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The SAARA Advocate
May 2019
From Our Executive Director Article Image
Hello Wonderful SAARA Friends and Family!
This edition of the SAARA Advocate dives into the work SAARA of Virginia and SAARA Affiliates are doing across the Commonwealth. From Substance Use Disorder (SUD) and Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) Advocacy and Awareness, to the implementation of programs to make recovery a reality for people affected by addiction, SAARA of Virginia and Affiliates continue to create positive change!  
One notable positive change in May was when SAARA and partners saw Governor Northam veto HB2528, the felony homicide bill. After a great deal of work and collaboration building, SAARA and partners were able to meet the onus making this a victory we celebrate for people affected by SUD!
Alcohol Awareness events were held across the state in April and a few of these events trickled into May. SAARA supporters have easy access, through our Resource Library, to SAARA’s Alcohol Awareness toolkit to continue to raise awareness on this important matter throughout the year.
SAARA affiliates have been rocking and rolling this month. Maureen Murphy-Ryan, a board director for the SAARA Southwest Virginia affiliate, expertly represented SAARA at the 2019 Nurses Conference held in Danville. Barry Travis, President of the SAARA Bay Counties affiliate has been in close communication with a local radio personality to generate awareness about SUD and the great work SAARA is doing to a wider audience. Laura Minnick, President of the SAARA Central Virginia affiliate, along with other dedicated affiliate members, had a picnic in May to celebrate recovery. Checkout the ‘Affiliate Corner’ in this newsletter to learn more. 
SAARA state representatives presented on SUD at the VOCAL Conference held in Harrisonburg. The SAARA state office and SAARA affiliates continue to lead the charge in advocacy, awareness, and providing programs and campaigns that support recovery! Continue to read this newsletter to learn more about the great work we are doing in Virginia.
Together we make a difference!
Kathy Harkey, MA-MPP, BSP, BSMDS
Executive Director 

Where We've Been
VOCAL's 2019 Statewide Mental Health Recovery Conference
SAARA of Virginia and Alive RVA presented Voices of Recovery at VOCAL's 2019 Statewide Mental Health Recovery Conference. We were joined by affiliates SAARA of Northern Virginia, SAARA of the Peninsula, SAARA of Bay Counties, and SAARA Southwest Virginia. Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder recovery were key topics throughout the two day conference. 
Article ImageSAARA's Executive Director, Kathy Harkey provided a workshop at the 2019 VOCAL Mental Health Recovery Conference. Kathy addressed the co-occurrence of substance use disorder and mental health. Participants also received information on creating positive change through advocacy and partnerships. 
Article ImagePeer Recovery Specialist, Katherine McKenzie with SAARA's Alive RVA Warmline presented Voices of Recovery at the 2019 VOCAL Mental Health Recovery Conference. Katherine shared with the audience her personal struggle with substance use disorder, her path to recovery, and how rewarding life in recovery is for her. 
Article ImageSVMHI's Nurses Week 2019
SAARA Southwest Virginia affiliate secretary, Maureen Murphy-Ryan and affiliate member Scott Bowman recently represented SAARA at Nurses week at the Southern Virginia Mental Health Institute. Maureen and Scott provided attendees with an outstanding presentation on Substance Use Disorder. 
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2019 Region III Recovery Blast
SAARA of Virginia and VOCAL representatives presented at the 2019 Region III Recovery Blast held in Radford, Virginia on May 30tth. SAARA's own, Kathy Harkey, gave the first presentation of the day on Ethics, Professionalism and Advocacy. After a delicious catered lunch, Deidre Johnson from VOCAL and Kathy Harkey led an interactive discussion on challenges Substance Use Disorder and Mental Health Peer Recovery Specialists face. Questions each has always wanted to ask of the other but were afraid to were answered. At the end of the day, the consensus was; whether a Substance Use Disorder Peer Recovery Specialist or a Mental Health Peer Recovery Specialist, all are working toward the same goal: To form positive, supportive connections to help people reach and maintain recovery!   
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2019 Mental Health Summit 
Alive RVA warmline Interim Lead Coordinator, Carrie Parnell, and Alive RVA Peer Recovery Specialist, Jason Cox, participated in the 2019 Mental Health Summit. This years summit focused on enhancing healthcare support for veterans, service members, and their families. Other issues addressed at the summit included proper disposal of medicine, firearm safety, and recognizing the warning signs of suicide. 

Voices of Recovery Training
Join Us
June 21st 
1:00 PM - 4:00 PM
SAARA Center Conference Room
2000 Mecklenburg Street
Richmond, VA 23223
The training is free.
Please click HERE to register.
Voices of Recovery Training Description:
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.

Substance Use Disorder & Addiction Advocacy Symposium
Join us to discuss
  • Barrier Crimes
  • Housing
  • Gaps in Services
  • Effective Advocacy
At this time, all spots are filled for the June 4th Advocacy Symposium. Click HERE to register in advance for the next symposium. Stay tuned for the next selected date. 

Affiliates Corner
SAARA of Northern Virginia recently attended an event hosted by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints bringing attention to the Opioid Task Force in Fairfax County. During the panelist discussion, SAARA of Northern Virginia President, Nick Yacoub provided lived experience and Northern Virginia resources. SAARA of Northern Virginia also had a booth that provided information on recovery and where to find it. On Thursday, June 6th at 7:00 PM, the Chris Atwood Foundation is hosting a REVIVE training at Unity Club, 116 W. Broad St, Falls Church, VA 22046. A safe space to dispense naloxone will be provided at the event. SAARA Affiliate President, Nick Yacoub will be one of the trainers present. This training is free to attend.
SAARA of the Peninsula participated in the Hampton-Newport News CSB's Opioid and Peer Recovery Symposium. They continue to facilitate a re-occurring, 6-week, Peer-lead Recovery Focused Group in the Newport News City Jail. On June 23rd, SAARA of the Peninsula will be in downtown Newport News providing information and awareness on addiction, treatment, and recovery options. 
SAARA of Central Virginia recently hosted a spring picnic at the RBHA North Campus. It was a fun evening of singing, dancing, food and fellowship. 
SAARA of Bay Counties is partnering with NAMI Tidewater, the Middle Peninsula Northern Neck CSB Prevention Division, and the local Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) to host a community recovery walk in September. SAARA of Bay Counties will be interviewed on live radio within the next few weeks to discuss the recovery walk, SAARA's mission, the importance of advocacy and peer support, and to promote Substance Use Disorder awareness and recovery.
SAARA of Southwest Virginia has been actively involved in connecting with the community and spreading addiction awareness. SAARA of Southwest recently provided a presentation on Substance Use Disorder at the Southern Virginia Mental Health Institute where they received lots of positive feedback. 
Would you like to start an affiliate in your region? Reach out to

May Additions to Resource Library
National Vital Statistics Reports
  • Drug Overdose Deaths involving Fentanyl (2011-2016) Click HERE to download. 
CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain: Click HERE to download. 

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
Congratulations to graduates of the Fairfax/Falls Church CSB 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

Story Corner
Kelsi Sober, left; Carrie Parnell, center; Lynda Clarke right.
From a young age Carrie Parnell struggled with a heroin and cocaine addiction. After 17 years of active drug use, she finally got clean on April 26, 2016. After 1 year in recovery, Carrie decided to go back to college. In May of 2018, she began an internship with SAARA of Virginia. Carrie didn’t have any idea how much the SAARA Center would help her recovery. Through groups and peer visits, she began to grow even further in her recovery. Carrie explains that the most beneficial thing is having a Center where everyone is supportive, encouraging and open-minded. After 3 years in recovery, she graduated from Chesterfield County Drug Court. Carrie is now the Interim Coordinator for the Alive RVA Warm Line. Carrie feels fortunate to be able to use the lessons she learned to help others who are struggling with their own substance abuse issues.

In the News

Statewide Educational Opportunities & Events
REVIVE! Training - Fairfax
June 6th
7:00 PM
Unity Club
116 W. Broad Street
Falls Church, VA 22046 
CCAR Recovery Coaching and Professionalism - Williamsburg
June 5th - 6th
For more information, visit
VARR: Authentic Recovery Advocacy Training
June 8th
9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
VARR Headquarters
4103 Monument Avenue
Richmond, VA 23230
$80 Registration Fee
Earn 8 CEU's
Click HERE to Register. 
For more information, contact Jesse Wysocki at
The Governor's Workforce Development Day
June 13th
10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
4103 Monument Avenue
Richmond, VA 23220
Pathways to Recovery Facilitator Training 
June 17th - 18th
9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
7611 Little River Turnpike
East Building, Suite 200
Conference Room A & B
Annandale, VA 22003
For more information or to register, click HERE
Region 4's 5th Annual Collaborations Recovery Conference
July 22nd
9:00 AM - 3:00 PM
1021 Koger Center Bloulevard
Richmond, VA 23235
No cost but registration is required.
Click HERE to Register. 
For more information, contact Carla Heath at (804) 363-6925. 
Peer Recovery Specialist Training
PRS Training Sponsored by NAMI-CVA in Richmond
June 5th - July 31st
1904 Byrd Avenue
Richmond, VA 23230
For more information, contact Jim Kochany at (804) 304-9797.
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
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. 

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

Job Opportunities
Peer Warm Line Operator(s) Needed at Mental Health America of Virginia.
For more information, contact Hayden Myer at
Click HERE to apply. 
Click HERE to view employment opportunities at Richmond Behavioral Health Authority (RBHA).

Crush Stigma 

New Faces
"My name is Jason Cox. I am 33 years old and I'm in long term recovery from the disease of addiction. I currently am employed at SAARA Center of Virginia (Alive RVA) as a Peer Recovery Specialist. I never would've imagined I would earn my place at the job of my dreams! Recovery has afforded me the opportunity to obtain any goal I'm willing to work for. To be able to give back to those that are right where I was, is not only extremely rewarding, but so very humbling.  I'm very proud of who I'm becoming and am so excited to continue helping in any way possible those who need our services. I truly believe that there is a therapeutic value to peer to peer support that is unmatched. I believe whole heartily that what we are doing here at Alive RVA is making a huge difference in lives of the families in our communities, and I'm excited at the opportunity to continue to give back in such a huge way."

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. 

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. 

Alive RVA has received over 2,394 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.

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