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.”
St. Joseph's Villa’s Flagler Housing & Homeless Services was one of three entities to earn the National Alliance to End Homelessness' Champion of Change Award. The awards were presented Nov. 17 during a ceremony at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.
NAEH annually recognizes proven programs and significant achievements in ending child and family homelessness.
Flagler completed its transition from an on-campus shelter to the community-based model of rapid rehousing in 2013, and it was one of the nation's first rapid re-housing service providers to be certified by NAEH. > Read more.
Richmond International Raceway's 13th annual Community Christmas tree lighting has been rescheduled from Dec. 6 to Monday, Dec. 12, at 6:30 p.m., due to inclement weather expected on the original date.
Entertainment Dec. 12 will be provided by the Laburnum Elementary School choir and the Henrico High School Mighty Marching Warriors band. Tree decorations crafted by students from Laburnum Elementary School and L. Douglas Wilder Middle School will be on display. Hot chocolate and cookies will be supplied by the Henrico High School football boosters. > Read more.
It’s going to be a cold weekend so if you’re headed out to the James River Parade of Lights or the Richmond Road Runners Club Toy Run 5K in Innsbrook, you’d better bundle up! If you’re looking for some indoor ways to celebrate the holidays, check out Three-Penny Theatre’s production of “A Christmas Carol: A Ghost Story for Christmas” or “To Drive the Cold Winter Away: An Irish Celebration of the Returning Light” at the Unitarian Universalist Community Church in Glen Allen. Also this weekend – the Henrico Theatre will show the holiday classic “Home Alone." For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.
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CalendarThe Richmond West Breakfast Lions Club meets the second and fourth Mondays of each month from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. at the E. Bruce Heilman Dining Center at the University of Richmond. Each meeting features breakfast and an interesting speaker. For details, call Pete Sizemore at 288-0999. Full text