Melissa A. Dunford

Patient Leader

Dead on the bathroom floor at work was all that went through my head when my best friend, Heather Jouget, died on May 6, 2017, of a heroin/fentanyl overdose. When very few people showed up for her funeral, I knew it was because heroin was tied to her death. Despite the fact she had worked for the state police for years as a dispatcher and commanded respect in that position, so many disassociated with Heather in her death. I felt there should never be shame in dying. I decided to start a Facebook group on June 11, 2017, that would show the faces and stories of people affected by the opioid epidemic. This group is Faces of Opioids on Facebook and in just two short years, there are over 61k members that are represented by 181 countries in this support group. We manage over 300k comments a month as this group is constantly active. I have over 20 volunteers to ensure our organization is excellent. One of the main projects of the organization is the Wall of Faces, which shows the faces of people in recovery, active use, and people we have lost to the opioid epidemic. Faces of Opioids is currently collecting photos for our Virtual Wall of Faces featured on Pinterest. We have over 2500 faces representing the lost, in recovery and hope for recovery. We also have a program called Little Faces. It is for children under the age of 18 that have lost a parent, sibling, or primary caregiver to the opioid epidemic. This program provides a memorial package for each child, which includes a pillow made from their lost loved one’s shirt, treats, and goodies for major holidays, and resource materials on grief and addiction for the caregiver. This program is free of charge to families. We advocate to support all forms of recovery to include MAT. We work hard to ensure more people have access to treatment as each day a persom lives there is hope!

Location

Chesterfield, VA

Nominations

Best in Show: Facebook Advocating for Another

She goes above and beyond to help advocate for those struggling with substance abuse disorder, those in recovery and families who have list loved ones to sud.  — Tanya

Melissa A. Dunford

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