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The SAARA Advocate
February, 2019
Expanding our Reach in February!
From our Executive Director
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Kelsi Sober ,
I have been traveling the roads of beautiful Virginia to work with friends and neighbors to promote advocacy and establish and support SAARA affiliates. Having a local affiliate increases Substance Use Disorder (SUD) awareness and brings SAARA supports and resources closer to people in our communities. SAARA Roanoke Virginia recently joined the SAARA family, officially becoming a SAARA affiliate this month. Please join me in sending a great big welcome to our friends in the Roanoke Valley! Congratulations SAARA Roanoke Valley! Your heart and drive for the SAARA mission is truly inspiring! By increasing SAARA affiliates, SAARA’s voice becomes louder when we advocate for better laws, services, and funding for SUD and Addiction.
The 2019 Virginia General Assembly session ended on Saturday, February 23rd. A good number of SUD bills were considered. We had some wins and some losses. Wins included the passage of bills to expand the number of people trained to administer Naloxone. Naloxone saves lives! The passage of this legislation is good for the SUD community. HB1664 passed allowing a person convicted of a drug offense in another state to petition a court in Virginia for a restricted driver license. HB1771, the Virginia Juvenile Community Crime Control Act to prevent juvenile crime prior to intake also passed. I am encouraged by this year’s progress. As always, SAARA of Virginia will keep you up-to-date on all our advocacy activities.   
One of the best parts of my job is meeting and speaking with SAARA members and friends. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me with questions or if you just want to bounce around an idea. A resource that I use and think you will find helpful is the SAARA Resource Library. The Resource Library provides easy access to resources and downloadable materials. New information, research articles, and advocacy materials are being added to the Resource Library regularly at Speaking of advocacy, I mentioned in the January newsletter that this month’s newsletter would provide the launch date for the new SAARA Advocacy training. Drum roll please…SAARA’s new Advocacy training will be available on September 1st! Interest for this training is already high so please call the SAARA of Virginia office at 804-762-4445 or email to schedule your free advocacy training.
It is an honor to introduce you to new SAARA of Virginia staff member, Kelsi Sober. Kelsi started her position as the Communications and Development Specialist at the state office on February 25th. It is also my privilege to introduce you to Lisa Beitz, SAARA of Virginia’s newest board director. To learn more about Kelsi and Lisa see the introduction articles below. 
Together we make a difference. Thanks for all you do!
Kathy Harkey,
Executive Director
Executive Director   

Meeting at The College of William & Mary
Alethea Lambert, Sean May, Cheryl DeHaven, and Kathy Harkey participated in advocacy and Substance Use Disorder (SUD) roundtable discussions at The College of William & Mary in February. The session title, “People who work to make changes to systems and communities: Advocates.” It was a pleasure to meet students and staff at William and Mary. They showed a true drive to advocate and gain SUD education! Some of the questions addressed during the roundtable sessions included: 
  • What have you seen change in addiction/recovery approaches and policy?
  • What changes are you making in your communities/spheres of influence?
  • What isn’t working in addressing addiction/recovery? What should remain the same?
  • What are the sources of resistance to addressing addiction/recovery?
  • Based on your experience, what is the role of race and class in this work?
  • What does a just community look like to you? What is the role of addressing addiction in building that community?
We here at SAARA look forward to future sessions with William & Mary students and staff.
Alethea Lambert, Kathy Harkey, and students and staff at the College of William & Mary.

Affiliate Update
SAARA of Virginia is pleased to welcome the SAARA Roanoke Valley affiliate to the SAARA family! By working together, the SAARA state office, SAARA Roanoke Valley, and other regional SAARA affiliates are able to advocate with a powerful voice, bring Substance Use Disorder (SUD) awareness to all corners of Virginia, and crush the stigma associated with SUD. 
SAARA Roanoke Valley affiliate leaders and members are go-getters with big hearts for helping people reach and maintain recovery. This is the beginning of something special. We at SAARA are not bystanders, but change agents that stand united to create a positive difference!
Left to Right: Rhonda Deel, Maureen Murphy-Ryan, Tim Ferry, Susan Shirley, Suzanne Hillin. 
Would you like to start an affiliate in your region? Reach out to
New Faces at SAARA
We welcome Lisa M. Beitsz, LCSW, to SAARA of Virginia’s Board of Directors. Lisa will be able to bring her expertise in the public service delivery system, proven abilities in program and policy development and funds management to our organization. Lisa currently serves as the Executive Director for Region Ten and has extensive experience working with Community Service Boards and with local support and family service organizations. We look forward to the valuable contributions Lisa will bring to SAARA of Virginia.
We also welcome Kelsi Sober, our new Communications & Development Specialist. Kelsi is a native of Chester Virginia and a proud mother of two beautiful young girls. Kelsi holds certifications in Addiction and is less than a year away from obtaining her Bachelors of Social Sciences degree in Human Services from the University of Phoenix. As an adolescent, Kelsi began experimenting with drugs and alcohol which she admits quickly led her on a destructive path. Kelsi is now living in long-term recovery and is passionate about helping and advocating for individuals with substance abuse history.

PRSS Training at SAARA
Join SAARA for our next PRS Training held April 5th - 12th!
For more information and the next training visit our website or contact Marjorie Yates, Manager, Recovery Supports and Training at

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. 
Lay Rescuer Training will be held on March 14th from 10am-12noon. Please note that SAARA will be reducing the number of trainings in 2019. To see the most up to date list of training dates visit us online. 
To register for trainings click here and select your date. 
Statewide Opportunities
Peer Recovery Specialist Trainings
PRS Training in Norfolk Begins March 1 at The Up Center
222 W 19th Street
Norfolk 23517
Contact Raymond T. Barnes, at 804-481-1577 or email
Peer Recovery Specialist Training in Richmond
March 11- April 4th
6:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m.
2025 E Main Street  
Richmond, VA 23223
For more information please contact Craig Hedley: 804-393-6914 or

Educational Opportunities
Virginia Peer Recovery Specialist Network Meetings
Professional Development and Networking for Virginia's Peer Recovery Specialists 
for more details and facilitator contact information.
VPRSN Continuing Education: Intentional Peer Support Core Training
March 11-15
Richmond VA
The IPS Core Training is for anyone interested in mutual support and has been widely used as a foundation training for people working in both traditional and alternative mental health settings.
Space is limited, and partial scholarships are available. The application deadline is February 11. 
Learn more here
SAARA of the Peninsula Workshop Day
March 30
9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
Contact Alethea Lambert at 757-696-1661 or Frederika Jones at 757-810-5528 for more information.
Save the Date for Alternatives 2019
July 7-11
The Catholic University of America (CUA)
Washington, D.C.
Read more here
VSIAS - Brilliance at the Basics and Beyond
July 14th - 17th 2019
The Woodlands Conference Center
Williamsburg, Virginia
Join VSIAS at the amenity-filled Woodlands Hotel & Suites as the celebrate our 18th year as the Mid-Atlantic's Premier professional development event for addiction treatment professionals. For more information visit them here
Save the Date for Region 4 Collaborations Recovery Conference 2019: "Healing Step by Step"
July 22
9:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.
Doubletree by Hilton
1021 Koger Center Boulevard
Richmond, 23235
Keynote speaker: Dr. Peter Coleman of The Coleman Institute. Dr. Coleman has dedicated his career to treating addiction patents. Beyond his medical experience, he understands first-hand the struggle to get clean and stay clean due to his own personal struggle with addiction. Workshop proposals due March 25. For a workshop application, contact Carla Heath:

Do you have a training or community event you would like featured in our newsletter? Reach out to us at to see if you training or event is a good fit! 

Alive RVA
 To reach Alive RVA call 833-4PEERVA
24 hours a day, 7 days a week
Alive RVA in comprised of Peer Support Specialists who serve as the bridge between someone seeking recovery from substance use disorders and the access to services to get them on the right path.
Alive RVA is funded by SAMHSA opioid STR grant funds awarded to DBHDS. 

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