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Rail Trail Ramble Aims to Boost Headrest Hotline



Valley News Correspondent
Saturday, August 26, 2017

Lebanon — Last year 6,700 people in crisis called Headrest, the Lebanon nonprofit that helps people battling substance abuse, suicidal ideation and other mental health crises. Headrest has run a crisis line since 1971, logging more than 408,000 hours of helping individuals in dire need, but the demand is stronger now than ever, said Cameron Ford, executive director of the organization.

“There’s a definite increase in the need for our services,” Ford said. With more people abusing synthetic opioids like fentanyl and carfentanil, which is 10,000 times stronger than morphine, the

“needs of the people that we serve have been amplified,” he said.

In addition to the crisis line, Headrest operates a 10-bed transitional housing facility for people who are newly sober and provides out patient counseling services. The organization runs on a budget of about $725,000, which is stretched thin trying to provide quality care to an increasing number of people. Ford said there is a significant waiting list for services.

“It’s a pretty slim budget and most it is personnel,” Ford says. “We have very qualified personnel, who are just tremendous at helping people restore their lives.”

All of this makes Headrest’s largest fundraiser, the Rail Trail Ramble, especially important this year. The event takes place on Labor Day, Sept. 4, at 9 a.m. Participants can walk, run, or ride the rail trail between Lebanon and Enfield, stopping to eat homemade pies and participate in other activities along the way. Throughout the day there will be a barbecue and music in Colburn Park in Lebanon and participants are invited to make their ramble as long or short as they’d like before returning to the celebration.

The cost for participants is $20 ($30 for families and $15 for students), and people can register by visiting www.headrest.org. Ford hopes this year to have 400 participants and raise $30,000, most of which will be used to fund the crisis line.

“We get minimal funding for the hotline,” he said, despite the fact that it is a critical component of Headrest’s mission. “It’s how folks get to us for help.”

Ford said the only silver lining to the opioid epidemic is that it is opening up conversations about substance abuse, and making more people realize that this disease can affect anyone. Because of that, he said, he hopes people from throughout the Upper Valley will come out to support Headrest.

 “Everyone you know knows someone who has an addict in the family,” he said. “It’s really sad. We need to fix that.”