Black Poster Project recalls lives lost to substance abuse

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BRICK TOWNSHIP — Residents and visitors mourned the loss of loved ones and strangers to the opioid epidemic on Saturday, during a silent memorial featuring the names and faces of 263 overdose victims in Windward Beach Park.

The two-hour display was the latest appearance of The Black Poster Project, a moving memorial and addiction awareness initiative created by Dee Gillen, a Bergen County resident whose 27-year-old son, Scott, died of a heroin/fentanyl overdose on Oct. 15, 2015. She began the The Black Poster Project in 2019, when she made her first 40 memorial posters and displayed them while speaking at an overdose awareness event in Piermont, New York.

“It was right on the Hudson, and I just thought [that since] it was such a pretty setting, I’m going to make these pictures of the kids in the group that was putting on this event,” Ms. Gillen recalled. “It was something that the parents that were there, and the families, really had a very powerful reaction to … On top of that, it was in the middle of a restaurant area, and people that were eating dinner and finishing dinner would walk over and take a look at the posters. Just watching everybody, it just seemed like it was touching a nerve.”

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