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Press Release | March 29, 2023

SAFE Project and RISE TOGETHER Partner to Bring Engaging Presentation on Substance Use and Mental Health to Local School Community

Media Contact:
Mike LaBrie
Director of Communications, SAFE Project

ARLINGTON, VA – On March 9, 2023, SAFE Project and RISE TOGETHER partnered to bring an impactful presentation to students at Yorktown High School in Arlington, VA. The presentation focused on substance use, mental health, wellness, and stories of loss, and was designed to genuinely speak to youth on their own level.

Unlike typical “drug assemblies” of the past, this presentation ignited the power of storytelling, breaking the silence and acknowledging the addiction and mental health epidemic as being real and impacting each and every person.

The realities of individual, personal journeys of active addiction, deep valleys of mental health struggles, and the hope-inspired truths of a life of recovery captivated the audience. Over 2,000 students, as well as faculty and parents, were engaged during the presentation, and many continued the conversation at follow-up events later that same day and into the following weeks.

Ronna Yablonski, Senior Director of SAFE Choices at SAFE Project, stated, “In our debut collaborative event, over one thousand students stood up together, shoulder to shoulder, unified as a force of change. It was one of the most powerful moments in my twenty plus years in the field. By coming together, we elevate our common mission: the prioritization and advancement of substance use prevention and the promotion of positive mental health for our youth.”

For founding member Anthony Alvarado, as well as Executive Director Nadine Machkovech, the new “We Are Not Alone Tour” is both a celebration of ten years for RISE TOGETHER, as well as a celebration of a new partnership with SAFE Project.

“Since inception, I have aspired to create partnerships with organizations that genuinely want to make a difference in young people’s lives,” said Alvarado. “We recently kicked off our ‘We Are Not Alone Tour’ with our new partners at SAFE Project, educating over 2,000 students by empowering them to take action in their own lives. Now students are speaking out against stigma, creating change projects within their schools, and learning new ways to help their peers. It’s visible that we are making a difference in our next generation of leaders – together.”

“With the rising need for youth mental health support and substance use education, I am pleased to have partners like SAFE Project that allow us to extend our capacity and provide additional resources and programming that will enable us to better serve young people beyond the stage and, in turn, create a more significant impact,” said Machkovech.

SAFE Project and RISE Together – both 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations – are committed to continuing this important work and bringing these messages to more communities across the country. Schools are able to request this presentation for students and parents in their own community at

For more information on SAFE Project and RISE TOGETHER, please visit their websites at and