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 and in less than a year, there are over 36k members that are represented by 181 countries. 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. In order to bring more awareness to the opioids epidemic, we are planning to display all of these photos in D.C. in 2019.
We also ask if your organization has a collage, picture memorial etc. that you consider working with us to combine photos. We know thousands of photos can make a difference. We all must work together to make the impact that is needed and will need partners in this venture.
You do not have to be a member of our public group to see our news feed. We encourage you to stop by from time to time in order to get updates on when the Wall of Faces is being displayed etc. We encourage people in recovery (teal border), people we have lost (purple border), or people in active use/hope for recovery (red border) to submit photos of yourself or loved ones through our online submission form on our Wall Of Faces page.
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 that are burdened with the unexpected costs of losing a loved one suddenly. We have started a Sponsor Program where anyone can sponsor a child to ensure we can provide for every family that applies. To sponsor or enroll a child in Little Faces, please email the Director of Little Faces, Tanya Hanlin, at firstname.lastname@example.org, visit or Little Faces page or by phone at (240) 920-6460.
Melissa Anne Dunford
Founder & Executive Director