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ConnectVA Spotlight: Heather Farber, Volunteer Coordinator, Greater Richmond Stop Child Abuse Now (SCAN)

Tell us about yourself. My name is Heather Farber and I am the Volunteer Coordinator for Richmond Court Appointed Special Advocates, a program of Greater Richmond Stop Child Abuse Now (SCAN). SCAN is working to prevent and treat child abuse and neglect in the Greater Richmond area through services that promote positive parenting, strengthen families and help create a community that values and cares for its children. Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) is a national organization and in 2009, Richmond CASA merged with Greater Richmond SCAN and became one of their five programs. CASA assigns volunteers to advocate for children who are involved in child abuse and neglect cases in the Richmond City Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court.

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ConnectVA Spotlight: Terence Barber, Prevention & Outreach Specialist, The James House

Tell us about yourself. My name is Terence Barber and I am the Prevention & Outreach Specialist for the James House. I have a B.A. in Mass Communications and a M.A. in Media Management from Virginia State University. Prior to starting this position in February, I worked with citizens in the community and helped connect them to resources that would assist them in becoming self-sufficient. I also planned community events and connected with other organizations to help provide services to those clients.

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ConnectVA Spotilght: Jess Burgess, Artistic and Executive Director, Dogtown Dance Theatre

Tell us about yourself. My name is Jess Burgess and I am the Artistic and Executive Director for Dogtown Dance Theatre. Dogtown is a nonprofit dance service organization that provides a home for all of Richmond’s independent performance artists. We seek to enliven our local community by fostering creative expression and education across diverse populations. I am also a choreographer, dancer, and dance instructor creating work and teaching dance across the state of Virginia.

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ConnectVA Spotlight: Janet Starke, Richmond Performing Arts Alliance

Tell us about yourself. My name is Janet Starke and I am the Executive Director for Richmond Performing Arts Alliance (formerly Richmond CenterStage Foundation). Our mission is to provide diverse local and world-class performing arts, transformative arts education experiences for all and inspirational venues—all to strengthen the cultural and economic vitality of the Greater Richmond region.

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ConnectVA Spotlight: Rex McCoy, project:HOMES

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Rex McCoy and I am the Weatherization Crew Leader at project:HOMES. I bring 26 years of construction experience to project:HOMES, and am a master tradesman of ten different trades.

ABOVE: A clip about the Weatherization Program from project:HOMES in partnership with Dominion EnergyShare.

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

project:HOMES is a 501(c)(3) housing nonprofit serving Central Virginia, and expanding to include areas in the Tidewater region. We offer comprehensive services that serve through the following programs:

  • Revitalization program that builds affordable housing to revitalize historic neighborhoods
  • Rehabilitation program that repair existing homes to preserve affordability
  • Renew Crew volunteer program that improves the safety and accessibility of existing houses through accessibility modifications
  • Weatherization programs that improve the energy efficiency of existing homes

As part of the Weatherization team, I provide energy efficiency improvements to cost-burdened households. A big part of what I do is educating homeowners on energy conservation techniques and home maintenance.

The work we provide increases the efficiency of a home, conserves energy resources, and provides savings to homeowners on their energy bills. Our goal is to increase the overall health of a home and the comfort of our clients.

 

What do you find most rewarding about your work?

The most rewarding thing about my work is the positive impact it has on the people we serve. I’m proud of the quality of work my team & I provide every day.

 

What would someone be surprised to know about your organization?

There is so much paperwork and certifications that go into serving one home! A lot of tests, reports, and overall paperwork are required before actual work can begin on a client’s home. Also, Weatherization staff have numerous qualifications and certifications required to complete our critical services.

ABOVE: This summer project:HOMES built a house in only 5 days with partners Philip Morris!

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

I am helping lead our efforts to strengthen our presence in rural communities like Amelia and Charles City. We are reaching out to local government leaders to discuss how to best meet area residents’ needs. Additionally, we are partnering with area organizations like Senior Connections to identify individuals and families in rural areas in need of services.

 

Is your organization involved in any exciting collaborations or partnerships?

Over the past few years we have had the opportunity to partner with Dominion Energy’s utility programs. At the end of the month we are completing an exciting project made possible through Dominion Energy’s support and volunteers for the McShin Foundation.  We are highlighting this project as a part of our year-long 25th anniversary celebrations. Visit www.projecthomes.org/25th-anniversary for a complete list of events.

 

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

The Community Foundation is a generous supporter of project:HOMES’ programs and services. ConnectVA has played a vital role in recruiting some of our staff, and is a resource for staying connected to local nonprofit news and events.

 Anything else you would like to share?

It’s a pleasure working at project:HOMES and with the people here.

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ConnectVA Spotlight: Rich Schultz, Executive Director, Smart Beginnings Greater Richmond

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Rich Schultz and I serve as Executive Director of Smart Beginnings Greater Richmond. We are a broad-based early childhood coalition with the vision that all children from birth through five in the Richmond Region will be healthy, well-cared for, and ready to succeed in school, work and life.

I began my career as a journalist, working for a weekly newspaper, The Shenandoah Valley-Herald, in Woodstock, Virginia in 1985 where I worked as a reporter and eventually became Editor and General Manager. I moved to the nonprofit sector in 1991 when I took a role as Community Director for the March of Dimes and relocated to Charlottesville. There I discovered my passion for nonprofit work when I took a job at the American Heart Association as an Area Director. My next career changing role came in 1995 when I joined the team at Meals on Wheels where I served as President and then became Senior Vice President of FeedMore in 2008.

In 2011, I became Chief Development Officer at United Way of Greater Richmond and Petersburg. In 2012, I became the Executive Director of SupportOne where I served until I came to Smart Beginnings Greater Richmond in 2015.

What is the focus of your work?

Smart Beginnings Greater Richmond is a nonprofit organization that works to unite parents, service providers, funders and other key community partners in education to ensure that every child in our region has the best chance for success.

We are a regional partnership of public and private organizations, businesses and individuals serving the cities of Richmond and Colonial Heights, as well as Charles City, Chesterfield, Goochland, Hanover, Henrico, New Kent, and Powhatan counties.

The mission of Smart Beginnings Greater Richmond is to lead the transformation of the early childhood system by building regional partnerships and capacity for change.

 

What do you find most rewarding about your work?

In my nonprofit career, I came to truly understand the importance of servant leadership and embraced a culture of values-based leadership in many of the organizations I’ve served. The most rewarding part of my current work with Smart Beginnings is the opportunity to bring together a wide and diverse network of partners to solve problems at a systems level. By working together – and across different sectors – we realize the strength in our diversity and the great assets we can leverage to create real and lasting change in our region.

 

Rich Schultz and Smart Beginnings staff pictured with Richmond City Council. On June 24th, 2017 each member of Richmond City Council was named as co-patrons of the resolution of support for the Regional Plan for School Readiness!

What’s a major challenge you have faced and how did you handle it?

As President of Meals on Wheels, we faced the tragic loss of our previous President to cancer. As I stepped into the role after her death, it was a pivotal moment in our history. The organization was not only working through that very difficult and emotional loss, but it was also embarking on a campaign to construct a Community Kitchen in partnership with the Central Virginia Foodbank.

We harnessed all the exceptional talent of our leadership teams, staff and volunteers to raise $7.8 million in the capital campaign to build the kitchen, which we dedicated to our former Meals on Wheels President. The Community Kitchen project ultimately led to the creation of FeedMore, the umbrella organization for Meals and Wheels and the Central Virginia Foodbank.

 

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

People can more easily grasp the work of our partners providing very important direct services for our community – such as child care programs, preschools or early intervention programs such as home visitation or parenting support.

Our work requires us to work at a different level – connecting these many different types of services and providers – to create change and innovation that creates a more connected and efficient system. That means bringing together policy makers, school division, health departments, social services and for profit and nonprofit providers who are all working within this birth to five system.

Smart Beginnings Greater Richmond provides the “glue” that brings all these systems together.

 

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

Last year, members of the Smart Beginnings Greater Richmond partnership came together to update the Regional Plan for School Readiness, recommitting to the 2010 vision that “all children from birth through five in the Richmond region will be healthy, well-cared for, and ready to succeed in school, work and in life.” Participants took stock of what had transpired since 2010 and charted a path forward to address the disparities and challenges faced by families with young children.

One of the strengths of the Smart Beginnings Greater Richmond partnership is its power as an organizing force. Its members share and advance a common purpose. The new Regional Plan will continue this history of success as it emphasizes children and families most in need. A child’s early years are too important not to invest in them, and this three-year plan provides a guide to where these investments are needed most.

The resulting Regional Plan for School Readiness 2017-2020 addresses the region as a whole and builds on the premise that a strong start for children of all incomes is good for the economic vitality and well-being of the region. The plan emphasizes children and families most in need. Its goals focus on areas where there are disparities between children of color and non-minority children, where school districts have not made progress, and where economic insecurity has increased the emotional, social, and physical barriers to accessing care.

Smart Beginnings will coordinate roles of its partners in execution of the plan, as well as initiatives the backbone organization will lead as the plan moves to implementation.

Here are just some of the key initiatives Smart Beginnings will lead in the new Regional Plan:

  • Business Innovation: Goal 4 of the plan focuses on strengthening both the workforce and organizations in the early childhood sector. Strong organizations need sustainable business models to ensure high quality and affordable early childhood services. Smart Beginnings is working closely with other partners in the community to establish the state’s first Shared Services Alliance among early care providers. This innovative model establishes a “Hub” organization to provide critical business functions for child care providers, allowing them to focus on delivering high-quality programs. It launched on July 10, 2017 – you can read more about the Richmond Area Service Alliance here.

Smart Beginnings is also working closely with local school divisions and private providers to pilot a mixed delivery preschool model, which brings together schools and the private sector to provide quality preschool in private settings. This model overcomes some of the most significant barriers to expanding public preschool –  space limitations and lack of local matching funds –  that inhibit expansion of public preschool to low-income families.

 

Is your organization involved in any exciting collaborations or partnerships?

A clear strength of the Smart Beginnings partnership is its power as an organizing force. Its members share and advance a common purpose.  More than 110 organizations were involved in the creation of the Regional Plan. Some key partners have already committed to taking on a leadership role in the execution of goal areas, and include: ChildSavers, Greater Richmond SCAN, Partnership for Families and Peter Paul Development Center/Richmond Promise Neighborhoods.

In addition, we have partnerships with local schools, museums, libraries, health departments, and the extensive private provider network serving families and children in our region. Together we are working to ensure that all our region’s children arrive to school ready to learn and ready for life.

Smart Beginnings worked closely with partners to establish a Richmond Area Service Alliance among early childhood providers in Greater Richmond. This innovative model established a “Hub” organization to provide critical business functions for child care providers, allowing them to focus on delivering high-quality programs.

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

The new Regional Plan for School Readiness 2017-2020 aligns closely with The Community Foundation’s Educational Success Logic ModelThe Community Foundation’s vision that children begin school ready to learn and are supported academically and socially throughout their educational experience captures the essence of the new Regional Plan for School Readiness 2017-2020.

Anything else you would like to share?

Since the first Regional Plan was launched in 2010, Smart Beginnings has increased public awareness, leveraged new resources for quality services, and built strong cross-sector representation and relationships. Smart Beginnings partners have developed a shared agenda focusing on service delivery and system change, cultivated trust and better communication within the provider network, and served as a bridge between schools, localities, and programs. The Regional Plan for School Readiness 2017–2020 takes into account the region’s past successes and focuses attention where action is most needed.

We’d like to invite members of the community who are interested in partnering with Smart Beginnings and its early childhood coalition to contact us to learn more. Visit www.smartbeginningsrva.org to learn more about how you can get involved!

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ConnectVA Spotlight: Molly Smith, Volunteer Program Manager, CrossOver Healthcare Ministry

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Molly Smith and I was born in Cincinnati, Ohio and graduated from St. Louis University in Missouri with a B.A. in History. I then moved to Puerto Rico, where my husband and I established a family. During my 15 years on the island, I learned the language and developed a deep appreciation for the culture. I miss being able to spend a random day in Old San Juan or at one of my favorite beaches.

Shortly after my husband’s job brought our family to Richmond, I began working at CrossOver Healthcare Ministry as the Vision Clinic Coordinator. I was then promoted to Volunteer Program Manager, where I put my unique skills to work by managing CrossOver’s cohort of volunteers, including recruiting and training new volunteers. Working at CrossOver has given me a front row seat to the giving nature of the Richmond community where volunteerism, philanthropy, and putting others first are second nature.

 

 

What is the focus of your work?

Volunteers are the backbone of CrossOver’s daily operations. The focus of my work specifically is the recruitment and training of new volunteers, whose service ultimately supports CrossOver’s mission to provide high-quality health care, promote wellness, and connect community talents and resources with people in need in the name of Jesus Christ.

As new personnel needs arise at CrossOver, I also develop new volunteer positions and seek qualified candidates to fill those positions. In FY 2017, CrossOver volunteer base was made up of 587 volunteers who gave 32,435 hours of service.  Among our volunteers are hundreds of licensed healthcare professionals, including physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, nurses, dentists, pharmacists, counselors, and eye-care professionals. Thanks to our volunteer-driven model of care, CrossOver can maintain a low cost-per-patient-visit and provide the greatest amount of specialty care to low-income, uninsured patients in greater Richmond.

The demand for CrossOver’s services continues to grow. CrossOver’s patient population is comprised of those who are uninsured and whose incomes are at or below the 200% of the Federal Poverty Line (FPL). Our patient population consists of two groups: those who fail to qualify for Medicaid as an adult in Virginia due to stringent eligibility criteria, as well as a large multi-cultural immigrant population. For the region where most of our patients reside, if a single parent of two children earns more than $7,908 annually, they do not qualify for Medicaid in Virginia. CrossOver’s patient population is incredibly diverse and includes immigrants and refugees from over 100 different countries of origin. Even though CrossOver serves over 6,500 individuals through its programs each year, this represents just a fraction of those-in-need. According to the most recent Virginia Atlas of Community Health, 497,677 Virginia residents are uninsured and are at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level, including more than 63,954 in the greater Richmond area. CrossOver is forced to turn patients away weekly because we cannot accommodate the high numbers who need access to medical care.

 

What do you find most rewarding about your work?

The most rewarding part of my work is matching a volunteer with a position that truly engages them and provides a source of fulfillment. CrossOver needs volunteers to operate, but I believe in return we can give many of our volunteers the opportunity to serve their community and use their specific skills to help their neighbors in need.

 

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

To date my biggest challenge has been learning the logistics of managing the more than 500 volunteers that make our clinics run! I’ve been able to handle this challenge by working collaboratively with CrossOver staff and volunteers. By working closely with the clinic managers and program managers, I have been able to better identify volunteer needs in the clinics and recruit volunteers to meet those needs.

 

What would someone be surprised to know about your organization?

I think one aspect of CrossOver that someone would be surprised about is the collaborative nature of our programming and model of care. CrossOver has partnerships with other safety-net providers, local non-profits, social service agencies, government entities, philanthropic foundations, corporations, and the faith community.

In addition to offering a truly comprehensive range of programs, including primary care, chronic disease management, medication and medications management, dental, vision, mental health counseling, OB/GYN, HIV diagnosis and treatment, social work case management, and community health education, CrossOver partners with other safety-net providers in the Metro Richmond area so that we can provide services to their patients that are not offered through their organization.

For example, CrossOver’s Vision Clinic provides eye care, including vouchers for eyeglasses, to patients from Goochland Free Clinic and Family Services, the Center for Healthy Hearts, St. Joseph’s Outreach Clinic, the Free Clinic of Powhatan, the Richmond Behavioral Health Authority, Capital Area Health Network and Health Brigade.

CrossOver also operates the Community Pharmacy, the only pharmacy in Richmond licensed to a free clinic. In addition to providing medications to our own patients, the Community Pharmacy provides medications to patients from Health Brigade, the Center for Healthy Hearts, the Free Clinic of Powhatan, Bon Secours Care-A-Van, Goochland Free Clinic and Family Services, and St. Joseph’s Outreach Clinic.

 

 

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

CrossOver is always exploring new initiatives and projects that enable us to better meet the needs of our patient population. This past year, CrossOver expanded our dental services to better address our patient population’s urgent need for dental care, including increasing our dental staff, strengthening outreach and recruiting efforts for new dental volunteers, and expanding our dental referral network program.

CrossOver also expanded our Social Work program. We hired a new family case manager to better address the needs of CrossOver families and children. Through grant funding from the Bob and Ana Lou Schaberg Fund, CrossOver also recently opened the Connection Center at our West End Clinic location.

The Connection Center is a space where people newly arrived in our country can discover community resources, gain knowledge about their new home, and connect with others. After some minor construction, CrossOver has furnished the space with tables, computers, health and wellness educational materials, and brochures about various community organizations and resources. CrossOver purchased several computers with internet access so that patients can use the internet to search for employment, discover resources, and access information about their new community. CrossOver has opened the space to our community partners so that they may host events, trainings, and workshops, and we plan to continue to use the space to host CrossOver events and groups.

Is your organization involved in any exciting collaborations or partnerships?

CrossOver has many longstanding partnerships in the community, including collaborations with local hospital systems, nonprofits, universities and professional programs, social service agencies, and various philanthropic organizations. These collaborations enable us to ensure the highest quality of care possible for our patients, and CrossOver is continually seeking out new collaborative partnerships to expand our impact in the community.

We are in the process of expanding our Community Pharmacy and has entered into a new partnership with the John Randolph Foundation & John Randolph Medical Center. Through funding from John Randolph Foundation’s Susie’s Fund for Medication Assistance, CrossOver recently hired two Medications Access Caseworkers who will be based in the John Randolph Medical Center and supervised by our Medications Program Manager. Currently, there are no safety net providers with a pharmacy or medications access program in Hopewell, and this partnership will address an unmet community need around medications access in that area.

CrossOver has also established a partnership with the Richmond Justice Center and offers a medical home to their inmates upon reentry into the community. These formerly incarcerated patients have access to our wide range of healthcare and supportive services, which will help to facilitate a more positive, healing transition back into the community.

 

 

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

ConnectVA, and The Community Foundation , serve  as key partners to CrossOver and provide essential resources to our organization. ConnectVA is an amazing resource for all local non-profit organizations and professionals. CrossOver has repeatedly received applications from highly qualified candidates through job postings listed on ConnectVA, as ConnectVA’s job finder has become the hub for connecting non-profit professionals with organizations seeking to fill positions in Virginia.

The Community Foundation continues to be a strong supporter of CrossOver; the financial support and collaborative opportunities that CrossOver has access to because of this partnership with TCF plays a significant role in our ability to continue operating and working to achieve our mission.

Anything else you would like to share?

CrossOver is always looking for new, committed volunteers! Volunteer opportunities are available for licensed healthcare professionals, administrative volunteers, and interpreters. Volunteer opportunities for healthcare professionals include, but are not limited to: physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, nursing professionals, dentists, ophthalmologists, chiropractors, and physical therapists. There is also a need for volunteer interpreters in Spanish and Arabic. CrossOver is always seeking out new volunteers who share our passion for serving the Richmond community.

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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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