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The SAARA Advocate
December, 2018
Celebrating Sobriety this December!
Happy Holidays from our Family to yours!
Those of us at SAARA of Virginia want to wish each and every one of you a Happy Holiday! 
SAARA of Virginia will continue to work for those in recovery in the New Year. If you would like to support SAARA, consider a donation. 
The tax laws intentionally encourage charitable giving. Because of the income tax charitable deduction, individuals who make their gifts by December 31 and itemize may reduce their income taxes for the year.  SAARA is a 501c3 Nonprofit, donations are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. 
Click here to donate online. Or send a check to:

SAARA of Virginia
2000 Mecklenburg Street
Richmond, Virginia 23223

Question? Email us at 

Medicaid Expansion
Medicaid Expansion Implementation and Enrollment Update
Over 182,000 Virginia adults now eligible for coverage under expansion have enrolled in the state’s Medicaid program. The Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services created a fast track process for individuals who are likely eligible for coverage via expansion: GAP, Plan First, and SNAP recipients, and parents of children with Medicaid. GAP and Plan First recipients will be automatically enrolled into Medicaid, while SNAP recipients and parents of children with Medicaid have to answer a few additional questions to determine eligibility.
SNAP recipients and parents of children with Medicaid have been notified of their potential eligibility and need to answer a few additional questions to determine eligibility. Those who are eligible were mailed a postcard reminder on December 7. If you are one of these individuals, you have the opportunity to use the streamlined application process until January 4th to determine your eligibility for Medicaid. All you need to do is call the Cover Virginia Call Center at 1-855-242-8282 and answer three questions.
Virginians may apply for Medicaid at any time of the year, but this special application process is available for a limited time. We need your help to alert people in your community to this important opportunity.
If you need help with your application you can do the following:
By phone: Call Cover Virginia at 1-855-242-8282
Go online: Apply online through the application portal at
In person: There will be application assisters in your area who can help. Visit the website at or call 1-855-242-8282 for more information.
En Español: Llame a nuestro centro de ayuda gratis al 1-855-242-8282

Advocacy Alert
Federal Comment Period
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The federal public comment period for Virginia’s 1115 Medicaid waiver opened on December 7, triggering a 30 day public comment period that will end on January 6, 2019. During the federal comment period, both state and national partners can weigh in on the proposal.
In response to state public comments and letters from the Chairmen of the House Appropriations and Senate Finance Committees, the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services made clarifications to the waiver application. They can be found here.  
user-friendly platform was set up for state and national advocates that can be used to submit federal public comments. It only takes a few minutes to complete, so please share this tool with your state and national networks. If your state and/or national organization plans to submit longer, substantive comments, please do so here. Additionally, here are talking points and TCI’s recent research and analysis that you can use for your comments.  

Humphrey Fellows Annual Meet and Greet at the  SAARA Center
The SAARA Center for Recovery was delighted to host the 2018 VCU Humphrey Fellows on November 30, 2018.  The Fellows are professionals from around the world who have been chosen based on their public service and leadership. This year, VCU welcomed nine fellows from Brazil, China, Georgia, India, Nepal, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay and West Bank.
In addition to expanding their knowledge about local addiction recovery systems, the Fellows were acquainted with the programming of the SAARA Center.  The staff shared their personal recovery stories, and discussed the efficacy of Peer Recovery Support.  One of the Fellows, Duanduan Yuan, a journalist from Beijing, will be pursuing her Professional Affiliation with the SAARA Center, and will also be participating in January’s Peer Recovery Support Training.
The staff here at the Center has had the honor of hosting the Humphrey Fellows since 2013, when Andrew Dodo from Nigeria completed his Professional Affiliation with us.  Since then, Mr. Dodo has opened a SAARA affiliate in Kaduna, Nigeria, where he provides trainings and services to the recovering community. 
Pictured, left to right: Dr. Kaustubh, Sharma, Chandigarh, India; Ms. Hanan Kharabshah, Jericho, Palestine; Mr. Lal Bahadur Kunwar, Dhangadhi, Nepal; Dr. Nicola Worcman, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Mr. Lefate Makunyane, Johannesburg, South Africa; Ms. Rhea Ramnarine, New Grant, Trinidad and Tobago; Ms. Tea Kordzadze, Rustavi, Georgia; Mr. Marcelo Martoy, Montevideo, Uruguay;  Duanduan Yuan, Beijing, China.
Save the Date
January 4 - 11, 2019
(Training runs for 8 days, Friday – Friday, 8:30am– 5:30pm)
Location: SAARA of Virginia
2000 Mecklenburg Street
Richmond, VA 23223
This is a 72 hour training, and is only one of several elements required for PRSS certification.  It is 1specifically for individuals who have at least one year of demonstrable recovery from addiction and/or mental health challenges.
SAARA of Virginia PRSS TRAINING FEE $800.00
** At this time, no scholarships are available. **
(Payable by check to SAARA of Virginia, Inc.)
Fee includes tuition, manuals, and supplies. Lunch will not be provided
For more information, contact Marjorie Yates, Manager, Recovery Supports and Training at
Reserve your spot today with a completed application and remittance of fee.

Updates from our Affiliates
SAARA of Peninsula recently attended a screening of the movie "Jacqueline and Jilly" at the Cinema Cafe at Riverdale. They continue to work on their strategic plan in order to focus on how to best serve the community. If you would like to get more involved with SAARA of the Peninsula contact Alethea at
SAARA of Northern VA is in the beginning stages of planning Recovery Unhooked 4. They continue to work reducing the stigma of addiction and recovery by representing SAARA any events and organizational meetings. If you would like to help or get involved contact Nick at
SAARA of the Bay Counties continues to hold group meetings and are currently working on setting up their new office location. They are engaging more with other local community organizations including the Rotary Club and Chamber of Commerce. If you would like to find out more contact Barry at .
SAARA of Central VA recently moved their meetings to RBHA's North Campus in order to make the meeting more accessible to the community. If you would like more information on SAARA of Central Virginia, contact Laura at
SAARA of Southwest's mission is to continue to challenge barriers to recovery and fight stigma through education and advocacy.
Would you like to start an affiliate in your region? Reach out to
 Members on SAARA of the Peninsula attending the screening of "Jacqueline and Jilly". 

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 January 10th from 10am- 12noon and January 14th from 10am-12noon. 
To register for trainings click here and select your date. 

Alive RVA
Alive RVA has now received over 525 different caller's since its start. They continue to see great success with each of the callers.
 To reach Alive RVA call 833-4PEERVA (833-473-3782) 
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. 

In the News
From our Executive Director
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Dear Friends,
Happy Holiday’s! SAARA of Virginia has much to be thankful for this holiday season. SAARA and I are deeply grateful to you, our friends, supporters, and partners for your continued patronage. Together, we have an encouraging impact on lives! The goals of SAARA of Virginia have always been straightforward: to help people seeking recovery, to eradicate stigma, to establish and strengthen SAARA grassroots affiliates throughout Virginia, and to advocate for positive change.
SAARA of Virginia is a strong, year-round advocacy organization and, fasten your seatbelts, in the fourth quarter of 2018, SAARA’s Advocacy efforts kicked into overdrive. In the first three weeks of December alone, SAARA was represented at legislative sessions, participated in numerous policy committee and legislative agenda meetings, including sessions on the Governor’s budget proposal to address critical needs in the DBHDS system and meetings on Virginia’s Medicaid Expansion. In addition, SAARA held a trainer role in a partnership legislative aide advocacy training to educate aides on the advocacy process, substance use disorder and addiction needs. The training was packed with legislative aide attendees from Virginia delegates and senators’ offices.
SAARA Advocacy efforts are quickly moving forward into 2019 with the General Assembly session getting underway and the governor’s budget hearings on January 3, 2019. Mark your calendars and join other SAARA representatives at the budget hearings!
SAARA is very excited about our new advocacy training to be launched in 2019. SAARA’s Advocacy  training is for affiliates and anyone in Virginia interested in substance use disorder, addiction, and recovery. Keep your eyes open for upcoming information, including the dates SAARA’s new advocacy training will be available. I close for now by saying, hold onto your hats! 2019 is going to be an exciting year for the substance use disorder, addiction, and recovery community!   
Warm wishes this holiday season.
Executive Director   

Statewide Opportunities
Peer Recovery Specialist Trainings
Peer Recovery Specialist Training in Fishersville-Staunton Area
January 7-February 13
Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays
9:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
DARS clients welcome
For more information or to apply, email with "PRS Training" in the subject line.
Peer Recovery Specialist Training in Newport News
January 19-February 16
Saturdays and Sundays
For more information and to register, email:
PRS Training in Hampton
February 2-3, 9-10, 16-17, 25-26, March 2-3
For information, contact Eddie Wiggins: or 757-637-8705.

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.
VACSB 2019 Legislative Conference
January 22 at 8:00 a.m.-January 23 at 11:00 a.m.
Hilton Downtown Richmond Hotel
501 East Broad Street
Richmond, VA 23219
More information here
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

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

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