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Virginians rally for those with mental disabilities

Amy Jones, 38, had a 4.0 GPA in school but dropped out after her insurance stopped covering the costs of her medication. She suffers from a mental health disorder and substance abuse.

“I ended up self-medicating, and I ended up here in Richmond at a facility center, which is helping save my life, because it’s helping me to get back on track, get my medications again, so that I can be productive again,” Jones said.

On Monday, she joined about 100 other people at the Bell Tower on Capitol Square for a rally organized by the Coalition for Virginians with Mental Disabilities. Participants encouraged legislators to improve services for people with mental disabilities.

For instance, Jones stays at Rubicon Inc., a substance abuse and mental health facility. But it may shut down for lack of funding. Jones said the best way to help people like her is not to put them in jail but to provide preventive facilities and help fund medication.

“Don’t throw me in jail. Don’t shut down things I need, like Rubicon. Don’t cut off my medications. I stand here today just like a normal person, only due to the fact that I have medications,” Jones said.

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli spoke at the rally. He said that when he was a senator from Fairfax, he pushed to expand services for Virginians with mental disabilities.

As a general rule, people must live in an institution to receive Medicaid funding; however, the state can grant waivers to provide assistance for disabled residents. But there is often a waiting list for mental retardation waivers and developmental disabilities waivers.

Cuccinelli said he has advocated granting more Medicaid waivers.

“What we need to do is have systems in place that reduce the likelihood of mental illness getting worse, so we are helping people and reduce the frequency of things like Sandy Hook and Virginia Tech,” Cuccinelli said, referring two of the nation’s worst mass shootings.

Tori Purdy’s 13-year-old son has autism. She came to the rally to thank legislators for increasing the number of developmental disability waivers.

Because of the waiver, Purdy said, her son can live outside of an institution – and her family can live like any other.

Cuccinelli said he fears a backlash against people with mental disabilities because of shootings like the one last month in Connecticut.

“You get something like Sandy Hook, where you get an Adam Lanza, who’s not well, and people sort of project Adam Lanza across all people suffering from mental illness,” Cuccinelli said.

“That’s just not an accurate projection. Most people suffering from mental illness are victims of aggression, of aggressive behavior and violence. They aren’t committers of it.”
Community

Glen Allen student to perform at Carnegie Hall

Thanks to a first-place win in The American Protege International Vocal Competition 2014, Glen Allen High School student Matija Tomas will travel to New York City to perform at Carnegie Hall in December.

At the first-place winners recital in Weill Hall, Matija will perform Giacomo Puccini’s opera aria, “Chi il bel sogna di doretta.” She will perform with other vocalists from around the world and have the opportunity to win other awards and scholarships.

Locally, Thomas has performed with Richmond’s renowned Glorious Christmas Nights, Christian Youth Theatre, and WEAG’s Urban Gospel Youth Choir. > Read more.

Gayton Baptist Church dedicates new outreach center


The John Rolfe YMCA and Gayton Baptist Church have partnered in an effort to bring greater health and wellness opportunities to the community.

Through this partnership, the John Rolfe Y will run Youth Winter Sports programs, including basketball and indoor soccer, in Gayton’s newly renovated $5.5 million outreach center that features a new gymnasium, youth and teen space, social space with café, meeting space and full service commercial kitchen. > Read more.

Henricus Historical Park to host Publick Day Sept. 20

Henricus Historical Park will commemorate its anniversary during Publick Day, a signature annual event that celebrates the establishment of the second successful English settlement in the New World. In September 1611, Sir Thomas Dale, along with soldiers, tradesmen and farmers, ventured from Jamestown to create the Citie of Henricus. Leaders of Henricus developed the first English hospital, chartered the first college in North America, established tobacco as the first cash crop in Virginia, and created a place where Pocahontas lived and met John Rolfe.

Publick Day will take place Saturday, Sept. 20, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free and parking is $5 per vehicle. > Read more.

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Entertainment

Extras sought for AMC’s ‘TURN’

Paid extras are being sought to appear in the AMC television series TURN: Washington's Spies, which will begin filming its second season in the Richmond area at the end of September and continue through February.

No experience is required, but producers say that extras must have flexible availability, reliable transportation and a positive attitude.

Arvold Casting is holding an open call on Sunday, Sept. 21 and is seeking men, women and children who are Caucasian, African American and Native American, with thin to average builds and who can realistically portray people living in Revolutionary War times. Long hair is a plus but not a must. > Read more.

Weekend Top 10


TGIF! Celebrate the weekend at Oak Hall Baptist Church’s Community Block Party on Saturday. Learn more about ballroom dancing, art and Colonial times. Or take the kids to Generation Z Games for water play or Southern Season to cook up a Disney-theme meal. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

Weekend Top 10


Check out these three B’s in Henrico this weekend: books, bluegrass and “Born Yesterday.” Other activities to participate in – and feel good about – are the 15th annual James River Regional Cleanup and the 5th annual Richmond Out of the Darkness Community Walk. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

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