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The SAARA Advocate
December 2019
From Our Executive Director Article Image
Happy Holiday’s! Soon after the New Year begins members of the House and Senate financial committees will hold budget hearings to receive public testimony in support of items in the Governor’s proposed budget. SAARA advocates across Virginia are currently hard at work preparing for the upcoming hearings. 2020 budget hearings will be held on Thursday, January 2nd. Budget Hearings begin at 10:00 A.M. at the following locations:
  • Northern Virginia at George Mason University, at the Hylton Performing Arts Center, Gregory Family Theatre at 10960 George Mason Circle, Manassas, VA 20109.
  • Blacksburg Virginia at Virginia Tech, Classroom Building, Room 206 at 1455 Perry Street, Blacksburg, VA 24060.
Budget hearings will begin at 12:00 (noon) at the following locations:
  • Hampton Roads Virginia at Old Dominion University, Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center at 1030 University Blvd., Suffolk, VA 23435.
  • Richmond Virginia at J. Sargeant Reynolds Parham Road Campus, Workforce and Conference Center at 1651 E Parham Rd., Richmond, VA 23228.
Persons wishing to speak at a budget hearing must register at their preferred hearing site no earlier than one hour prior to the start of the hearing. Speakers are taken in the order of registration. Speakers are asked to limit their comments to three minutes or less however, SAARA suggests keeping comments at 2 minutes or less. SAARA also suggests ending your comments with a thank you and an ask. For example: “Thank you for your support of Substance Use Disorder and Addiction treatment and services. I ask for your continued support of funding for Substance Use Disorder treatments and supports that promote recovery. My testimony clearly shows that treatment works and recovery does happen!” 
If you are unable to attend the budget hearings in person, you may comment in writing to Delegate S. Chris Jones at, Senator Thomas K. Norment, Jr. at, or Senator Emmett W. Hanger, Jr. at
There are several bills coming up in the 2020 General Assembly session that SAARA is supporting, opposing, or monitoring. One bill that SAARA is in support of is HB32 which requests that minor felony convictions be expunged after 8 years if certain conditions are met. SAARA is also supporting bills that require social services benefits such as TANF be provided to individuals with drug conviction felonies.
SAARA is currently working with community partners in support of an increase to Peer Recovery Specialist Medicaid reimbursement rates. There are several steps involved in this process so we do not expect to see legislation put forth in 2020 to increase the rates. With that being said, Peer Recovery Specialist reimbursement rate procedures are being reviewed, issues of concern are being identified, and discussions are occurring to address the next steps needed to submit a rate increase request in 2021.
The 2020 General Assembly session starts on January 8th. Be on the lookout for SAARA weekly bill charts advising on the status of legislation. SAARA will issue Advocacy and Action Alerts so keep a close eye on your inbox for SAARA emails and calls to action.
Together we make a difference!
Kathy Harkey, MA-MPP, BSP, BSMDS
Executive Director 

Holiday Party
(SAARA & Alive RVA Staff Left to Right; Richard Howard, Jason Cox, Kelsi Sober, Kathy Harkey, Jeff McGhee, Lynda Clarke, & Carrie Parnell). 
SAARA of Virginia staff dressed up for the holiday's and hosted a party for peers and staff on December 19th. We enjoyed lots of great food, holiday music, and fellowship.

Where We've Been
Commonwealth Virginia Campaigns (CVC)
SAARA was present at the Department of Human Resource Management (DHRM) CVC Charity Fair held on December 4th at the James Monroe Building in Richmond, Virginia. For more information on Commonwealth of Virginia Campaign Fairs, click HERE. To support SAARA of Virginia, use CVC code 200230.

Employment First Advisory Group
SAARA of Virginia was selected to be a member of the Employment First Advisory Group. The purpose of the Employment First Advisory Group is to breakdown barriers to employment, to provide competitive, integrated employment opportunities, to make sure people have access to employment, and to provide employment supports as needed. All meetings are open to the public. The next meeting will take place on February 19th at 10:00 AM. For more information, contact the SAARA Center at

Welcome SAARA of Danville
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SAARA of Virginia sends a GREAT BIG welcome to our newest affiliate, SAARA of Danville! The SAARA Danville affiliate is located in Southwest Virginia, Region 3. The President of SAARA Danville is Rhonda Aherron, Vice President, Helen McKenzie, and Secretary, Teresa Hill. We are very pleased to welcome Danville to the SAARA family!

Additions to SAARA Resource Library

Affiliates Corner
SAARA of Northern Virginia attended a meeting at the Fairfax/Falls Church Community Services Board on Government Center Parkway on November 18th. Discussions included current work being done at the CSB, SAARA Advocacy, future goals, and projects in which SAARA and the CSB can partner in 2020.
SAARA of Bay Counties members will be joining partner organizations, NAMI Tidewater, and the Middle Peninsula Northern Neck CSB at a conference on December 28th, to directly connect with over 20 churches in the community and advocate for Substance Use Disorder and Recovery. 
SAARA of the Peninsula spreads awareness on Substance Use Disorder and Recovery. SAARA of Peninsula members continue to advocate locally and visit their local jail to promote Recovery to jail staff and the inmate population. 
SAARA of Central Virginia affiliate meetings are held every second Tuesday of the month at 6:30 PM at the North Campus, 1700 Front Street, Richmond, VA 23222. SAARA of Central Virginia members are currently working hard in preparation for the 2020 Governors Budget Hearings. 
SAARA of Charlottesville next affiliate meeting will be held on January 3, 2020. People from Region 10 including the Coalition for Mental Health and Wellness and UVA Health Sciences will be in attendance.
SAARA of Greater Roanoke Valley upcoming affiliate meeting will be held on January 22, 2020 at 5:00 PM in the Blue Ridge Behavioral Health Community Room.
SAARA of Washington County is expanding their advocacy efforts and reaching more people. The Washington County affiliate seeks to expand affiliate board membership. 
SAARA of Southside Hampton Roads continues to promote Substance Use Disorder and Recovery awareness in the community.
SAARA of Danville held their first meeting on December 7, 2019. Future meetings will be held on the first Tuesday of every month at 6:00 PM, at 1322 Piney Forest Road, Danville, VA 24540. 
Would you like to start an affiliate in your region? Reach out to Kathy Harkey at
Want to join a SAARA Affiliate? Contact Kelsi Sober at (804) 762-4445 or email

Voices of Recovery Training
Thank you to all the participants who completed SAARA's recent 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 to present their story and spread addiction awareness in the community. This training and all materials are provided free of charge.
Join Us
March 6th, 2020
12:00 PM - 4:00 PM
SAARA Center Conference Room
2000 Mecklenburg Street
Richmond, VA 23223
Click HERE to register. 

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 January 9th from 10am - 12noon.
To register for trainings click HERE and select your preferred training date. 

SAARA Groups
Many Peer-to-Peer recovery groups meet daily at the SAARA Center. There are 11 total recovery based groups which include: All Recovery, Letting Go, Life Skills, Women’s Recovery, Men’s Recovery, Early Recovery, MARS Recovery, Addictive Thinking, Resource Time, Narcotics Anonymous, and Marijuana Anonymous.
View the SAARA calendar for group schedules.
Visit the SAARA website to learn more about our groups.

Recovery is Possible!
"You are not your illness. You have an individual story to tell. You have a name, a history, a personality. Staying yourself is part of the battle." -Julian Seifter

Volunteer of the Month
"After allowing opiates to control my life for years, I needed a change. My addiction happened in isolation, but my recovery now happens around others. SAARA has taken my recovery to the next level. When I say I’m feeling grateful, all my gratitude goes to God for sending me to SAARA. The staff and peers here are not like anything else. It’s a magical place where recovery happens out loud and with love and hope." -Robyn Hantelman

SAARA is seeking volunteers for peer groups, family groups, and health fairs. If you are interested in volunteering email 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. 

Public Hearings
Public hearings will be held on the Governors Proposed Budget on Thursday, January 2, 2020. The times and locations will vary. Click HERE for more information. 

In the News

Pharmacy Drop Box
SAARA supports drop boxes in every pharmacy. Learn how you can help advocate for safe drug disposal by clicking HERE.

Statewide Educational Opportunities & Events
2020 Mental Health Advocacy Day
February 4th
7:30 AM - 12:30 PM
Virginia General Assembly Building
900 East Main Street
Richmond, VA 23219
For more information or to register, click HERE
Open Source Intelligence Training
January 13th - 14th
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Northern Virginia Community College
3922 Pender Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
Cost: FREE
For more information or to register, click HERE
DBHDS Supervisor Training in Annandale
January 22nd
9:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Heritage Building, Suite 200, Room D
7611 Little River Turnpike
Annandale, VA 22003
Cost: FREE
For more information or to register, contact Mary McQuown at (757) 403-3007 or               
Peer Recovery Specialist Training
PRS Training in Chesterfield
January 3rd - 25th
9:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Ascend Church
9624 Jefferson Davis Highway
Chesterfield, VA 23237
Cost: FREE
For more information, contact Heather Pate at (804) 608-9389 or
PRS Training in Norfolk
January 4th
Mystic Moon Community Center
3365 N. Military Highway
Norfolk, VA 23518
Cost: Unknown - Contact Trainer
For more information, contact Ana Whitley at
PRS Training in Charlottesville
January 6th
Mon. - Wed. 6:00 PM - 4:30 PM
Saturdays 8:30 AM - 4:40 PM
Region Ten CSB
500 Old Lynchburg Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903
Cost: FREE
For more information, contact Tom Jackson at (434) 207-2140 or
PRS Training in Harrisonburg
January 6th - 17th
9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Lucy F. Simms Continuing Education Center
620 Simms Ave
Harrisonburg, VA 22802
Cost: Unknown - Contact Trainer
For more information, contact Ragan McManus at
PRS Training in Harrisonburg
January 7th - February 1st
Gemeinschaft Home
1423 Mount Clinton Pike
Harrisonburg, VA 22802
Cost: Unknown - Contact Trainer
For more information, contact Jennie Amison at (540) 416-8833 or
PRS Training in Richmond
January 8th
The McShin Foundation
2300 Dumbarton Road
Henrico, VA 23228
Cost: Unknown - Contact Trainer
For more information, contact Jesse Wysocki at (804) 249-1845 or
PRS Training in Midlothian
January 8th - March 11th
9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Cost: $600
For more information, contact (804) 304-9797 or
PRS Training in Richmond
January 10th
Fridays 6:00 PM - 10:00 PM
Saturdays 8:30 AM - 5:30 PM
101 Cowardin Avenue
Richmond, VA 23236
Cost: $375
For more information, contact Elvis Brooks at (804) 638-4009 or
PRS Training in Hampton
January 13th - 25th
9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
300 Medical Drive
Hampton, VA 23666
Building 300, Seminar Room
Cost: Unknown - Contact Trainer
For more information, contact Renee Cox at (757) 345-8308 or
PRS Training in Warsaw
February 3rd - 12th
9:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Warsaw Bay Transit
111 Commerce Parkway
Conference Room
Warsaw, VA 22572
Cost: FREE
For more information, contact Barry Travis at (804) 210-1619. 
PRS Training in Roanoke
February 17th
8:45 AM - 5:00 PM
Location TBD
Cost: Unknown - Contact Trainer
For more information, contact Maureen Murphy-Ryan (540) 655-3213. 

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

Job Opportunities
Substance Use Services Peer Support Case Manager
Goochland Powhatan Community Services is seeking a grant funded, Full Time Substance Use Services Peer Support Case Manager with firsthand knowledge of challenges faced by substance use and/or co-occurring disorders. This position will be responsible for providing a variety of services to those in the community, those accessing services, and/or participating in treatment services with Goochland Powhatan Community Services. For more information or to apply, click HERE
Peer Wellness Specialist
Arlington County's Department of Human Services (DHS) is hiring a Peer Wellness Specialist with lived experience with mental illness and/or substance use to assist in the Healthy Living Program under the Behavioral Healthcare Division (BHD). The Healthy Living Program provides a spectrum of health and wellness support services to Arlington County BHD clients who are experiencing serious mental illness and substance use issues. The Peer Specialist will support the Healthy Living Program via both administrative and direction service functions. For more information or to apply, click HERE
Campaign Manager
The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia (ACLU-VA) is growing! We are looking for an enthusiastic and strategic executor who can translate long term plans into action and understands how to bring together diverse groups around a common goal. The ideal candidate is an empathetic relationship
builder who knows how to lead a team and make every volunteer, ally, and community partner feel important. For more information or to apply, click HERE
Bilingual Family Support Partner
Alexandria DCHS Child & Family Behavioral Health Services has a vacancy for a Bilingual Family Support Partner (FSP). FSPs are direct service professionals who have lived experience navigating the mental/behavioral health, child welfare or juvenile justice system with their child. For more information or to apply, click HERE
Click HERE to view employment opportunities at Richmond Behavioral Health Authority (RBHA).

The Alive RVA Warm Line will be open on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Years Eve and New Years Day. 
Alive RVA has received over 3,993 unique calls since its inception. We continue to see great success with each caller! For more information visit the Alive RVA 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