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Help Somebody Spotlight: Beth Ayn Stansfield, Founder, Stay Strong Virginia

The Help Somebody Hall of Fame celebrates and recognizes good people doing good work in RVA.  We encourage our readers to nominate nonprofit staff, volunteers, board members and community members who are making a positive difference.

In December, we are recognizing Beth Ayn Stansfield, who is the founder of Stay Strong Virginia – a nonprofit whose mission is to expand and enhance the existing services to those impacted by an eating disorder in the State of Virginia by raising awareness, education and providing direct support with respect and empathy.

Joanne Paek, a volunteer with Stay Strong Virginia, nominated Beth Ayn, saying, “I first met Beth Ayn after my daughter, who was 14 at the time, had been diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa.  I had been staying in Durham, NC for four months with my daughter while she was receiving treatment for her eating disorder and I had heard about Beth Ayn’s organization.  My husband and I started going to her support group and every month we would learn more and more about eating disorders and how to support our daughter, and ourselves, through such a grueling, difficult illness.  Beth Ayn has always, and remains to be, such a calm guiding force to me and always makes herself available to answer questions, share insight or simply listen.  Her guidance when my daughter needed to go back to residential treatment for a second time was invaluable.  She breathes positivity and hope wherever she goes, two things that amongst the chaos eating disorders bring to families is often hard to find.”

Read more about Beth Ayn below:

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

Beth Ayn Stansfield is tenacious and energetic; her positivity and zest for life is remarkable. Yet her passion and determination to help and support others is what sets her apart from the crowd. Several years ago, Beth Ayn’s daughter was diagnosed with an eating disorder. While desperately seeking help for her daughter, Beth Ayn found a distinct lack of resources and treatment options in the Richmond area. After spending several months with her daughter at a treatment centre in Denver, Colorado and enduring the difficult, lonely and painful journey of being the parent of a child with an eating disorder, she felt compelled to help others who found themselves in a similar position and founded the non-profit, Stay Strong Virginia, whose mission is to raise awareness, educate and support those either living with, or supporting those suffering from, eating disorders.

Beth Ayn is a true beacon of hope for family members embarking on the journey of having a loved one diagnosed with an eating disorder, a constant pillar of strength and support for family members who are in the midst of finding appropriate treatment options for their loved one, and a dedicated source of encouragement for those with family members in recovery.

What is the impact of Beth Ayn’s generosity?

What started out as an initial support group for a handful of families has since grown over the past 6 years into a successful and invaluable organization. In addition to offering bi-monthly family support groups, community outreach events and education sessions, Beth Ayn has worked tirelessly to recently implement The Body Positive program into local schools. This after school program examines body image and eating disorders in a collaborative and supportive environment and has been strongly associated with greater emotional well-being and lower levels of anxiety for students who participate.

Beth Ayn is committed, and dedicated, to securing grants and other fundraising initiatives in order to expand the program to even more schools in the Greater Richmond area. Beth Ayn travels to, and works with, residential treatment centers and clinicians across the country to stay abreast of the latest evidence-based research, treatment options and interventions available for treating eating disorders. She strives to bring national and international eating disorder specialists to Richmond in order to further educate families, counseling professionals, school teachers, school counselors and nursing professionals about these deadly disorders.

Beth Ayn’s enthusiasm and dedication is contagious. It is difficult to be in her presence and not got enthused about her work and her vision for the future of Stay Strong Virginia. It is hard to quantify the impact Beth Ayn has on the local community but to those who have the privilege of knowing her and being the recipients of her knowledge and wisdom about eating disorder treatment, her expertise and support is invaluable.

Her energy astounds me, whether she is running support groups, arranging for national speakers to come to Richmond to offer further education on eating disorders, visiting treatment centers or floating down the James River in an effort to raise awareness and fundraise for Stay Strong Virginia, everything she does is for the benefit of families who are impacted by eating disorders.  She really is a truly remarkable, selfless, giving woman and an inspiration to all who know her.

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The Help Somebody Hall of Fame: Gail Crawford, MAD4YU

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 Gail Crawford, Founder and President of Making a Difference For You (MAD4YU) – a grass-roots nonprofit organization providing life enrichment services to under-resourced and ‘fringe’ populations.  The name reflects its very purpose:  making a difference for you.  That is – providing the tools for success – using computer literacy and study skills as the catalyst– to equip those who otherwise might not have access.

Read more about why Gail is a part of the Help Somebody Hall of Fame:

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

Ms. Gail Crawford created a nonprofit – Making a Difference For You (MAD4YU) – that provides life enrichment services to under-resourced Richmond families. When MAD4YU was founded, its primary services were teaching computer literacy to children and seniors, and tutoring for students having difficulty learning.  Gail acquired a multi-room facility with donated computers, in-kind contributions and volunteers and evolved service offerings by responding to other client needs that surfaced.

Most students receive tutoring on Saturday and Sunday. Seniors visit the center to get necessary computer classes. She shares resources with parents and children to help them find organizations that helps meet their additional needs.

The organization also offers tutoring, homework help, communication technologies, PC training, college and job readiness preparation including resume writing and online submission, personal and professional development, adult literacy, health and housing resources and social advocacy.

What is the impact of Gail’s generosity? 

In 2017 alone, the organization provided in excess of $150,000.00 in tutoring services to over 45 clients on a weekly basis, with an annual budget of under $50,000.00. This is based on more than 6,000 hours at an average rate of $30.00 per hour (many tutors charge upwards of $40-60 per hour) for tutoring/training services.

Student’s grades are improving, parents are pleased, seniors are experiencing a rewarding learning curve as they attend our basic computer, internet and email classes and volunteers look forward to truly making a difference in the lives of others.

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 Hall of Fame: Nancy Rossner, Community Tax Law Project

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 Nancy Rossner – a staff attorney at the Community Tax Law Project (CTLP).

The CTLP provides free legal help to Virginia’s low wage families and individuals experiencing economic harm because of a tax problem. Their services directly strengthen the financial stability of working families and ensure that all Virginians receive fair and equal treatment in tax disputes.  Nancy’s colleague nominated her for this recognition (but asked to be anonymous) and said, “I am constantly amazed by Nancy’s dedication to her work assisting our clients with their complicated tax issues.  Not only does she handle a very high level of cases at all times, but she does so with such passion, conviction, and an extremely high level of professionalism.

Read more about Nancy’s work and how she’s bettering our community, below.

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

Nancy Rossner has been working tirelessly and diligently as a staff attorney at the Community Tax Law Project for over six years. Nancy helps over 200 Virginians annually by providing free legal representation to assist these persons with their tax legal problems. Whether the issue is before the IRS or the Virginia Department of Taxation, Nancy skillfully advocates for each taxpayer until their issue is resolved. Nancy treats all clients with the same zealousness whether their issue is small or involves large denominations.

All her clients are low-income and would not have access to legal representation without Nancy and the Community Tax Law Project. In addition to full legal representation, Nancy also opens her knowledge of the federal and state tax systems to provide brief tax advice to several hundred more Virginians who have tax questions. These questions can range from a simple question such as whether a person has to file their taxes but can also involve more complex questions such as what information a taxpayer includes in their petition to the U.S. Tax Court.

Once again, Nancy applies her expertise and professionalism to each of these brief encounters providing legal tax advice not available elsewhere without a fee. Finally, Nancy conducts a large portion of the educational outreach conducted by the Community Tax Law Project. She provides tax literacy classes to a variety of job readiness and workforce reentry programs. Furthermore, Nancy has presented on low-income taxpayer issues at several regional and national conferences in her field. Always the consummate professional, Nancy addresses these speaking opportunities as another avenue to make the lives of low-income taxpayers better through education on the tax system.

Nancy with CTLP interns doing outreach in the community.

What’s the impact of Nancy’s generosity?                 

Nancy’s impact is difficult to describe without providing examples, as all her cases have their own unique set of facts. One recent case that comes to mind immediately is a case involving a taxpayer named Janine (name changed to protect the client’s identity). Janine was an insurance agent who had recently received a letter from the IRS stating that she owed them a substantial amount of money, which she could not afford. Janine had been working with other members of her family who had become abusive to her, physically, emotionally, and financially. Janine was able to remove herself from the physical and direct emotional danger of her family, but the financial abuse continued to follow her. First, some of the tax issues Janine was facing were because her family members were working under her professional license. Any profits Janine’s family members were earning using her license were being attributed by the IRS to Janine. Once Nancy became involved, Nancy was able to help Janine stop her family from their fraudulent use of her professional license. This required a state agency and their investigative branch to correct the prior fraudulent activity. Nancy also worked within the IRS system to then correct Janine’s income to exclude the amounts fraudulently attributed to Janine by her own family members.

This whole process took many months to accomplish, but Nancy was by Janine’s side through the entire journey. What makes this story even more special is that Janine is a single mother and English is not her native language. I wish I could say that this is the highlight of Nancy’s career as a public service attorney. However, Janine’s case is one of thousands of similar cases that Nancy has worked on over the last six years. The facts of each case are different, but there is a common thread of a person’s life falling to pieces. Sometimes, the turmoil is related to abuse such as was the case with Janine. Other times, homelessness is an immediate concern, when the person has not addressed their tax problems and wages are about to be garnished. Many people do not envision tax problems causing someone’s life to completely derail. However, when you add a tax problem to a life riddled with abuse, illiteracy, mental abuse, substance abuse, and a precarious financial situation, you have the recipe for a life about to be shattered. For literally thousands of low-income taxpayers, Nancy has been there to fix the tax component of their life struggles, providing her clients with at least one less life struggle to deal with.

In addition to her professional attributes, Nancy is also a dedicated mother to her beautiful young daughter and a loving wife to her husband. She is also a proud alumna of the University of Richmond School of Law and continues to mentor several student interns from her law school at the Community Tax Law Project.

Nancy presenting at a national conference for tax professionals.

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.

Read more →

 

Help Somebody Spotlight: Angela Harper, Northstar Academy

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 who are making a positive difference. This month, we’re recognizing Angela Harper – an IEP/IAP Liaison at Northstar Academy.  Northstar Academy is a unique and highly successful non-profit school serving children in grades K-12. They promote educational excellence and career opportunities for students with disabilities who have academic, physical and social challenges.

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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.

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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:

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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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