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The SAARA Advocate
June 2019
From Our Executive Director Article Image
Hello Wonderful SAARA Friends and Family!
Have you ever noticed that most ‘friend’ posts on social media only show our best selves? It’s hard to be real about life and true to self when what we see on social media seems so perfect. Well, don’t be fooled. Life is a roller coaster of ups and downs for most people. You are not alone! People affected by addiction are some of the ‘truest to self’ people I know. Yes, they post the ‘good stuff’ on social media but hey, who doesn’t? The difference is, they also post their challenges along with their accomplishments. These honest life posts are powerful. They help the poster ‘give back’ to help others. They help the reader know they are not alone. They help reduce stigma by showing that addiction is a treatable disorder and people do recover. They show that people are not perfect but human! Everyone has their own level of comfort in what they are willing to say and do to maintain their recovery and help others learn from their experiences. The bottom line is, be real, be true to self and others. Know that Facebook and other social media posts are padded so that we only see what the poster wants us to see.
This month, I have worked with individuals in Radford, Blacksburg, Lynchburg, and Richmond. I am honored and humbled every time I work with SAARA affiliates and partners across Virginia. You guys, and gals, are the salt of who SAARA is and what we do. I feel like a mother hen because I am so proud of you and the great work you do; the great things we accomplish together! The work we have done during the past few weeks is amazing but think about it, we accomplish this and much more every month!
In June alone, SAARA provided a Ethics & Professionalism workshop at the Recovery Blast in Radford. We partnered with VOCAL and Region III to discuss the work of Peer Recovery Specialists (PRS) and the differences between Substance Use Disorder (SUD) PRS and Mental Health (MH) PRS. Guess what? The differences are barely there because…no matter which clients PRS’s serve, SUD or MH, the goal for all PRS’s is to help people reach and maintain recovery. When I asked workshop participants to raise their hands if they are a PRS for SUD, a PRS for MH, or a PRS for co-occurring (both SUD & MH), the majority of hands, about 70%, were raised for co-occurring.
SAARA’s first ever Advocacy Symposium, held on June 4th, was a tremendous success! So successful that this SAARA signature event will be ongoing, held at least quarterly across Virginia. Alethea Lambert, SAARA of Virginia’s Board President, and I participated in the Executive Director retreat and DBHDS grantee conference held this month in Lynchburg. We feel privileged to work with such dedicated, hard working partners throughout our beautiful state! Read on in this newsletter to learn more about where we’ve been and the great work we’re doing.
SAARA held our first ever Voices of Recovery (VOR) training at the SAARA center on June 21st. If you haven’t registered yet for an upcoming VOR free training please do so as spaces fill up quickly.
SAARA offers an outstanding 2-day Ethical Considerations for Recovery Coaches training. To meet the needs of Peer Recovery Specialists and other professionals in the behavioral health field who cannot attend a 2-day training, SAARA also provides a half day Ethics & Professionalism workshop. To learn more about these programs or to sign up for an upcoming training or workshop, please call Kelsi at 804-762-4445 or email
Together we make a difference!
Kathy Harkey, MA-MPP, BSP, BSMDS
Executive Director 

Where We've Been
Article Image2019 Grantee Conference
SAARA's President Alethea Lambert, Executive Director Kathy Harkey, and Sandy with Roads to Recovery attended the 2019 Grantee conference held in Lynchburg. 
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At the Grantee Conference, Becky Graser with the Middle Peninsula Northern Neck Community Services Board presented on peer programs in their region. 
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Substance Use Disorder and Addiction Advocacy Symposium
SAARA of Virginia recently held a successful Substance Use Disorder and Addiction Advocacy Symposium. We would like to thank our presenters: Mark Blackwell, Director of the Office of Recovery Services at DBHDS, Jennifer Faison, Executive Director of VACSB, and Becky Lanier, owner of B2L Consulting. SAARA's Executive Director, Kathy Harkey identified the magnitude of the problem. Jennifer and Becky discussed specific advocacy issues, such as barrier crimes, housing, and gaps in services. Mark and Jennifer provided information on the state role in Substance Use Disorder Advocacy and Legislation. Kathy gave participants a SAARA Advocacy Reference sheet and discussed key points on this valuable tool with attendees. Click HERE for your free copy of the 2019 SAARA Advocacy Reference tool.
Join us to discuss: barrier crimes, housing, gaps in services, and effective advocacy.
September 19, 2019
10:00 AM - 1:00 PM
New River Valley Commuinity Services
401 West Main Street
Radford, VA 24141
Click HERE to register. 
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Patient Advocacy Event
The National Patient Advocacy Foundation hosted an event in Richmond, Virginia. SAARA's Executive Director, Kathy Harkey and Becky Bowers-Lanier connected with Delegate Dawn Adams, 68th district, at the event. 
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2019 37th Annual Ashland Strawberry Faire
The Strawberry Faire is a traditional celebration to promote the community and celebrate the strawberry harvest. Over 20,000 people attended the Strawberry Faire held in June, on the Randolph-Macon College campus in historic Ashland, Virginia. SAARA's Alive RVA Peer Recovery Support Specialists, Carrie Parnell and Katherine McKenzie provided an exhibit table for attendees to collect literature on Substance Use Disorder, the Alive RVA warmline, and other resources in the community. 
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The Governor's Workforce Development Day
True Recovery RVA hosted the Governor's Workforce Development Day. Several Virginia Career Works representatives provided useful information and made time to meet with interested attendees on advancement opportunities. 
Pictured: SAARA's Communications & Development Specialist Kelsi Sober, True Recovery Founder David Rook, and True Recovery Program Coordinator Crystal Snodderly. 

Bravo Alethea!
SAARA of Virginia President, Alethea Lambert has faithfully served SAARA from 2006 – 2019. On the affiliate level, Alethea served as Secretary of SAARA of the Peninsula for 3 years, Vice-President for 2 years, and President for 8 years. At the SAARA state level, Alethea began serving on the Board of Directors in 2009. She became a full member of the Board in 2010. Alethea served as Vice-President of the state board for 2 years and President for 4 years.
Alethea originally learned about SAARA in her local community. She was asked to attend a SAARA meeting in Newport News. At the time, Alethea said, “I had no idea what type of meeting it was or the purpose of the meeting. In that period, my life consisted of meetings so I did what was asked of me and showed up. During the meeting, I had no idea what the individuals were talking about and at some point a gentleman leaned over to me and whispered, "Raise your hand." I was accustomed to following direction in my early recovery to save my life. So, without hesitation I slowed raised my hand. When my hand came down, I was the Secretary of SAARA Hampton-Newport News. That was my introduction to the organization.” 
Alethea got involved with SAARA through happen chance. She stayed involved because she believes in the great work SAARA does. Alethea noted, “In my dark days, I never knew that recovery happened. One of the most passionate things I embrace about being actively involved with SAARA of Virginia is the ability to share with the citizens of the great Commonwealth that recovery exists and recovery happens.”
Alethea and her active support of SAARA and the great work we do is a true asset to the organization. Today Alethea says, “Ever since I raised my hand in that affiliate meeting over 13 years ago, I have been dedicated to the organization. There were so many times that I would ask myself, ‘Why do you keep going to those meetings?’ SAARA has taught me how to tell my story and support others to share their own in a way that is meaningful and impactful to those seeking recovery and those who govern the policies and funding that make recovery supports and services accessible in Virginia. I have watched SAARA go through and withstand growing pains over the years, and I have grown professionally and personally alongside it. I feel the organization is now better positioned to continue the efforts it was created to address: Advocacy, Community, Recovery, and Unlimited Potential.”
We at SAARA are truly blessed to work alongside Alethea and are grateful for the contributions she has made, and continues to make, to the SAARA organization. DBHDS has also taken note of Alethea’s professionalism, heart for peer recovery, and many talents. Please join the SAARA of Virginia staff, board directors, affiliates, friends, and supporters in sending a GREAT BIG THANK YOU and CONGRATULATIONS to Ms. Alethea Lambert! Alethea was offered, and accepted, a position working with Mr. Mark Blackwell in the Department of Recovery Services at DBHDS. Alethea can no longer serve in her SAARA roles due to the new opportunity she is embarking on but, do not fret, Alethea will not be far. She will continue to work with SAARA and other non-profits in her new role to create positive change in Virginia!
Kudos Alethea! DBHDS couldn’t have selected a better person. We look forward to working with you in your new role at DBHDS!
Your SAARA friends and family.

Voices of Recovery Training
Congratulations to everyone who completed SAARA's June 2019 Voices of Recovery Training!
Do you want to become a SAARA Voices of Recovery presenter? If so, this training is for you!
Learn to tell your story to create positive change in your community. This training teaches how to effectively tell your story in 3 powerful segments, Before Addiction, Addiction Years, and Life in Recovery. SAARA's Voices of Recovery train the presenter training provides participants with tools and skills needed to present their story and spread addiction awareness in the community. This training and all materials are provided free of charge.
Join Us
September 20th, 2019
12:00 PM - 4:00 PM
SAARA Center Conference Room
2000 Mecklenburg Street
Richmond, VA 23223
Click HERE to register. 

Affiliates Corner
SAARA of Northern Virginia is in partnership with the Chris Atwood Foundation and did a REVIVE R.O.P.E. training at the Unity Club for the Northern Virginia Oxford Houses. 
SAARA of Bay Counties is currently organizing a walk for recovery month on September 21, 2019. Are you interested in being a sponsor, vendor, or volunteer? Please contact Barry Travis at
SAARA of Southwest Virginia continues to be active. SAARA's own Maureen Murphy-Ryan will be the morning keynote speaker at the Opioid Summit in Danville on July 22nd. 
Would you like to start an affiliate in your region? Reach out to

June Additions to Resource Library
According to new analysis of CDC data, alcohol, drug misuse, and suicide is hitting the millennial generation the hardest. Click HERE to visit SAARA's Rsource LIbrary and read more on the devastating impact. 

REVIVE! Trainings
Opioid Overdose & Naloxone Education
Are you:
  • Currently using opioids such as heroin or prescription pain medications?
  • Abstinent from opioid use, but have used in the past?
  • A friend or family member of someone who currently uses opioids?
  • Working in a setting where opioid overdoses occur?
  • Interested in learning how to save life?
If so, then consider attending a REVIVE! training. Training's are held at the SAARA Center, 2000 Mecklenburg Street, Richmond VA 23223. 
The next Lay Rescuer Training will be held on July 11th from 10am - 12noon.
To register for trainings click HERE and select your preferred training date. 
How many lives have been saved from SAARA of Virginia's REVIVE Lay Rescuer Trainings? Click HERE to find out!

Peer Recovery Support Specialist Training
The next PRS Training will be held on July 12th - 19th at the SAARA Center. 
For more information, visit our website or email

Alive RVA has received over 2,761 unique calls since its inception. We continue to see great success with each caller! For more information visit the AliveRVA website and Facebook
833-4PEERVA (833-473-3782)
8:00AM - Midnight, 7 Days a Week
Alive RVA is Supported 100% with a SAMHSA grant awarded to DBHDS #TI-17-014.

Father's Day was on June 16th. SAARA sends blessings to all of our SAARA fathers. 

Support SAARA
Your donations allow us to continue our advocacy work and offer daily Peer Recovery opportunities at the SAARA Center.
Donations can be made payable to SAARA of Virginia and sent to 2000 Mecklenburg St. Richmond, VA 23223. Or, you can click HERE to donate online.
Don't want to mail a check or pay online? 
Consider becoming one of SAARA's Pledge Direct partners. Pledge Direct is a safe and easy way to send your gift to SAARA automatically each month. Your financial institution electronically transfers the amount you choose to SAARA from your checking account. Help us help those living with addiction reach recovery by enrolling in Pledge Direct. Simply click HERE for the enrollment form and mail it to SAARA of Virginia.

Attention Kroger Shoppers!
SAARA of Virginia can receive donations when you shop at Kroger and use your loyalty card. To select SAARA of Virginia as your charity of choice please click HERE to create an online account. For further assistance linking your loyalty card, please visit customer service at your preferred Kroger location. SAARA appreciates your support of our mission. 

In the News

Statewide Educational Opportunities & Events
NAMI-CVA Family-to-Family Education Course
Starting July 8th
Every Monday for 12 weeks
6:00 PM - 8:30 PM
2624 Grove Avenue
Richmond, VA 23220
For more information, contact Jeff Conley at (804) 285-1749 or
Quarterly Hanover Human Services Network Meeting
July 11th
3:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Hanover Human Services Center
Large Meeting Room
12310 Washington Highway
Ashland, VA 23005
For more information or to RSVP, please contact Lisa Adkins at  
2019 Virginia Summer Institute for Addiction Studies
July 14th - 17th
The Woodlands Conference Center
159 Visitor Center Drive
Williamsburg, VA 23185
For more information or to register, click HERE
RASAP Opioid Summit in Danville
July 22nd
9:00 AM - 4:00 PM
The Institute for Advanced Learning & Research
150 Slayton Avenue
Danville, VA 24540
For more information, contact Cathy Gore at
Region 4's 5th Annual Collaborations Recovery Conference
July 22nd
9:00 AM - 3:00 PM
1021 Koger Center Boulevard
Richmond, VA 23235
No cost but registration is required.
Click HERE to Register. 
For more information, contact Carla Heath at (804) 363-6925. 
RECON 2019 Statewide Recovery Conference
August 26th - 27th
Double Tree by HIlton Hotel Richmond-Midlothian
For more information, click HERE
Hill Day 2019
September 17th - 18th
Washington, D.C. 
For more information or to register, click HERE
2019 Suicide Prevention & Substance Use Disorder Conference
September 17th
10:00 AM - 3:00 PM
Delta by Marriott
555 East Canal Street
Richmond, VA 23219
Cost $10
Click HERE to register. 
Peer Recovery Specialist Training
PRS Training in Richmond
June 24th - July 22nd
6:00 PM - 10:00 PM
2025 East Main Street
Richmond, VA 23223
Cost $276
For more information, contact Craig Hedley at or (804) 393-6914.
PRS Training in Richmond
July 8th - July 12th
July 15th - 19th
For more information, contact Connie Nutter at
Obtain registration link by visiting
PRS Training in Richmond
July 8th - 19th
9:00 AM - 4:00 PM
4103 Monument Avenue
Richmond, VA 23230
Cost $500
For more information, contact David Rook at or (804) 690-2204.
PRS Training in Hampton
August 4th - October 6th
9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
The class will run on Sundays
Cost $350
For more information, contact Eddie Wiggins at or (757) 637-8705.
PRS Training in Richmond
Consecutive Saturdays and Sundays.
August 10th - September 8th
9:00 AM - 5:00 PM.
Cost $300
For more information, contact Jim Kochany at or 804-304-9797.
PRS Training in Stephens City
Every Saturday August 17th - October 5th
For more information, please contact Bryon Johnson at or (540) 664-1010. 
PRS Training of the Trainer in Winchester
September 16th - 18th
Click HERE for application. 
Application deadline August 16th. 
For more information, contact Mary McQuown at 

Do you have a training or community event you would like featured in our newsletter? Reach out to Kelsi Sober at

Job Opportunities
Peer Recovery Support Specialists - Farmville
Crossroads Community Services Board is seeking to fill 3 full-time positions for peer recovery specialists with individuals who possess a minimum of one year of current recovery experience related to substance use. These positions will provide support and direct intervention to other individuals entering or progressing in their recovery experience. All positions are located in Farmville. Please mail or fax your application or resume to: C.C.S.B., P.O. Drawer 248, Farmville, 23901 or Fax: 434-392-4013. Questions? Call 804-297-6111.
Peer Recovery Support Specialist - Charlottesville
The ideal candidate is a person in recovery with lived experience from mental health challenges and/or addiction. The PRS will work in several capacities, including one to one support of members, facilitating groups, and light administrative duties. The candidate should have excellent communication skills, good organizational skills, an aptitude for facilitation and peer support, an attitude that recovery is possible, and that all people have the capacity to change. Grant writing experience is a plus. Certification as a Peer Recovery Specialist is ideal, but not mandatory as certification is possible after hire. Email resume to or fill out application in person at 123 4th Street NW, Charlottesville, 22903.
Click HERE to view employment opportunities at Richmond Behavioral Health Authority (RBHA).

SAARA is seeking peer volunteers to be part of the Voices of Recovery Program and family member volunteers to lead a family support group. Volunteers are also needed to man SAARA exhibit tables at health fairs. If you are interested, contact us at or call 804-762-4445. 

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Address postal inquiries to:
SAARA of Virginia Inc
2000 Mecklenburg St.
Richmond, VA 23223