Home / ConnectVA Spotlight: Shareta Berry, Driven 2 Destiny Outreach Center Inc.

Archives

ConnectVA Spotlight: Shareta Berry, Driven 2 Destiny Outreach Center Inc.

Driven 2 Destiny Outreach Center on ConnectVA

Tell us about yourself – My name is Shareta Berry, former homeless single mother and a domestic violence survivor.  I started volunteering as a community outreach worker at the age of 14, then worked with churches in the Baltimore, MD area assisting Pastors with Special Needs Children as a teen. In 2003, I moved to Richmond, VA with my six children and started working with AmeriCorps as a volunteer working with At Risk Youth in low income communities with Job Readiness Preparation.  I moved to Durham, NC in 2010 and in 2011 founded and became the CEO of  Driven 2 Destiny Outreach Center Inc.  I hold an Associates Degree in Psychology and I’m currently in School for my BA Science Degree in Psychology.

What is the focus of your work? The focus of the work that I do is helping women, children and At Risk Youth in low income communities and in areas where crime is at its highest. The needs of 21st-century communities seem to be growing by the day. Our centers have expanded to meet these needs. Over the years, we have learned that what people need most is someone who will listen to their concerns – someone they can turn to for support when the going gets tough. And that’s what Driven 2 Destiny Outreach Center is all about. So we have expanded the scope of community services to include drug prevention, community outreach, and coming soon, shelter facilities for displaced families and women that are escaping domestic violence or the lifestyle of prostitution.

What do you find most rewarding about your work? The most rewarding thing that I find is knowing that at the end of the day that someone walked away with a smile on their face and the help that they need to getting one step closer to obtaining the life change they are longing for, for both them and their family. It makes me feel happy knowing that I am doing just what God has placed me on this Earth to do –  help someone in their time of need and in their time of trouble, as people were there for me and my family when we needed help.

Tell us about your biggest accomplishment in this position – The biggest accomplishment and most memorable was in 2014, when we first were able to feed families for the Christmas holiday season and at the same time we were able to help children on the Angel Tree list with gifts. That was something that I have dreamed of doing for two years, to finally see the vision and dream come true.

What’s coming next for you and/or for your organization that really excites you? For the month of August, we have our very first ever women’s empowerment meeting, where we meet with women that have been through domestic violence, raped, and molested and help them overcome their fear so that they can move toward rebuilding their life and taking back what was stolen from them – self-worth. This will be the first time that we are doing this in Richmond, VA, as I have done this meeting in the North Carolina Region.

How are you leveraging ConnectVA to achieve your mission? I want to say that since we relocated to the Richmond, VA area and I have connected with ConnectVA it has helped open some doors for us on a higher level and more people are willing to come and volunteer with us more during the times that people are in need of help. ConnectVA opens doors for nonprofits that are small but have a very big vision. Through ConnectVA, I hope to build a strong and solid partnership with other local and national nonprofits that are like-minded and have some of the same goals and ideas to help the community and the people within the community to grow. The things that I like most about ConnectVA are that you can post your events and what your organization is doing within the community to give people a snapshot of how others are making changes that are bringing families and youth closer for a common good.

Anything else you would like to share? We may be a small nonprofit, but we have a big vision to see people’s lives change around the country.

Read more →

 

ConnectVA Spotlight: Bruce Coffey Jr., Read to Them

ConnectVA Spotlight-Coffey

Tell us about yourself.

I am Bruce Coffey Jr., the creator of Read to Them’s One School, One Book program and the overall Director of Programs at Read to Them.  I am trained as a historian and also serve as a middle school history teacher at Sabot at Stony Point School.  I believe in the transformative power of children’s literature and am ecstatic to be in a position to share my enthusiasm and that enabling power with families and schools across the country.

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

Schools and the nation have bemoaned poor reading scores and poor reading ability since I was in elementary school.  In addition, schools are asked to do too much and cannot transform student’s lives and abilities without input from home.  Read to Them’s programs aim to solve both problems – putting some responsibility for children’s education back in the home, but in an exciting rewarding way, allowing children, families and schools to experience and generate enthusiasm for reading children’s literature together.

What do you find most rewarding about your work?

It’s rewarding for me to know that I can introduce books I am enthusiastic about (high quality children’s literature), not to a handful of friends or family, but to thousands of children and families across the country.  It’s rewarding to hear and see the enthusiasm generated by our simple program in the pictures, videos, links, and testimonials they share.  It’s rewarding to know we’ve discovered a simple solution that actually helps our education system in its monumental task.  It’s rewarding to know that we can transform students’ lives and possibilities through the simple, sly, unlikely vehicle of a book.

Tell us about your biggest accomplishment in this position. 

Growing from a half a dozen schools to over 1000 across the nation is our biggest accomplishment.  It was challenging to do this as unfunded non-profit.  We’ve managed to create a simple, flexible, affordable, easy to implement program that generates enthusiasm and is renewed by most schools every year.  Managing our burgeoning list of client schools without benefit of large grants or sponsors has been our biggest challenge.

What’s coming next for your organization that really excites you?

We’re expanding the One District, One Book program – in which all the families in all the schools in an entire district read the same children’s novel at the same time.  We’ll be doing that this year by expanding an across the state initiative we pioneered in Texas – Texas Reads One Book.  We also plan to expand our auxiliary offerings to middle schools and high schools.  And to make a special push to innovate and find ways to reach the underserved, least privileged or least capable families in our populations.

How are you leveraging ConnectVA to achieve your mission?

We’ve discovered that partnering – and especially partnering with partners of partners! – is a great way to build synergy and increase one’s reach and effectiveness.  So we’d love to use ConnectVA to connect and partner with other organizations with overlapping missions and goals.  We’d especially like to find ways of reaching families in some of Richmond’s struggling inner-city schools.  We’ve been working at it – but with only marginal success.

Anything else you would like to share?

Our mission is to create a culture of literacy in every home.  That may sound ambitious and it may sound like a mouthful.  But it really is our ambition and we really believe – we see it every day – in the unique ability of a rich, children’s story to animate learners and families, to increase interest and ability in reading, and to make students’ and schools’ more effective.  We recently moved our offices to the BookBindery on Broad St. Come say Hello!

Read more →

 

ConnectVA Spotlight: Eleanor Sharp, Nonprofit Learning Point

??????????????????????????????????

Eleanor Sharp, Nonprofit Learning Point

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Eleanor Sharp, Senior Program Manager for Nonprofit Learning Point for the Partnership for Nonprofit Excellence. I have 10 years of experience in adult education as a teacher, curriculum specialist, and program designer.  Just before joining the Partnership for Nonprofit Excellence in late January of this year, I was administrative faculty at VCU in the Office of Continuing and Professional Education, during which time I earned my Master of Education in Adult Learning. My real start in adult education came when I was an English Language teacher overseas in Malta and Russia.

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

Almost everything I do, professional and even personal volunteer work, is about educating the whole person and creating avenues of exposure for growth and development. At NLP, we address the needs of nonprofit professionals by hosting creative programming in leadership development and nonprofit management; over 70 classes a year, the 8-month Emerging Nonprofit Leaders Program, coaching, OnSite programming, workshops, organizational partnerships, and a Conference.

What do you find most rewarding about your work?

People! People! People! What amazing industrious interesting people that I get to meet at NLP! I don’t know that anything is more rewarding as a teacher or program specialist than seeing someone get a promotion because you helped them receive training that led to a professional certification or endorsement….or when you have someone tell you that their mindset has changed and they feel more confident and effective as a leader/colleague/contributor/creator because of their experiences in your programming. Seeing how people grow and do amazing things is really what keeps me going and wanting to always provide even better and even more supportive programs.

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

Well, I’m right at the 6 month mark in this position so many of my challenges have been around learning all the parts of a new job! It’s also my first real foray into a 501c3, outside of a volunteer role. And let me tell you, after six years at VCU, it’s pretty different! I handle the challenges of working in a new organization (and all the system differences that come with that) by really relying on my colleagues and doing as much reading and research as possible. I try to meet in person with as many NLP stakeholders as I can to learn from them as well, like our committee members and instructors.

Keeping my eyes and ears open has been the best way to problem solve any issue. The benefit of working as an active part of a great team is that there are many people to help find the best solutions and you never feel alone.

What’s coming next for your organization that really excites you?

Wow! We’ve been working really hard on some exciting new things! The first is NLP OnSite, where we can take our classroom content and really shape it to fit an organization(s) for more specialized delivery.  This helps us live out our mission of providing accessible services to those people or organizations that have a hard time fitting our regularly scheduled classes into their schedule.

And… drum roll please… we will be announcing information for our 2015 conference very soon! I can’t share too much now- but definitely keep an eye out! It’s really exciting stuff! We have also planned some scheduling and registration changes for 2016 to better support our students and certificate seekers in our classes. Start looking on the website in October for those updates!

How are you leveraging ConnectVA to achieve your mission?

How aren’t we?! I don’t know what NLP would do without ConnectVA! We post all of our classes and events on the ConnectVA site, we use the community conversations forum to make announcements and stay abreast of important topics, and we also refer students and organizations there for support when we don’t have the resources they need. Oh, and, I found my job there!

Anything else you would like to share?

I think I’d like to take a moment and say thank you to all of our staff, volunteers, instructors, and coaches! Without the hard work of my amazing teammate at NLP, Laura Pilati, and our committee members, advisory board members, and all the professionals that serve as instructors and coaches, our classes and meetings would not be as dynamic as they are. Every single one of them does an amazing job! I’d also like to thank all of my colleagues at the Partnership for Nonprofit Excellence- so to all the staff in Organizational Solutions, HandsOn Greater Richmond, ConnectVA and Operations- THANK YOU! It’s been a great first 6 months!

Read more →

 

ConnectVA Spotlight: Gigi Amateau, United Way of Greater Richmond and Petersburg

Get to know Gigi Amateau – Chief Impact Officer at United Way of Greater Richmond and Petersburg and this week’s ConnectVA Spotlight!

spotlight gigi-amateau

Tell us about yourself.

I’m Gigi Amateau, Chief Impact Officer at United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg. I’ve worked in the health and human services non-profit sector since 1988. Many of those years have been in service to older adults and people with disabilities. My undergraduate degree from VCU is in Urban Studies and Planning. (Go Rams!)

What is the focus of your work?

Our Community Impact agenda at United Way focuses on three areas: Education, Income, and Health. In short, we do our work so that people in our community will learn more, earn more, and lead safe and healthy lives.

What do you find most rewarding about your work?

I also write children’s literature. The themes that I always return to, whether in fiction or in real life, are belonging and access. It fulfills me to be in a position where every day I work alongside creative, data-driven people in order to foster a stronger sense of belonging for everyone who lives here and broader access to education, wealth, and health care for all people.

Tell us about your biggest accomplishment in this position.

This year, United Way conducted its first open, competitive grant making process. We awarded $4.1 million to 63 programs that are poised to make measurable, lasting impact in the areas of Education, Income, and Health.

A major challenge in most philanthropic work is that the ceiling on funding levels is lower than the ceiling on worthy, results-based programs. Our rigorous, volunteer-led funding process helps us make the best decisions for most impact. Here are a couple of links where you can learn more about United Way’s Community Impact Program grants: A recent op-ed in the Richmond Times Dispatch and a list of our 2015-16 grantees.

What’s coming next for your organization that really excites you?

We’ve set a five-year goal to eliminate social isolation for older adults and people with disabilities. There’s an incredibly persuasive body of evidence that proves one of the healthiest behaviors we can embrace as we age is to maintain strong, positive social ties.

On August 10th, United Way and our conference partners AARP Virginia, Family Lifeline, VA Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services, Senior Connections, and VCU Gerontology will host a day-long symposium on the health consequences of social isolation and the healthy benefits of social connections for older adults. Anyone interested should hold the date and email me: amateaug@yourunitedway.org to get on the event mailing list.

How are you leveraging ConnectVA to achieve your mission?

ConnectVA is an essential tool in helping us to get the word out about funding opportunities, career recruitment, and upcoming events. I value ConnectVA as a platform because it’s intuitive, and the community of users is robust, diverse, and active.

Anything else you would like to share?  

I am totally honored to work with United Way’s community impact volunteers. I am amazed at their devotion! Between 90 volunteers, they spent more than 2,300 hours reviewing applications and making funding recommendations.

 

Do you know someone who should be a ConnectVA Spotlight?  Email us at info@connectva.org.

Read more →

 

ConnectVA Spotlight: Emily Keenum, Virginia Early Childhood Foundation

emilykeenum

 

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Emily Keenum, the Health Initiative Coordinator with the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation, a public private partnership dedicated to ensuring all Virginia’s children get to kindergarten ready to learn.   Before this position, I worked as a National Outreach Specialist at Wingspan.

 

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

I work on Virginia’s Taking Steps to Healthy Success childhood obesity prevention project, which is funded by the Nemours Foundation and the Centers for Disease Control.  To launch this project in 2014, VECF partnered with other agencies committed to healthy child care – Child Care Aware of Virginia, Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth, Virginia Department of Social Services, and Virginia Health Department.  Sixty-one child care programs enrolled from Richmond South, Virginia Peninsula, and South Hampton Roads communities, and participated in trainings and received hands-on technical assistance to help them make important changes in their routines and policies regarding nutrition, physical activity, screen time and parent outreach.

 

What do you find most rewarding about your work?

It has been remarkable to see how committed the participating child care providers have been.  I expected child care programs would implement a few healthy changes here and there, and I would have felt really happy about that.  But many of the participating programs have gone above and beyond – undertaking substantial and often difficult changes like eliminating all pre-fried foods from menus, giving up teacher workrooms to provide a provide space for nursing moms, and creating water stations – all to promote healthier settings for children.

 

Tell us about your biggest accomplishment in this position.

Our biggest accomplishment in this project has been providing exciting, practical training throughout this almost year-long project and retaining 90% of the child care programs who enrolled, all of whom implemented at least two practical, healthy changes.

 

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

A big challenge of this project is managing the breadth of information and content shared with participating child care programs.  Our strategy to make sure we were providing the best content and support for participants was to engage local experts in our trainings.  For example, we partnered with Eastern Virginia Medical Services to share about their Breastfeeding Friendly Child Care project and invited representatives from ChildSavers in Richmond and The Planning Council in Norfolk to talk about healthy menus and other aspects of high quality child care.

 

What’s coming next for your organization that really excites you?

I am particularly excited about the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation’s “Smart Beginnings Start with Families: Healthy Children are Ready to Learn” statewide campaign running from May 10-June 21 (Mother’s Day to Father’s Day).  In partnership with the American Academy of Pediatrics – VA Chapter, VECF has developed free resources, available on the VECF’s website, to help families and caregivers understand the importance of children’s early years as a critical time for building a strong foundation for good health and school readiness.  This special focus on a healthy start includes information about obesity prevention and nutrition, so I am thrilled that we will be spreading the word about this important issue and how it connects to school readiness.

 

How are you leveraging ConnectVA to achieve your mission?

So far, the trainers for this project have all been recruited for through ConnectVA. In fact, my job as Project Coordinator was also posted on ConnectVA! It’s great to have a go-to platform for folks interested in work that is non-profit or service focused.

 

Anything else you would like to share?

It’s very exciting to see enthusiasm in the early childhood world about healthier settings for children – at the program level, but also reflected in the work of our partners.  We’re hoping to bring together other key Virginia stakeholders in child health and quality care, and collaboratively develop a best practice guideline addressing nutrition and physical activity in child care that could be shared across these systems.  This could really promote meaningful health changes in early care.

 

Do you know someone who should be nominated for ConnectVA’s Spotlight?  Email us at info@connectva.org!

 

Read more →