2017 Neighbor Power: Year in Review

2017 Neighbor Power: Year in Review

For those of you who don’t know us, we are an Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) organization that trains, coaches and financially supports youth and adult leaders working to bring about positive changes in their neighborhoods. During the upcoming campaign, we want to highlight the neighbor powered development taking place in the Historic Brookland Park area.  Through prior listening projects, residents identified crime, a lack of social trust, youth unemployment and blight along the commercial corridor as the key issues facing their community. Last year, our faithful donors gave $15,000 during our 2016 Young Heroes campaign to expand our youth development efforts into a year-round program called Young Leaders in the Brookland Park area. These donations were generously matched by Financial Consultants of America enabling us to reach our goal of $30,000.   To keep the momentum going in Brookland Park, we need your support to reach our 2017 goal of $30,000. To help us achieve this goal, our faithful supporters from Financial Consultants of America are once again offering to match dollar-for-dollar up to $15,000 in gifts received from this campaign. If you share our belief that great neighbors make neighborhoods great, please donate during our Neighbor Power Campaign. The majority of the action teams and initiatives listed below were started over the past year and would not have been possible without your faithful support. Remember to keep up with our #ABCD happenings by “like-ing” and following our Embrace Richmond page on Facebook. Comprehensive list of initiatives and programs:   Brookland Park Young Leaders Project: Helps older youth advance toward college and a career by providing paid internship opportunities in their own neighborhood.  This program is coordinated by resident leader: Kevin Starlings.  Youth Development Steering Team: Launched in 2017 Action team leaders and partner organizations work together to expand opportunities for youth.   Young Leaders Club: Launched in 2017 Provides youth with paid internship opportunities, adult mentorship, and peer to peer support as they assume pivotal roles in strengthening their own neighborhood(s). Community Listening Projects:  Youth are paid... read more
“Each One, Teach One”: A Great Neighbor Reflects on Giving Youth a Chance

“Each One, Teach One”: A Great Neighbor Reflects on Giving Youth a Chance

Embrace Richmond is proud to announce that Boogaloo’s Bar and Grill is a recipient of a $500 Great Neighbor Award to support their efforts to create jobs for young adults who live in the Historic Brookland Park area.  We are thankful that Nerisa Ford and her team not only hired Levon Murry, one of our young leaders, but that they have been willing to host many of our community conversations free of charge.   Nerisa chose to open Boogaloo’s at 210 W. Brookland Park Boulevard because she was “drawn to the area’s history, and its proximity to downtown and the VCU area”. But Nerisa also saw a different opportunity – to create a gathering space for the neighborhood. Neighbors can “get to know one another through conversations at the bar, watching their favorite teams on TV and listening to music”. Her Cajun-inspired menu and the bar-n-grill feel of her restaurant is an inviting addition to the boulevard. Nerisa hopes that other businesses continue to move to the Brookland Park Historic Area, giving residents more places to walk to and work.    Brookland Park has been a “supportive customer-base ” for Boogaloo’s but retaining employees posed other challenges. Nerisa decided to embody her mantra of “Each One, Teach One” by hiring youth from the neighborhood. “Levon (pictured below with one or our bartenders) has become an integral part of the Boogaloos family.  He is a hard worker, has an engaging personality, is willing to learn all aspects of the business, and is always on time.” Businesses who do not view youth as viable for employment are missing out on an... read more
Keeping Up with Deasia

Keeping Up with Deasia

She’s Amazing! Deasia is definitely a Young Leader. Have you ever met a young person with boldness, spunk, curiosity and compassion all in one? If you haven’t, you might want to sit down and have a conversation with this John Marshall High School 10th grader. Brookland Park has been home to Deasia her entire life. In fact, her great grandmother grew up and still lives in Brookland Park! Deasia has been leading the way in conducting community listening interviews with her neighbors.  In the midst off her taking 2 AP classes, assisting her mother with taking care of her little brother and finding time for a social life, Deasia has thought of many ways to enhance Embrace’s Young Leaders Program. In the coming months, she will be promoted from Community Listening Intern to Team Building Apprentice. Her gifts are that she is able to care and be a good listener to others.  She dreams to become an attorney and the skills she is gaining as a community organizer through the Young Leaders will surely put her on the right path. Stay tuned for more news on Ms. Deasia!  ... read more
Shifting Narratives by Highlighting Great Neighbors

Shifting Narratives by Highlighting Great Neighbors

  For fun, I like to flip the channel between CNN, MSNBC and Fox just to watch how fluid “reality” is.  They all have the same facts, but the stories they tell have completely different meanings and impact on their viewers. History teaches us that whoever controls the narrative controls our perception of reality. When my husband and I first moved to the Richmond region in 2002, we were told the city was a dangerous place and it had the ominous title as the “murder capital of the commonwealth.” We were told the schools were failing, the neighborhoods drug infested and the city government was completely dysfunctional.  This is the narrative we heard and thus this became our perception of the city.  So, we moved into the far suburbs as far from “that place” as we could get. Then in 2004, I decided to go to seminary and had to commute into “that place” called the city of Richmond. I quickly discovered that my perception was not the reality.  I discovered parts of our city were beautiful, safe and inviting.  I discovered locked in the pages of her past, our city held the key to understanding how that false narrative grew into the dominate narrative of the day. A narrative fueled by decades of racism. This launched me on a journey that ultimately led me and my family to move into one of those so called “dangerous” neighborhoods in 2013.  What I discovered was a neighborhood filled with some of the most loving, inspiring, and insightful people I have ever known. I realized we needed to counter the dominate... read more
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... read more
Good News Report!

Good News Report!

This summer has been an exciting one!  We received a $10,000 grant from Culture Works to deepen our listening and storytelling efforts in the Historic Brookland Park area, through a project called Unsung Heroes.  We also received a $5,000 grant from Bank of America to support the expansion of our Young Leaders Program which many of you financially supported during our year end campaign. As I shared back in April, we also received a partnership grant from VCU to deepen our relationship with VCU and the city of Richmond. We hired Jackie Washington in May to spearhead the Young Leaders and Unsung Heroes efforts and we have recruited and trained six neighborhood youth. This fall they will be capturing the stories of unsung heroes in the Historic Brookland Park area as they begin designing and developing their own community strengthening projects. Please check out our Facebook page for profiles of the youth and the unsung heroes they are discovering. https://www.facebook.com/EmbraceRichmond/ We have also partnered with Bing Bicycle Company to launch a youth-led Bike Shop, named “Joe’s Bike Shop,” which will operate at our All Souls location on Saturday’s from 9:00-2:00 starting Saturday September 2nd. If you have a bike to donate or are in need of bike repairs, visit “Joe’s Bike Shop” at 19 Overbrook Road, Richmond Va. 23222.  Also please “like” Joe’s Facebook page. We are also thrilled to announce that Woodlake UMC will be hosting our Mission Shift Training series in January of 2018.  The training will be open to members of congregations and organizations who are a part of our ABCD network.  Please follow us on Facebook for... read more
Announcing Joe’s Bike Shop- A Youth Led Social Enterprise

Announcing Joe’s Bike Shop- A Youth Led Social Enterprise

We are excited to announce Embrace’s newest venture, Emerging Entrepreneur Enterprises(E3). E3 will eventually become an incubator for social enterprises that are designed to help youth advance toward college and careers. As a true incubator, E3 does not own the social enterprises. They each have their own ownership structures that empower the participants of each enterprise to become the owners. The first E3 enterprise is Joe’s Bike Shop! This enterprise came about from Embrace’s collaboration with Bing Bicycle Company. Joe’s Bike Shop will operate at our All Souls (19 Overbrook Road RVA 23222) on Saturdays from 9:00-2:00 starting Saturday September 2nd. If you have a bike to donate or are in need of bike repairs please go by the shop! Also please “like” the shop’s Facebook page... read more
Keeping Up with Levon

Keeping Up with Levon

One of our newest Young Leaders is Levon Murray. Levon is someone who has been connected with Embrace since he was 19. Levon is 23 now and we can see his maturity! When he began partnering with Embrace it was through a neighborhood landscaping group led by Embrace’s youth outreach partner, Rudy. That connection grew into Levon joining the Young Leaders program which focuses on teaching youth and young adults about community building. Levon has shared that his dream for his community is that neighbors can learn to be more connected. He shared that he does not know many of his neighbors and does not venture far from his block. He wants to change this.  Levon has been trained in community listening and is ready to gain insight from Brookland Park’s block connectors on building community cohesion.   The other awesome part about working with Embrace is that Levon does not have to leave behind his interest in landscaping.  Embrace is currently creating a structure that allows teens to start social enterprises! Levon has expressed that his long term goal is to be a business owner. Combining his interest in connecting residents, landscaping and business Levon is crafting what he wants his social enterprise to look like and his Young Leaders internship will be customized to fit this vision. Stay tuned on how this unfolds for Levon!... read more
Spotlighing Eric Axelson

Spotlighing Eric Axelson

Spotlighting Eric Axelson Eric is the convener of the North Central Civic Association(NCCA) here in Richmond, VA. The term “convener” is truly important to Eric as he doesn’t consider himself someone that “leads” people but someone that brings people together. From Embrace’s time working with Eric we believe this to be true. His ability to rally and motivate his peers is remarkable. He is also extremely humble. One of the main reasons that he got involved in serving his community in this capacity is because of how welcoming the community was to him. He recalled how warm and in harmony the neighborhood felt when he moved in. Embrace is excited to see residents like Eric come forward to facilitate change in their community. We are even more excited to hear his neighborhood set the stage for this engagement in the first place. Whether residents consider themselves leaders or not, neighbors like Eric are what this city needs when it comes to mobilizing resident-led initiatives. We thank you Eric! We hope that you continue to serve and we enjoy supporting you in whatever way we can!... read more

Embrace Richmond Awarded Culture Works Grant!

  Embrace Richmond received one of  Culture Works annual grants which will allow us to launch our new project “Unsung Heroes”. Embedded in our Young Leaders program, youth will get a chance to learn about the heroic pasts  of Brookland Park’s longtime residents. We consider these residents to be “unsung heroes.” In the Young Leaders program, youth engage in community listening before they join an action team or begin their own community initiative in order to learn what fellow residents care about. Unsung Heroes provides a creative way for youth to do this. Through creative mediums like verbal and written storytelling, video production and theatrical performances, youth will be able to both learn and share the decorated histories of Brookland Park residents-and have fun along the... read more