VOICE & Allies Call for Action on Youth Overdose Crisis

Over 260 VOICE leaders, students, parents, and allies crowded into the Kenmore Middle School cafeteria last night and secured strong commitments from County Board members Takis Karantonis and Maureen Coffey to advocate for the inclusion of $2M in Arlington’s FY 2025 budget for high-quality free or low-cost after-school programming. They also pledged to participate in VOICE listening sessions with middle and high schoolers and to reconvene with VOICE leaders within 4 weeks to discuss the next steps. These commitments are crucial to ensuring the permanence and increased accessibility of such programming for students. VOICE also obtained commitments from School Board members Mary Kadera and Bethany Sutton to support after-school programs in the future. The assembly has already garnered attention from multiple press outlets covering this action (Fox5, WJLA).

As Rev. Alice Tewell explains, “Experience has shown that engaging in structured activities and having the opportunity to form relationships with trusted adults are mitigating factors for drug use and other harmful coping mechanisms among at-risk students.”

Marina Cura, a high schooler who has struggled with mental health challenges, and Luz Rodriguez, one of the mothers who lost her child to overdose last year, both bravely shared their stories and called for action. As Ms. Rodriguez said: “Please listen. My son’s life mattered. I want his death to matter, too. Together we can help prevent future deaths. Please act now, for all the other mothers and sons, fathers and daughters in our community.”

VOICE will continue to take action and follow up on these significant commitments we were able to achieve together.

VOICE Planning, Training & Getting to Work in 2024!

VOICE has hit the ground running in January after having one of its most productive years in 2023! On Sunday, January 7 leaders from Arlington met at St George’s Episcopal Church to get training on Narcan, the life-saving medication to reverse addiction. Besides getting trained on being able to promote best practices in their congregations and community this team is also hard at work planning for a youth-led Arlington Youth Behavioral Health Assembly February 7th at Kenmore Middle School pushing for increased funding for after-school programming! 

January 18th and 25th VOICE Alexandria kicked off its year with a Clergy & Team Lead meeting – the beginning of its new Strategy Team – and a Caucus meeting where the team decided on a path forward in Alexandria for 2024 – starting with hosting a Budget Accountability action in April to hold the city accountable to pairing passage of Zoning for Housing last year with increased funding for affordable housing this year.

VOICE’s staff and Strategy Team (Board of Directors) launched January with a full-day training on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Conflict Transformation as we prepare to engage in a Strategic Planning process.

VOICE is excited for big things to come in 2024 and invite all VOICE leaders to dig in this year during a time of huge political stakes and opportunities to bend the arc of the universe ever more towards justice!

Arlington Narcan Training at St. George’s.
VOICE Alexandria Clergy and Team Lead Meeting.
Alexandria Caucus 2024 Kickoff!
VOICE Staff and Strategy Team DEI Training Day.

What a Night!

Mr. Eugene Robison delivers a keynote address

VOICE’s 15th-year anniversary Gala at the Center for Education at Wolf Trap last week was nothing short of extraordinary, with 300 VOICE leaders and allies coming together for an unforgettable celebration of our journey, achievements, and the unwavering spirit that defines VOICE.

From an inspiring panel discussion on the state of American democracy to the captivating keynote address delivered by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Eugene Robinson, the evening was a testament to the power of unity and the impact we can make when we stand together.

VOICE leaders getting DOWN on the dance floor!

As we basked in the memories of a night filled with laughter, dance, and profound insights, we also took a moment to honor the legacies of three remarkable individuals who have played pivotal roles in shaping VOICE: Rev. Clyde Ellis, Rev. Linda Olson-Peebles, and Robert Buckman.