Awareness 2 Action Podcast Promotes Wellness

By Rebecca Maynard

Substance misuse and mental illness rates have risen as people deal with the additional challenges of the pandemic. But there is hope for those who are seeking help: The Northwestern Community Services Board (NWCSB) Prevention Department, helps people through life’s challenges with quality behavioral health services guided by principles of respect, recovery, and self-determination.

The Prevention Department has had a mission for the past 30 years to prevent substance misuse and suicide and to promote mental wellness in the Lord Fairfax Planning District, which includes Clarke County. The Department utilizes evidence-based programs, practices and strategies targeting concerns identified by needs assessments and using the Strategic Prevention Framework as its guide. An emphasis is placed on community collaboration and mobilization, enabling groups to be brought together for the benefit of the community. Find more information at

The Department has launched a new podcast, titled Awareness 2 Action, which focuses on promoting wellness in the Shenandoah Valley through conversation, connection and action. The podcast highlights the stories of individuals who are making a difference in their communities and it dives into how their life experiences have impacted their work. 

The most recent episode featured Kym Laube, Executive Director of HUGS, Inc. (Human Understanding Growth Services, Inc.), located in Westhampton Beach, New York. Kym shares parts of her story, the passion she brings to her work, and the foundational belief that strong, healthy, caring connections can powerfully impact individuals and communities. “If we really begin to create opportunities for (young people) to meaningfully engage and feel connected … and feel that the adults in the community are rallying around them and have their back, then that really begins to create an environment where young people can thrive,” Laube says in the podcast.

Other guests from Season 1 have included Miss America Camille Schrier, local Peer Recovery Specialist Jimeca Iyomere, and Keith Cartwright, behavioral health wellness consultant at Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services. 

Casey Dwyer, host of Awareness 2 Action says, “Launching the podcast has been such an exciting experience. It’s inspiring and encouraging to connect with individuals who are going above and beyond for their communities. I think it’s also a special experience for our guests to have the opportunity to share their stories and knowledge with listeners who are eager to be involved in their own communities.”

Fans of the podcast can contact Shannon Urum, Prevention Services Coordinator, at They can also follow the department on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @LordFairfaxYRA to stay up to date with the latest from Awareness 2 Action.

Awareness 2 Action is available on all major platforms. If you are new to podcasts, you can also listen on a computer or tablet. 

To listen, visit:
Apple Podcasts:
Google Podcasts: 
Spotify: 5SerD2gMGgoHECaFOuPJlZ
Amazon Music/Audible:

NWCS offers an array of outpatient, case management, day support, residential and emergency programs that are designed to enhance the quality of life for both children and adults affected by emotional/behavioral disorders, mental illness, substance use, and intellectual disabilities and developmental disabilities (ID/DD). They specialize in rehabilitative and family support services for individuals with such long-term challenges as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression, addiction, and those with significant impairments from ID/DD. New referrals are screened for appropriateness and, depending upon capacity/need for service requested, may require placement on a waiting list.

NWCS also provides 24-hour emergency evaluation, short-term treatment and hospital referral to individuals having mental health, emotional, substance use, or behavioral crises that pose a safety risk to themselves or others. If you are seeking general information, services or appointments, please contact the Winchester Area Clinic at 540-667-8888. If you are experiencing a mental health emergency, please call 540-635-4804 or 800-342-1462. After regular office hours when centers are closed, access to their professional emergency staff is available through Concern Hotline at 540-667-0145.