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The SAARA Advocate
March 2019
From Our Executive Director Article Image
Hello Wonderful SAARA Friends and Family!
As you know, I visit SAARA affiliates and represent SAARA at a good number of meetings and events across Virginia. I meet people that motivate and inspire. I hear numerous compliments on the inspirational stories and lives of SAARA peers living in recovery. I’m given smiles and ‘back pats’ and told “SAARA is doing great work!” People also look to SAARA as a leader to create positive change. It’s not uncommon for someone to ask SAARA to take the lead on a project to fill a service gap, find a patron for a bill, or to tackle an existing problem that hampers reaching or maintaining recovery. What I have rarely faced since joining SAARA is open, in your face, stigma but that happened to me not long ago.
I attended a gathering with people working in the human services field. I met a lady there who trains service dogs. Studies clearly show that service dogs and companion pets can be therapeutic to people living with dual diagnosis or Substance Use Disorder (SUD). So, I asked the lady if she would be interested in partnering to provide trained service animals to people with SUD or dual diagnosis at a discounted rate. I know I shouldn’t have been shocked by her remarks because I have faced my share of stigma but the unawareness of her words still took me by surprise. She said, “We will not provide dogs to those people. We love our dogs and make sure they go to good homes.” When I found my voice, I advocated. I used the opportunity to tell my story and educate about SUD and dual diagnosis. I stood up for our cause which is what advocacy is all about. Advocacy isn’t always done with legislators. We need to advocate in different ways with different audiences. Sometimes we need to speak compassionately when providing the facts to promote justice and crush stigma.
Although we have made good headway against stigma it still exists and sometimes, we have to tackle it one person at a time. Other times, we can address stigma with large crowds. Whether we are speaking with a large crowd or speaking with someone one-on-one, we fight stigma through our real stories, providing true knowledge about the lived experience of SUD and dual diagnosis. The effects of stigma are toxic, destructive, and unjust leaving pain and hopelessness in its wake. Advocacy, education and empathy crush stigma.
To change judgmental thinking, SAARA of Virginia representatives advocate and speak openly about stigma in communities throughout Virginia. We launched the SAARA “Crush Stigma” advocacy campaign in February 2019. Crush Stigma features online educational and motivational information to fight against stigma. Go to SAARA’s website at to see this month’s Crush Stigma campaign. In March 2019, SAARA launched our “Voices of Recovery” program. Who better to tell their story and advocate against stigma than those with lived experience? Additional information on the Voices of Recovery program is included in the program section of this newsletter. SAARA knows that a stigma-free world will be a much better place for everyone and we intend to advocate to crush stigma one step at a time though voices, campaigns, and awareness events.
In addition to our monthly “Crush Stigma” campaign and the new “Voices of Recovery” program, SAARA provides information, tools, and downloadable materials in our online Resource Library. One of the latest additions to our Resource Library is a free, downloadable “Advanced Medical Directive.” To access the document, go to; click on Resources at the top of the home page; scroll down the list until you see Advanced Medical Directive; click on the link and print. It’s that easy! There is also a link to instructions if you are unsure how to fill out the directive.
Before I close, I would like to speak briefly about Medicaid Expansion. Through Medicaid expansion, adults ages 19 – 64, may now qualify for low or no cost health insurance. The problem is, many people with SUD are not taking advantage of this awesome opportunity. Please go to to see if you qualify.
Thank you for the good work you are doing. Together we make a difference!
Kathy Harkey

Where We've Been

Article ImageGovernor's Advisory Commission on Opioids and Addiction
Kelsi Sober, SAARA's Communications and Development Specialist and Richard Howard, SAARA's Peer Recovery Specialist attended the Governor's Advisory Commission on Opioids and Addiction. Jae Davenport, Deputy Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security and Jodi Manz, Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services, provided legislative updates. They acknowledged two passed bills that SAARA of Virginia supported: SB1349 Safe Reporting of Overdoses and HB1878 Possession and Administration of Naloxone by regional jail employees. Sheriff Bob Mosier of Fauquier County, Virginia presented the Overdose Detection Mapping Application Program (ODMAP), a useful tool measuring real-time overdoses. Jack Hurley Jr., Circuit Court Judge, discussed Drug Courts of Virginia. He spoke on the continued success of Virginia Drug Courts and how efforts are being made for Drugs Courts to be available in every jurisdiction. 
Governor Nortam recently announced same day access to mental health services now available at all 40 Community Services Boards in Virginia. For more information, click here

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VAAP 2019 Annual Meeting & Training
Kathy Harkey, SAARA's Executive Director, Alethea Lambert, SAARA's President, Sean May, Alive RVA's Lead Peer Coordinator, and Katherine McKenzie, Alive RVA's Peer Recovery Specialist, participated in the 2019 Annual Meeting and Training held in Virginia Beach by the Virginia Association of Addiction Professionals (VAAP). SAARA of Virginia and Alive RVA had exhibit tables at the event with free resources available for attendees. Cynthia Moreno Tuohy was the first presenter who spoke on Conflict Resolution. The second speaker was Linda Hancock who spoke on JUULS and Vapes: New Technolgy Impacting Nicotine and Marijuana Addiction. This event provided good information and partnership building to promote addiction awareness in Virginia. 

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2019 Virginia Public Health & Healthcare Preparedness Academy
Kathy Harkey, SAARA's Executive Director, attended the 2019 Virginia Public Health and Healthcare Preparedness Academy Conference held in March, where she connected with numerous new SAARA supporters. The academy provided valuable information on emergency preparedness for behavioral health including mental health and substance use disorder. We would like to thank Melissa Early for also attending the conference on behalf of SAARA of Virginia. 

Crush Stigma
Follow SAARA's Crush Stigma campaign on our website. Learn how to destigmatize addiction by using the appropriate language. You can access the Additionary™ by visiting our Resource Library.
Addiction Stigma 
A negative belief or perception society holds against those with substance abuse history.
Impact of Stigma
  • Interferes with an individuals willingness to seek assistance
  • Negatively impacts ones self-esteem and mental health
  • Chronic stress from discrimination
Reduce the Stigma
  • Learn more about drug dependency
  • Offer kindness and support
  • Avoid hurtful labels
  • Remain judgement free

New Programs
Voices of Recovery
SAARA of Virginia's Voices of Recovery program introduces the audience to real people with lived experience of recovery from Substance Use Disorder or Alcohol Addiction. Voices of Recovery is a 60-minute presentation that focuses on: Early Days, Addiction Years, and Life in Recovery. 
Friends & Family
Friends and Family is an educational program for family and friends of people with an addiction. Friends and Family provides information on Substance Use Disorder, Recovery, Taking Care of your Loved One with Addiction, and Self-Care. 
For more information or to register for one of these trainings call the SAARA office at 804-762-4445 or email

April is Alcohol Awareness Month
Interested in spreading community alcohol awareness? Please visit our online Resource Library to easily download the Alcohol Awareness Flyer. A downloadable Community Alcohol Awareness PowerPoint presentation will be available for your use in SAARA’s Resource Library on or before April 1st. We encourage affiliates and others interested to reach out to your community and provide information about Alcohol Addiction and Recovery. 

Updates from SAARA Affiliates
SAARA of Northern Virginia has been actively involved in the Striving to Achieve Recovery Program at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center. STAR is a sister program to Chesterfield County's HARP Program, working with inmates to increase their chances for success after release. 
SAARA of Southwest Virginia will be participating in the Spring Into Recovery Gala Resource Fair on April 13th. Their focus for the area is promoting advocacy. They encourage anyone interested in addiction and recovery to join their affiliate. 
SAARA of Bay Counties is now a member of the Gloucester Chamber of Commerce and Lancaster of the Bay Chamber of Commerce. SAARA of Bay Counties is currently planning a September 2019 Recovery Walk in Tappahannock to be held during Recovery Month. They are working on partnering with local churches to be a resource for those interested in recovery. In additon, they have contacted local media and radio to advocate and inform the public about Substance Use Disorder.
Would you like to start an affiliate in your region? Reach out to

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. Trainings are held at the SAARA Center. 
The next Lay Rescuer Training will be held on May 9th from 10am - 12noon.
To register for trainings click here and select your date. 

Peer Recovery Support Specialist Training
The next PRS Training at the SAARA Center will be held April 5th - 12th!
For more information visit our website or email

Alive RVA has now received over 1,972 unique calls since its start. 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.

New Faces
We would like to welcome two new Peer Recovery Specialists to the Alive RVA team, Katherine McKenzie and Olivia Claytor. 
Katherine Mckenzie
Olivia Claytor

Job Opportunities
Chesterfield County Mental Health has posted two Peer Recovery Specialist positions to assist with the HARP program at the Chesterfield County Jail. For job details or to apply please click HERE.  

In the News

Statewide Opportunities
Ex-Offenders and those with Criminal Backgrounds are encouraged to attend the Job Fair Events below.
Job offers will be given on the spot!
Come Dressed to Impress & Prepared to Interview. 
Job Fair - Chesterfield
April 18th
10:30am - 1:00pm
MeadowDale Library
4301 Meadowdale Blvd
North Chesterfield, VA 23234
Job Fair - Richmond
April 16th
10:00am - 3:00pm
Arthur Ashe Athletic Center
3001 N. Boulevard
Richmond, VA 23230
Attention Female Job Seekers
Visit the boutique to receive a FREE professional outfit.
March 26th
9:00am - 2:00pm
Dress For Success Central Virginia
210 E. Clay Street
Richmond, VA 23219
Educational Opportunities 
"Expanding Employment Support: A Healing Power Tool" by Laurie Mitchell Empowerment and Career Center
Employment is the #1 way to sustain people on their recovery and wellness journey.
March 28th
10:00am - 3:00pm
Municipal Arts Center 
1119 5th Street SW 
Charlottesville, 22902
For more information and to register, go here.
Spring Into Recovery Gala: With National Speak Tim Ryan
April 13th
12:00pm - 4:00pm
The Holiday Inn at Tanglewood
4468 Strakey Road
Roanoke, VA 24018
For more information contact Maureen Murphy-Ryan at 540-655-3213.
WRAP© Offered in Fredericksburg
Every Friday from April 12th - May 31st
1:00pm - 3:00pm
For further information, contact Karen at 540-373-1744 or
Opioid and Peer Recovery Symposium in Hampton
April 17th
For more information, contact Alethea Lambert at
2019 Annual Mental Health Recovery Conference: "The Evolution of Us"
May 20th & 21st
For more information or to register click here
Peer Recovery Specialist Training
PRS Training in Manassas
April 10th
GMU Bull Run Bldg. Room 246
10900 University Blvd
Manassas, VA 20110
*This is a free training offered to Prince William County residents. 
Application Deadline March 27th.
For further information contact Arm & Arm at or call 571-245-4568.
PRS Training at Region Ten in Charlottesville
April 2, 4, 5, 9, 11, 12, 15, 16, and 17 
9:00am - 4:00pm
For more information, contact Erin Tucker at before March 25.
CPRS Supervisor Training in Williamsburg
April 12th
Colonial Behavioral Health
473 McLaws Circle
Williamsburg, 23185
For further information, contact Mary McQuown at
Peer Recovery Specialist Training Sponsored by Hampton-Newport News CSB
April 29th - May 3rd
May 13-17
9:00am - 5:00pm
Please contact Alethea Lambert for more information at
Free Peer Recovery Specialist 72-Hour Training in Annandale
April 29th - 30th, May 6th- 7th, May 13th - 14th, May 20th - 21st
8:30am - 5:30pm
Application Deadline is April 12th. 
For more information, contact Cynthia Evans at

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

SAARA is seeking peer volunteers to be part of the Voices of Recovery Program and family member volunteers to lead a family support group. If you are interested contact us at or call 804-762-4445. 

Attention Kroger Shoppers!
SAARA of Virginia receives donations for all shoppers that use their Kroger loyalty card after they have listed SAARA as their charity of choice. We would appreciate your kindness in helping us earn donations. For help linking your card, please visit customer service at your preferred kroger location. 

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