May 2021

The Pharmacy Connection

South Hill, VA (5/11/21) – VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital (VCU Health CMH) has offered a medication assistance program since 2003. This valuable service is given at no cost to qualifying patients with little to no insurance. The Pharmacy Connection is part of VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital's commitment to the citizens of the communities they serve.

To honor that commitment, they’ve just hired a new Medication Enrollment Coordinator, serving as a liaison between drug manufacturers, physicians and qualifying patients. Meet Kim Bannister, LH, PC Agent, of Skipwith. She’s always had a job in the medical field. She spent 11 years in the military medical corps. She sold health insurance for 15 years and then worked for the Southside Health District for another 10 years as the Medical Reserve Coordinator. She worked closely with VCU Health CMH during her time at the health department and remembers referring clients to the Pharmacy Connection program. Because of the time she spent in other people’s homes selling insurance, she understands the hardships people face, having to choose between paying the heating bill or paying for medications.

Kim has two daughters who are married, one grandson, and another grandchild on the way. She enjoys sports and has spent years umpiring and coaching baseball and softball. She still volunteers for the medical reserve corps with disaster relief and provides training about infection prevention for churches, nursing homes and day cares.

How does The Pharmacy Connection work?

VCU Health CMH's Pharmacy Connection utilizes software provided through the Virginia Health Care Foundation that includes information on more than 7,000 medications. Many prescription drug manufacturers have patient assistance programs for uninsured, low-income patients. This software helps the patient cut through the red tape reducing time, assisting with applications, eligibility, tracking, refills, reports and ultimately helping more low-income, chronically-ill patients get the medications they need to stay healthy. Most patients get the medications at a reduced rate or at no cost to them up to one year and then they have to reapply, and the Pharmacy Connection helps them do that.

Eligibility is based on household income and pharmaceutical manufacturers’ guidelines.  The Virginia Health Care Foundation has a special category of grants for medication assistance called RxRelief Virginia, which is available because of an appropriation from Virginia’s Governor and General Assembly. In FY20, RxRelief Virginia helped 12,063 uninsured Virginians from 75 localities obtain $104 million in free, or low-cost medicines and supplies utilizing only $1.6 million in state funds.

All of the major classes of medication are included, covering chronic diseases ranging from diabetes to hypertension, clinical depression to asthma and more. Since its 1997 launch, The Pharmacy Connection has generated more than $6.3 billion in free medications for more than 351,000 sick, uninsured Virginians via more than 5.3 million prescriptions. Visit www.vhcf.org for more information.

How do I know if I qualify?

While there are general income guidelines, many manufacturers qualify patients on a case-by-case basis.

Who do I call?

VCU Health CMH's Pharmacy Connection is administered through the CMH Foundation. Patients can be referred by their primary care physician. The number for patients to call for more information or to schedule an appointment is (434) 447-0856. The Pharmacy Connection is open Tuesday through Thursday from 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. by appointment only.

Howard Rogers Cannon

May 12, 1950 ~ May 11, 2021

Howard Rogers "Roger" Cannon, age 70, passed away following a period of declining health. He was born in Roanoke Rapids, NC and grew up in Emporia, Virginia; the devoted son of William Howard and Edith Rogers Cannon. He served proudly in the United States Army during the Vietnam era and continued to be a strong and unwavering Patriot until his death. He is survived of his wife of 45 years, Amy Zaruba Cannon; two sisters, Ruth Furbee of Montclair, Virginia and DeEtte Wirtanen of Parker, Colorado; his son, Brian and wife, Kelly; two grandchildren, Bennett and Kathryn. He leaves nieces, Angi Williams, Mikhel Wirtanen, Sarah Brogan, Emily Zaruba, Danielle Duerr and Katie Sherron; nephews, Scott Furbee, Mark and Stephen Zaruba; sisters-in-law, Beth Riffe and Cindy Zaruba and a devoted brother-in-law, Mark N. Zaruba Sr.; as well as other extended family members. He is also survived by dear friends, Lawrence and Brooke Hettinger and lifelong friend, Bob Ranson. Roger retired from United Parcel Service after 33 years of dedication. While in his 50's he found what he always wanted to do and took up skydiving. His greatest thrill was jumping out of a perfectly good airplane and enjoyed introducing friends and family to the sport. At his request, there will be no memorial service   but, donations to his favorite charity, Shriners Hospitals for Children, P.O. Box 1525, Ranson, WV 25498, or a charity of your choice would be welcome. Online condolences may be registered at www.ealvinsmall.com.

Effie M. Smith Memorial Scholarship Established at SVCC

Effie M. Smith

Through the generosity of family and friends of Effie M. Smith, Nurse Aide students from Greensville County will be eligible to apply and receive a scholarship.  

This scholarship was established to recognize the dedication to the nursing profession of Mrs. Smith who was a Nursing Assistant for many years.  Nurse Aides play a vital role in the healthcare profession, especially in the long-term care sector.  The compassion nurse aides show to their patients is second to none.  

Nurse Aide students at SVCC will now have a great opportunity for a scholarship because of that same thoughtfulness of the family and friends of Mrs. Smith.

McEachin Announces Tools For Vaccine Accessibility

WASHINGTON – Congressman A. Donald McEachin (VA-04) today highlighted new tools from the White House to help Virginia residents get vaccinated. Virginians sixteen years or older can now input their ZIP code at www.vaccines.gov / www.vacunas.gov or text their ZIP code to GETVAX (438829) / VACUNA (822862) to get help making a vaccine appointment at a nearby location.

“With these new and helpful tools, it’s now easier than ever to find a vaccine near you,” McEachin said.  “Getting vaccinated is the best thing we can do to crush the pandemic, protect ourselves and our loved ones, and help us start to return to normal.  Every Virginian ages sixteen and up is eligible now, so visit vaccines.gov or text your ZIP code to GETVAX today to make your appointment.”

Right now, more than 90 percent of Americans live within five miles of a vaccine site.  Across the country, there are nearly 40,000 local pharmacies, more than 650 community health centers and hundreds of community vaccination centers and mobile clinics where Americans can get a shot.  These new vaccine finder tools make it quicker and more convenient than ever to make an appointment.

Public health officials are urging every eligible person to get vaccinated as quickly as possible.  The vaccines are safe and effective, providing significant protection against severe illness and helping slow the spread of the virus in our communities.  Studies have shown these vaccines to be remarkably effective, causing an 80 percent reduction in deaths and a 70 percent reduction in hospitalizations among seniors.

“Our own doctors tell us that getting vaccinated is the best thing we can do to protect ourselves and our communities,” McEachin added.  “You’re eligible right now, and there are people waiting to give you a shot – so use these new tools to get yourself, your family and your neighbors a vaccine today.”

Under the leadership of President Biden and Democrats in Congress, the pace of vaccination has quickly ramped up over the last three months thanks to the critical resources delivered by the American Rescue Plan.  As of this week, more than 105 million Americans are fully vaccinated.  More than 147 million Americans have received at least one dose of the vaccine, including more than 80 percent of seniors, educators, school staff and childcare workers, as well as 90 percent of doctors.

 

National Stroke Awareness Month

VCU Health CMH Stroke Program Coordinator Lisa Smith, RN, BSN, CICU

South Hill, VA (5/3/21) – A stroke happens when a clot or rupture interrupts blood flow to the brain. Without oxygen-rich blood, brain cells die. There are three types of stroke: Ischemic is caused by a clot, Hemorrhagic is caused by a rupture and Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) or "mini stroke" is caused by a temporary blockage.

About one in four stroke survivors is at risk for another stroke. Fortunately, almost 80 percent of second clot-related strokes may be preventable. Managing high blood pressure and discussing medicines with your physician are two options. Aspirin is not appropriate for everyone, so be sure to talk to your doctor before you begin an aspirin regimen.

Learn the FAST warning signs:

F- Face Drooping
A -Arm Weakness
S -Speech Difficulty
T- Time to call 911

VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital (VCU Health CMH) is a Primary Stroke Center deemed by The Joint Commission and American Stroke Association. The quality of care they provide meets the unique and specialized needs of stroke patients.

VCU Health CMH also earned the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Get With The Guidelines®-Stroke Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award. The award recognizes the hospital’s commitment to ensuring stroke patients receive the most appropriate treatment according to nationally recognized, research-based guidelines based on the latest scientific evidence.

Stroke Program Coordinator Lisa Smith, RN, BSN, CICU, said, “Our team has worked very hard to achieve these goals and we are so proud to meet these requirements to have better outcomes for our stroke patients.”

Visit vcu-cmh.org for more information.

National Women’s Health Week

Terry Wootten, RN, MSN, CNM, of CMH Women’s Health Services.

South Hill, VA (5/4/21) – May 9-15 is National Women’s Health Week. Starting with Mother’s Day, we celebrate mothers and those who are like mothers to us because of their selfless acts of service and unconditional love they give their families and others.

“Women make sure everyone else is healthy but can’t find time for themselves,” said Terry Wootten, RN, MSN, CNM, of CMH Women’s Health Services. “Women wear so many hats and play so many roles inside and outside the family, that they put themselves last and do not take care of themselves. It’s time to encourage the women in our lives to take care of themselves because they deserve it.”

Especially because of the past year with the pandemic, a lot of women are feeling exhausted, mentally strained and lonely, despite being around their families. They haven’t been able to relax and recharge by getting together with friends. Be creative this Mother’s Day and give the women in your life the time to do what they need to do safely, however that works best for them.

Make sure they are taking care of themselves from a physical standpoint. Skin and cervical cancer screenings should be part of an annual physical, along with blood work to check for cholesterol and blood pressure screenings for heart health. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends yearly mammograms starting at age 40. The American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons and the American Cancer Society recommends regular colorectal cancer screenings at age 45. Osteoporosis is a real challenge for women. Bone density testing should begin no later than age 65 – sooner if there are risk factors.

We recommend that women participate in these screenings because we selfishly want to keep them around to be there for us. All the screenings listed above can be completed right here in South Hill with VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital. Call (434) 584-2273 to make an appointment with a primary care provider or specialist and visit vcu-cmh.org for more information on services.

Happy National Women’s Health Week and thanks to all women for everything you do!

Virginia universities reckon with Confederate symbols

By Katharine DeRosa, Capital News Service

RICHMOND, Va. -- Virginia universities in the former heart of the Confederacy are reckoning with their past as students, faculty and staff call for the removal of Confederate symbols.

Richmond housed the capital of the Confederacy from 1861 to 1865. Over 150 years later, remnants of the commonwealth’s Confederate history remain, including in academia.

At least 71 symbols of the Confederacy were removed from public spaces in Virginia last year, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. That includes multiple renamings of public schools. Only one symbol was removed prior to the murder of George Floyd. 

Gov. Ralph Northam sent a letter to school board chairs in the commonwealth last July, urging public officials to change names and mascots that memorialized Confederate leaders.

“When our public schools are named after individuals who advanced slavery and systemic racism, and we allow those names to remain on school property, we tacitly endorse their values as our own,” Northam stated. “This is no longer acceptable.”

Several months later, the University of Virginia in Charlottesville removed the name of Confederate soldier Henry Malcolm Withers from a law school building. 

The College of William & Mary in Williamsburg approved the renaming of Trinkle and Maury halls. Trinkle Hall was named for former Virginia Gov. Elbert Lee Trinkle who signed Jim Crow legislation, according to the college’s board. Maury Hall was named for Matthew Fontaine Maury, who resigned his post as a U.S. Navy commander to join the Confederacy and helped it acquire ships.

The Virginia Military Institute in Lexington paid over $200,000 to remove a statue of Stonewall Jackson and relocate it to the Virginia Museum of the Civil War and New Market Battlefield State Historical Park.

University of Richmond

Anthony Lawrence, an accounting major at the University of Richmond, is president of the Richmond College Student Government Association. He established a space for multicultural students in the student commons his freshman year and is currently working to remove Confederate symbols on campus.

The university has two campus buildings named for men associated with slavery and segregation. 

Ryland Hall is named for slave owner Robert Ryland, the first president of Richmond College, the University of Richmond’s predecessor. Ryland also served as a pastor to the first African Baptist church in Richmond, according to the university. He called slavery a “divine right” and routinely enslaved and loaned slaves to others during his time as president, according to university researchers.

Mitchell-Freeman Hall was first named for Douglas Southall Freeman, who graduated from the university and served on the board of trustees. The university updated the name of Mitchell-Freeman Hall on Feb. 24 to honor former Richmond Planet Editor John Mitchell Jr. who was Black. Freeman was a journalist who advocated for segregation through “the Virginia Way” which suggests the elite have a duty to guide others, according to UR researchers

“If they want to have the historical impact that they say they do, there can be more, much more, done than a name on a building to tell the historical story,” Lawrence said.

Lawrence suggested plaques that explain the buildings’ history to inform students without honoring Confederate leaders. The university also could require a course to teach about the history of the university and associated officials. There is currently no explanation for the building names on campus, Lawrence said.

“There’s nothing that's really stopping them from changing the name except for their own, I guess, stubbornness,” Lawrence said.

The Black Lives Matter movement helped people examine the names and roles of campus buildings, Lawrence said.

“It can come to a head now because of the wonderful activism that we've seen in these past couple of years,” Lawrence said. “This past summer has really been an example of what can happen when we see change.” 

Students formed The Black Student Coalition in March to advocate for the wellbeing of Black students.

“Now it's impossible for the administration; it's impossible for the board of trustees to silence us because we're so strong, and because we have this coalition, and because we have each other,” Lawrence said.

Six percent of Richmond students identify as Black, according to the university. This makes Lawrence a minority student leader on campus.

“It's exhausting but the work is rewarding in a way that I don't think I ever would have known,” Lawrence said. 

Virginia Commonwealth University

The board of visitors at Richmond-based Virginia Commonwealth University voted in September to remove Confederate symbols from campus. The decision came after more than three years of review. 

More than a dozen dedicated spaces, memorials and plaques will be removed from both campuses, according to the university. The decision includes de-commemorating buildings with Confederate affiliation, such as the Jefferson Davis Memorial Chapel. Davis was the president of the Confederacy. 

“The committee’s analysis revealed a more complete story of the meaning behind these memorials and commemorations that we can neither ignore nor celebrate and that impede our mission to serve all,” stated VCU President Michael Rao. 

Washington & Lee

Washington & Lee University in Lexington is named for former U.S. President George Washington and Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. Lee was president of the college for five years and the name was changed to Washington & Lee upon his death in 1870. Lee is buried on the campus. 

Students walked out of the university in late March to support dropping Lee’s name, according to WVTF. The board of trustees began soliciting input in July 2020 on the university’s name and Confederate symbols. The board will issue a final decision on the name in June, according to a statement by Rector Mike McAlevey.

Some professors also favor changing W&L’s name, including Mohamed Kamara, an associate professor of French and Africana studies. Kamara has been teaching at W&L since 2001 and was a founding member of the Africana Studies Program.

Kamara was drawn to the university because of the physical environment and academic freedom the administration offered him. 

“I am here because I love Washington & Lee, so that same love that I had for it when I first came here, I still have it,” Kamara said.

Kamara supports the student protests because of the effectiveness of protests in American history. He said the American Revolution was a protest of sorts where American colonists resorted to violence against Great Britain. 

“Most of what has been achieved in terms of positive development have been done through protests,” Kamara said.

Changing the name of the university would harm no one, Kamara said. It would save Black students the trauma of dealing with the institution of slavery when they come across the university’s name.

“It brings that memory that is not pleasant at all,” Kamara said.

Black people still feel the aftereffects of slavery even though it ended in the U.S. over 156 years ago, Kamara said. 

“For those of us who are members of the Black race, we will back Washington for what he did for the university and Robert E. Lee for whatever he did for the university,” Kamara said. “But at the same time, we cannot ignore that component of the history that subjugated people like us.” 

Washington and Lee were both slave owners, though Lee’s name is often the one brought up during renaming discussions, Kamara said. 

“I believe that issue is going to come up,” Kamara said. “There was a time when nobody talked about removing Lee’s name.”

Kamara is fine with removing only Lee’s name, but he believes changing the whole name is an opportunity for the university to take an extra step.

“It may make sense, as a sign of goodwill, as a sign of good faith to be ahead of our times,” Kamara said.

Capital News Service is a program of Virginia Commonwealth University's Robertson School of Media and Culture. Students in the program provide state government coverage for a variety of media outlets in Virginia.

Virginia Voters Identify as Moderate, Despite Supporting Democrat Policies

By Cameron Jones, Capital News Service

RICHMOND, Va. -- Virginia voters in a recent poll ranked themselves as moderate, with a slightly conservative lean, but indicated support of more progressive legislation. 

The poll, released last week by Christopher Newport’s Wason Center for Civic Leadership, could be a thermometer for the upcoming November election. 

Virginia voters ranked themselves an average of 5.83 on a zero to 10 scale (liberal to conservative). Republicans ranked themselves 8.11 on average, while Democrats rated themselves 3.57 on average. Independents ranked themselves 5.72.

“In this upcoming election, it is especially possible that it could be competitive,” said Rebecca Bromley-Trujillo, research director at the Wason Center. 

Those surveyed support Democrat proposals on health care, immigration, environmental policy and the economy. The policy proposal with the strongest support was Medicare for all with 76% support among voters. A majority of Virginians support providing a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants (73%). Almost all Virginians support a pathway to citizenship for children brought to this country illegally by their parents (94%).

Over half of Virginians agree with implementing an environmentally friendly redesign of the state’s economy and infrastructure (65%); that the economic system favors the wealthy (61%); and that the federal minimum wage should be $15 per hour (53%).

Bromley-Trujillo believes this data indicates American culture aligns with idealism, liberty or other values often associated with conservatism. Strong support for Democratic public policy is why the commonwealth is still trending blue, even though upcoming races could still be competitive, she said.

“Virginia voters regard Republicans as more conservative than they regard Democrats as more liberal,” Bromley-Trujillo stated. “The question is, ‘where’s the sweet spot in this election?’”

Democrats have been successful in the state because of policy ideas such as the $15 dollar minimum wage, providing health care and child care for all Virginians, said Alexsis Rodgers, director for Care in Action, a nonprofit advocacy group for domestic workers.

“These aren’t partisan issues for voters,” Rodgers said. “They are ideas and policies that would actually make their lives better.”

While there is voter support for progressive policy, big elections in the commonwealth have seen progressive losses to more centrist candidates. Nearly half of Democratic voters back former Gov. Terry McAuliffe at 47%, with no other candidates breaking double digits, according to an April Wason Center poll. More than a quarter of surveyed voters were undecided.

President Joe Biden defeated independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders 53% to 23% in the Virginia Democratic primary. In a somewhat closer local race, Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney defeated Rodgers by over 10% last November. Rodgers said that while these elections were a loss for progressive candidates, the movement is still winning by having their policy ideas adopted and passed in Virginia. 

Richmond For All is a political advocacy group for progressive policy. The organization has organized around local elections, education, housing justice and in opposition to a public subsidy for a Richmond-based sports arena. 

“In the U.S, we are still living in this Reagan-era paradigm where progressivism is still seen as harmful, and big government programs are abstractly negative,” said Quinton Robbins, political director at Richmond For All. 

Robbins said that it does not matter how Virginians ideologically identify themselves. He said it does matter how progressives present ideas to everyday citizens. 

Ballot counting is currently underway in the Republican convention for the party’s top executive nominees. The commonwealth has not had a Republican governor since Bob McDonnell was elected in 2009. 

As of Monday, only the Republican attorney general candidate had been determined. Del. Jason Miyares, R-Virginia Beach, eked out a victory over Chuck Smith, former chairman of the Virginia Beach GOP and a vocal supporter of former President Donald Trump. The ranked choice voting went three rounds. Smith’s strong showing could indicate support for more ideologically conservative candidates such as Sen. Amanda Chase, R-Midlothian, who is seeking the GOP gubernatorial nomination and describes herself as “Trump in heels.” Round one of counting shows Chase in a lead over Del. Kirk Cox, R-Colonial Heights, but behind candidates and businessmen Glenn Youngkin and Pete Snyder.

“Certainly, the opportunity exists for Republicans to make gains in the Virginia House, and differential partisan turnouts would be one of the reasons Republicans regain majority control, if that happens,” said Stephen Farnsworth, professor and director at the Center for Leadership and Media Studies at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg. 

Farnsworth also questioned if Democratic voters will turn out with the same energy as when Trump was president.

"We will find out later this year whether the Republicans in the suburbs are able to win back some of the ground lost during the Trump years,” he said.

Early voting is now underway for the governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general Democratic primary elections on June 8. Republican and Democratic candidates for the House of Delegates are also on the ballot. 

 

Capital News Service is a program of Virginia Commonwealth University's Robertson School of Media and Culture. Students in the program provide state government coverage for a variety of media outlets in Virginia.

Stupendous Success

By Quentin R. Johnson, Ph.D.

Southside Virginia Community College will honor its 2021 graduates in a virtual celebration to be released May 15, 2021 at 9:30 a.m. Students, their families, and others in the community, can access the pre recorded video through the college’s website (southside.edu) or FaceBook page (facebook.com/SouthsideVirginiaCommunityCollege).

Tiara Mustafo, a 2017 SVCC alumna, will sing the National Anthem. Tiara says SVCC gave her time to find herself and make important friendships. Today, she is a full-time musician. “Music has always been what makes my spirit happy,” she says. A word that describes Tiara is inspiring.

The graduates to be recognized embody many additional characteristics that have contributed to their successes. In preparing for this year’s celebration, we asked faculty and staff to tell us what words best portray the Class of 2021. Here are just a few.

Brave. A recent survey of students revealed that 45% belonged to the first college-going generation in their families. These educational pioneers have taken steps beyond their parents’ experiences to navigate new opportunities. Each of these individuals has demonstrated personal courage in reaching their goals. We salute them.

Diligent and hard-working. Earning a post-secondary degree or other credential, even during the smoothest of times, requires careful attention and the persistent application of effort. Our 2021 graduates have maintained their focus during a turbulent year rocked by social justice concerns and a pandemic. In addition, two out of three completed their studies while holding down a full-time or part-time job. We admire their determined dedication.

Adaptable. This year’s graduates have taken a mix of courses made available through traditional and innovative formats, including online lectures, meeting-style Zoom classes, video broadcasts, and hybrids that combined assorted modalities. SVCC recognizes the importance of giving students opportunities to develop their roles and responsibilities as participants in a changing society. The ever-changing reality of societal transformation has never been more apparent than during the past year. We take our collective hats off to our adaptable students.

Ambitious. The Class of 2021 includes 751 individual academic students who will earn a combined total of 855 awards, including associate degrees and other certificates. Their post-graduation ambitions vary. Some will put their education immediately to use in the workforce; others will continue their academic journeys through transfers to senior institutions.

Positive and driven. 175 students who have completed workforce training programs throughout the year are celebrated with program specific ceremonies. Combined, they have earned 352 industry-recognized credentials. These individuals worked hard to learn new skills and demonstrate the level of mastery required to enter and excel in their chosen professions.

Resourcefulresilient, and strong. All our graduates can tell personal stories about overcoming challenges. One student noted, “I work a full-time job and have small children.” Another explained, “At first, I did not know if I was going to like SVCC being that I was supposed to go to a four-year university and my plans fell through, but now I love it! I would not want to have it any other way.”

There are many other words that can be used to describe the remarkable people who will be honored at SVCC’s commencement ceremony. One I like is Stupendous. As they move into the future, these extraordinary graduates will make a wonderfully stupendous impact as they weave their personal success stories into the fabric of our communities.

 

 

 

 

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

Onaiza Anees, M.D., sees patients ages three and older at CMH Behavioral Health in South Hill at 140 East Ferrell Street, which just opened in March.

South Hill, VA (5/6/21) – May is Mental Health Awareness Month and the first week of May is Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate half of all Americans will be diagnosed with a mental illness at least once in their lives. Children who have mental disorders show it though learning, behavior and emotions. Some common issues are attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety and depression.

In 2018, the U.S. saw 47,500 deaths from suicide. During a three-year period compared to another three-year period a decade later, Virginians saw an increase in suicide among ages 10-24 increase by 58 percent.

Onaiza Anees, M.D., sees patients ages three and older at CMH Behavioral Health in South Hill at 140 East Ferrell Street, which just opened in March.

“We are seeing people who have not had behavioral health services in many years or ever,” Dr. Anees said. “Psychiatry services are very much needed in all areas. I am glad to be here serving the community. We hope to grow and provide what’s needed in our counties. Let’s work together to destigmatize mental illness.”

MentalHealth.gov lists some tips for helping family and friends suffering from a mental disorder. Ask them if they are getting the care they need and help them find someone to talk to. Let them know you are there for them and treatment is available. Ask questions to show interest and actively listen when they speak about issues. Offer to help with household chores so it is one less thing they have to do. Invite them to do things with you even if they don’t feel like it. Educate, don’t discriminate. Treat them with respect, compassion and empathy.

The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 800-273-TALK (8255).

Call (434) 584-5400 to make an appointment with Dr. Anees.

Tags: 

Greensville County Public Schools Honored the School Lunch Heroes Serving Healthy Meals


Celebrated School Lunch Hero Day on May 7, 2021

Emporia, VA–Between preparing healthy food, adhering to strict nutrition standards, navigating student food allergies, and offering service with a smile, Greensville County Public School nutrition professionals have a lot on their plate. To celebrate their hard work and commitment, Greensville County Public Schools celebrated School Lunch Hero Day on Friday, May 7. This day, celebrated annually since 2013, was designated by The School Nutrition Association and JarrettKrosoczka, author of the “Lunch Lady” graphic novel series.  School Lunch Hero Day provides an opportunity for parents, students, school staff and communities to thank those who provide healthy meals to nearly 30 million of America’s students each school day.

All across the school district, school nutrition professionals were honored and recognized from students, school staff, parents, and the community.

 “School nutrition employees must balance many roles and follow numerous federal, state and local regulations to ensure safe and healthy meals are available in schools. School Lunch Hero Day provides the opportunity for the community to thank these hardworking heroes” said MaRendia Garner, School Nutrition Director. Federalnutrition standards ensure that school cafeterias always offer low-fat or fat-free milk, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein.  School meals also meet limits on calories, sodium and unhealthy fats. 

The importance and nutritional value of school meals are well documented. For many children, school lunch is the most important and nutrient-rich meal of their day. The GCPS Food Service Department has served over 445,000 meals during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Get the details about School Lunch Hero Day at www.schoollunchheroday.com. To learn more about the school nutrition program for Greensville County Public Schools, visit www.gcps1.comor call 434-634-2863.

The School Nutrition Association (SNA) is a national, non-profit professional organization representing more than 55,000 school nutrition professionals across the country. Founded in 1946, SNA and its members are dedicated to making healthy school meals and nutrition education available to all students. To find out more about today’s school meals, visit www.schoolnutrition.org/SchoolMeals.

Tags: 

McEachin Announces Emergency Broadband Benefit to Help Households Afford Broadband Access

WASHINGTON- Congressman A. Donald McEachin (VA-04) today announced the start of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Emergency Broadband Benefit program to help households struggling to afford internet services during the pandemic. The program, which opens for enrollment on May 12, provides up to a $50 per month discount for broadband services, up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal Lands, and a one-time discount of up to $100 for a laptop, desktop, or tablet purchased through a qualifying provider.

Eligible households include those where at least one member of the household:

  • Is at or below 135% of the federal poverty guidelines or is a participant in certain government assistance programs;
  • Receives free or reduced school lunch or breakfast;
  • Received a Pell grant during the current award year;
  • Experienced job loss or significant income reduction since February 29, 2020;
  • Or meets the eligibility requirements of a participating provider’s existing low income or covid-19 program.

Interested applicants should either contact their current provider directly, apply online at getemergencybroadband.org or send an application by mail to Emergency Broadband Support Center, PO Box 7081, London, KY 40742. Further information can be obtained by calling 833-511-0311

“This program offers an assist for families needing broadband but unable to afford it because of COVID-related impacts,” McEachin said. “Whether it’s for work, for school, for virtual medical visits, or to search for employment, this program will help families. I encourage all those eligible to apply. “

Lucille “Lou” Price Berger Tulloh

August 17, 1928-May 5, 2021

 

Lucille “Lou” Price Berger Tulloh, 92, went home to be with the Lord and her beloved husband, Ryan Lee “Bill” Tulloh on Wednesday, May 5, 2021. Lou was born in Gretna, Virginia on August 17, 1928 and was the youngest child of John Daniel Berger, Sr. and Bertha Hardaway Berger.

In addition to her husband and her parents, Lou was predeceased by her brothers, Floyd H. Berger and John D. Berger, Jr., her sister Elva “Junie” B. Brooking, and a dear cousin raised with her, Witcher T. Berger.

She is survived by her son, William R. Tulloh and her twin daughters, Betty Lou Tulloh and Barbara T. Flatin (Mark); three granddaughters, Anne K.F. Wendling (Alex), Laura R. Price, and Grace T. Golden (Michael); three great-grandchildren, Lucy C. Golden, Arthur T. Wendling, and Peter A. Golden; many nieces and nephews; and her two cats, Cleo and Bud.

Lou graduated from Madison College (JMU) with a B.S. in Education, where she was a member of Kappa Delta Pi Honor Society. She also earned an M.A. in Education at Virginia Commonwealth University, where she was a member of Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society.

After graduating, Lou moved to Emporia, Virginia where she had a long and distinguished teaching and coaching career with the Greensville County school system. In 1990, she was named Belfield School Teacher of the Year and the Greensville County Teacher of the Year.
.
Lou was a remarkably strong woman who overcame more than her fair share of hardships. Widowed after ten short, but very happy, years of marriage, she went on to raise her three children by herself while shaping young minds in the classroom and on the basketball court. Her students remembered her fondly, and she lived for those moments when they would tell her how she had influenced their lives; her science class being the first step on the road to medical school, for example.

Lou was a member of Main Street Baptist Church for nearly 70 years; this community was a huge source of strength for her. An avid Berger family historian, she enjoyed her time as a member of the Hicksford Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. She was also an animal-lover. Her roster of cherished pets included dogs, cats, roosters, ponies, and a rabbit.

Lou was an ACC basketball fanatic, a talented gardener, and a loving grandmother. She spent many happy summers water skiing, swimming, and boating with her family on Lake Gaston. She was deeply devoted to her Emporia community, her family, and her faith.

Due to the pandemic, there will be a private service for the immediate family. Her family asks that you celebrate Lou’s life in your heart by appreciating a beautiful flower, cuddling with a pet, or reflecting on your favorite Bible verse. Memorial donations may be made to the Pedigree Foundation at www.pedigreefoundation.org, or your favorite animal rescue organization. To share an online condolence, please visit www.blileys.com.

Catherine Moore Mattox

November 7, 1954 - May 6, 2021

Services

Tuesday, May 11, 2021, starting at 2:00 P.M.

Matthews Chapel Cemetery

Catherine Moore Mattox, 66, passed away on May 6, 2021. She was preceded in death by her parents, Wade L. Moore and Mildred Louise Maze Moore. She is survived by her sister, Alisa M. Shearin (Tommy), niece, Jennifer Shearin, nephews, Brandon Shearin (Amy), Kyle Shearin, great-niece/nephew, Brittlyn Shearin, Dawson Shearin, along with many other extended family.

Catherine grew up in Brunswick, VA., where she attended Brunswick Academy and later settled down in Drewryville, VA. She worked at Sadler’s Travel Plaza as a manager for many years. She loved her animals and enjoyed gardening.

A graveside service will be held at Matthews Chapel Cemetery, on Tuesday, May 11, 2021, starting at 2:00 P.M.

Online condolences may be made at www.echolsfuneralhome.com

WARNER & KAINE REINTRODUCE LEGISLATION TO EXPAND TELEHEALTH SERVICES AMID COVID-19 CRISIS

~ Bipartisan CONNECT for Health Act will make it easier for Virginians to access health care providers ~

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA), along with Sens. Brian Schatz (D-HI), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Ben Cardin (D-MD), John Thune (R-SD), and Roger Wicker (R-MS) reintroduced the Creating Opportunities Now for Necessary and Effective Care Technologies (CONNECT) for Health Act of 2021. The CONNECT for Health Act will expand coverage of telehealth services through Medicare, make permanent COVID-19 telehealth flexibilities, improve health outcomes, and make it easier for patients to safely connect with their doctors.

“If we’ve learned anything in the past 14 months, it’s that people are better off when they’re able to see a doctor quickly, easily, and from the comfort of home. This is particularly the case for folks in rural or medically underserved communities, who may otherwise have to travel long distances to get basic medical services,” said Sen. Warner. “I’m proud to introduce this legislation, which will enable Virginians to make the most of telehealth capabilities and access the quality and affordable health care they need as soon as they need it.”

“Over the last year, telehealth has been crucial to safely delivering care to underserved communities,” said Sen. Kaine. “As we begin to recover and rebuild our nation, we should be making it easier for Americans to access quality health care. The permanent expansion of telehealth coverage would do just that, so I am proud to cosponsor this bipartisan effort.”

Several provisions from the CONNECT for Health Act were included in COVID-19 relief legislation to expand access to telehealth during the pandemic and fund its implementation. As a result, telehealth has seen a sharp rise in use since the start of pandemic as patients seek to avoid traveling to hospitals and other health care settings and instead receive care at home. Data shows that the number of Medicare beneficiaries using telehealth services increased by about 13,000 percent in just a month and a half during the pandemic.

The CONNECT for Health Act was first introduced in 2016 and is considered the most comprehensive legislation on telehealth in Congress. Since 2016, several provisions of the bill were enacted into law or adopted by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, including provisions to remove restrictions on telehealth services for mental health, stroke care, and home dialysis. 

The updated version of the CONNECT for Health Act builds on that progress and includes new and revised provisions that will help more people access telehealth services. Specifically, the legislation would:

  • Permanently remove all geographic restrictions on telehealth services and expand originating sites to include the home and other sites;
  • Allow health centers and rural health clinics to provide telehealth services, a provision currently in place due to the pandemic but on a temporary basis;
  • Provide the Secretary of Health and Human Services with the permanent authority to waive telehealth restrictions, a provision currently in place due to the pandemic but on a temporary basis;
  • Allow for the waiver of telehealth restrictions during public health emergencies; and
  • Require a study to learn more about how telehealth has been used during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Companion legislation has been introduced in the House of Representatives by Reps. Mike Thompson (D-CA), David Schweikert (R-AZ), Peter Welch (D-VT), Bill Johnson (R-OH), and Doris Matsui (D-CA).

The CONNECT for Health Act has the support of more than 150 organizations including AARP, America’s Essential Hospitals, American College of Emergency Physicians, American Hospital Association, American Heart Association, American Medical Association, American Medical Group Association, American Nurses Association, American Telemedicine Association, Children’s National Hospital, eHealth Initiative, Federation of American Hospitals, Health Innovation Alliance, HIMSS, National Alliance on Mental Illness, National Association of Community Health Centers, National Association of Rural Health Clinics, National Rural Health Association, Personal Connected Health Alliance, and Teladoc Health.

“To build on the important actions taken during the COVID-19 public health emergency, to prepare us for any future public health emergency and to ensure that providers and patients do not lose access to telehealth supported care when the COVID-19 emergency concludes, Congress must act to advance telehealth payment reform, particularly through Medicare. I am grateful that the CONNECT for Health Act of 2021 does just that,” said Dr. Karen Rheuban, Director of the UVA Center for Telehealth.

Sen. Warner, an original cosponsor of the 2016 CONNECT for Health Act, and Sen. Kaine have been longtime advocates for increased access to health care through telehealth. Last year, during the height of the COVID-19 crisis, the Senators sent a letter to Senate leadership calling for the permanent expansion of access to telehealth services. In 2018, Sen. Warner successfully included a provision to expand telehealth services for substance abuse treatment in the Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018. In 2003, then-Gov. Warner expanded Medicaid coverage for telemedicine statewide, including evaluation and management visits, a range of individual psychotherapies, the full range of consultations, and some clinical services, including in cardiology and obstetrics. Coverage was also expanded to include non-physician providers. Among other benefits, the telehealth expansion allowed individuals in medically underserved and remote areas of Virginia to access quality specialty care that isn’t always available at home.

McEachin Announces The 2021 Congressional Art Competition Winners

WASHINGTON- Congressman A. Donald McEachin (VA-04) today announced the winners of the 2021 Congressional Art Competition in Virginia’s fourth district. The first-place winner is Ms. Emani Salas, a 10th grade student at Great Bridge High School in Chesapeake, Virginia. Her pencil drawing, entitled “Littered Both Ways” will hang in the Capitol for one year. 

Each spring, members of the U.S. House of Representatives sponsor a nation-wide high school arts competition. The Congressional Art Competition is an opportunity to recognize and encourage the artistic talent across the nation in each Congressional district. The winning entry from each district hangs in the U.S. Capitol for one year.

The judges for the competition were all prominent members of the local arts community:  Taekia Glass; local artist with Mending Walls RVA; S. Ross Browne, local artist and owner of Browne Studio; and Bob Riggs, principal of Riggs Ward Design.

“Every year I am absolutely amazed at the talent and creativity of the pieces entered in the competition,” McEachin said. “We received entries from across the district and in a wide variety of artistic mediums. Ms. Salas’ pencil drawing was truly a masterpiece both because of the telling subject matter and the advanced, creative skillset. At first glance, people who have seen the drawing presume it’s a photograph and are shocked to find out it’s a pencil drawing. I know Ms. Salas has a very bright future and I will be so proud to walk by her drawing every day in the Capitol.

“I also want to commend our second and third place winners, Annabelle Starr, from Prince George High School and Katherine Farmer, from Clover Hill High School, as well as all the other students who entered.

“This contest is only possible because of the commitment and dedication of our judging panel. They volunteer their time and talents to review and study each entry. I thank them and truly appreciate their efforts.”

See all the winners and their artwork here

Glass Ceiling on Statewide Offices Remains for Black Women

By Josephine Walker, Capital News Service

RICHMOND, Va. -- Four Black women have entered the 2021 Virginia gubernatorial race. If elected, the commonwealth would become the first state with a Black female governor.

Sen. Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond, and former Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy, D-Prince William, are competing for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. Former Roanoke City Sheriff Octavia Johnson is seeking the Republican nomination. Independent activist and educator Princess Blanding is running for the new Liberation Party, which she helped establish last year.

Former U.S. Rep. Shirley Chisholm, D-New York, made history in 1972 when she became the first Black woman to seek a U.S. presidential nomination for a major political party. Almost 50 years later, the road to electing a Black woman to a governorship or the presidency has yet to be traveled.

"The next time a woman of whatever color, or a dark-skinned person of whatever sex aspires to be president, the way should be a little smoother because I helped pave it," Chisholm said in 1973 regarding her unsuccessful presidential bid.

Dearth of representation

Since Chisholm was elected, 50 Black women have served in Congress or federal office, according to the Center for American Women and Politics database. Ten Black women have held statewide executive offices such as lieutenant governor or attorney general, according to the same database. No Black woman has ever been elected governor, although former Georgia Rep. Stacey Abrams, D-Atlanta, came close in a 2018 hotly contested election.

Carroll Foy said the nation's history limits what some citizens view as a capable candidate.

“Unfortunately, people look to the past to try to dictate what can happen in the future,” she said. “When people see women of color running for higher office, we are seen as the exception and not the rule.”

Organizations dedicated to electing women to office such as EMILY’S List, Higher Heights and EMERGE aim to make the paths to office more accessible in recent years, providing advice, contributions and peer support to women candidates.

McClellan said when she first ran for a House seat in 2005, she had very little guidance and few mentors.

“There was no collective PAC, there was no EMERGE, you know, groups that have since formed to help Black candidates and women candidates and Black women candidates. They weren't there,” McClellan said. “I had to really do it on my own, with help from the handful of people who had done it before me.”

Media representation

The media often poorly represents women in politics, according to Political Parity, a research group that recruits and supports women candidates. Often, media coverage surrounding women running for office adds unnecessary details about a woman candidate’s clothing, weight, qualifications, motherhood situation and emotional maturity, according to the same report.

“Whether it's questions about their parenting or their husbands, it’s just questions that we don't see male candidates get,” said Kristen Hernandez, deputy director of campaign communications for EMILY’S List, an organization devoted to electing pro-choice Democratic women to office. “We've seen sexist rhetoric, misogynistic comments and racist tropes as well.”

McClellan said perhaps the most consistent troubling narrative she sees in the media surrounding her campaign are questions about her qualifications. McClellan said she has more experience than all her Democratic opponents combined.

“There never seems to be a question, when a white man runs for governor, but yet for us it’s, ‘Are you ready?’” McClellan said. “If I'm not ready after 16 years in state government, when would I ever be ready?”

McClellan said she also frequently sees herself and Carroll Foy lumped together in news articles, as they are both Black women who have served in the state legislature. A New York Times analyst hypothesized last month that McAuliffe might win the Democratic primary race because three of his competitors — McClellan, Carroll Foy and Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax — are Black, younger and generally more left-wing than McAuliffe.

Voters typically prefer candidates that most resemble themselves, according to a study published in an Oxford Academic Journal. This tendency suggests that Black women must also convince all constituents that despite being Black, they do not solely represent Black Virginians. Instead, most see themselves as the most qualified person for the job who just so happens to be a Black woman.

“I am not the candidate of Black America, although I am Black and proud,” Chisholm said during a campaign event in ’72. “I am not the candidate of the woman's [sic] movement of this country, although I am a woman and I am equally proud of that.”

Even now the persistent myth that Black candidates can only win in majority-minority districts continues to plague America’s political scene, according to the Brookings Institute, a public policy organization headquartered in the District of Columbia. But of the five non-incumbent Black women elected to Congress in 2018, all were Democrats and four won in majority-white districts, according to the Center for American Women and Politics.

Fundraising obstacles

One of the biggest barriers to elected office is the ability to raise campaign funds. The ability to fund a campaign continues to be a major obstacle to success for many women, not just women of color, according to the Brennan Center, a nonpartisan law and policy institute. The Center also found that candidates often receive party support based on their fundraising potential, which disadvantages candidates without notoriety, wealthy support networks or self-funding abilities. Donors who fund political campaigns are often wealthy, white and typically male, according to Demos, a Liberal think tank. These donors, according to the same report, also have different views and priorities, especially on the issues that matter most to Black women.

Blanding is the sister of the late Marcus-David Peters, a Black man shot and killed by a Richmond Police officer while he experienced what his family said was a mental health crisis. Blanding said fundraising is an ongoing struggle. She recalled looking at the first financial records report from the Board of Elections and said she could not help but “crack up laughing” at the amount she raised compared to other candidates.

“But guess what? I have volunteers who are working around the clock to get the same results that they are paying for,” Blanding said. “That means a whole lot more to me.”

Carroll Foy raised just over $1.8 million in the first quarter, while McClellan raised roughly half a million dollars, according to a Capital News Service analysis of fundraising reports. Carroll Foy resigned from her seat to fundraise. General Assembly members can not fundraise until the session adjourns. Blanding raised almost $12,000 in the first quarter and Johnson raised $800. Altogether, all four women have raised just over half of what Democratic frontrunner and former Gov. Terry McAuliffe raised.

Aprill Turner, vice president of communications and external affairs for Higher Heights for America, said all women must run against a “boys’ club.” Higher Heights for America is a political action committee that seeks to mobilize and elevate the voices of Black women across the country. Turner said the path to elected offices has typically been paved by white men, and usually involves network connections and exclusive organizations that people of color and women have historically been unable to access.

“You'll see men groomed in a different way, or almost appointed,” Turner said. “Like, ‘You've got next,’ and kind of that little boys’ network.”

Will the statewide glass ceiling remain intact?

Former Del. Winsome Sears, R-Winchester, is running for the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor. Sears was elected to a majority-Black district in 2002, becoming the first Republican to do so in Virginia since 1865. If she won the seat she would be the first Black woman to ever serve as Virginia’s lieutenant governor. Fairfax, who currently holds the seat, was the first Black man elected to serve in this position.

Carroll Foy and McClellan will both compete for the Democratic party’s nomination on June 8. Johnson competes in the Republican party’s unassembled convention taking place statewide on May 8. Blanding will make it to the November ballot if she collects 2,000 signatures by June 8, which she is confident she will achieve.

 Carroll Foy feels confident she will win the election.

“We're mobilizing and organizing more people of color, more people from the AAPI community, from the Latinx community, the Indigenous community, the millennials, more women than ever before,” Carroll Foy said, regarding her campaign. “We're building the most diverse coalition of voters and supporters that Virginia has ever seen.”

Early voting is underway for the Democratic primary on June 8.

Capital News Service is a program of Virginia Commonwealth University's Robertson School of Media and Culture. Students in the program provide state government coverage for a variety of media outlets in Virginia.

An Update from the Office of Congressman McEachin

We’re 100 days, and by the time you read this, a few more, into the 117thCongress. I wanted to give you a report on my work and that of my three offices In Washington, DC, Richmond and Suffolk.  

Almost a quarter of a million dollars ($239,838.00) has been recovered for constituents in the first 100 days of this year. In the same interval, 183 new constituent service cases, in which we seek help for constituents from federal agencies, were opened and 333 were closed, bringing those to a conclusion for satisfied constituents.

During this short three months plus span, I took almost 500 meetings, attended/organized 29 events, and introduced or led on 18 bills and letters. Moreover, we responded to over 3000 letters while issuing an additional 121 letters of congratulations or condolence. Serving you, my constituents, is the most important and rewarding part of my job.

This past week I also hosted a webinar with prominent experts to help people receive grants and funding to address environmental justice concerns. Environmental justice hazards include everything from toxic waste sites and fume-spewing factories to lack of potable water and homes with dangerous lead paint, all located in the vicinity of minority, rural and/or low-income communities. Working together, we can remedy these ills and save our earth!

Lastly, I wanted to make sure to let you know that if youpaid for funeral expenses after January 20, 2020 for an individual whose death may have been caused by or was likely the result of COVID-19, you may be able to receive financial assistance. You can apply for up to $9,000 per funeral through FEMA’s dedicated call center at 844-684-6333; TTY 800-462-7585, Monday-Friday, 9 AM ET - 9 PM ET. Online applications will not be accepted. You may apply for assistance for multiple funerals.

Every life lost to this pandemic is a tragedy and the loss of a loved one leaves a void that will never be filled. I can only hope that these available resources, thanks to COVID relief monies, will help ease the financial strain.

Governor Northam Proclaims First Week in May as Virginia Public Service Week

Recognizes approximately 701,500 public sector employees across the Commonwealth

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today declared May 3–7, 2021 as Virginia Public Service Week to recognize the dedication of federal, state, local, and tribal government employees in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The annual observance honors approximately 701,500 public sector employees who work on behalf of Virginia residents.

“The past year has been extremely difficult—and our public employees continue to rise to the occasion, going above and beyond to serve their communities and fellow Virginians,” said Governor Northam. “From those on the front lines to others who are behind the scenes, this week we have an important opportunity to salute the hard work of thousands of people who help make our Commonwealth the best place to live, work, visit, and raise a family.”

Governor Northam shared a new video message celebrating the more than 124,000 state employees in Virginia who are answering the call of public service with commitment, professionalism, and creativity.

In Virginia, an estimated 17 percent of the workforce is employed by the government. During Virginia Public Service Week, public agencies and institutions of higher education recognize their employees through awards and special activities. Virtual programs will be held for state employees again this year, including a special tour of the Executive Mansion grounds, a cooking lesson from Executive Chef Ed Gross, and micro learning sites.

“We depend on our employees and their dedication each and every day,” said Secretary of Administration Grindly Johnson. “As in years past, this week provides an opportunity for team-building, connecting, and interacting among employee teams.”

Virginia Public Service Week is also an opportunity for employees to recognize their co-workers, particularly those who volunteer through the Commonwealth of Virginia Campaign (CVC) in their communities, which raised nearly $2 million in just the last year.

“Taking time to simply say thank you, whether from a manager or a co-worker, lets an employee know they are seen and what they did matters to someone else, too,” said Emily S. Elliott, Director of the Virginia Department of Human Resource Management. “It’s important that we lift each other up during challenging times and remind one another just how important and purpose-driven our service to the Commonwealth really is.”

The full text of Governor Northam’s proclamation can be found here.

VIRGINIA STATE POLICE ADDS SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORM TO VIRGINIA ALERT RESOURCES

@VSPalerts Added to Communications Platforms

RICHMOND – Since the Virginia General Assembly established Virginia’s first missing person alert program in 2003 with the Virginia A.M.B.E.R. (for America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response) Alert, the Virginia State Police has taken advantage of the ever-evolving landscape of communications technology to reach broader audiences as quickly and effectively as possible. This year the Virginia State Police added @VSPalerts on Twitter to its existing notification platforms.

“Just as the types of alerts have expanded over the years, so too have our means of notifying the public,” said Colonel Gary T. Settle, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “Every second counts when it comes to safely locating an abducted child or endangered adult or a missing child diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Thus, it is imperative that an alert’s key details be disseminated across as many diverse communications channels as quickly as possible.”

Over the years, the Virginia General Assembly has established five missing persons alerts: Virginia AMBER Alert (2003); Virginia Senior Alert (2007); Virginia Blue Alert (2011); Virginia Critically Missing Adult “Ashanti” Alert (2018); and the Virginia Missing Child with Autism Alert (2020). State code designates the Virginia State Police as the operator of each alert for the purpose of identifying that each alert’s criteria is met and an activation is justified.

An AMBER Alert triggers activation of the Emergency Alert System (EAS), Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA), @VSPalerts and the Virginia State Police Twitter and Facebook pages, changeable message boards and a series of other communications/notification systems. For those instances where not all AMBER Alert criteria can be satisfied, the state police will initiate an Endangered Child Alert. This alert still enables the Department to bring the necessary attention to the missing and endangered child’s situation across traditional and social media platforms.

Since each program’s inception, Virginia has activated a total 62 AMBER Alerts, 181 Senior Alerts, 33 Endangered Child Alerts, 10 Endangered Adult/Ashanti Alerts and one Blue Alert.

Additional background information on each alert program is available at https://www.vaamberalert.com/VSPalerts-background.htm.

Governor Northam Invites Virginians to Celebrate Educators During Teacher Appreciation Week

Virginia Lottery’s sixth annual “Thank a Teacher” campaign honors educators across the Commonwealth

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam has proclaimed May 3–7, 2021 as Teacher Appreciation Week in the Commonwealth and is encouraging all Virginians to participate by sending personalized thank-you notes to recognize educators for their service and dedication to students. This year’s sixth annual Thank a Teacher campaign, sponsored by the Virginia Lottery in partnership with the Virginia Parent Teacher Association (PTA) and The Supply Room, celebrates the important role of teachers in Virginia and highlights the talent of young artists by featuring student artwork on each thank you note.

“While this school year looks unlike any other, one thing remains the same—teachers are the driving force in equipping our children with the knowledge, skills, and mindsets necessary for success,” said Governor Northam. “Virginia’s teachers have risen to the challenges presented by the pandemic, and during Teacher Appreciation Week we have a special opportunity to show them our gratitude. I encourage Virginians across the Commonwealth to join us in recognizing all those who are investing their time and talent to ensure every student is served equitably and shaping the lives of our future leaders in more creative ways than ever before.”

More than 100,000 thank-you cards have been sent to Virginia teachers during the first five years of the campaign. To send a digital thank-you note, or to request hard copy notes for your school, please visit thankateacherva.com. Hard copy notes also are available through participating PTA chapters and at all Virginia Lottery customer service centers. Digital and hard copy thank-you notes may be sent to teachers through Friday, May 7.

Qualifying teachers who receive a thank-you note can enter a drawing for a chance to win one of two Virginia vacations from the Virginia Lottery and $5,000 in credit for their school from The Supply Room. 

“Our superhero teachers have gone above and beyond for students over the past year,” said First Lady Pamela Northam. “From early childhood to K-12, Virginia educators have quickly adjusted to new guidelines and are providing students with a safe, supportive, and welcoming environment to return to throughout the Commonwealth. This week, let’s thank them for going the extra mile every day for Virginia’s children.” 

For the fourth year in a row, the thank-you notes feature the beautiful designs of three student artists selected through the Virginia Lottery’s “Thank a Teacher” Art Contest. The winning entries were created by Sarah Saravanan, a first grade student at McNair Lower Elementary School in Fairfax County, Karmare Brownlee, an eighth grade student at Tabb Middle School in York County, and Andrew Gibson, a senior at Gretna High School in Pittsylvania County. 

Each winning student-artist received a $150 gift card from the Virginia Lottery. The art department at each winner’s school also received $1,000 from the Virginia Lottery and a $1,000 credit from The Supply Room.

“Every day, thousands of teachers are working to make a difference in the lives of our children and, consequently, Virginia’s future,” said Secretary of Education Atif Qarni. “Teachers choose their profession because they are passionate about enriching the lives of the students who fill their classrooms. As your Secretary of Education, a former teacher, and a public school parent, I invite you to take a few moments to write a thank-you note to the teachers that sacrifice so much for our students.”

“Virginia’s K-12 public school teachers have always been a valuable and important resource for the Commonwealth,” said Virginia Lottery Executive Director Kevin Hall. “The Thank a Teacher campaign is a great opportunity to celebrate those teachers who have moved heaven and earth to continue supporting Virginia students and their families during these challenging days.”

Authorized by Virginia voters in a successful 1987 referendum, Virginia Lottery players generate more than $1.6 million per day for Virginia’s K-12 public schools. In the fiscal year ending June 30, 2020, lottery customers helped generate more than $595 million in funding for public education. The Virginia Lottery has been the source of more than $10 billion for public schools since 1999.

Subscribe to RSS - May 2021