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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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