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.”
Dr. Even Alexander, a New York Times best-selling author who has been featured on Oprah and Dr. Oz, was in town last week to promote his June 27 talk, "Proof of Heaven," at Glen Allen High School.
Alexander (pictured, at right, while Unity of Bon Air church member Harry Simmons interviews him) has written about what he considers to be his journey through the afterlife.
Tickets to this month's event are $25 and will support the new Bon Secours Hospice House being built later this year. > Read more.
The Innsbrook Rotary Club, which is celebrating its 25th year in 2015, has completed a number of volunteer projects this year and raised thousands of dollars for various organizations through three events.
The club's annual rose sale, benefit for youth live auction and Virginia Fire Games competition, combined with individual and corporate donations, have raised nearly $70,000 – money that the club contributes back to the community.
FeedMore is the beneficiary of the club's 25th anniversary project, which provides refrigerated trailers to be used for the distribution of food throughout Central Virginia. > Read more.
Chef Bryan Voltaggio will host a special three-course dinner event July 21-22 at his Willow Lawn Family Meal restaurant. The menu will consist of his favorite dishes and offer diners the chance to purchase a signed copy of his newly released book, HOME.
Voltaggio will attend and cook at each dinner, as well as share stories that inspired recipes for the book. > Read more.
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CalendarBring your favorite stuffed animal and enjoy a special evening story time at Dumbarton Library at 7 p.m. Leave your animal overnight for a sleepover at the library and pick… Full text