DUNKIRK – When 23-year-old Christin Tibbetts died a year ago in Falconer from a heroin overdose, she left her grieving parents as well as a five-year-old daughter.
On Saturday, February 27, the first anniversary of her death, her parents, Kim Leach and Kevin Tibbetts, will join the Mental Health Association of Chautauqua County in holding a Candlelight Vigil to remember Christin and all those who have died from heroin.
The Vigil will be at the Northern Chautauqua Conservation Club, 1 North Mullett Street in Dunkirk, New York.
Born in Dunkirk, Christin had been a soccer player and cheerleader, graduated from Fredonia High School, went to Jamestown Community College, and was attending SUNY Fredonia.
After becoming addicted to heroin, in the final months of her life Christin lost her car, apartment and custody of her daughter. In an effort to stay clean, she went from jail to her father’s home in Falconer.
Since finding his daughter’s lifeless body on the morning of February 27 last year, Kevin Tibbetts has been committed to speaking out for the need for more services for people with addictions in Chautauqua County.
In preparing for the vigil, Christin’s parents had supper recently with Rick Huber, CEO of the Mental Health Association. Huber hopes the event will also raise awareness about the need to develop new programs to address the drug addiction crisis facing the county. Huber said currently, there is only one 12-bed, 28 day program in the area to help those with addiction, adding that Christin’s parents tried to find local help before her death but were unable to do so.
“Kim asked me why she could have sent her daughter to other states and gotten her in for treatment but couldn’t find anything here,” Huber said. “That was three years ago, and still all we have is the 12-bed, 28-day program at WCA (Hospital), when any parent who’s had a heroin-addicted child will tell you that’s not long enough at all.”
From his years of providing peer support to drug addicted people at the Mental Health Association, Huber observed, “Our government has been spending time and resources trying to get the problem to fit into existing programs when we need to develop local programs to meet the problem. We are losing a whole generation of young people to this epidemic. This vigil is to remember those we have lost and remember we need to fight to get what is needed so we don’t lose more.”