Photo by Tom Rivers: Leigh and Chuck Kinsey of Clarendon are leaders of a new Missing Angels group at Orleans Recovery – Hope Begins Here. They are shown with a portrait of their son, Mark, who passed away at age 35 after an overdose on June 1, 2019. The Missing Angels group has been meeting since January with smaller in-person gatherings or through Zoom videoconferencing.
ALBION – A Clarendon couple who lost their son to an overdose is leading a group, Missing Angels, to help others with their grief.
Chuck and Leigh Kinsey are the parents of Mark Kinsey, who passed on June 1, 2019 at age 35. Mark battled substance use since he was 17.
He was home for five weeks while in recovery but died after taking heroin with lethal fentanyl. Two people from Holley went to state prison for providing the highly dangerous drug.
The Kinseys say there are many local families who have endured the loss and grief of a loved one from an overdose.
“We want people in the community going through this to know they are not alone,” Mr. Kinsey said. “There are other people out here willing to talk about this and share their story.”
They have been leading Missing Angels since January. There are meetings through Zoom videoconferencing the first Thursdays each month, and in-person gatherings the third Thursdays. The meetings are at Orleans Recovery – Hope Begins Here, Suite 190 at the Arnold Gregory Office Complex, 243 South Main Street in Albion.
Don Snyder, president of Orleans Recovery, said the organization wants to be a resource for the community and also help overcome the stigma of people suffering from addiction. Snyder is retired a prison chaplain.
“As a person of faith and as a chaplain, I’ve always cared about people are hurting,” Snyder said.
Orleans Recovery started about five years ago by local clergy, former Sheriff Randy Bower and other community stakeholders. Snyder said the group backs the Missing Angels program to help families and loved ones of people who have died in an overdose.
‘We feel the grief process will be never ending. But we have a path that we’ve been down that we want to share with people.’ – Chuck Kinsey
Snyder is thankful the Kinseys have stepped forward to lead the group, and give it structure and compassion.
“This is not a therapy,” Mr. Kinsey said. “This is a place where you can set up your own path for recovery.”
Mr. Kinsey, who is retired as the computer services director for Orleans County, said his son started with substance use at age 17, “unbeknownst to us.”
Mark Kinsey worked as a cook for nearly two decades. He was creative and full of life, his mother said.
The family tried many approaches to push him to long-term recovery. He seemed to be in a good place in his recovery just before his fatal overdose.
“We tried tough love,” Mrs. Kinsey said. “But we showed him how much we love him.”
The Kinseys said holidays are difficult for families who have lost loved ones prematurely to an overdose. They observe Mark’s birthday on Jan. 9 and acknowledge the anniversary of his death on June 1.
They encourage families and loved ones to journal, create a memorial corner in their homes in honor of their loved ones. That corner can be a spot to mediate and pray.
“We feel the grief process will be never ending,” Mr. Kinsey said. “But we have a path that we’ve been down that we want to share with people.”
The number of drug overdose deaths increased 27 percent during the pandemic to 88,000 during the 12-month period ending in August 2020, the leader of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy said Thursday.
The Kinseys and Snyder of Orleans Recovery said the opioid overdoses remain a crisis, even though it has been knocked out of the news for much of the past year.
“This is an epidemic that will be with us a lot longer than Covid-19,” Mr. Kinsey said. “There is no vaccine for opioid use.”
Some users can be hooked after the first time they try opioids, and can descend into “full-blown substance use disorder” that often leaves them powerless to fight the addiction.
The Kinseys said their group will be advocating for more service sin Orleans County for people fighting addiction, including daily methadone clinics for people in narcotic addiction.
Snyder said talking about the problem can help the community better respond to people in addiction and offer support for their families.
“There is still a stigma that drives people underground,” Snyder said. “People are overdosing. We’re losing a lot of people.”
For more on the Missing Angels program, contact Orleans Recovery, 585-210-8750, or email firstname.lastname@example.org for details on meetings and other programs.