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ConnectVA Spotlight: Chris Beach, Executive Director, Relationship Foundation of Virginia

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Chris Beach and I am the Executive Director of the Relationship Foundation of Virginia.  I have been in the nonprofit field for 6 1/2 years.  I have worked for Big Brothers Big Sisters and FRIENDS Association for Children.  Prior to my work in the nonprofit field, I was a teacher for 12 years at the elementary and middle school levels.

What is the focus of your work, the need you are addressing?

The Relationship Foundation of Virginia recognizes that the strength of our community and the future of our commonwealth lies in the health of the family.  When our families and relationships are healthy, life is richer and more fun.  Without strong, lasting relationships, life can be harder, feel emptier and lead to more challenges – not only for us, but our communities.  As our name suggests, we are dedicated to building the fundamental element of strong communities; healthy relationships and families.

For youth, we deliver programs that teach self-respect and respect for others.  For individuals single or in long-term relationship and marriages – we lead engaging programs to create awareness and provide the practical tools to pursue and sustain strong relationships.  For new and expecting dads, we equip them with the skills to be active, committed fathers for life.  We provide all with the confidence and strength to thrive.

By understanding the complexity and joys of relationships, we help everyone we serve be more successful, which makes our community a better place to live.

What do you find most rewarding about your work?

I am actually living out my life through my work.  I still get to go into the schools and teach children, which is truly my passion.  As a father to four boys, I can speak to new dads from years of experience as a father while learning from other great dads.  Being married to my best friend and wife for nearly 15 years, I can help couples slow down and take time for each other, not to mention it forces me and my wife to do the same.  I get to do things at work which help me in my real life.  It doesn’t get more rewarding than that!

What are some major challenges you have faced and how you handled them?

As an organization, we are seeing over 200 dads per year through our programs.  However, these are dads that know about us.  To make a true impact on our community, we need to reach new populations of dads that do not realize that we can be a resource for them.  In partnership with RVA Promise Neighborhood and Peter Paul Development Center, we are offering our Boot Camp for New Dads program to soon-to-be dads in the East End who may not otherwise have access to the hospitals in which we offer the program.  By offering free tuition, transportation and lunch, we are giving these dads every opportunity to learn from veteran dads and give them the peace of mind that although fatherhood is not easy, they can do it.

 

What would someone be surprised to know about your organization?

Many people think that our organization is just for married people.  In reality, everyone is in a relationship and we strive to meet people wherever they are. Whether you are a teenager thinking about dating, a couple that is just starting out or a dad that is raising your new child alone, we are here to help.  Our goal is to become the trusted leader for relationship in the entire state.

 

Do you have any interesting initiatives or programs on the horizon?

We just finished our second program of Inside/Out Dad in Chesterfield County Jail.  This is an evidence-based program which provides incarcerated fathers with the opportunity to learn from other fathers in their position while providing lessons that will help them to make educated decisions about how they will father when they are released.  The goal of this program is to re-connect the inmates with their children while they are incarcerated so they do not recidivate when they are let out.  We are excited because due to the success of the program in Chesterfield, we will be offering this course in Henrico County jails as well.

Is your organization involved in any exciting collaborations or partnerships?

We are always excited to partner with other nonprofit organizations as it helps both organizations reach more people and further our individual missions.  This summer we are partnering with multiple nonprofits for our Date Nights.  In June, we are offering a Date Night titled Dance and Romance.  This is a free date night in partnership with Dancing Classrooms Greater Richmond where couples will learn how to cha cha and better communicate as a couple.

In July, we are partnering with Escape Room RVA and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts to offer Art of Communication.  This will be an evening where you will put your communication skills to the test as search for the clues to solve the puzzle as you enjoy one of the greatest collections of art in the United States.

In August, we will be partnering with Richmond Metro Habitat for Humanity offering a Day Date called Building a Strong Foundation where couples will help with a local build and learn ways to strengthen their relationship.  We are already working with other groups such as Richmond Animal League and Jacob’s Chance to plan date nights for the fall.

If any organizations have a great idea for a fun date night, let us know, we are always willing to make it happen!

 

How are you leveraging ConnectVA/The Community Foundation to achieve your mission?

The Community Foundation is always offering great enrichment opportunities for nonprofit workers to sharpen their skills.  Personally, I just finished the 10th cohort of the Emerging Nonprofit Leaders Program which I will use as I continue to grow as a leader of my organization.

We are also excited to be one of the program providers for TCF’s youth leadership program NextUp.  We have taken part in the past two sessions and look forward to taking part in the fall.

I am also very excited that I was chosen as a recipient of the Stettinius Nonprofit Leadership Award.  I will use this scholarship to continue my education in the nonprofit sector and strengthen my leadership abilities to become a greater advocate for stronger families in our state.

I hope that people reading this article will take the time and learn more about our organization and reach out to see how we can make our community a better place for our families.

Anything else you would like to share?

I hope that people reading this article will take the time and learn more about our organization and reach out to see how we can make our community a better place for our families.

I love starting new relationships with other people, businesses and nonprofits.  If you would like to learn more about what we do and want to share what you do, email me (chris@rfva.org) and let me treat you to a cup of coffee.  The more we know about what is out there, the stronger we are as a whole.  Let’s @getrelational RVA!

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ConnectVA Spotlight: Emily O’Keefe, Domestic/Sexual Violence Coordinator, Goochland Free Clinic and Family Services

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Emily O’Keefe, and I work as the Domestic/Sexual Violence (DSV) Coordinator at Goochland Free Clinic and Family Services (GFCFS), whose mission is to provide access to health care and basic human services to Goochland residents in need.

I started my work in human services in a crisis stabilization unit. After getting my MSW, I was a case manager and then program manager working with individuals released from jail or prison.  My work with GFCFS focuses on trauma informed care for survivors of DSV.

ABOVE: A video about the mission and programs of GFCFS.

 

What is the focus of your work?

Our DSV Program focuses on trauma informed care for survivors of domestic and/or sexual violence by supporting them during the transition from an abusive relationship. This includes giving them space to make the decision to leave or get resources. We advocate for survivors during the court process to provide support and information.  We also can provide emergency housing and direct counseling.

 

What do you find most rewarding about your work?

It is very rewarding to help someone during the most difficult point in his or her life.  Making sure survivors are safe and seeing them take the next step are perhaps the greatest rewards.  Clients are grateful for the help we offer, but in the end, I am thankful to be able to provide that support.

What are some major challenges you have faced and how you handled them?

DSV is a difficult field to work in due to the stressful nature of the client’s story.  Being in the midst of trauma can be scary and draining.  As a DSV social worker I take self-care very seriously making sure that I have a professional familiar with DSV to talk to, that I set boundaries, and that I nurture life outside of the organization.

I have two amazing dogs that mean the world to me. I have a secret beach on the James we go to play; they love to swim. It’s my safe place.  I also draw/collage and make what some consider art. I love to cook things and try to find recipes specific to different countries or culture. I make an amazing borscht.

What would someone be surprised to know about GFCFS?

People are always surprised at how many services GFCFS offers to our community. In addition to the Domestic/Sexual Violence Program, GFCFS has a holistic approach to health care with 11 programs including medical, dental and mental health care, food, clothing, home repair, emergency housing, financial assistance, medical transportation and case management.  Our goal is to provide a “one stop shop” for clients, because we are located in a rural community with limited access to transportation.

 

Do you have any interesting initiatives or programs on the horizon?

As a result of the All.Here.Now. Capital Campaign, we are building a new building that will house all of our programs.  Having all programs under one roof will help further our goal of providing holistic care for our clients. In the DSV Program we hope to initiate a Women’s Empowerment Group.  I am also excited about expanding volunteer opportunities.  We will be conducting a second series of DSV training sessions and expanding how volunteers can get involved in this prog

GFCFS seeks to raise $7.1 million, which includes about $5.6 million for construction of a 20,000-square-foot facility that will provide space for 11 programs currently offered at three separate sites. A $1.5 million endowment to ensure future operations is also included in the campaign. A groundbreaking was held on March 21 at the site, 3001 River Road West. It will combine critical assistance programs including medical and dental clinics, a food pantry, and an initiative to provide clothing to those in need. The existing main building at this location will be converted into emergency housing. The new building (photo rendering on bottom) is anticipated to be finished in winter 2017. Read more here: http://richmondmagazine.com/news/news/news-west-of-richmond-henrico-goochland-may-2017/

Is your organization involved in any exciting collaborations or partnerships?

This semester we have had the opportunity to facilitate a portion of the health curriculum at Goochland High School. We worked with freshman and sophomore students to define healthy relationships, discuss teen dating violence, how to access resources, but most importantly how to set and respect boundaries in relationships. It was a lot of fun and the students were excellent.

How are you leveraging ConnectVA/The Community Foundation to achieve your mission?

Currently, we have a job opening posted on ConnectVA!  If you or someone you know is a good candidate for an LCSW position with an emphasis on trauma informed care, please see the position description on ConnectVa.

Also, I applied for this position through ConnectVA, Thanks ConnectVA, I love my job! The Community Foundation is a strong partner with GFCFS. Sheltering Arms and Jenkins Foundations provided support from the start for the Free Clinic. Our staff has benefited from their development workshops- topics ranging from case management to grant writing to Excel.

Anything else you would like to share?

Although our Domestic/Sexual Violence Program is fairly new, we have seen success.  We have worked with many women who have experienced severe sexual and domestic trauma from a very young age. We have been able to see some of them transition into independent housing for the first time in their lives. Even though the daily stories are horrific and scary, I am consistently reminded how strong and resilient the human spirit can be. I am impressed by how survivors have had the courage and ability to keep themselves alive and seek resources. It is very encouraging. To find out more about GFCFS, please go to GoochlandCares.org.  If you or someone you know needs help, our 24/7 hotline number is 804-980-6267.

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ConnectVA Spotlight: Eric Drumheller, Director of Client Benefits and Special Projects, RRSI

Tell us about yourself.

Hi, my name is Eric Drumheller and I am the Director of Client Benefits and Special Projects at Richmond Residential Services, Inc.   I truly enjoy being a part of RRSI and its mission to provide person-centered care to people with intellectual disabilities, focusing on the whole individual, while encouraging choice, growth and community participation.  I am a native Virginian and a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University.  I have been working with nonprofit organizations for the past 17 years.

RRSI owns and maintains several group homes located in quality neighborhoods, which are easily accessible and designed with their clients in mind.

What is the focus of your work?

I am responsible for the Representative Payee Program which provides financial management for the Social Security and SSI payments of beneficiaries who are not able to manage their benefits due to a disability.  We work with area social service agencies such as Virginia Supportive Housing, the Daily Planet, as well as Community Service Boards in Richmond, Henrico, Chesterfield, Hanover and Petersburg to help identify individuals who need support with managing their benefits.

What do you find most rewarding about your work?

One of the most rewarding parts about my work is our clients.   An initial step we take in helping someone manage their benefits is to work together to develop a budget.   That budget changes many of our clients’ understanding of their benefits and where their money was going previously.    It is truly rewarding when a client can now afford their housing and has money for other needs as well.

RRSI began partnering with local Social Services agencies who work with the homeless population.   It has been very rewarding to become part of a team to help someone live in permanent, safe and affordable housing.

What are some major challenges you have faced and how you handled them?

I think our major challenge today is the current political climate. Everyday seems to bring change – good or bad that impacts just about everyone.  We hear from our clients who are worried about their health care benefits through Medicaid and Medicare.  We hear from other nonprofits who, like us, are concerned about changes in funding.  We are impacted by any HUD funding reductions which could restrict access to affordable housing for people with disabilities.  We are concerned about changes to Medicaid in Virginia and how that will impact the services we provide.

At RRSI we are faced with these challenges but through our strong Board and Senior Management Team, we work towards being resilient to change.  Our Board members are a wonderful team of leaders who look to the future and the changing environment to help us plan ahead.  As part of the Senior Management Team we believe that through advocacy and working with other non-profits and political leaders we can continue our mission to provide person-centered support to individuals with intellectual disabilities.

Do you have any interesting initiatives or programs on the horizon?

We are advisers to a client-lead self-advocacy group called the Four Seasons.  This group meets monthly to discuss issues of concern to individuals with intellectual disabilities, e.g., healthy relationships, good listening, and bullying, and sponsors dances and other community events.  RRSI is hosting a Walk-a-thon on June 24th to raise funds for this great program that is open to anyone with an intellectual disability and who is interested in learning about advocacy and advocating for others.

 

Is your organization involved in any exciting collaborations or partnerships?

We have partnered with three universities, Virginia Commonwealth University, Longwood College and the University of Phoenix, to provide internships to students in the Social Work programs.   We have also partnered with a wonderful organization here in Richmond called Partnership for the Future.  PFF provides high-potential high school students from challenging circumstances in the metro-Richmond area with tools and experience necessary to attain a college degree.   This has been a great learning experience for the school and the students but also for our agency staff and clients.  We look forward to continuing this partnership for years to come.

 

Eric speaks to a group of young nonprofit professionals about his experience in the Emerging Nonprofit Leaders Program.

 

How are you leveraging ConnectVA/The Community Foundation to achieve your mission?

ConnectVA is a valuable tool to help us find additional resources, workshops and other professional development classes for our staff.  I completed the Emerging Nonprofit Leaders Program (ENLP) in 2013. That training was and continues to be a vital learning opportunity in my own leadership development.  I am currently in the Alumni class of that program, Transforming RVA, which exposes us to transformational leadership through lectures by and discussions with many local leaders who are making a remarkable difference in Richmond.

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ConnectVA Spotlight: Megan Rollins, President and CEO, Boaz & Ruth

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Megan Rollins and I’m the President/CEO of Boaz & Ruth. I grew up in Richmond and attended Mary Baldwin College, now Mary Baldwin University. I have been with Boaz & Ruth for 10 years starting as the volunteer coordinator and have had the opportunity to learn about nonprofit management when opportunities through staff transition took place over the years.

Located along a four-block section of the Meadowbridge Road commercial corridor, Boaz & Ruth’s six social enterprises are designed to achieve both financial and social returns.

What is the need you’re trying to address? 

Our mission is to rebuild lives and communities through relationships, training, transitional jobs and economic revitalization.  We primarily serve returning citizens who are looking for an opportunity to rebuild their lives. We run a national, biblically based curriculum, Jobs for Life, to help our participants understand God has a plan for their life which includes meaningful work that provides dignity and hope for the future.

 

What do you find most rewarding about your work? 

The most rewarding part of my job is the relationships with participants, graduates, staff and community members; especially participants who are putting in the work to create a different future for themselves. In addition I get to work with graduates and staff who are dedicated and hardworking who show me every day what it looks like to live by faith.

 

What are some major challenges you have faced and how you handled them?

Over the past four years we have been focused on financial stability to ensure we are here to serve people and our community for another 15 years. To do this the board had to make hard decisions that have paid off. We focused on increasing income, decreasing expenses and leveraging partnerships. This meant temporarily suspending programs and a reduction in staff. What remained was a core group of graduates, staff and board members who rolled up their sleeves and went to work in a new way with a renewed commitment to serving returning citizens. We just finished a strategic plan focusing on program redesign which is exciting, providing us with new energy and reaching out to build new partnerships.

 

What’s one misconception the public has about your organization? 

I think most people thought we were on a slow march toward closing. Thankfully many people and organizations have been supportive of the change management work we have done and are now in the renewing stage of a nonprofits lifecycle.

Richard Huff, April 2017 Jobs for Life graduate

Do you have any interesting initiatives or programs on the horizon? 

We are working on program redesign and are building new partnerships. At one time, Boaz & Ruth was the trainer and employer for participants. We are now looking for partners to provide part time, transitional employment for participants in select industries including food service, maintenance, janitorial and construction. We are also strengthening data collection and measurements.

 

Tell us more about the partnerships and collaborations you are involved in.

Storefront for Community Design came to us in 2015 with an idea for a youth innovation center in Highland Park that specifically serves high school youth. Storefront pulled together Saving Our Youth, GroundworkRVA and ART180 to apply for the The Robins Foundation Community Innovation Grant. With the support of Virginia LISC they won the second place grant in December of 2015. This led to the 6 Points Innovations Center (6PIC for short).

With a focus on re-entry and being strategic in our partnerships Boaz & Ruth recognizes the need for multiple interruption points in the cycle of poverty, we see the 6PIC nonprofits as partners in interruption. We were excited to leverage our assets and provide a space for collaboration between four strong nonprofits. To that end, 6 Points Innovation Center’s ribbon cutting ceremony is scheduled for June 6th.

Storefront for Community Design, Saving Our Youth and Groundwork RVA will be headquartered along the Meadowbridge corridor providing presence and innovative programing for high school students who live in Highland Park and attend John Marshall, Community, Franklin Military and Armstrong High Schools.

 

Six Points Innovation Center (6PIC) is a newly renovated 4,000 square-foot building located at 3001 Meadowbridge Road in Highland Park that is a safe, fully- programmed teen center where neighborhood youth have access to innovative programming in the arts, urban ecology, education assistance, public media, public history, and advocacy.  As an engaging hub of community revitalization, youth activity and non-profit collaboration, 6PIC fills a gap in afterschool programming, providing resources , and education for neighborhood teens, while encouraging them to become Changemakers for their community.

 

How are you leveraging ConnectVA to achieve your mission?

We receive ConnectVA’s daily email communications and look for training opportunities for staff and graduates. It helps us to remain up to date on nonprofit news.

 

 

Anything else you would like to share? 

Like every other nonprofit we are always looking for new board members and partners. In addition, we have multiple spaces we make available to nonprofit and community partners for meetings.

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ConnectVA Spotlight: Beth Vann-Turnbull, Housing Families First

Tell us about yourself. My name is Beth Vann-Turnbull and I’m the Executive Director of Housing Families First. I’m a native of Virginia and attended the University of Richmond. I have spent the past 20+ years working in nonprofit organizations in Georgia and Virginia, specifically in smaller nonprofits that provide housing and healthcare opportunities for underserved families.

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ConnectVA Spotlight: Heather Conner, Virginia Hemophilia Foundation (VHF)

Tell us about yourself. My name is Heather Conner and I serve as the Program and Communication Director for the Virginia Hemophilia Foundation (VHF). I moved to Richmond in the 90’s to attend VCU. I started off studying Anthropology and along the way met many Religious Studies professors that captured my attention; so much so that I stuck around, took more classes and ended up with a double major. A year of service with AmeriCorps solidified my passion for serving the community and in a roundabout way led to the work that I do today as Program and Communication Director for the Virginia Hemophilia Foundation.

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ConnectVA Spotlight: Lisette Johnson, YWCA Richmond

Tell us about yourself. I am Lisette Johnson, YWCA Richmond's Healthcare Navigator, supporting survivors of domestic violence requiring assistance with a range of healthcare needs. Prior to my role at YWCA Richmond, I served as a volunteer hospital advocate for survivors in the emergency room through the community collaborative Regional Hospital Accompaniment Response Team (R-HART). I most recently served at VCU Health as an advocate for patients experiencing intimate partner violence and assisted in health care provider domestic violence screening training. I was also the Trauma Survivors Network patient liaison. I am a survivor of an attempted partner homicide/suicide and have served on various metro Richmond domestic violence task forces. I am an active voice for legislation to reduce violent injuries and homicide, and have testified for passage of landmark laws before the Virginia General Assembly and United States House of Representatives.

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ConnectVA Spotlight: Vicki Yeroian, Programs Director, Podium RVA

Tell us about yourself. Hello. My name is Vicki Yeroian, and I am the Programs Director for Podium RVA, working within the Greater Richmond Metro area to provide reading, writing, and communication programs for middle and high school-aged youth. While attending VCU, I received the Scholarship for the Advancement of Women, the School of Social Work Social Justice Award, and spent time in leadership with the National Organization for Women. I graduated in 2013 with a BA in Political Science and Bachelor’s in Social Work. In 2014, I completed a Master’s in Social Work, and am currently working on my 120-hour certificate in Non-Profit Management.

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ConnectVA Spotlight: Wendy Austin, Friends of the Lower Appomattox River (FOLAR)

Tell us about yourself. My name is Wendy Austin and I have served as the Executive Director to Friends of the Lower Appomattox River (FOLAR) since January 2015. Prior to working with FOLAR, I worked in the Hopewell/Petersburg region for two nonprofit programs, as Director of Southside Community Partners and prior to that as Director of ConnectSouthside – a precursor to ConnectVA. Before that, I was a small business owner/operator of an independent retail bookstore in the Washington, D.C. area.

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ConnectVA Spotlight: Tyren Frazier, Higher Achievement

Tell us about yourself. My name is Tyren Frazier and I have had the privilege of serving as the Executive Director of Higher Achievement Richmond since August of 2013. I joined the Higher Achievement team in the summer of 2010, assisting to launch the organization in the Richmond community. Prior to Higher Achievement, I’ve had an extensive career with Boys & Girls Clubs across Virginia, most recently serving as the Executive Director in Kilmarnock, working in Richmond, and starting my career in Norfolk.

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