The Burlington Free Press held a community discussion about the opioid crisis during a community event at the Champlain College campus on December 5. Champlain’s Media Services department, The Event Center and some Broadcast Media Production students provided additional support for the live stream program.
Ryan Mercer, a photojournalist with The Free Press, contacted Broadcast Media Production professor Keith Oppenheim for a collaboration to continue the conversation that centered around the death of Maddie Linsenmeir, a local mom who died recently of an opioid overdose. Forgoing the gentle conventions of writing her sister’s obituary, Kate O’Neill, wrote a frank, eloquent obituary, that caught the attention of people from around the world which went viral on social media. Burlington Police Chief Brandon del Pozo also weighed in on Facebook about the obituary, and his response to the circumstances surrounding Maddie’s death went viral as well.
With help from Champlain College students Kate Heppner, Holly Studwell and Luke Marcheski, the panel discussion was live-streamed on the Free Press’ Facebook page, Twitter and YouTube channels. The panelists included Kate O’Neill, Chief Del Pozo, Gary De Carolis, Executive Director of the Turning Point Center, and Champlain student Liza Ryan, who is in recovery and has been a leading voice on issues of addiction and public policy. Champlain’s Social Work faculty member Tarn Foerg also gave a brief welcome and shared some context around the School of Education and Human Studies’ connection to this work in our community.