Meet The Interns

Meet The Interns

Embrace Richmond has heard and seen so many inspiring stories throughout Richmond and over the years. If we’re lucky enough, sometimes we become part of those stories. In an effort to share the stories of people who go above and beyond to lift up their communities and themselves, we have created a team of storytellers. This team of five interns will be on the ground in Richmond neighborhoods and communities over the next few months finding the best and most creative ways to get these stories heard. They are an enthusiastic group and are eager to learn all they can about the members of the Richmond community, but before they can do that, they want to tell you a little about themselves. Kelli McNeal is a born and raised Ohio-an who moved to Richmond in the summer of 2013. She is working on completing a dual degree in Masters of Divinity at Baptist Theological Seminary in Richmond and a Masters in Social Work at Virginia Commonwealth University. She has Bachelors degrees in Accounting and Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies from Ohio State University.  She married August 1st in Sidney, Ohio and is currently enjoying life as a newlywed.  She is an avid Ohio State University fan and loves taking a break from studying to watch the Buckeyes play any sport. She has been with Embrace Richmond since September and is currently working in North Side to help expand the block-by-block approach that has already had great success.  She is excited to work with amazing resident leaders and to experience the passion for their communities.   Owen Bagley  comes to us from Atlanta,...
2015: Our Most Impactful Year

2015: Our Most Impactful Year

As we reflect on this past year, the word that comes to mind is impactful. At the beginning of 2015, we were engaged in asset-based community development efforts in two neighborhoods. At the end of 2015, we are blessed to be supporting efforts in seven neighborhoods with two more community engagement efforts under development. This rapid expansion in asset-based community development efforts across Metro Richmond is the direct result of the hard work of our community partners who successfully completed both our Mission Shift training programs and the summer Dream Catcher projects. We are thrilled to have had the opportunity to train over 200 church and community leaders in ABCD in 2015. The video below contains the highlights of this past year: The most exciting achievement this year was the expansion of the Dream Catcher project which engaged over 20 neighborhood youth in the community building efforts in their neighborhoods. As a result of their hard work, seven new action teams were formed. These teams are addressing issues of safety, community connectedness, economic revitalization, school strengthening and youth activities. Below is a short video about this project: Additionally, Embrace Richmond turned 10 years old this year and celebrated our 10 year journey with nearly 100 of our closest friends and supporters. We have captured the highlights of this 10 year journey in this video. The amazing year we had would not have been possible without our community partners, our donors, our wonderful staff, the hardworking neighborhood leaders, our board of directors and the countless volunteers who have served so faithfully. Please help us make 2016 even more impactful by...
The Journey Begins in Broadwater

The Journey Begins in Broadwater

Thunder rumbled in the distance on Thursday as Quiana and Isah walked to the clubhouse at the Broadwater Townhomes. It was the first day of interviews for Embrace Richmond’s summer Dream Catchers Project in their neighborhood and these Thomas Dale High School students were early, eager to meet neighbors and hear stories of their life and dreams for the future. Sharniece, another Dale student, soon joined them. The girls set out on foot, accompanied by members of Chester United Methodist Church, a community partner for Broadwater. What did they learn on this first day of listening? One neighbor is a nurse on disability who speaks Hebrew. “She wants to add speed bumps,” Quiana said. “She thinks people go really fast here.” Another neighbor plays bass guitar and paints pictures. He wants people to stop littering and wants to be able to put things on his porch without worrying that they’ll disappear. Sharniece’s neighbor is a youth pastor at a local church. He lamented the lack of a community center. These townhomes are filled with children and teens, but the streets were empty on a summer afternoon, as was the community center until these young ladies gathered to prepare for their interviews. It wasn’t the heat or the threat of rain keeping them inside. There simply isn’t anything to do here, a reality that makes all three young ladies sad. Sharniece moved here from Winchester Green. “They had snack time, game time, time where you can get on computers,” she said. “It was open all the time. You just signed in, got involved, and everyone was welcome. In the summer...
Filled to Overflowing, Together

Filled to Overflowing, Together

On the last Tuesday evening before public school dismissed for summer, members of Chester United Methodist Church gathered with residents at the Broadwater public housing community for fun and fellowship and to launch the Library Box project. The church brought a large box and a few dozen books for kids to read during the summer. There would be no system for checking out books other than the honor system – take one, read it, bring it back, and take another. “We were asking people to watch over the box, to own the box,” the Rev. Sylvia Meadows, senior pastor of Chester UMC, said. “An amazing thing happened that blew my socks off. While we were there, some of the residents started bringing books to put in the box. We had too many books to fit in the box. How cool is that? ” That embodies the concept of asset-based community development (ABCD), which is at the heart of the Embrace Richmond mission to change neighborhoods from the inside out. With ABCD, it’s all about identifying strengths and gifts in a community and working with those community leaders to use their gifts and bring about change from within. ABCD resonated deeply with Chester’s UMC members, as they completed Embrace’s Mission Shift training. “It really connected with our church people,” said Dr. Jim Davis, Chester UMC’s Director of Spiritual Formation. ‘OK, Lord, what gifts have you placed here in the communities?’” Chester UMC members were deep in prayerful discernment for God’s will when two church members heard Wendy McCaig, Embrace Richmond’s Executive Director, speak at another local church. Soon thereafter, Chester...
A Wall of Gifts

A Wall of Gifts

By Essie Reinke On Monday, after a long afternoon of orientation and training, the Broadwater Community Dream Catchers Team of high school youth concluded our session by celebrating their gifts and talents. Part of their program this summer is to uncover the gifts and talents of their neighbors. What better way to start, than by discerning your own? We broke down “gifts and talents” into three basic categories – gifts of the head, gifts of the hands, and gifts of the heart. I gave them nine sticky notes and challenged them to come up with three gifts they had for each category. We had so many responses! So many, in fact, that they couldn’t even fit on the page!  From athletes and actresses, to scholars and fashionistas, to mechanics and weight lifters, there were so many gifts to celebrate. The end product, The Wall of Gifts, is beautiful, but the process in which it occurred was just as beautiful. At first, the students were struggling to come up with ideas of what they were good at. Everybody seemed at a loss. Then, they started working together, and I heard the students reminding each other of their strengths: “Remember that one time you helped me with my science homework?” “I wish I loved basketball as much as you.” “You were so patient that time you taught me how to make origami.” This wave of encouragement carried over to our gift sharing, where each individual stood up to share each of their nine gifts as they stuck their notes to the wall. The students watched and shared in the joy of their...