The Turning Point Center in Burlington, Vermont, an organization that offers help for individuals with alcohol and drug addiction, has been inundated with donations from strangers ever since it was mentioned in Madelyn Linsenmeir’s obituary.
Gary De Carolis, the center’s executive director, said there has been 231 donations since the obituary was published on Oct. 14 — an exponentially high number for the center.
DeCarolis said he’s also been touched by the notes he’s received.
“The piece that catches me is the notes that come with them [the donations]. Everything from keep doing the good work that you’re doing, to I’ve been there myself,” he said.
“They’re from all across the country and beyond,” he added.
Linsenmeir, 30, died on Oct. 7 in a hospital while in police custody, according to her sister Kate O’Neill, who detailed her sister’s 12-year battle with drug addiction in the moving, honest obituary.
“It is impossible to capture a person in an obituary, and especially someone whose adult life was largely defined by drug addiction. To some, Maddie was just a junkie — when they saw her addiction, they stopped seeing her. And what a loss for them. Because Maddie was hilarious, and warm, and fearless, and resilient,” O’Neill wrote.
De Carolis said that the obituary — which notes that Linsenmier was a gifted singer, caring mother, avid skier and swimmer and beloved family member — helped to humanize an issue that affects so many communities.
He said the obituary “has allowed people to see that these are human beings first with talents and skills and yes they struggle with an addiction.”
Andrea Suozzo, the digital editor of Seven Days, the website that featured the obituary, said that the obit has received more than 3.2 million page views, noting that it’s “well beyond any traffic we’ve ever gotten.”
Cathy Resmer, the site’s deputy publisher, echoed that sentiment, noting: “there aren’t that many people in Vermont.”
The obituary has been liked 451,000 times on Facebook and has prompted hundreds of comments.
Resmer said it isn’t the first time that the site has run an obituary that dealt with addiction.
“It’s really staggering the extent of this problem,” Resmer said.