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.

New Richmond Police Chief pledges continued support of LGBT Community

Chief Smith RPD

A recent meeting with the new Richmond Police Chief, Colonel William C. Smith, left four local LGBT leaders feeling good about our community’s relationship with the city police force. Well acquainted with our community, Chief Smith shared his vision of total support and an understanding of our challenges such as the murder rate of transgender people. He pledged complete fairness and stressed that he wants to know of any concerns or complaints that our community may have about his team.

Pictured are James Millner of VAPride; Chief Smith; Cheezie Farmer of Women of Essence and Diversity Richmond; Zakia McKensey of Nationz Foundation and Bill Harrison of Diversity Richmond. The group presented Chief Smith with a framed photo of him being sworn in as chief.

The Heart Behind Diversity: A spotlight on the amazing staff of Diversity Richmond

Ava Volunteer Spotlight

Our first spotlight shines on Ava, a Diversity Thrift manager. Ava has been with Diversity Richmond for 14 years.

“My role is to be dedicated in the work I do, including managing and being a good leader for Diversity Richmond (DR),” shared Ava. “I exemplify this by accepting new tasks, learning and growing with the organization, being consistent, and doing whatever I can to make DR better. I also see my role as getting to know the customers, what they like or how their day was and ensuring that they leave happy.”

Many of our customers look for Ava as soon as they arrive at the store. “Over the years I have gotten to know the customers and they have become like family…we inspire and support one another in life’s challenges.”

Ava learned of D.R. through a program with OAR, a non-profit that helps individuals acquire second chances. “I was incarcerated for 6 months and had been an addict for 32 years. Participating in OAR gave me the hope to get back into working and I had to be self-willing to change. I remember seeing the signs and the rainbow building from across the highway and thinking maybe one day I can work there, so when OAR said there was a position available, I was excited to take it.”

Ava’s life plan is simple: “Love everybody, do not be judgmental, and no hatred.” Looking back over her years of service at D.R., Ava says, “I have gained a team with great leadership. I have gained teaching myself the importance of believing in myself and knowing that I can do it. The opportunity to bring new, creative ideas to DR be more successful—in turn lifting others through their work.”

“Knowing that today I can be honest, respectful, and loyal to myself—which allows me to offer this to other people as well. Humanity and their ability to be kind, compassionate, selfless, and uplift fairness. My strong belief system and knowing that God Almighty has seen and will see me through my trials and tribulations. Knowing that God would not have given me anything I cannot handle and God has equipped me for everything, including burying my only son—a Chief Officer in the Navy.”

“If we all win, I win because we are all here together. I always build others up and don’t tear them down because it takes less energy to be nice and kind than mean and hateful.”

~ John Bowles, VCU Intern

Richmond’s “Men’s Sunday Social Hour” Meets the Needs of Many

Keith WattsWhile needing a safe place to talk about and share our experiences is something that many of us seek, social spaces, such as bar or club, that many of us frequent may not be the most comfortable space to do so. That is why several months ago Diversity Richmond established the “Men’s Sunday Social Hour.”

The group is led by Keith J. Watts, a Ph.D. candidate in Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Social Work. Keith is a recent transplant to Richmond, but he has quickly embraced us as his own. His welcoming personality and his understanding of being a gay man and the isolation and challenges that many of us face have made him a much-appreciated volunteer.

“I am no stranger to the marginalization that so many of us experience within our community and that is what makes the culture of inclusivity that clearly exists at Diversity Richmond so remarkable. Living up to its name, I have connected with folks from all walks of life through this organization, and that alone has provided me with opportunities to access the relationships, mentorship and support that were crucial to me feeling affirmed and at home in Richmond,” shared Keith.

“Men’s Social Group,” is an opportunity for gay men of any age to connect with others who may share similar experiences and who are looking for support and comradery. If you are interested in attending or have questions, please contact Keith at

The Men’s Sunday Social Hour meets at 4:15-6:15 P.M. every 2nd and 4th Sunday of the month at Diversity Richmond, 1407 Sherwood Avenue, 23220 in the classroom, door # 2.

Diversity Richmond Program Coordinator Job Posting

We Are HiringDiversity Richmond Mission: To the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender community, their families, friends and allies, Diversity Richmond is a catalyst, a voice, a place and a resource that enriches and champions our diverse community, because we aspire for a vibrant inclusive Richmond where inequality does not exist.

Summary/Objective The Program Coordinator serves as a resource for Central Virginia’s LGBTQ+ members and communities and works collaboratively with community partners and board committees to support the mission of Diversity Richmond. This position coordinates our inclusion and racial equity programs such as our annual Black History/Pride events, Hispanic Heritage Month and VA Pride. They provide programming, training, outreach and education in the Greater Richmond area; assists community members and staff who access the services of Diversity Richmond; coordinates outreach programming and help to connect people with resources and referrals. Maintains donor data base.

Essential Qualifications
A minimum of three years nonprofit experience;
Knowledge of issues as related to LGBTQ+ people including, but not limited to, gender identity, sexual orientation, and the intersections of other identities;
Thorough knowledge of racial equity issues especially within the LGBTQ community;
Ability to juggle different projects simultaneously, with accuracy, follow-through, and timely completion;
Excellent communication skills to express ideas clearly and concisely both verbally and in writing;
Ability to recognize and protect confidential information in handling sensitive situations;
Ability to take initiative, problem solve and work independently with good judgment about seeking direction;
Ability to work some evenings and weekends outside of regular business hours as needed;
Bachelor’s degree required and experience in LGBTQ advocacy.
Position Type/Expected Hours of Work: Full time.
Compensation: Competitive salary, health insurance, paid vacation.

Application Process
Please submit resume and cover letter to by September 1, 2019 No phone calls, please. Email confirmation of receipt will follow. Diversity Richmond is an equal opportunity employer.

Building community, one building at a time: Margaret Freund

“Successful communities promote inclusivity. We need to stop only surrounding ourselves with people who are like us.”

Margaret FreundI have faced many challenges during my tenure at Diversity Richmond, but explaining Margaret Freund in a few paragraphs is impossible. Whether you’ve met her or not, if you have traveled the streets of Richmond, you’ve seen her work. For years, Margaret has played a major role in saving and restoring old buildings, but she does much more than that. One of the very few women working in this realm, she specializes in adaptive reuse, while bringing new life into neighborhoods.

Ever eaten at Bottom’s Up Pizza? Then say, “Thank you, Margaret” as renovating that building – before the Flood Wall -- was her first commercial project. Since that time, she has developed about 20 other properties in Richmond, including Canal Crossing, Haxall View Lofts, Lava Lofts and Lady Byrd Hat.

While Margaret is clearly a gifted visionary and a history maker, what impresses me the most is her commitment to inclusion and diversity. Her properties may vary in style, age and location, but they are connected with a common thread that she espouses, that of having a social conscience.

After completing law school, but deciding she did not want to practice, Margaret played in a band that rehearsed in the dilapidated basement of east end’s former Robert S. Fulton Elementary School. When the school’s owner died, Margaret pursued buying the building. “Back then, I was a house painter by day,” she laughed. “The school already had a few artists’ studios and I wanted to keep it that way.” While many developers would have demolished the school, Margaret saw how the beauty of a 1917 building could be transformed. And we thank her for that.

Since that time, Fulton Hill Studios has been the home of numerous creatives who have relished the original charm of the building, such as the woodwork, high ceilings, terrazzo hallways and slate classroom blackboards. And now, Margaret’s amazing vision is bringing another new life to the school.

Surrounded by 100-year-old trees, the newly renovated building will include a 3,000-square foot gym, art gallery, café, a ceramic studio and a market, in addition to art studios and live-work spaces.

Next door to Fulton Hill Studios is Margaret’s most recent project that overlooks the city skyline, Rocketts Landing and the James River. Artisan Hill Apartment Community has significantly changed the landscape of Greater Fulton, and all for the better. The beautiful neighborhood replaced an abandoned field that attracted unsavory behaviors and had become a dumping ground for trash. She built a new field, with lights, for the community to use.

“We had full support of the neighborhood residents, who also wanted to create more community. “My work on Artisan Hill addresses three areas,” she shared. “Creativity and art; health and wellness; and giving back to the community. Greater Fulton has always been a special neighborhood, and I want to keep this the diverse, inclusive community it’s always been.” Margaret lives in the legacy building with her partner of 8 years and their pets.

~ Bill Harrison

Why Margaret Supports Diversity Richmond

Margaret appreciates the work of Diversity Richmond because she well remembers growing up in a Richmond where inclusion was not looked upon as good. “What happens at Diversity Richmond is phenomenal. When I was young there was no place to go, no one to talk too,” she shared. “The number one thing that Diversity Richmond does is provide opportunities for people to better understand their own journeys as LGBTQ people. Having support can help people make better choices for themselves. It can be so good to be validated.”

Margaret Freund is CEO of Fulton Hill Properties, developer for Artisan Hill Apartment Community and Gold Sponsor for All Americans.

Artisan Hill Apartment Community

Artisan Hill collage

Artisan Hill photos by Chris Cunningham

Pride month activities in Carytown

Carytown Pride

Lots going on as the Carytown Merchants Association celebrates Pride Month. On Saturday, June 29th, a mini-Pride Festival will take place in the space behind AlterNatives Boutique, 3320 West Cary Street.

There will be fun music, face painting, informational booths, entertainment and a parade! The activities begin at 1:00 P.M. with the parade stepping off at 1:30.

Many Carytown businesses are sporting Pride-themed windows and are collecting funds for Diversity Richmond. We will be there along with several other organizations. We hope you will, too.

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Mongrel rallies for our community ... again

Mongrel staff

Mongrel is donating 10% of their Saturday, June 29th sales to Diversity Richmond!

Mongrel Logo

When Mongrel was founded in 1991 as “Cards, Cards, Cards,” the business was one the first openly-gay owned establishments in Carytown. Since that time the store has supported countless LGBT projects such as the OutRVA campaign coordinated by Richmond Region Tourism, in an effort to promote Richmond as a welcoming, safe destination for LGBT travelers.

So it was not a surprise that Mongrel quickly jumped on board to support the Carytown Pride celebrations. The award-winning shop has become a Carytown mainstay. Whenever you’re in Mongrel, be prepared to laugh as the cards bring out the best in all of us. Unique gifts and Richmond-themed products abound. Visit www.mongrelrva.com.

AlterNatives taking lead in Pride celebration

AlterNatives GuadalupeAlterNatives is an excellent example of what makes Carytown so special.

Locally owned, the store’s mission is based on the values of founder, Guadalupe Ramires who is working for social justice for Indigenous peoples. “In my culture, weaving is a sacred art. Many of our patterns are from a dream state. We dream the pattern and then we weave it.”

The store is bursting with color and is beautifully filled with ethically sourced weavings, clothing, jewelry and home decor. AlterNatives is also coordinating much of the Pride Festival that will be held on Saturday, June 29th in the parking lot behind their store. Located at 3117 West Cary, AlterNatives is a great place for the unique, meaningful gift for a friend or for oneself. Founder Guadalupe Ramirez’s vision is the basis of the AlterNative mission. Check out their web site AlterNativesBoutique.

AlterNatives Katherine

AlterNative employee Katherine Saint Clair Campbell loves Diversity Richmond and is excited about raising funds.

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