VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – Carolyn Weems knows the sorrow and the stigma that goes with losing a child to an opioid overdose. She lost her daughter Caitlyn at age 21 to heroin.
Now, in her daughter’s memory, Weems wants to help women who are struggling with addiction.
It’s called Caitlyn’s HALO – Helping Addicts and their Loved Ones. Caitlyn Weems died In April 2013.
“It’s still very difficult, the grief journey is very, very hard,” Weems said.
Caitlyn’s addiction started with prescription pills for sports injuries, but it eventually led her to heroin.
Weems is working with the city of Virginia Beach to find a transitional home to be named Caitlyn’s Cottage. It will help women with addiction after they leave a rehab or hospital setting. Weems says it will be staffed 24/7 and will have a combination of traditional addiction counseling, the 12 step program, but will also include a family component, fitness and yoga, nutrition, education, financial and employment advice, and medical and dental services.
“It will be a home for them for a year, and will have a lot of wraparound services. My vision is to have enough land to have a garden, so the women will be gardening and planting their own fruits and vegetables,” Weems said.
The organization will also have an educational fund in honor of Caitlyn’s own daughter Brylan, who was two years old when Caitlyn died. “Like our granddaughter, their parent has passed away, or their parents are struggling with addiction, so we’ll start a college education fund.”
The third initiative of Caitlyn’s HALO will be the education and outreach that Carolyn Weems already does herself.
She recently won a national FBI award for her work.
Weems will meet next week with the city’s facilities department to see if she can get help with either a home or buildable land for Caitlyn’s Cottage.