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Help Somebody Spotlight: Shandra Thompson, Director of Operations and Programs, Dress for Success Central Virginia

The Help Somebody Hall of Fame celebrates and recognizes good people doing good work in our RVA community.  We encourage our readers to nominate nonprofit staff, volunteers, board members and community members.  This month, we’re recognizing Shandra Thompson – a staff member at Dress for Success Central Virginia.

Dress for Success Central Virginia is best known for providing professional attire to women reentering the workforce but we are about much more than simply a new outfit. Besides physically equipping a woman with apparel and accessories, our programs furnish her with a confidence that she carries forever and the knowledge that she can actively define her life, the direction she takes and what success means to her.Support from our donors ensures we can continue to offer our wide range of programs to women striving for economic empowerment. Your financial contribution is an investment that will generate tremendous benefits not just for the women we serve and their families but also for your community.Visit centralvirginia.dressforsuccess.org to learn more about how we are empowering women around the world and how you can get involved. #DressforSuccess #CentralVirginia #RVA #womensempowerment #economicindependence

Posted by Dress for Success Central Virginia on Saturday, March 4, 2017

Shandra was nominated by Dress for Success Central Virginia’s Executive Director, Shantell Malachi.  Shantell told us, “When I think of ‘help’ her name is the first that comes to mind. She really is the embodiment of the empathy and selflessness that is necessary to move Dress for Success’ mission forward and impact the lives of the women we serve.  On a personal level Shandra has allowed me to grow as a leader. Most Executive Directors have to wear many hats but Shandra allows me to delegate, focus on my personal and professional goals, and be physically present in the community, while never having to worry that our clients aren’t being served.”

Read more about Shandra’s story:

How does Shandra demonstrate the spirit of the “Help Somebody Hall of Fame”?

Shandra serves as the Director of Operations and Programs for Dress for Success Central Virginia.  The mission of Dress for Success is to empower women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire and the development tools to help women thrive in work and in life.

As the Director of Operations and Programs, Shandra helps more than 250 women a year find appropriate professional attire and prepare for interviews. However, her empathy for her clients goes so much further than clothing and resumes. Shandra’s ability to establish personal relationships with each of her clients never ceases to amaze me.

Shandra serves women on such a high level because she cares to a degree that surpasses most people’s understanding. It’s hard to describe one time that she acted selflessly because it is embedded in her DNA.

Dress for Success clients can tell you that Shandra has helped them obtain emergency housing, restored their faith in God, healed emotional wounds, and provided a safe space for them physically and emotionally. She ministers to women outside of Dress for Success through her church and her business, New Beginnings Enterprises.

Shandra with Team Members from DFS

 

What is the impact of Shandra’s generosity? 

Because of her generosity she directly impacts the foundation of every family, the woman. She is helping women change the trajectory of their personal and professional lives through her service. She is lending a hand to fight against poverty by helping to heal the whole woman, not just a piece. It’s so refreshing to see someone give some much of themselves outside of the confines of 9-5.

Shandra with DFS Volunteers

About the Help Somebody Hall of Fame

The Help Somebody Hall of Fame is a platform to express gratitude for a person in the community who acts selflessly to improve the lives of others.  We want to share these stories in hope of inspiring more people in Greater Richmond to act with generosity.  There will be random drawing from those who are honored, and two honorees will select a nonprofit of their choice to receive $1000.  Read more about how to nominate someone here.

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Help Somebody Spotlight: Kris Folgner, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Richmond

How does Kris demonstrate the spirit of the “Help Somebody Hall of Fame”?  Kris serves as one of our House Volunteers at RMHC Richmond. Our House Volunteers help with the day to day tasks to keep our house operations running smoothly for up to 9 families to stay per night who have a child receiving medical treatment in Richmond. For the past 2 years, Kris has dedicated 3 hours every Wednesday to RMHC Richmond which has totaled in over 220 hours.

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Help Somebody Spotlight: Sam Baronian Jr., Board President, The READ Center

We love sharing stories and examples of people giving back in our community – investing their time, talent or treasure with local organizations.  Sam Baronian Jr. is a shining example of this and was selected to be inducted into the “Help Somebody Hall of Fame” for February 2018! Lisa Fitz-Coy, Marketing and Development Assistant for The READ Center nominated him, saying that he is a very “accessible and active” Board President.  Executive Director for the READ Center, Karen La Forge, agrees saying, “Sam is one of the most committed and caring Board members I have ever worked with. His greatest strength as a board member is his ability and willingness to connect READ to other organizations and individuals in the community for partnerships, funding and awareness.” Read more about Sam and his work with READ:

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Help Somebody Spotlight: Michelle Smith, World Pediatric Project

At the Community Foundation and ConnectVA, we are so excited to share more stories of individuals in our community lending a hand to help another through the Help Somebody Hall of Fame.  As in 2017, we are accepting nominations from the community at large and will highlight a compelling submission each month.  Once a quarter, we will select (at random) two people to receive a $1000 grant made in their name to give to a local nonprofit of their choosing.

This month we are highlighting Michelle Smith, a volunteer at World Pediatric Project.   World Pediatric Project (WPP) heals critically ill children and builds indigenous healthcare capacity in developing nations. Michelle was nominated anonymously by a WPP staff member, who says, Michelle is “one in a million” and wanted to thank her for her service.  Here’s more about Michelle’s incredible contributions to this local nonprofit and our community:

 

 How does Michelle demonstrate the spirit of the “Help Somebody Hall of Fame”?

Michelle is a volunteer for our organization and selflessly gives her time as though she were a full-time employee. If she is welcoming a new patient at the airport she will stay and wait for them even if their flight is delayed, or, if it starts snowing!

Michelle not only selflessly gives her time, she also gives her heart to the families we serve through her good humor and her friendly and open demeanor. Our families arrive from other countries scared and unsure. Michelle instantly makes them feel at ease. She warms them with her smile and interacts with their child as if they were her own – to the point she has been made a godmother many times over. If she knows a child is going to be having a birthday during their stay here, she will bring them to her house and throw a party. Similarly, she makes sure every child has a chance to experience Sweet Frog and other American wonders, like Walmart and Dollar Tree. No task is too big or too small for Michelle.

 

What is the impact of Michelle’s generosity?

Michelle’s impact goes beyond words and is further multiplied by the number of families she has touched. Michelle meets and assists with almost every single family for whom we facilitate surgical care in a year; that’s close to 50 children a year since 2010.

When she traveled to the Caribbean island of St. Vincent last year (where most of our patients are from) the patient families threw a party for her attending by at least 60 former patients with whom she had connected. Her kindness in some of their darkest moments with a child suffering from a major medical problem is not something they ever forget and something for which they continue to show gratitude and keep in touch with her over.

Michelle in St. Vincent at a party the families put on for her. There were about 50 families in attendance whose lives she had touched.

Michelle not only serves our organization selflessly, but does so in the rest of her life as well. When she met a young woman studying to be a doctor while traveling abroad, she invited her to live in her home for six months to learn English. She is the first one to take in any stray animal needing of a home. She also faithfully served the public school system for over 20 years as an art teacher. Michelle demonstrates her love and compassion for others in everything that she does.

We have a list of close to 400 volunteers, and Michelle’s dedication is unparalleled. She is the first to offer help and the last to go home at the end of the day. Our patients have needs 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. Michelle doesn’t shy away from late nights or early mornings, but rather always asks me “what can I do to help?” Our program would not be the same without her.

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Help Somebody Spotlight: Sara Fender, The Caring Clothes Closet

We are honored to have received (and are still receiving!) so many incredible nominations for the Help Somebody Hall of Fame. This week we are highlighting the work of Sara Fender, a passionate volunteer with a desire to make a difference and a great idea to fill a need she saw in the community. The person who nominated Sara, and wishes to remain anonymous, says that Sara is a true inspiration and leader. Read more about Sara’s story in October’s “Help Somebody Spotlight”:

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Help Somebody Spotlight: Allen Earehart, Volunteer, Goochland Free Clinic and Family Services

ConnectVA and The Community Foundation are excited to share another shining example of a great person doing great work in our community, through the Help Somebody Hall of Fame – meet, Allen Earehart, active volunteer and board member for Goochland Free Clinic and Family Services (GFCFS) ! Diane Reale, Director of Volunteer Resources for GFCFS, reached out to us to share more about the firm commitment and incredible impact Allen has in the Goochland community.

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Help Somebody Spotlight: Susan DeFazio, Founder and Director, Prevent A Litter

ConnectVA and The Community Foundation are excited to share another shining example of a great person doing great work in our community, through the Help Somebody Hall of Fame – meet, Susan DeFazio, Founder and Director of Prevent A Litter (P.A.L.)!

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Help Somebody Spotlight: Keri Treadway, Teacher, Richmond Public Schools

Keri is a first-grade teacher at Fox Elementary and has been with Richmond Public Schools for 14 years. Her dedication to her students and her city extends far beyond her day job, however.  She shows up, she organizes, she donates, she solicits support from local businesses, all in the name of the children she cares so deeply about.  Keri is a co-founder and organizer behind the “Support Richmond Public Schools” movement as well as “Building a Better RPS“.

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The Help Somebody Hall of Fame

NOMINATE SOMEONE WHO HELPS Have you witnessed someone selflessly going out of their way to improve the life of another?  Do you seek a simple way to recognize and commend them for their benevolence?  The Help Somebody Hall of Fame is a platform to express your gratitude for this person and share stories that may inspire others to act with generosity. A nonprofit organization could also receive $1000 in honor of the person you nominate (see below).

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Help Somebody Spotlight: Jocelyn Marencik, Founder, Got Tec! Richmond

We are honored to have received (and are still receiving!) so many incredible nominations for the Help Somebody Hall of Fame.  This week we are highlighting the work of a Sophomore Student from Deep Run High School – Jocelyn Marencik.  Jocelyn founded the initiative “Got Tec! Richmond” whose mission is to deliver needed technology equipment to underserved schools, teachers, and students in the Richmond area.  She was nominated by her proud father, Don.

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