The only way to permanently end poverty in our city is for all of our residents to have an opportunity to work.  This reality is painfully clear in Hillside Court where only 25% of the residents receive a significant portion of their income from employment.  There are many factors contributing to this exceptional high unemployment rate – lack of education, mental illness, disabilities, substance abuse, felony convictions, lack of transportation, lack of childcare and an overall sense of hopelessness are all barriers to employment.  Helping people find and maintain jobs can often feel like an impossible task.

However, one woman and her amazing company are helping bring hope to Hillside Court.  Donnetta Payne has hired three of our single moms in the past three months.

Charles Fitzgerald the Embrace Richmond Vocational team leader writes:

The unemployment rate in the Hillside community is around 75%, but because of the loving concern of one employer, Wolff-Fording Dance Wear, we are making a difference.  Employment at Wolff-Fording has changed the lives of three young ladies in the Hillside community.  When you hire a young mother, as Donnetta has done,  you also change the lives of the kids in that community.  Tequila Barnes has three young kids whose lives have been changed (new clothes and shoes and a brighter future) by her employment.  Deneka Green has a little boy who got an opportunity to see Santa for Christmas and Anjernette Bowens has a son who has a different outlook on life – a spark of hope.

Donnetta Payne, hiring manager at Wolff-Fording writes:

“I have found working with Embrace Richmond to be very rewarding in helping other young people find employment and self-worth and to be successful in their daily lives.”




I met Donnetta through a speaking event at her church, Calvary United Methodist Church.  I never imagined that this one conversation would change the lives of 8 individuals so radically.  However, the impact is not limited to those who are getting jobs and their immediate families, it extends to those who are watching these single moms move ahead in life.  Their success is a motivator for others who had lost hope.

Our most sincere gratitude is extended to Wolff-Fording Dance Wear for being an agent of hope in our city.

If you are an employer interested in helping us end poverty in our city, please consider working with Charles and the Embrace Richmond team by providing employment opportunities for those with barriers to employment.  You can contact for further information on how you can get involved.