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Two Peer Recovery Specialists Answer Why You Should Support SAARA on GivingTuesday

GivingTuesday is a global day of charitable giving that encourages generosity. SAARA is participating in GivingTuesday this year in order raise money to continue our efforts of advocating, educating and supporting those with Substance Use Disorder (SUD), their families, and their communities. Fundraisers like GivingTuesday help keep our programs afloat and we would like to highlight two individuals that work to make SAARA’s vision a reality.

Meet Jason Cox and Lynda Clarke. Jason is our Coordinator and Lead Certified Peer Recovery Specialist, working with SAARA and AliveRVA. Lynda is a Peer Recovery Specialist with SAARA. Both Jason and Lynda are outstanding individuals that have their own stories of recovery. We asked them a few questions to highlight SAARA’s impact in their lives.

How has SAARA helped you and your recovery journey?

JASON: They took a chance on me and provided me with a wealth of knowledge and resources that still serve me today. They believed in me at a time in my recovery where I had not started really believing in myself yet.
LYNDA: I was introduced to SAARA in 2010. I began going to SAARA for groups then I became a volunteer. I learned so much about recovery becoming a member of SAARA. I got several certifications at SAARA. I am a CRC (Certified Recovery Coach), a WRAP Peer (Wellness Recovery Action Planner), a PRSS (Peer Recovery Support Specialist), and an ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skill Trainer).

SAARA provides resources to help individuals sustain their recovery and achieve long-term success. Through training, recovery groups, and other events, we hope to make recovery accessible to all Virginians. We have a team of qualified recovery specialists who help us grow our SAARA community of volunteers.

What are your favorite things about being in recovery?

LYNDA: My being a parent to my adult children and grandchildren, and a mom to Blessyn my 6-year-old. Recovery has brought responsibility back into my life. I am dependable now. My spiritual side is wonderful. I volunteer for many organizations in the city and surrounding counties. Being in Recovery has afforded me the opportunity to open my home to other Women with Substance Abuse Disorder. One of my favorite things about being in recovery is assisting other that struggle with same Substance Use Disorder as I do. All of this has come from my being in recovery!

If you could go back in time and give advice to your younger self, what would it be?

JASON: Learn to listen and listen to learn. Learn how to be honest. Find your passion and become the best at it. Your decisions will shape your life. Always be kind, you never know whom you might have to call on one day for help. Learn who you truly are, and be that and nothing else, because that is your true gift to the world.
Unfortunately, being in recovery still comes with daily struggles that many people with Substance Use Disorder (SUD) must face. The stigma against people with SUD works against the progress individuals have made to seek recovery. Ending the stigma surrounding addiction will break down barriers across all aspects of life for people in recovery--from health care to housing, stigma can prevent individuals from reentering society with all the same opportunity as everyone else. SAARA works to reduce the stigma against individuals with SUD by advocating for real policy change in Virginia.

Have you encountered any stigma against you and your past?

JASON: Yes, I have learned that if someone does not accept me for me then I do not have to accept having him or her in my life. For me, the most important thing is that I do not stigmatize myself because of the way I used to live.
SAARA’s vision is to create a world free from the stigma of addiction and access to recovery resources for all. Through our efforts in the peer recovery and advocacy space, we have made great progress for Virginians. But the fight to provide hope for individuals, families, and communities affected by SUD continues. After spending many years with SAARA, Jason and Lynda share their own goals for continuing to help the recovery community.

What are your goals as a peer recovery specialist with SAARA?

JASON: To provide the absolute best peer support humanly possible and to share my experience honestly even if it is not pretty in order to help those still struggling. To be an example and a message of hope to the peers I serve. To make sure that the resources and support provided are the most reliable and that the resources we provide to peers share the same values as I do.
LYNDA: My goals are to become certified by Jan of 2021 To become full time and continue to help other maintain their sobriety; continue being a role model, mentor, motivator and advocate to help other promote long term recovery.

SAARA focuses on advocating for policies geared toward access to recovery, educating the recovery community with our Peer Recovery Specialists, and supporting the SUD affected with our recovery programs. Please consider supporting our efforts by donating to our GivingTuesday campaign today at saara.org/donate, hosting a Facebook fundraiser on behalf of SAARA, or sharing our social media post to help spread the word.

Have questions about how you can help SAARA reach their GivingTuesday goal? Contact betsys@saara.org

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