she was going through a tough time, she tried heroin. This led to trouble with the law and eventually to time in jail. When she was released to the Mental Health Association (MHA), a peer recovery program in Jamestown, their staff called for an appointment to begin treatment. The first opening was three weeks later; the appointment was scheduled for the day after McKenzie died.
“The MHA was phenomenal,” Keller said. “They gave us at least three wonderful weeks with her. We were all shocked that she was one who relapsed.
“I can’t fathom the pull this drug has on people,” Keller explained. “At least at the MHA they understand. It takes at least a year for the addict’s brain to return to normal functioning. Maybe if McKenzie had been in transitional housing, she might have made it. She wanted nothing more than to be with her kids. In transitional housing she could have been.”
As a flyer promoting the Drug Addiction and Recovery Awareness Walk states, “Addiction affects everyone in Chautauqua County and we, as a community, need to educate ourselves to erase the stigma attached to drug addiction. Many in our area have been touched by the loss of a son or daughter, mother or father, brother or sister, or a close friend. WE CAN BE PART OF THE SOLUTION.”
The goal of the Drug Addiction and Recovery Awareness Walk is to help raise awareness in our community, increase understanding and to educate people on the steps and available resources for recovery and to remove the stigma associated with drug addiction.
Immediately after the Walk, a benefit will be held at the Hartfield Fire Hall for McKenzie Paulson’s children. Participants will enjoy a chicken dinner, Chinese auction, music, dancing, door prize, and more. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for the $20 tickets or more information. The Hartfield Fire Hall is at 6078 Elmwood Road, Mayville.
For more information on the Drug Addiction and Recovery Awareness Walk, email email@example.com. For online registration, to sponsor a walker, or to make a donation, visit www.agfmtp.wufoo.com/forms/awareness.