Great Neighbor Awards! Congrats Ellen!

Great Neighbor Awards! Congrats Ellen!

The Great Neighbor Award Goes to…. Ellen Avila! Written by Pam Hersnir It is winter and it is cold.  A homeless man stands on the side of the road on the south side of Richmond. He has no coat. Ellen, the director of Belmont Methodist Church’s (BMC) clothing closet drives by and notices the man is shivering.  Instead of going home, Ellen stops by the clothing closet, grabs a warm coat and takes it to the man. A man who just got custody of his two grandchildren (18 months and two years old) stops by the clothing closet.  He tells Ellen he has no idea what to get the children.  Ellen gets a bag and finds what necessary items two children would need.  She then tells him to come back the following week and she will have another bag ready for him. A woman whose mother just died asked Ellen to help her clean out her mother’s house.  Ellen goes to the house and helps the woman with the difficult task of going through her mother’s belongings.  The woman then donates the remainder of her mother’s items to the clothing closet. Ellen notices while working at the clothing closet that children rarely get to pick an item for themselves.  Starting in August, Ellen begins to collect and set aside toys that were donated.  In December, Ellen sets up a table with over 200 toys.  The table is for children only.  Children coming to the clothing closet were so excited that they were able to pick  toys for themselves. Most of the time, there are plenty of donations for the...
Mission Shift Training Staunton UMC

Mission Shift Training Staunton UMC

  On May 23rd, Wendy McCaig facilitated the second session of Mission Shift Training with more than 70 individual lay and pastoral leaders.  This training was hosted by the Staunton District of the United Methodist Church and churches came from across the region.  This training was unique because of the number of congregational leaders seeking to implement asset-based principles in a rural context.  This is important because according to the Wall Street Journal, rural counties rank the worst compared to medium or small metro areas, big cities and suburbs in regard to measures of socioeconomic well being.  In the past, the worst rankings were found in urban areas. There was a wonderful energy to this group as they shared ideas on how to contextualize the Asset-based Community Development model.  It was exciting to see them tailor the principles to their community. They gave examples of how their various churches were building stronger communities through their various missions efforts.  This collaborative conversation was the highlight of the training for many. Below are a few quotes from the participants in this training: “I am hopeful. These aren’t just concepts…they are proven!” “I realize that ministry is not just about “giving” but about relationship.” “The tools I learned today were most rewarding!” If you are interested in receiving or learning more about ABCD visit here or email Wendy at wendy@embracerichmond.org.  Ademy, J., Overberg, P. (2017, May 26).Rural America Is the New “Inner City”. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from...
Young Leaders Clubs: The Journey and The Dream

Young Leaders Clubs: The Journey and The Dream

In 2012, when Embrace Richmond began doing community building work in the Historic Brookland Park area, one of the top concerns we heard was, “I wish someone would get the young men to stop dealing drugs on the street corners.” Longtime Embrace Richmond resident leader, Rudy Green, shared this dream.  He had been one of those young men when he was younger and had lost much of his adult life to drugs, crime and incarceration. One day Rudy approached a group of young men who were dealing drugs on the same corner at the same time that the High School bus dropped off the neighborhood youth.  Rudy asked the young men, “What is it going to take to get you off this corner?”  The young men answered him, “A job.” Rudy came back to our leadership team and shared the story.  He then proposed that we try to reach young people before they get to that point.  A few months later, Rudy started a mentoring group for young boys.  When we asked the boys if they could do anything to make their neighborhood better for young people what they would do, they said, “Provide a safe place to hang out and provide jobs so we can earn some money.” Over the next few years, Rudy meet with the boys weekly and our leadership team helped Rudy create small job opportunities for these young men.  They started a lawn care service, Embrace funded internships at local businesses, we encouraged our supporters to hire the young men for odd jobs.  However, none of these projects were consistent or sustainable with our...
Neighborhood Spotlight Series #1: Anita in Northside

Neighborhood Spotlight Series #1: Anita in Northside

When I began interning at Embrace Richmond in September, asset based community development was a new and terrifying concept for me. I was brand new to the world of social work and community development and had never used, let alone heard, this language before. It took almost an entire semester and several hours of research and training to understand what it means to do asset-based community development. The problem was, I understood ABCD intellectually, but I was having a difficult time envisioning what this model would look like “in the real world.” I was overwhelmed with the magnitude of this work, and how one small organization could make the impact that Wendy envisioned. This semester, I get to experience firsthand how a block-by-block approach to ABCD works in one Northside neighborhood. Tuesday night, I sat in the living room of one of our resident leaders and watched her passion and desire to see her dreams for her neighborhood come through as she spoke to more potential resident leaders. Her name was Anita and she spoke from the depths of her heart as she explained the work she has accomplished over this past year to create numerous successful events that brought her neighborhood together. She spoke honestly about the struggles and the hurts that she faced as neighbors wrestled with her vision and even hosted gatherings to criticize her efforts. She started her work as a block connector by simply asking her neighbors what they thought would help make her block better. In the beginning, things were slow. At the first game night, one neighbor showed up, but Anita was determined...
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...