On Friday night, a community came out to remember those who lost their battle against behavioral health and substance abuse diseases during the pandemic. They also gathered to remind people there's help out there.
"We lost a lot of people," said Debbie Phillips.
And in downtown New London, people gathered to remember the ones who couldn't be there.
"We decided to come out and say a prayer for her and be there to support anybody else who lost somebody during the pandemic or for other reasons," said Rebequa Vazquez.
Vazquez's mother passed away unexpectedly two months ago. Vazquez works at Sound Community Services, and her mom was a client there.
"Having this community and being there for each other is very important during these times," said Vazquez.
The not-for-profit organization provides behavioral health and substance abuse services in New London.
Debbie Phillips is a client and came out to remember a close friend.
"He died of a drug overdose that we all know was COVID-related because his safety net was taken away. The support services he'd relied on were just stripped away," said Phillips.
Elected officials, faith leaders, and the community came out for a night of remembrance. Sound Community Services hosted the event and says the pandemic deeply impacted those suffering from mental health issues and addiction. Clients say the support system is crucial for recovery and that the isolation of the pandemic is damaging.
As people remembered those they lost, they also focused on the ones still here. They say resources are available for those who need them: you just have to ask.
"Just take the first step and come in. Make the phone call. Take the first step. It's a process. It's a good process," said Gino DeMaio, CEO of Sound Community Services.
If you'd like to donate to Sound Community Services or would like to learn more about the organization and its services, you can head here.