Evan Smith joins the Diversity Richmond Team

“Because, despite everything, you haven’t lost your hunger…” -- Diana Khoi Nguyen

Evan SmithEvan comes to Diversity Richmond after four years in Lynchburg where he worked at the Academy Center of the Arts. A Richmond native, Evan is happy to be back home. “I’ve missed family and friends that I haven’t been able to see as much over the years. Seeing my dad multiple times a week is the best thing I could ask for. A part of me feels whole again.”

While in Lynchburg, Evan was part of a talented team responsible for restoring, reopening, and racially integrating an 835-seat historic theater that had not been in operation since 1958. The process was years in the making and continues today to ensure that the entire community feels welcomed and served. “Integrating spaces is more than one moment or law. Building trust with communities takes generations, so it’s essential to understand that there is always work to be done and the process never ends.”

Evan remembers the stories he’s heard and the ones he’s experienced: his father recalls the racism he experienced by having rocks thrown at him on his way to school, and Evan will never forget existing alongside white supremacists in Charlottesville. “The past and present drive me to move forward. I yearn for growth, safety, and change. We deserve that, and I’m thankful to have the ability to do something about it.”

He has been shaped by many of his life experiences which have led him to Diversity Richmond. While working at the National Urban League Washington Bureau, he was present outside of the Supreme Court for the 2015 marriage equality decision. He met Dr. Maya Angelou in college, and he attended an Afrikana Film Festival event featuring Dr. Angela Davis at the VMFA. “I try to use these moments as motivation to keep pushing forward when I’m exhausted. If Dr. Davis can still find time to smile, I guess I can too.”

At Diversity Richmond, Evan hopes to reclaim the words diversity, equality, and equity to mean something more than the co-opted buzzwords they’ve become. “I live with an appreciation for the versions of ourselves that never felt safe to exist, and I hope my work will allow more people to exist authentically. He wants people to feel seen and heard by ensuring that tangible action is prioritized, not platitudes.

“We are very pleased that Evan decided to join our team,” shared Diversity Executive Director, Bill Harrison. “Evan will take our outreach programs to the next level. While we have accomplished much, we have much work to do and he is the ideal person to lead our efforts.”

“If you have come here to help me you are wasting your time, but if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.” --Lilla Watson

Black and Bold Awards Ceremony February 28

Black And Bold Committee

Black and Bold RVA

Our annual recognition of outstanding Black LGBTQ leadership, The Black and Bold Awards, will be held Friday, February 28th, 7:00 P.M. at the University of Richmond’s Jepson Alumni Center, 442 Westhampton Way.

This recognition is critical in creating more awareness about the contributions of Black LGBTQ+ individuals and allies throughout Virginia. Lots more information is forthcoming, but if you have questions, please email or call him at 622-4646.

Pictured above: Planning this year’s Black and Bold ceremony is Keith Watts, Evan Smith and Zakia McKensey

Boomer Mag reaches out

Boomer Robyn

BOOMER reached out to recognized and beloved media personalities from around Richmond - TV, radio and print, contemporary and fondly remembered - and asked about their favorite places to make memories, in Richmond and nearby. Here's what Diversity Richmond board member and vice chair Robyn Bentley had to say.

ROBYN BENTLEY

My favorite Richmond place to make memories is Diversity Richmond. I have been a volunteer here since 2014 and currently serve as vice chair of the board of directors. This is Richmond's hub for diversity, for all folks to gather to celebrate and socialize,have community conversations on important issues, attend lectures and classes, play Drag Bingo, create art, to mourn a loss together, or simply to shop for bargains at Diversity Thrift. This one building is responsible for so many positive experiences and is where I have made friends among those who are passionate about issues, art and community. There is no doubt I will continue to make even more memories as well as friends here at Diversity Richmond.

Robyn Bentley was a teenage DJ and one of the first women on the radio in Virginia, during her senior year of high school, 1979. She worked in radio for 20 years before taking a 19-year hiatus to run her Feng Shui Diva consultancy. Bentley returned to the airwaves in 2018 on Boomtown Richmond, where she's program director and afternoon host.

@BoomerMag

Triangle Award for Philanthropy

Wanda FearsLongtime community activist and Diversity Richmond supporter, Wanda Fears is being recognized with the Triangle Award for Philanthropy. For as long as most people can remember, Wanda has played a significant role in the life of Diversity Richmond. Her generosity has meaningfully enabled us to provide help for countless numbers of people and expand programs that are sorely needed in our community.

Thoughtful, straight-forward with a delightful sense of humor, Wanda’s generosity is also felt by numerous other causes in our fair city. Her professionalism and success as a real estate agent, has caused her name to become a recognizable one in the business sector. Wanda never says “no” when we ask. We now say a huge “yes” in recognizing this outstanding woman and leader in our community.

Outstanding Volunteer Service

FernandoWe are very proud to recognize Fernando Rodriguez with the President’s Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service. Just a short while ago Diversity Richmond received a grant from the Laughing Gull Foundation to support intentional outreach to the Latinx community. We called Fernando who quickly said yes to chairing the event. The result was the hugely successful “ViVaRVA! Hispanic Music Festival,” which drew hundreds of people to Diversity Richmond.

The weekend prior, Fernando coordinated an awards ceremony for significant LGBTQ leadership in the Hispanic community. Both events joined countless numbers of people who had never connected with Diversity Richmond before.

Prior to the music festival, Fernando provided beautiful graphics, designs and guidance in the orchestration of our award- winning “Black and Bold Awards,” recognizing outstanding leadership of Black LGBTQ people. “Fernando is a dream volunteer who I wish I could clone,” shared Bill Harrison. “He sets a high standard for himself and strives for excellence which makes all of us look good. We are very pleased to recognize him with this award and in some small way share our deep appreciation for him”

Holiday Shopping and Helping Your Community at the Same Time!

Diversity Thrift Christmas Art

Diversity Thrift is much more than just a secondhand store. It is also a means to significantly help the LGBT community. This is one way we have been able to donate over $1 Million to local causes.

Pictured are just a few samples of the art that is available in our classroom. Quite a variety and would make a great gift. Just ask one of our wonderful store employees for help when visiting. Follow us on facebook @diversity.thrift
(804) 353-8890

Black & Bold Awards

Black and Bold RVA

Diversity Richmond is pleased to announce our annual Black & Bold Awards on February 28, 2020 at the University of Richmond. Please save the date as more information will be made public in the coming weeks.

The Black & Bold Awards is an annual celebration to commemorate everyday people working in the LGBTQ+ community. This recognition is critical to create more awareness about the contributions of Black LGBTQ+ individuals and allies throughout Virginia. We invite you to nominate individuals who have displayed exemplary leadership as advocates for the LGBTQ+ community. Nominations should be emailed to Programming Coordinator, Evan Smith (), by January 10, 2020. We encourage you to use the prompts below as a loose guide for your written nomination narrative.

What did the nominee do to be worthy of consideration and what were the results?

  • Projects/activities the nominee led or worked on
  • Stories that show the tangible impact of the nominees work
  • Specific benefits/tangible outcomes from their work

How did the nominee achieve their goals (leadership, teamwork, creativity, work ethic etc.)?

  • Stories that show the character of the nominee
  • Any challenges or issues encountered and overcome

Local Man Escaped the Stonewall Raid, Firsthand Account

Unger

Local LGBTQ activist, Don Davenport was working at Stonewall the night of the infamous police raid fifty years ago. His personal account of that night and other harassment by police is a history lesson that we all need to hear. Listen to the podcast. I promise you will be impacted by his story.

Pictured: Chuck Unger and Don Davenport have been a mainstay in local activism for years. Don worked at Stonewall and was there the night of the raid.

Meet LeVar Carter, Diversity Richmond’s new event coordinator

LeVar Carter“Just two weeks into the job here at Diversity Richmond, it is amazing to discover the greater sense of community and belonging I have already found working with everyone. Having grown up in the area as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I have attended several events here in the past and shopped in the thrift store over the years, but it is exciting to actually join the team.”

“I bring a unique set of life experiences with me having managed hostels, kitchens, events, retreats, art exhibitions, workshops, and classes all over the country and beyond in my years of travel. My top three might be dogsledding in Sweden under the norther lights, yoga teacher training in the rainforest of Costa Rica, and road tripping across the USA including Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon.

These experiences, and the lessons learned through them, give me a sense of creative compassion in my work. This allows me to foster connections with almost anyone, and to learn, grow, and lead in the various roles I take on here at Diversity Richmond.”

“In short order, my time here at Diversity Richmond has shown me the power of cooperation. Like a superhero team, everyone brings different strengths and challenges to the table, but when we work together, combining the efforts of staff, volunteers, members, and community partners, we can accomplish truly amazing feats. I hope everyone who walks through our doors and enjoys themselves at our events, can experience a sense of belonging and community, and be inspired to become a hero in their own sense. This is how we build a better world together.”

Your Support Allows Diversity to Help Many People

blankets

Leigh Guinty of the local nonprofit, The Memphis Project, asked if Diversity Thrift could donate blankets for the homeless. And of course, we said yes. We are able to participate in this type project because of the generosity of our donors. We all take much for granted and most of us cannot imagine being cold. But, many others can. Pictured are Leigh, our VCU Social Work Intern, John Bowles and store employee, Ava Entzminger.

$50,000 now available through 2019 grants program

DIVERSITY RICHMOND OFFERING $50,000 IN GRANTS FOR 2020!

Celebrating 20 years of building community

Since 1999, Diversity Richmond has contributed more than $1 Million in support of the local LGBT community. This does not include the thousands of dollars in food, clothing and furniture vouchers for those in need. Nor does it include the free use of meeting spaces that countless numbers of organizations use most every night.

In recognition of Diversity’s twentieth anniversary, the organization is donating $50,000 in grant funding. This is the largest sum offered through the grants program in years. The awards will be announced at the annual “Diversity Richmond Celebrates” on Thursday, November 21st at 7:00 P.M. in the Diversity event hall. More details on the celebration will be forthcoming.

Diversity will give one $20,000 grant, two $10,000 grants and two $5,000 awards. Applications are due by 5:00 P.M., Monday, November 4th. Please see link for applications.

If you have questions, please email . No phone calls please.

Deadline for applications is
Monday, November 4, 2019 by 5:00 P.M.

Click on this link to download the application

The board, staff and volunteers of Diversity Richmond gratefully acknowledges the support of our wonderful community. We could never do what we do without you.

To support Diversity Richmond, donate by credit card here or mail checks to Diversity Richmond, 1407 Sherwood Avenue, Richmond, VA 23220.

Diversity Richmond Employee Highlight

Ivan at Diversity Richmond“I really think I’m in my happiest days being here at Diversity."
Ivan Trittipoe, Senior Store Manager

“Antiquing and thrift stores have always been a part of my life. I remember, as a child, going around with my parents and hunting for that special item in auction houses and antique shops. Growing up in Washington D.C. I attended a French school and can still speak French fluently. Additionally, this ‘international world’ I lived in provided for exposure to the art and antique world, including visits to all the museums and galleries of D.C.”

“After the loss of my parents, I felt like it was time to make a change. I left D.C. and moved to Richmond, where I saw this amazing rainbow building. The building drew me into it and when I stepped inside I knew, I had to volunteer there.”

“I was offered a job soon after; beginning in donations, then cashier, and events coordinator. Through my five years working in various facets of the organization, I have been able to feel more comfortable in my identity. I have gone through times where I have been insecure about who I was as a gay male; however, being able to be rooted in Diversity Richmond (D.R.) has allowed me to find my inner strength.”

“I really think I’m in my happiest days being here with D.R.—I expect many more happy days to come; but looking back on my life I feel this will be the time I remember with the most fondness. I love my job here, including all the craziness that comes with it. Working for an organization that is LGBT+ centered sometimes feels like something that is taken for granted—we can all be ourselves and feel free to express that without fear of criticism. I feel I can truly be my authentic self at D.R.”

Pictured above: Ivan with one of his favorite customers, Ruth Hunter. “I love coming here. I come here for my therapy,” she said laughing.

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