In just a few weeks, Chinary Hall will complete her one year term of service as an Embrace Richmond AmeriCorps member. This week we reflected with Chinary on her past, which helped shape her vision and inner strength, while looking forward to great things to come. Unfortunately, growing up in public housing has many challenges. Chinary shared that both her parents were addicts and her father was murdered when she was nine years old.
Through those early years, she vowed never to succumb to addiction but regrettably fell victim herself to drugs and “lost my sense of self”. While her spirit was going through internal turmoil, a spark of faith and hope was never lost. Time served in jail, though forming a barrier to gainful employment, did not prevent her from finding a way to giving back. Chinary shared:
“My daughters were in the Head Start program and I started volunteering there and it gave me the opportunity to come out of my shell and I slowly started to see that there was something out there for me and I just continued to serve.”
Through her connections with Healthy Start, Chinary was introduced to Embrace Richmond, it was around the same time that she began to understand her passion: health issues specifically related to healthy pregnancies and healthy families. Embrace Richmond Executive Director, Wendy McCaig, had this to say about Chinary’s contribution:
“Chinary was instrumental in bringing our partnership with the Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Family Medicine to life over the past year. She worked with the Hillside residents and partner agencies to conduct several health fairs and coordinated many events and gatherings around the topic of health.”
When asked what she was most proud of during her time with Embrace Richmond, she responded:
“I love the fact that so many people were willing to take their Saturdays and give to the community. This is so important since access to health care and awareness of the availability to resources presents such a challenge to the community.”
We are very excited that Chinary will be joining the Richmond Health District at the Fairfield Court Resource Center and will be able to continue to help families gain access to health resources right in their own neighborhood. In her new role as a community advocate, Chinary will have a chance to build on the community development skills that she gained through Embrace Richmond and move more fully toward her dream of helping parents raise healthy children.
Though Chinary was able to put her faith into action and improve life for herself, her children, and the community around her, she acknowledges the help that Embrace Richmond was able to offer:
“They gave me the opportunity to work with individuals one on one and connected me with resources which enabled me to put all the pieces together. You just have to make up your mind that you want something better for yourself. You need that vision and in addition to that vision you need to have people to support and encourage you. People who will give you an opportunity to see greatness in yourself and that’s what I got from Embrace Richmond.”
We wish Chinary all the best as she move into her new role and we are thrilled that she will be able to continue to be a part of the Embrace Richmond family in her new role with one of our partnering agencies. What a blessing it has been to all of us to watch her grow this past year!