Healthy Roanoke Valley Community Conversations


Please join Healthy Roanoke Valley (HRV) for a series of two lunchtime film screenings and conversations about health equity on February 8 and March 7. Both programs will take place at the Grandin Theater from 11:30-1:30, and lunch will be provided.

For most of us, when we think of health, we think of visiting the doctor or the dentist. However, our health starts much earlier than a visit to the dentist; it is impacted by our neighborhoods, our homes, our jobs, even whether or not we have reliable transportation. Inequities across class, race, and other divides are directly reflected in the health of our community. In order to build a community where all are empowered to achieve and sustain optimal health, we have to first understand the inequities that exist, and how we can work to support a more just and equitable community. At each of these conversations, we will screen a short film followed by facilitated discussion around these issues.

For more information and to register for the February 8th event, please click here.

For more information and to register for the March 7th event, please click here.

From CADCA: What’s Your Plan? A Lesson in Collaboration.

From CADCA: What’s Your Plan? A Lesson in Collaboration.


See original article here.

“You know that saying, ‘location – location – location?’ In order for community anti-drug coalitions to affect behavior change, ‘collaboration – collaboration – collaboration’ is the way to achieve success,” affirms Ray Bemis, the Roanoke Prevention Alliance (RPA) Director. 

CADCA caught up with Bemis this week, as he introduced RPA’s collaborative effort – What’s Your Plan? In 2012, the RPA, the Prevention Council of Roanoke County, the Fresh Coalition of Franklin County and the HIPE Coalition of Campbell County each received Strategic Prevention Framework (SPF) State Incentive Grants to prevent alcohol-involved motor vehicle crashes among drivers aged 18-24. In fact, just a few years earlier in 2009, 35 percent of Virginia’s car accident fatalities were alcohol-related. Rather than operating in individual silos, these four coalitions created and continue to implement What’s Your Plan?, a communications campaign with the resounding message, “Make a plan before you drink, because doing so can save lives and save you money.” Indeed, that’s just what What’s your Plan? has accomplished since its inception.“You know that saying, ‘location – location – location?’ In order for community anti-drug coalitions to affect behavior change, ‘collaboration – collaboration – collaboration’ is the way to achieve success,” affirms Ray Bemis, the Roanoke Prevention Alliance (RPA) Director.

Southwest Virginia’s RPA and its partners operate in rural, suburban and urban environments. Approximately 98,000 people live in Roanoke City (the 10th largest city in the Commonwealth and serves as the commercial and cultural hub for the Roanoke Valley) with about 97,000 living in the rural areas surrounding the community. This region is “home” to Ferrum College, Hollins University, Virginia Western Community College and Smith Mountain Lake. One of its communities – Franklin County – is known as the “Moonshine Capital of the World.”

According to the coalitions’ logic models, the region had been experiencing:

  • Binge drinking and driving among 21-24 year olds
  • 21-24 year olds drinking at restaurants and then driving
  • Drinking and driving among 18-24 year olds

There was also a perceived low risk among 21-24 year olds of being caught drinking and driving, due to a lack of enforcement because of budget cuts. The coalitions set out to:

  • Increase public awareness about the rise in drinking and driving
  • Increase awareness of law enforcement once enforcement was increased with the grant funding
  • Increase awareness of options to get home safe to prevent drinking and driving

What’s Your Plan? was designed to address these goals. Collaboratively increasing law enforcement and creating a communication plan that boosted visibility of this issue through television, radio, cinema and print media met these goals.

“Working independently, each coalition had two ducats [small amount of funding], but by crafting consistent messaging and approaches across all four coalitions, we were able to amplify our media exposure. And our communities are achieving outcomes. We went from 103 alcohol-related crashes in 2012 to 87 in 2015 and 17 during the first three quarters of 2016 in Roanoke City,” said Bemis.

How They Did It

The RPA and its partners created a plan that all coalitions bought into. The coalitions agreed that they would target 18-24 year olds’ drinking and driving behaviors. They also crafted four distinct messages targeting college students, Roanoke City residents, visitors to downtown Roanoke and those living in the more rural communities. An important programmatic decision was to ensure buy-in from law enforcement and police department Public Information Officers in all four jurisdictions. The main approach was to create public service announcements (PSAs) that could be placed on the radio, television and in movie theaters.

“Six PSAs have been produced; four are currently in rotation; and we will produce one or two more this year,” said Bemis.

Also created were billboards and posters focusing on stepped up law enforcement and its impact:

  • Drive Hammered…Get Nailed! What’s Your Plan?
  • I just saved $10,000 by NOT drinking & driving. What’s Your Plan?
  • Think before you blow $10,000. What’s Your Plan?
  • Happy Hour: $12; DUI Legal Fees: $12,000. What’s Your Plan?

Lesson Learned – Contracts and Partnerships

Bemis affirms that five years of working on this issue has created “do’s and don’ts” that are worth sharing. He says:

  • Get advice from experts, preferably who are passionate about this issue.
  • Include multiple media representatives in the production discussion: Radio, television, theater, digital.
  • Only one rep from each form of media should be at the table – one TV rep, one radio rep, etc.
  • Be up front with your original media partners prior to adding new media outlets.
  • Remember that you can expand to other networks and outlets – YOU ARE PAYING.
  • Be a savvy consumer! Have an expectation that spots will be donated.
  • Before you meet with media, know what you are asking for, have some potential ideas for your message but listen to the media experts as well.
  • Let the production people do the creative.
  • Ask about editing, uploading and any costs upfront.
  • Push back until your pieces look/sound the way you want them.
  • Make it clear that your coalition owns the PSA(s) and do not pay upload fees.

“SPF funding went away in 2015, and there was so much support for this campaign that the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles is now grant funding the program,” concludes Bemis. “And there is no doubt that our success is based on this regional collaborative model. We couldn’t have done it any other way.” 

Consider Donating

Consider Donating


During the holidays, we often hear how “it is better to give, than to receive”.  So often, we get to see how our gift can impact another person.  We can share in the joy of watching a child’s face light up when he or she unwraps our gift.  Other times, we may never know the impact of our gift.  Perhaps it’s an Angel Tree present: an unattainable toy, or a much-needed pair of pants. Maybe it’s a meal at a homeless shelter or a food pantry.  

When we think of giving to charity, we often assume that the gift is going to a complete stranger.

At the Prevention Council, we have the blessing of seeing how your gifts impact our community.  It’s not just the distant stranger, but more likely the teacher at your child’s school, the neighbor down the street, the local police officer, the star athlete, your child’s best friend.  It’s the gift of presence, hope, healthy alternatives, and maybe even second chance at life.  We hear testimony after testimony about lives that are forever changed.

Many of the battles that our community fights are lost in isolation.  It takes a team to attain victory.  The Council’s mission is to foster the healthy development of Roanoke County youth, and we are now impacting a second generation of young people.  We identify risk factors that threaten our community, and then intervene through education and collaborative partnerships before it’s too late.  It is only through this collaborative effort that we achieve opportunity and success.  We can’t do it without each other.  And we can’t do it without your support.

This year, will you consider investing in our community?  Would you make commitment to these young people who will determine the future of the Roanoke Valley?  

Here’s an example of how your gift will impact our community:

As a PTA President in Roanoke County, I asked the Prevention Council of Roanoke County to speak at many PTA meetings. At each meeting the Council provided valuable tools for parenting tool boxes, including ways to speak with children about the dangers of social media misuse.  The Prevention Council of Roanoke County provides critical outreach in our community and protective factors for our children. Through their youth leadership development program, parenting program, and collaboration with coalition partners across the Commonwealth and nation, the Prevention Council of Roanoke County has remained a relevant and proactive force in fostering the health, safety, education and well-being of children for the past 15 years.  Please join me in supporting the Prevention Council of Roanoke County this holiday season and help the Council continue to do the vitally important work it does on behalf of our children and community. 


Laura Bowman

Past President, Roanoke County Council of PTAs 

Past PTA President, Green Valley Elementary School


Please consider a tax-deductible gift to the Prevention Council through PayPal, or a check to the address below.  Let’s invest in our community together.  There is no time better than the present.

Opioid Addiction Crisis Declared a Public Health Emergency in Virginia

Opioid Addiction Crisis Declared a Public Health Emergency in Virginia


Commonwealth of Virginia

Office of Governor Terry McAuliffe

Opioid Addiction Crisis Declared a Public Health Emergency in Virginia

 ~ Health officials join together to address growing opioid addiction crisis in Virginia ~



Office of the Governor

Contact: Brian Coy



Virginia Department of Health

Contact: Maribeth Brewster

Phone: (804) 864-7008



 November 21, 2016


RICHMOND – Governor Terry McAuliffe today announced that State Health Commissioner Marissa J. Levine, MD, MPH, FAAFP, has declared the Virginia opioid addiction crisis a Public Health Emergency.


This declaration comes in response to the growing number of overdoses attributed to opioid use, and evidence that Carfentanil, a highly dangerous synthetic opioid used to sedate large animals such as elephants, has made its way its way into Virginia. A Public Health Emergency is an event, either natural or manmade, that creates a health risk to the public.


“Too many families across Virginia and the nation are dealing with heartbreak and loss as a result of prescription opioid and heroin abuse epidemic,” said Governor McAuliffe. “We cannot stand by while these drugs harm our communities and our economy. That is why I support Dr. Levine’s decision to declare a public health emergency, to heighten awareness of this issue, provide a framework for further actions to fight it, and to save Virginians’ lives.”


In response to the Public Health Emergency, and in partnership with Virginia’s Board of Pharmacy, Department of Health Professions and Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, Dr. Levine has issued a standing order that allows all Virginians to obtain the drug Naloxone, which can be used to treat narcotic overdoses in emergency situations.


The standing order serves as a prescription written for the general public, rather than specifically for an individual, removing a barrier to access.


“As we see the nature of drug addiction shift, from prescription opioids to heroin and synthetic fentanyl, we must be vigilant and ready to respond quickly,” said Secretary of Health and Human Resources Dr. Bill Hazel. “The overdose rates in Virginia have led me to agree with Dr. Levine that we are indeed experiencing a public health emergency. This declaration helps us respond in a nimble way to a rapidly changing threat, while the Naloxone standing order from Dr. Levine broadens our ability to get life-saving medication into Virginians’ hands.”


“Thanksgiving offers many of us a chance to spend time with family and loved ones. While we are enjoying this time with those closest to us, it’s important that we take stock of their health and well-being,” said Virginia State Health Commissioner Dr. Marissa Levine. “Too many Virginia families have lost someone to opioid addiction. These actions today will not diminish their loss, but we owe it to them and each other to work together, watch out for each other and continue to combat the seriousness of this crisis.”


“Opioid abuse is devastating communities across the Commonwealth, including my home region of the Eastern Shore,” said Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam. “This is a public health emergency, and I thank Governor McAuliffe and Dr. Levine for their work creating greater access to Naloxone which will save lives in moments of crisis. As we move forward, we must continue to address the challenges of addiction and chronic pain management, including holding providers accountable for over-prescription.”


“My team and I worked with a bipartisan coalition to expand Naloxone availability because we knew it could save lives and prevent the tragedy and heartbreak that too many Virginia families already know,” said Attorney General Mark Herring. “I really appreciate Governor McAuliffe and Dr. Levine’s continued commitment to addressing the opioid epidemic, especially taking the next step by issuing this landmark standing order that will make this lifesaving overdose antidote even more widely available.”


By the end of 2016, the numbers of fatal opioid overdose deaths are expected to increase by 77 percent, compared to five years ago. In 2014, for the first time in Virginia, more people died from opioid overdoses than fatal car accidents. Emergency department visits for heroin overdose for January-September 2016 increased 89 percent, compared to the same nine-month period in 2015. In the first half of 2016, the total number of fatal drug overdoses in Virginia increased 35 percent, when compared to the same time period in 2015, and in 2013, fatal drug overdoses became the number one cause of unnatural death.


“Pharmacists play an important role in combating opioid addiction,” said Virginia Board of Pharmacy Executive Director Caroline D. Juran, RPh. “By allowing Naloxone to be safely and responsibly issued by pharmacists to anyone in Virginia, friends and family members of individuals struggling with addiction can take a much-needed step towards preventing overdoses of loved ones.” 


“For far too long, stigmas have plagued addiction struggles.  By declaring a public health emergency, the Commonwealth of Virginia is bringing the opioid epidemic to the forefront of public discussion,” said Dr. Jack Barber, Interim Commissioner, the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services. “It is important that all Virginians learn how to recognize the signs of addiction and be able to help those struggling with addiction to seek care.”


It can be difficult to know what to do when someone close to you is facing addiction, but there are simple things every Virginian can do to help those around them:


1)      Know the signs of addiction and substance use: Signs of recent opioid use include pinpoint pupils, sleepiness, “nodding” and scratching. Common signs of addiction include constant money problems; arrests; track marks and infections from needle use; lying about drug use; irritability and, when drugs can’t be obtained, physical withdrawal symptoms such as shaking, dilated pupils, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting.

2)      Talk to your loved ones: If you suspect that your friend or family member is struggling with addiction and substance use, talk with them. The state’s new website VaAware ( offers resources on how to best discuss addiction with someone you love.

3)      Properly dispose of medications: If you have unused, expired or unwanted medications and need a way to safely dispose of them, you can now get a drug disposal bag from your Local Health Department. The bags allow for you to safely deactivate and dispose of medications in the privacy of your own home. Additionally, you may return unwanted prescription drugs for destruction to one of the authorized pharmacies listed at Some local law enforcement agencies also collect and destroy unwanted drugs.

4)      Obtain Naloxone: If someone in your life is struggling with opioid addiction, visit your local pharmacist to obtain Naloxone and keep it on hand for possible overdose emergencies. Naloxone is a medication that can reverse an overdose that is caused by an opioid drug (i.e. prescription pain medication or heroin). When administered during an overdose, naloxone blocks the effects of opioids on the brain and restores breathing within two to eight minutes. Naloxone has been used safely by medical professionals for more than 40 years and has only one function: to reverse the effects of opioids on the brain and respiratory system in order to prevent death. Family members and friends can access this medication by obtaining a prescription from their family doctor or by visiting a participating pharmacy that can dispense the drug using the standing order issued by Dr. Levine. More information on Naloxone can be found at

5)      Learn more: DBHDS provides Opioid Overdose and Naloxone Education (OONE) to professionals, stakeholders and others through their REVIVE! program. Learn more about REVIVE! at




To view the published release, please visit: