Carolyn Miele embodies what it means to take a painful experience and turn it into a positive outcome. After losing her son, Zachary, to an overdose in 2016, she started Saving Lives for Zachary, a foundation based in Williamsport, PA that works to decrease stigma, provide education, and raise awareness around substance use and addiction. Her work to promote wellness and recovery is why multiple members of the community nominated her as a Difference Maker.
1. Tell us about yourself and (if applicable) your organization? Where are you located and what is some of the work that you do?
My name is Carolyn Miele. I have 6 children and I am a midwife in Williamsport, PA. I lost my third son Zachary on February 6th, 2016 to a heroin overdose. There were other deaths the weekend I lost my son. I really felt there was a problem that kids were dying all around us and nobody was doing anything.
2. What have you done to help with the problems your community (or your organization) faces?
In 2017, along with my children and committee members, I started a nonprofit organization called Saving Lives for Zachary. Our mission is to decrease stigma, provide education, and raise awareness around drug use and addiction. I hold community events with a wide variety of topics and speakers. We have a website and Facebook page where we share recovery stories and live stream all of our events. I don’t want other families to feel the pain I feel daily.
3. What motivated you to try and help people affected by addiction?
I see higher crime rates in our community with the opioid epidemic. My organization tries to educate the community by having public events.
4. Is there a particular situation that sticks out in your memory related to the ways you’ve tried to make a difference?
A particular situation that stands out in my mind about helping people is when a girl notified me to tell me I saved her from using. She had watched my event and contacted me and went to rehab that night.
5. What are some of the best parts about helping people who have been affected by the opioid epidemic?
The best thing for me about helping people with a substance use disorder is showing them love and kindness so they see not everyone looks at them as a bad person. I want them to know there is no judgment. That way they will be more likely to get help.
6. Have you used PA Stop materials and resources to help you make positive changes in your community? Are there any other resources that you’ve turned to for guidance?
I have used PA Stop info on my website and brochure.