Portland moms demand the state to do more to help those fighting addiction

Published: May. 8, 2022 at 5:32 PM PDT
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PORTLAND, Ore. (KPTV)— On this Mother’s Day, a group of Portland mothers rallied in Southeast Portland, demanding local leaders do more to help those battling addiction.

About two dozen mothers held signs and waved at cars on Southeast Steele Street near Woodstock park, spreading their message of how addiction has impacted their family. Many of them have children currently fighting addiction or who have children that passed away from their addiction. Cathy McInnis was one of those mothers out rallying in the rain on Sunday.

“The word addiction has so many road blocks,” McInnis said. “It’s almost like there’s a hand that comes up in front of your face.”

McInnis lost her daughter, Katie, to an alcohol addiction two years ago. She said it was nightmare for her and her family to find Katie treatment.

“When Katie was deep and dark and needed treatment immediately, there was that hand in front of you. No help,” McInnis said.

According to a report released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Oregon ranks second in the country for the number of people in the state battling addiction. The state also ranks 50th for the amount of resources out there for those who need help with their addiction.

Kelly Hernandez said her son is one of those people looking for help.

“I think it’s a mixture of emotion,” Hernandez said. “Anger. Sadness. Sadness that my son is possibly a statistic and not getting the help he needs.”

Hernandez said her son is currently living on the streets somewhere in Oregon battling a Fentanyl addiction. Every time she has a quiet thought, Hernandez said it goes back to her son.

“Tonight I’ll go to bed wondering if my son is cold, wondering if he’s got rain, wondering if he’s fed and then I’ll wake up in the morning wondering if he made it through the night,” Hernandez said.

The group of mother walked from the park down to Gov. Kate Brown’s house. Outside, they placed red flags with their children’s names, flowers, and signs, in the hopes she will hear their message.

Meggan McEvoy’s daughter is also battling an addiction. She’s hopeful that change will come and more resources will be made for those who need it.

“I think moms can humanize this crisis because when you see the statistics they’re meaningless unless you know the story’s behind them and I think there’s a lot of people out there who haven’t shared their story because the stigma is so intense and it’s so harsh.”

As mother’s around the country celebrated Mother’s Day, McInnis said Mother’s Days for her are different.

“For me when I woke up this morning, my daughter is the first thing on my mind because it’s Mother’s Day,” McInnis said. “I had a daughter but now I have her ashes. I don’t have her anymore. I have her last mother’s day card she gave me.”