The cards we leave in the community are the heart of our mission because they carry hope, resources, and a reminder to those who find them that there are people who will not judge or shame them because of their addiction. With these cards, we are spreading love and opening a door, for anyone who finds them, to walk through into a community of recovery support.
We ask that if you feel a calling in your heart to share encouragement to those looking for a way out of the darkness of addiction, that you please reach out to us so we can send you a Project White Butterfly card kit. These card kits contain all the materials needed to make 25 Project White Butterfly cards, as well as instructions for how to assemble them and suggestions for what information to include inside and where to place them once completed.
Project White Butterfly is so grateful for all the people who have contributed to making cards and writing notes to include inside them our organization grows. We have distributed over 50,000 cards throughout Cuyahoga County and an additional 15,000+ world-wide. We know, from feedback, that our cards have led people to treatment and that the support of the community we are working to create has helped individuals overcome hurdles early in their recovery journeys. We would like to thank everyone who has touched this mission, and pray that we may all continue to lead people from darkness to light.
Dispelling Stigma is an educational gallery designed to present statistics, science, and real-life stories to help reduce stigma surrounding substance use and break down the barriers of shame and judgment for all who have been, or may be, impacted by substance use.
We know stigma creates a huge barrier for the people who are using drugs. It inhibits their willingness to reach out for help and support. It amplifies feelings of shame and guilt, which in turn increases the person’s desire to escape their feelings through continued substance use.
Project White Butterfly has made it a goal to share Dispelling Stigma in locations across the county to continue reducing stigma throughout our communities, begin conversations, and ultimately cultivate space for healing for everyone impacted by substance use.
We are happy to be receiving feedback, via a Google Forms survey, from individuals who have viewed the gallery. Here is what some people have shared:
"I’m glad you show others what words and addiction can do to you."
"Great exhibit, as someone with a family with drug history this is really helpful."
"I like how you guys are people who have experienced this and not just random people representing. It’s people you can actually relate to. You’re doing amazing <3"
"This taught me to change stigmatizing language. Your drug use hurt me, not you hurt me."
"The dopamine graphics are great! They really capture, in an impactful way, how the brain is essentially hijacked by substances."
In the beginning, we did not keep data on the number of people we connected to services when they reached out in search of detox, treatment, meetings, or support. Today, we continue to have some very brief interactions with people which is so quick, it does not make it into our database. The numbers we DO have and keep track of, however, are impressive for such a small organization: Since early 2021, we have connected 235 people to ongoing recovery services!
This is one of our favorites! By working with the Medical Examiner's office, The Cuyahoga County Board of Health, the Begun Center for Violence Prevention Research and Education, the ADAMHS Board of Cuyahoga County, and people throughout the community with lived experience, we are able to identify zip codes with high overdose rates and known drug activity to provide direct interaction and tangible resources to people.
What do we do during these events? We identify our location, we set up a table on the sidewalk, and we enjoy the afternoon meeting and educating community members about the drug trends in their neighborhood while also supplying them with resources including Narcan, fentanyl test strips, condoms, first aid supplies - and when available, food, clothing, and hygiene items.
Between April 2021 and April 2023 we brought resources and assisted in connecting people to services through 351 preventative community engagement events throughout Cuyahoga County.
In addition to people with Substance Use Disorder (SUD), we have interacted with over 4,500 additional individuals to provide education about the toxicity of drugs in our community, signs of overdose and how to administer Naloxone, services available to individuals with SUD, and support for others who have been affected by the opioid epidemic.
Community Safe Space was created in response to an expressed need heard time and time again while we were on the streets of the community. Family members would share their stories, often becoming emotional while talking, about a loved one who was using drugs or had passed away from substance use. They often expressed they did not feel comfortable talking, repeatedly, with others about the relationship with someone who was using drugs that was so heavily impacting their own lives. We heard many times that people told them to respond by cutting them off or "tough love".
As people with lived experience and an understanding of evidence based practices for healthy recovery, we know tough love is not the best solution - nor is it the easiest for someone who loves the person who is using drugs. We decided to create Community Safe Space to be a supportive social gathering for people impacted by substance use within their family or community. We provide the space for transparency, education, support, empowerment, voice and choice, and renewal of hope.
These meetings are really struggling with attendance, but we will not give up on them! We responded to a need we heard expressed time and time again, and we know it takes a lot of courage to join a meeting and share things that are so personal and emotional. If you live in the greater Cleveland, OH area, reach out to us to learn more about Community Safe Space meeting dates and please consider joining us!