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News from the Community: SisterFund Awards $20,000 to Partnership for the Future

In partnership with The Community Foundation, SisterFund recently announced that its second annual grant to empower African American women and girls will be awarded to Partnership for the Future. The grant of $20,000 will be used to provide training, enrichment and mentoring for 179 high school girls and college women working to attain their college degrees.

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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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