August 31st, 2011 marked the last day of our third year as an AmeriCorps program.  To celebrate, we invited all members and site supervisors together  and celebrated the following achievements:

In September 2010, we launched our program with a commitment to providing economic opportunities for individuals with barriers to employment. Throughout the year we welcomed 14 homeless and at-risk individuals to our Embrace Richmond AmeriCorps program.

In October 2010, we partnered with VCU’s School of Family Medicine to conduct health screenings; a project that lasted throughout the year and into this coming year.  In total, more than 70 individuals participated in health related activities.

In November 2010, The CARITAS Furniture Bank, one of our placement sites, expanded their operation to five days a week and added one Saturday per month.  Our members were instrumental in helping the furniture bank serve over 700 households this past year.

In December 2010, The Hillside hospitality team increased its commitment to welcoming new residents with a welcome basket delivery initiative and community wide events like our Family Christmas party.  Over the course of the year, more than 250 residents participated in fellowship events.

In January 2011, our AmeriCorps members placed at one of our placement sites, CARITAS Works, launched a new jobs program for individuals experiencing homelessness.  In the past year, this program helped more than 50 homeless individuals move toward employment.

In February 2011, Embrace launched a one-on-one mentoring initiative and expanded our in-home visitation initiative to provide extra support to those in need.   To date, over 100 individuals have received support and encouragement from our AmeriCorps members and volunteers.

In March 2011, Embrace opened up a computer lab in the Hillside Court community.  This lab is being used by adults who are looking for employment, by youth involved in an afterschool tutoring program, and by individuals seeking their GED through the Truancy office.  In total, more than 60 individuals have benefited from this community based computer lab.

In March 2011, Embrace partnered with a group of juniors from Monacan High School to launch an after school creative and performing arts enrichment program at Oak Grove elementary school.  Last year 15 students form Oak Grove developed very special relationships with 6 young leaders from Monacan High School.  This initiative will continue into the coming year and we are hoping to have more high school youth get involved.

In April 2011, Embrace Richmond partnered with Feedmore, Oak Grove Communities in Schools and Shalom Farms to bring a mobile food pantry to Hillside court.  This food panty provides food to more than 150 households per month.  In addition, our food team harvest food from Shalom Farms monthly to help increase the access our residents have to fresh fruits and vegetables.

In May 2011, Embrace launched its job readiness and vocational mentoring initiatives.  Through our job readiness initiatives, individuals receive one-on-one assistance with resume preparation, school applications, GED tutoring, and email set up.  Through the vocational mentoring initiatives, 17 individuals received personalized job placement and vocational mentoring.

In May 2011, Embrace also launched a block by block care team designed to provide additional support to single mothers, elderly and those who are ill.  This resident lead initiative assisted those with limited mobility to receive food and those with special needs received support and care from their block captains.  Through this system we hope to provide a support network to all 440 households in Hillside court.

In June 2011, Embrace launched a summer youth initiative to connect young people into service opportunities in their community.  More than 14 youth and young adults participated this summer.

In July 2011, Embrace Richmond partnered with the City of Richmond’s early childhood initiatives to launch a family support program for single parents with young children. More than 40 individuals attended these events.  We are very excited to see how this initiative matures in the coming year.

In August 2012, Embrace Richmond celebrated the successful completion 23 of our 31 2010-11 AmeriCorps members.  Those members who are not returning for another year of service either found employment or choose to further their education utilizing their AmeriCorps education award.

By all accounts, Embrace Richmond had a very successful year because of the hard work done by our AmeriCorps members and volunteers. Our AmeriCorps program would not exist without the on-going financial support of our congregational, corporate, civic and individual donors.  Together we are  proving that a community can change from the inside out. Thank you for your continued support!!