Staff

Larry Almarode

Executive Director

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Larry has been a part of Friends 4 Recovery in some role or another since the Spring of 2011. Larry joined Friends 4 Recovery as a Member after his last stay in the CSU (Crisis Stabilization Unit)...

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Learn More About Larry

Larry has been a part of Friends 4 Recovery in some role or another since the Spring of 2011. Larry joined Friends 4 Recovery as a Member after his last stay in the CSU (Crisis Stabilization Unit) in Richmond where he had visited for the 4th time in just under 18 months. Larry has been diagnosed with Bipolar, Major Depression, Generalized Anxiety Disorder and a few other Medicaid billable codes. Through hard work, self-management and lots of time working on Mindfulness meditation, Larry was released from care in 2013 and worked with his medical professionals to become medication-free since. His exposure to meeting other folks with lived experience inspired Larry to pursue opportunities to advocate and work for the expansion of Peer Support services in Virginia.

He served as Executive Director of Friends 4 Recovery from 2012-14 and went on to work for Arlington County CSB as part of a PCBHI (Primary Care Behavioral Health Initiative) grant from SAMHSA as a Peer Health Navigator where he facilitated WHAM and other recovery related classes in multiple peer environments. He went from there to work with Magellan of Virginia as a Peer Navigator on the GAP (Governor’s Access Program) program in Virginia. Larry was part of the team that developed the standards for their Warmline. Larry quit smoking after 30 years and started vaping. Larry hasn’t touched a cigarette in 2 years. This inspired him to open up an eliquid manufacturing company which provided product to 5 stores in Virginia and North Carolina. He closed his company in August, 2015 due to extraordinary FDA regulations. Larry returned to Friends 4 Recovery as a Board Member in December 2015 and was rehired as Executive Director in March, 2017.

Other contributions Larry has made to the Peer Community is serving as a Peer on the Virginia BHAC (Behavioral Health Advisory Council) as Secretary and Member since 2013 and serving as a Subject Matter Expert for IC&RC in the development of the International Peer Support Certification test. He is a trained WRAP facilitator, DBHDS Tot of Peer Recovery Specialist in the state of Virginia, International Peer Recovery Support Specialist and Certified Peer Recovery Support Specialist in Louisiana. He has taken several other Recovery oriented trainings as well.

Larry loves Chihuahua’s, good food, time spent with friends and family and does his best to live life moment by moment.

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Maria Howk

Peer Navigator

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Maria has been with Friends 4 Recovery since April 2017 as a volunteer wellness coach and in September 2017 started working as a Peer Navigator.

I started my Journey of recovery on June 19, 2016.I remember...

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Learn More About Maria

Maria has been with Friends 4 Recovery since April 2017 as a volunteer wellness coach and in September 2017 started working as a Peer Navigator.

I started my Journey of recovery on June 19, 2016.I remember this date clearly because it was my last day in the grips of my drug addiction. I lost everything I ever cared about and most of all I lost myself. I self-medicated with street drugs for 10 years. I thought drugs would fix my manic depression and anxiety. I never felt like I belonged and just couldn’t fit in with other kids in school. I was a loner and stayed to myself. I got bullied a lot for my weight and the way I looked, so at the age of 13 I started starving myself, exercising, wearing a lot of makeup, and changed my outfits.

I got introduced to weed and alcohol and felt like it fixed my problems and I finally fit in somewhere. At the age of 17 I got into doing heroin and later on crack-cocaine. I thought everything was great, until I started feeling suicidal and getting in trouble. I’ve been to the pyschward 5 times and been to jail 6 times.

It wasn’t until my last time in jail, I knew I needed to do something different. I was sick and tired of feeling sick and tired, so when I got out of jail, I moved from Richmond to Hopewell and started over. I started going to Narcotics Anonymous meetings every day. I was later introduced to Peer Support at Friends 4 Recovery. I didn’t know what I was getting into, I just know at that time in my recovery I was dealing with Chronic Back pain and was isolating myself a lot. Though I was clean from drugs I was miserable in pain.

I started volunteering a little bit just to get out the house. I started attending peer support group and other classes Friends 4 Recovery had. Although I was in pain, I started to feel a little hopeful. My friend said I would be a good Peer Support Specialist and encouraged me to take the course. I eventually did and I loved it. I never would have dreamed about sharing my experience, strength and hope with others and helping them.

My whole life is revolved around recovery and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m so glad I found recovery, I can do things that I enjoy doing that keeps me well.

I love fishing, going to the beach or pool tanning and swimming. I love listening to music to help soothe my mind. My favorite animals are White tigers and cats. I like getting artwork inked on my body to remind me of who I am. Shopping and going to the gym on rainy days is a must. My favorite restaurant is Texas Roadhouse! My life is full of gratitude, I am accepted for who I am and finally found somewhere I belong. To anyone who is suffering in silence, there is another way.

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Mina Padilla

Hispanic Peer and Outreach Coordinator

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My name is Guillermina Padilla , I'm originally from Honduras, and moved to Richmond V A in 2001. I'm a Social Worker with many years of experience. I been working for Friends 4 Recovery since...

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Learn More About Mina

My name is Guillermina Padilla , I'm originally from Honduras, and moved to Richmond V A in 2001. I'm a Social Worker with many years of experience. I been working for Friends 4 Recovery since January 2013, my main purpose is to assist the Hispanic Community, providing help and support to the unique situation my peers may find themselves in. My priority is to make everyone feel welcome. Friends 4 Recovery is a haven, where people can open up with out judgment, finding themselves in the process to solving and overcoming their problems. Education

Peer Recovery Specialist Appalachian Consulting Training Program. Phlebotomy Técnica Medical Educators LLC. Peer Wellness Training Friends 4 Recovery. Services for the Elderly in the family and the Community. Mashav, Monte Carmel Haifa Israel. Bachelor Degree Social Worker. Honduras National Autonomous University. Personal Interest. Family, church, Historical and Astronomy documentaries, Instrumental Music.

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Leslie Williams

Peer Navigator

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Leslie Williams joined Friends 4 Recovery as a Peer Navigator in May of 2018 after volunteering at the center for 6 months.

I started my journey on the road to recovery in Dec of 2016 after a...

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Learn More About Leslie

Leslie Williams joined Friends 4 Recovery as a Peer Navigator in May of 2018 after volunteering at the center for 6 months.

I started my journey on the road to recovery in Dec of 2016 after a suicide attempt that left me hospitalized and forced a diagnosis of Major Depression and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I found the Peer Recovery Movement thru NAMI and became a certified group facilitator. I Co-facilitate a connections group at Friends 4 Recovery. With several certifications under my belt, I am currently working to become a Certified Peer Recovery Specialist.

Work history includes 30 years of Retail Management ranging from Assistant Store Manager up to District Manager of 20 stores. My work history has given me a lot of experience dealing with people of all kinds and helped me mask my own personal mental health challenges. I have learned thru my own recovery that a person’s mental wellness is the most important part of a person’s career. I might have had a different outcome if the companies I worked for focused more on their employee’s mental wellness than the bottom line.

My interests now include family, church and giving back to our community whereas before it was all WORK, WORK, WORK!

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