The following article originally appeared in the Winter 2018 issue of The Response. Click here to read it online or enjoy more articles in The Response.
By Michael Kaucher, Executive Director, Reading-Berks Conference of Churches
The opioid epidemic can be an overwhelming force. The arena of treatment and recovery alone is overwhelming, with an acronyms list a mile long, as highlighted in the first issue of The Response.
The intimidating factor of opioids and treatment & recovery aside, there is also all that “normal” life throws at us at any given time. There are so many things vying for our attention. These are some of the thoughts that initiated conversation among the Community Awareness and Outreach Team of the Berks Opioid Coalition, (Say that five times fast!), as we took on the job of creating the identity for the coalition efforts.
The goal was not only to create a visual identity for the coalition efforts, but to also invoke a call to action and extend a life-line to those in need. In a world screaming for our attention, what could possibly be created that would break through the wall of communications that flood our lives? A small, yet purposed team went to work. Toni Reece, Annarose Ingarra-Milch, Jennifer Kirlin, Keith Stoudt, Mary McDevitt, Patrick Murray and I began to toss ideas around. A number of us are not experts in the field of addiction and recovery. Together we recognize the vast challenges of this current epidemic and desire to find a way to help. After a number of ideas hit the table, we kept coming back to the anchor. The addition of S.O.S. to the anchor started to bring this identity to life. S.O.S., the long-standing code for distress and danger, is a strong call demanding people’s attention. On its own it would be incomplete for our purposes. The anchor added a sense of hope in the midst of a deadly epidemic.
Next began the debate over what S.O.S. could symbolize to make it a local call to action. This became very interesting. Again, there were many ideas thrown around. One of our ideas for an acronym for SOS was “Seriously Opioids Suck.” While this is true and expressed the overall frustration with this epidemic, it did not offer the call to action that we desired. Breakthrough finally came when “Stop Overdoses Save Lives” was brought forth. This became the call to action that we sought.
The combination of the anchor, with S.O.S. and our tag line, birthed a new identity for the efforts of the Berks Opioid Coalition. Jennifer made it look great with her graphic design skills.
So, what does this all mean for the average person walking down the street? Our goal is that this logo becomes a symbol that causes people to stop for a minute and connect with some valuable information. You will, if you haven’t already, begin to see this logo on anything related to communication efforts for the coalition. The logo itself is a call to action, asking people to stop and absorb some information. It could be a resource, or informational article, or a statistic that brings to reality the seriousness of this epidemic. It could connect you to someone’s story, sharing that there can be hope on the other side of overcoming an opioid addiction.
This call to action invoked by the SOS Berks logo, is for all people everywhere. This crisis requires the attention of every person in Berks County, our focus area, and beyond. Chances are that you know someone struggling with this addiction. You could be connected to information that helps you identify signs of someone struggling and you could be the one to lead that person to help. There are resources out there to help friends, family members, and individuals who are directly struggling with opioids
and other drugs. Watch for the logo to lead you to information that you may need today, or you may need down the road. Share what you learn so that others can be educated. You will read over and over that this addiction does not discriminate over who can be effected.
Young, old, male, female, rich and poor are all at risk. We invite you to watch for “SOS Berks,” heed the call to action and ultimately be a part of stopping overdoses and saving lives in Berks County.