Diversity Richmond Celebrates 2018

$30,000 in Grants Presented to Local Nonprofits

Grants 2018

It is another banner year for Diversity Richmond as we celebrate individuals and organizations for their outstanding work and accomplishments. From supporting adoption and foster care to transgender health services, public school LGBT student groups, combating LGBT homelessness and theatre productions, Diversity Richmond is making a difference.

Through our 2018 grants, we are investing $30,000 by supporting 13 local nonprofits that take dollars and change the lives of countless numbers of people. We also recognized the accomplishments of several people who have made significant contributions to our community.

Award Recipients:

Big Smooch Award, Stonewall Sports-Richmond
Guy J. Kinman, Jr. Leadership Award, The Honorable Levar Stoney, Mayor of Richmond
We Stand On Your Shoulders Award, Riqia Taylor
Diversity Embraces Award, Lisa Cumbey
President’s Philanthropy Award, Cassi Niemann and Hunter Rhoades
Big Smooch Award, Loretta Mountcastle, Vicki Jolena-Orthaus and Martha Ann Spruill

2018 Grant Awards:

Transgender Veterans Support Group
Twin Oaks Queer Gathering
Metropolitan Community Church
Richmond Triangle Players
Monument City Music
Health Brigade
A.C.T.S.
Virginia League of Planned Parenthood
Restoration Fellowship
Lutheran Family Services of Virginia
GLSEN
Virginia Anti-Violence Project
NATIONZ Foundation

World AIDS Day “RVAIDS”

RTP AIDS Panel

In commemoration of the 30th Anniversary of World AIDS Day, Richmond Triangle Players’ Robert B. Moss Theater hosted “RVAIDS,” a documentary drama that incorporated various mediums to honor those infected and affected by HIV.
 
This moving and powerful performance was written by University of Richmond students in the course The AIDS Epidemic in Richmond: A Documentary Theater Project, taught by Laura Browder and Patricia Herrera, under the directorial guidance of Jose Joaquin Garcia.
 
In addition to the documentary drama, a community conversation was held featuring panelists Lisa Cumbey, Social Justice Activist (and primary caretaker) of artist J. Alan Cumbey, who died of AIDS in 1992, Karen Legato, Executive Director of Health Brigade, Zakia McKensey, Founder of Nationz Foundation and University of Richmond student, India Henderson.
 
The panel discussion was moderated by Rodney Lofton, Vice President and Deputy Director of Diversity Richmond.

First Baptist Church Welcomes LGBT for Community Conversation

First BaptistWhen we received the invitation from a pastor at Richmond’s First Baptist Church to participate in a congregational conversation about the LGBT community, he reassured us that it was in attempt “to have an honest dialogue”….for us not to fear because the invitation was coming from a Baptist Church.

The hour and a half discussion addressed many issues and was well received by the group of about 50 church members. “As I entered the room, I was met by a woman who confided that her child was gay and would not attend church because they had been told that God did not love them. This was causing her obvious pain,” shared Bill Harrison.

“It was emotional at times for all four of the panelists, I think. We each shared our own hurts, victories and those of our LGBT brothers and sisters. If someone has issues with our community it is usually based on religion and discussing those topics in a safe environment is when understanding takes place.”

It was a good day. While we were probably “preaching to the choir” as the majority were vocally understanding and supportive, hearts were touched, and stronger bonds were formed.

“What else can we do?” was asked by several members. “Where do we go from here?” Yes, it was a good day to be in church.

Diversity Richmond Loves Altria!

Altria paints

We have a longstanding relationship with the good people at Altria. The most recent project they completed for us was the painting of our classroom, a space that is used for free most every night by a LGBT organization. They even supplied the paint and brushes. And the room looks great!

Other Altria help that has been provided was the funding of two buses to the LGBT March On Washington and the painting of our beautiful murals on the exterior of our facility. Pictured is the happy Altria group after a day of hard work.

$30,000 now available through 2018 Grants Program

We are pleased to announce that through this year’s grants program, $30,000 is available to local LGBTQ and LGBTQ-friendly 501(c)3 nonprofits. What would your organization do with extra funds? Put on your thinking caps and let us hear how we can help you address our community’s unmet needs.

Deadline for applications is
Monday, November 5, 2018 by 4:00 P.M.

Click on this link to download the application

Every day at Diversity Richmond we strive to build a stronger community and our annual grants program is one way we pursue that goal. Since 1999 we have given about $1Million to local community organizations. This is made possible by Diversity Thrift proceeds, special event revenues and our financial donors who support our work.

Click on the link above to complete the application. We look forward to hearing from you.

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

There should be a law requiring everyone to learn the Matthew Sheperd story

RTP Laramie 080w

The Richmond Triangle Players theater was packed to overflowing recently as we paid homage to the teenage boy who was brutally beaten and nailed to a fence because he was gay. While that happened 20 years ago, his story needs to be told now more than ever.

Present at RTP that morning was an array of political and community leaders, but the two people who could share the Matthew Sheperd story better than anyone were his parents, Judy and Dennis. The horrors of Matthew’s death, as shared by his mother, could easily happen to any number of people. Hate and prejudice knows no boundaries, be it race, religion, gender or any other means of difference. Since their son’s murder, the Sheperds have turned horror into healing by making hate crimes their lifelong campaign.

Richmond Triangle Players is soon producing “The Laramie Project,” the powerful production that tells Matthew’s story. It should be required for every LGBTQ person to attend. Our history is easy to forget, and our present state of affairs is also easy for some to ignore and that is a deadly thing.

Thank you Richmond Triangle Players. Your vision and leadership is an excellent example of the beauty and strength of our community. Bravo.

Diversity Reflections

Diversity Richmond hosts three weekly LGBTQ AA meetings.

Thursdays – 7:00 pm
Saturdays – 7:00 pm
Sundays: 11:30 am

The meetings are held in the Classroom (door entrance #2). For additional information, please visit www.AARichmond.org

Bisexual Support Group has moved

The Bisexual Support Group now meets at Metropolitan Community Church, 2501 Park Avenue, 23220. The discussion group is open to all people who are attracted to more than one gender. The group meets the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of the month in the Celebration Hall classroom (located in the church’s basement) and run from 7:00– 8:30 P.M.

Second Annual Petersburg Pride

Petersburg Pride

Hurricane Florence couldn’t damper the excitement in the air for the 2nd Annual Petersburg Pride Festival, held Sunday, September 16th. With the threat of thunderstorms and torrential downpours, members of the LGBTQ community braved the weather to celebrate Petersburg’s observance of Pride.

Diversity Richmond was proud to be in attendance for this wonderful event, including both past and present board members Crystal Suber, Ayana Obika, Luise “Cheezi” Farmer and Ray Green. The weather may have interrupted the festivities a bit, but Pride was celebrated and enjoyed by all in attendance.

First Baptist Church welcomes LGBT for community conversation

First Baptist

When we received the invitation from a pastor at Richmond’s First Baptist Church to participate in a congregational conversation about the LGBT community, he reassured us that it was in attempt “to have an honest dialogue” … for us not to fear because the invitation was coming from a Baptist Church.

As I entered the room, I was met by a woman who confided that her son was gay and would not attend church because he was told that “God did not love him.” This was causing her obvious pain.

It was emotional at times for all four of the panelist, I think. We each shared our own hurts, victories and those of our LGBT brothers and sisters. If someone has issues with our community it is usually based on religion and discussing those topics in a safe environment is when understanding takes place.

It was a good day. While we were probably “preaching to the choir” as the majority were vocally understanding and supportive, hearts were touched, and stronger bonds were formed.

“What else can we do?” was asked by several members. “Where do we go from here?”

Yes, it was a good day to be in church.

Bill Harrison

Richmond one of seven cities to host National Deadlift fundraiser for LGBTQ orgs

Cassi and HunterRichmond Balance, Väsen Brewing Company and host of volunteers made it possible

As a recent transplant to Richmond, when Cassi Niemann learned of the Women’s Strength Coalition’s mission and their national LGBTQ fundraising efforts through “Pull for Pride,” she immediately knew she wanted to bring the program to her new city. Her first step was to approach Hunter Rhoades, the owner of Richmond Balance, where Cassi trains her clients, and inquire if he would support the efforts. Hunter’s response was an immediate yes. Over the past year, Hunter and Cassi had been working together to create an inclusive and welcoming space within the brick walls of Richmond Balance. Providing people of all ages, genders and capabilities access to a safe space to learn how to get stronger, live longer and start a healthy fitness journey.

With this partnership, it was within a short period of time that they recruited over 50 participants who jumped at the chance to deadlift heavy weight and raise funds for Diversity Richmond and Side By Side. Thanks to the framework set up by the Women’s Strength Coalition, Richmond was now one of seven cities across the country to participate in this event during the month of June.

While we all know that eating healthy and exercise is necessary, visiting a gym is something many of us still shy away from. Or more specifically, entering the barbell area of the gym can seem intimidating to most. Perhaps it’s because it doesn’t seem accessible to everyone or because doing something new and different is daunting. Both Cassi and the Women’s Strength Coalition are aware of this and together with Richmond Balance; it is their goal is to help open the door to everyone. They stand behind the mission of the WSC, which is “Building stronger communities through increased access to strength training and to create a world where everyone has the equal opportunities to express their voice and power.”

To add to that, Cassi says “I want Richmond to be an inclusive and welcoming city that presents itself as strong, both as a community and as individuals. Everyone can be a strength athlete and there should be affirming spaces that allow that for all people.”

In the process of developing this event, Cassi and Hunter reached out to surrounding gyms, fellow strength coaches and local businesses for support and participation. Each contestant paid a registration fee and then was encouraged to enlist friends to pledge financial support as they promised to lift hundreds of pounds.

Tony Giardano, co-founder and Brew Master of Väsen Brewing Company in Scott’s Addition was delighted to donate his brewhouse for the event. Awaken Massage and CrossFit Full Circle both stepped up as local sponsors as well. Thanks to volunteer and local strength coach, Gabby Brost, there were over 40 local businesses who donated raffle prizes, gift cards and funds to help make Pull for Pride a success.

“There were no awards, gender categories, or required attire,” Cassi said. This was unlike any other lifting event and several of the contestants competed with themselves to beat previous deadlift records or enjoyed their first lift in public. Jay Alexander topped the day’s record, amazingly lifting 635 pounds. The Women’s Strength Coalition set out with a modest goal to raise $30,000, and in the end, they brought in $115,000 from the seven different cities. Richmond contributed over $8,000 of that total and as one of the newer cities to be added to the list, Cassi and her team feel pretty satisfied with that.

“We loved it. It was awesome to see so many people doing something they never thought they could do, in front of a supportive audience. I loved getting to know my new city and helping to raise the LGBTQ community’s awareness of welcoming, inclusive spaces in many different gyms - already within their reach. We are definitely hosting the event again next year.”

Watch a video recap of the event here: https://youtu.be/fYcyL2wVEQQ, produced by Johnny Villani and all photography was by Sarah Kane (https://sarahkanephotography.pixieset.com/pullforpride). For more information visit https://womensstrengthcoalition.com or contact Cassi and Hunter at http://www.richmondbalance.com.

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