Jennifer Small works on a butterfly garden in Davis Park in Bethel. Each of the 380 butterflies represents one death from a drug overdose in Maine in 2019. Morgain L. Bailey photo

PARIS — Butterflies are rising from the ashes of the canceled Western Maine Recovery Rally.

The fifth annual rally was set for September during National Recovery Month, to raise awareness and reduce stigma around substance use disorder and recovery. Past marches started in downtown Norway and ended at Moore Park in Paris for a rally with food, games and speakers.

A butterfly garden in Davis Park in Bethel. Each of the 380 butterflies represents one death from a drug overdose in Maine in 2019. Morgain L. Bailey photo

Though the coronavirus pandemic canceled those plans, organizers from the Western Maine Addiction Recovery Initiative have expanded their outreach throughout Oxford County by planting five butterfly gardens in Western Maine.

“The irony is a butterfly is such a beautiful creature, but here we have it representing something that is very painful and the look on the face reminds me of sad,” said Jennifer Small, the vice president of WMARI.

The butterfly gardens are located at Moore Park and McLaughlin Garden in Paris, Peary Park in Fryeburg, Davis Park in Bethel and Boivin Park in Rumford. Each garden contains 380 butterflies.

Each butterfly represents a life lost to a drug overdose in Maine in 2019, when 380 individuals died, Small said.

“At times we hear a number and we think ‘oh, that’s not so much,” Small said. “It’s a visual representation. The look on their faces is usually one of contemplation.”

The purpose of the gardens is to raise awareness and seek community participation to join together in being part of the solution to the problem of addiction in the community.

“Our big overarching mission always is to decrease the stigma that comes with  substance use disorder,” Small said. ” It kind of personalizes it and humanizes it.”

This is the first year that butterfly gardens have been planted in five separate locations. Past years has seen just one butterfly garden set up in Moore Park for the conclusion of the march.

Small encourages people to visit the website wmari.org to learn more about helping others with substance use disorder.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: