Students Strengthening Communities – Post #4 Neighborhood Spotlight Series

Students Strengthening Communities – Post #4 Neighborhood Spotlight Series

  “Is my school a community? Because my school needs more help than my neighborhood.” While engaging in the Dream Catcher listening project this summer, talking about the issues facing a community, one young person posed the very poignant question of “Is my school a community?” The question came as a surprise and it was clear that the answer is an obvious YES, of course a school is a community, and a community with strengths and assets and a culture, like any geographically defined community. The question was a call to extend the ABCD model to schools; and so Students for RPS (Richmond Public Schools) was born and the desire to have student voices heard through advocacy was made clear. When advocating for stronger schools, the student voice is important, but not always heard and students don’t know how to organize in a way that ensures they are invited to the table on these issues that so greatly impact them.  Across the country there are a number of organizations like Students Leading Students, who are are seeking to assist students in advocating for policy change at the local school level.  Here in Richmond, The Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities is one of the organizations seeking to impact school culture.  VCIC holds intensive retreats for High School students to develop an action plan that will be implemented by the students.  However, our research revealed very few opportunities for High School students to engage in a way that impacts their entire school system. Students for RPS grew out of the desire of a group of students who wanted to advocate for...
Conversations on Race and Community: Neighborhood Spotlight Series Post #3

Conversations on Race and Community: Neighborhood Spotlight Series Post #3

This semester we are blessed to have a team of amazing interns.  We have assigned each to neighborhood action teams across the city and have asked them to document what they are learning about each team.  This week, our insights come from Emily Krudys, a student at Union Presbyterian Seminary.   I have lived in Richmond for almost twenty years, but barely know my neighbors outside of my near West End community.  Now as a seminary student at Union Presbyterian Seminary on Brook Road, and as an intern with Embrace Richmond this is changing, and I am changing.  It is about time.   I am meeting new neighbors in the Northside community of Barton Heights and surrounding areas along Brookland Park Boulevard.  This community, along with the folks at All Souls Presbyterian Church , are seeking to create a “beloved community” and examine “who is my neighbor” and what it means to seek to “love your neighbor.”   They are hosting open, frank, and caring conversations about Race and Community  on the first Thursday of every month.  The topic of the first meeting was simply “What kind of community do you want?”  In that conversation, I learned that my Northside neighbors are from a proud and strong heritage, a neighborhood where some families have lived for generations.   This is a community that, in 1952, with courage, foresight, and intention, formed the first integrated Presbyterian church at All Souls.  Now, coming together again as neighbors, we seek a community that is safe and connected.  A neighborhood that is open and “neighborly,” but where neighbors, old and new, respect the history,...
The Spirituality of Community Building – Neighborhood Spotlight Series #2

The Spirituality of Community Building – Neighborhood Spotlight Series #2

These wonderful insights into the spirituality of community building come to us from Owen Bagley, one of our thoughtful interns.  What began as a prayer group on Brookland Park Boulevard, today continues as members of the Northside neighborhood come together to pray for their community. In honor of Week of Prayer for Christian Unity the group reflected on the meaning of Christian unity.  Is Christ’s body divided?  What does it look like to have unity without uniformity?  Is Christian diversity important or beneficial? With a multitude of Christian traditions represented, the members of the prayer group discussed the aspects of faith which each tradition contributes to the larger body of Christ.  In this eye opening discussion we each shared how we learn, benefit, and grow spiritually through conversations and interactions with one another.  Each tradition brings a unique element to the table, all of which further and strengthen the Christian body. In our Richmond communities, diversity is ever present.  Yet through prayer and conversation, this group of Northside neighbors has found value in such a blessing. As a student in seminary, I found this discussion to be particularly applicable to my life.  One of the members of the prayer group shared an enlightening metaphor of the Christian body.  He said that when we reflect on our bodies, what we often notice are the cuts and bruises, the scrapes and the infections.  These areas of the body, however small they might be, often draw the majority of our attention.  Of course, we cannot ignore the wounds our bodies receive; wounds need healing.  Yet, they often consume our focus and 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...
Mission Shift Training: OC3

Mission Shift Training: OC3

Come join Embrace Richmond for a special series of Mission Shift Training hosted by OC3!   An OC3 Special Event: Mission Shift Training   When: Monday, March 14 Time: 7-9 PM Details: The address for this training session is: Carter G. Woodson Middle School, 1000 Winston Churchill Drive, Hopewell, VA RSVP today via e-mail:...
Mission Shift Training: Belmont UMC

Mission Shift Training: Belmont UMC

Come join Embrace Richmond for a special series of Mission Shift Training hosted by the Belmont United Methodist Church!   Mission Shift: Overview When: Sunday, February 21 Time: 1-3 PM *Lunch will be served from 12:15-1:00 PM, suggested donation of $8* Mission Shift: Session 1 When: Thursday, February 25 Time: 6-8 PM *Dinner will be served from 5:15-5:50 PM, suggested donation of $8* Mission Shift: Session 2 When: Thursday, March 3 Time: 6-8 PM *Dinner will be served from 5:15-5:50 PM, suggested donation of $8* Mission Shift: Session 3 When: Thursday, March 17 Time: 6-8 PM *Dinner will be served from 5:15-5:50 PM, suggested donation of $8* Persons wishing to participate in the Mission Shift training to be held at Belmont UMC should email their intent to: belmontumcrichmond@gmail.com no later than February 18th for planning...
Mission Shift Training: Union Presbyterian Seminary

Mission Shift Training: Union Presbyterian Seminary

Come join Embrace Richmond for a special series of Mission Shift Training hosted by the Union Presbyterian Seminary! This training is open to Union students, alumni and friends of the seminary. Mission Shift: Overview When: Monday, February 22 Time: 6-8 PM Mission Shift: “Needs” to “Assets” When: Monday, February 29 Time: 6-8 PM Mission Shift: “Working Our Plan” to “Joining God’s Work” When: Monday, March 7 Time: 6-8 PM Details: The sessions will be held in Lake Chapel, Early Center and dinner will be served 5:45-6:00 PM each night. The price of dinner is $5 for non-students.   Click here to register...
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...
Embrace Insights: Shady Hill Community Builders Training

Embrace Insights: Shady Hill Community Builders Training

Embrace Richmond had the great opportunity to work with the Shady Hill community last month and introduced them to our community builders training. Members of the community came together to find out what their strengths were and the most effective ways to put these strengths into action and improve their community. After all of our community building training sessions, we ask the participants to let us know what they learned and how their perspectives have changed in result. Here are some of our favorite insights: The most rewarding thing has been to be able to be an active participant with a team to make the community better.   (This training) helped me to see the community I serve in as a place to see the residents grow and develop their gifts.   I feel like the ABCD model can work for any nonprofit that works in the community. We are so proud of the Shady Hill community and look forward to all of the change they will bring to their community. If you are interested in community building training for your community or ministry, e-mail Wendy McCaig at wendy@embracerichmond.org for more...