Service internship at Diversity Richmond rewarding experience

By Taylor Davis

Taylor DavisAs someone who has been in Richmond for five years now, I was aware of Diversity prior to my internship. I had shopped in the thrift store. I had attended multiple community events in the wonderful event hall. I had passed the freshly painted building on the highway on many occasions. I had huge respect for what Diversity Richmond was doing for the LGBTQIA+ community. In obtaining my internship through the Masters of Social Work program at VCU, I was nervous, but excited to take on the new challenges that Diversity Richmond would bring.

At first glance, an individual may have difficulty understanding why a social worker would be placed here as we are not a direct service organization but upon further inspection, it is clear that Diversity is the epitome of social work. Helping individuals in the LGBTQIA+ community can sometimes feel like damage control. Often, the entire world seems out to get us and keep us down. But at Diversity, we acknowledge the hardships, celebrate the victories, and empower each other to move forward. Empowerment is the most important piece, not only in social work, but in all community work. Diversity Richmond does this incredibly well by offering the resources to the individuals and bringing their ideas to fruition.

I had the incredible honor of having one of my projects realized while interning here. The Trans and Gender Non-Conforming Care Package Program is something that I wanted to start for many months, but was unsure how to obtain the resources and momentum to actually start. In beginning my internship, I knew that this was the perfect environment for my project.

I have had nothing but support in helping to create these packages and delivering them to individuals in the Richmond area who are financially unable to afford the excruciating cost of transitioning. Within one month of the project launching, 14 packages have successfully been delivered. Seeing the smiles and warm hearts of the individuals when delivering these packages are memories that I will forever cherish and they would not have been possible with Diversity’s support. As an intern, I have felt respected, valued and cherished and I am deeply saddened to see my time here coming to a close. I would like to give a special shout out to Rodney Lofton for believing in me, being patient with me, and opening his heart to this internship experience. I will forever remember this experience and the skills I gained here and will carry the spirit of Diversity Richmond in my heart always.

To learn more about the Trans and Gender Non-Conforming Care Package Program or to request a package, visit https://goo.gl/forms/TsR9gP7I3DW9VajY2

Diversity Thrift’s Neil Thomas is “Pulling for Pride”

Neil Thomas Pulling For Pride

By Thrift Store Manager, Neil Thomas

On Saturday, June 16, at Vasen Brewery, Pull For Pride is raising funds for my employer, Diversity Richmond, as well as the wonderful youth services organization, Side By Side. Both organizations do incredible things for the LGBTQ communities in the city, as well as helping other minority-focused nonprofits in the city, too.

My goal is to pick up 300 lbs of COLD, HARD STEEL, which would be a wonderful new record for me! In the recent past I've been able to lift 295 lbs, which is a little heavier than former UFC Heavyweight Champion and current WWE Universal Champion, Brock Lesnar. So 300 pounds is a super nice round number, and a great and achievable goal for such a good cause.

I hope you will join me in raising money for this truly wonderful organization.

Support Pull for Pride

Community member Dot Reid making big difference in the lives of many

Community Spotlight Dot ReidDorothy (Dot) Reid is a native of Richmond and a John Marshall High School graduate. In 1993, she attended North Carolina A&T State University and 1997, graduated with a BS degree in nursing, specializing in neurosurgery. She also received an AS degree in marketing and business management.

Dot pursued nursing because of her passion for helping others. After graduating from NC A&T, she decided she wanted to pursue a new career path and attended barber school at the Richmond Technical Center. During her apprenticeship, in 2008, Dot opened “Refuge For Men” barbershop, now located on Main Street near VCU.

Dot began her work in the community by volunteering with her church and participating in CARITAS. Her concept, “Refuge For Men Foundation” was created in 2015. The mission of the Foundation is to connect economically disadvantage youth and adults with affordable housing and services. They offer community-based learning opportunities to youth between the ages of 12 and 21 which includes the mastery of barbering skills, development of social skills, and participation in community service.

The Foundation offers community-based services through three programs: Refuge Connect, Refuge Kindness Cuts, and Refuge Community Clippers. Through the Foundation they have partnered with Art 180 and OAR to provide job opportunities for young men and women who were within the juvenile justice system. The training helps participants gain skills and obtain employment.

They have also partnered with Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Project Homeless Connect, Fetch A Cure, Recycling Perks, Special Olympics, and many others. Over the past years they had provided over 7,500 haircuts to disadvantage Richmonders and almost $15,000 to VCU Massey Cancer Research Center. “Giving back to the community is so important to us because our success comes from our community one haircut at a time,” shared Dot.

The future goal for Refuge For Men, L.L.C and Refuge For Men Foundation is to continue to build their staff for those interested in pursuing a career in the barbering industry and to discover ways that they can give back to the Commonwealth of Virginia through the nonprofit.

Diversity Richmond receives prestigious “History Makers Award”

LGBT Black History Series Cited for Championing Social Justice

Before a crowd of hundreds of Richmond leaders, Diversity Richmond was recently recognized by the Valentine with the Museum’s esteemed “History Makers Award,” citing the organization’s LGBT Black History series as a model for championing social justice.

For the last two years, Diversity has partnered with the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia, coordinating a series of events, recognizing the leadership and contributions of African American LGBT people and allies.

Diversity is the only organization in the commonwealth and possibly the nation, to conduct such recognitions. The organization is also the only LGBT organization in America to partner with a Black History Museum.

The series was conceived by Diversity’s deputy director, Rodney Lofton. Programs have included community conversations addressing issues of transgender women of color, spirituality and African American LGBT people, Black Queer politics and the annual recognition of National HIV/AIDS Awareness. Last February, the awards ceremony was held at the Black History Museum, recognizing eight people for their outstanding contributions.

“Once again Diversity Richmond has made history,” shared executive director, Bill Harrison. “We are a work in progress, constantly examining our efforts. Under Rodney’s leadership we are now planning programs to recognize Hispanic leadership in our community.”

For more information about LGBT Black History and other outreach programs, contact Rodney Lofton.

Dominion Energy supports Diversity Richmond

Dominion Energy supports Diversity Richmond

Thank you very much to Dominion Energy for supporting Diversity Richmond. The company was a major sponsor of our recent LGBT Black History series. Presenting the check to Rodney Lofton is Dominion Energy’s Floyd Taylor.

“You couldn’t keep me away with a ten-foot pole!” ~ Diversity Board member, Brian Harrison

Brian Harrison and SunTrust

By Mattie Coll

Brian Harrison has served as a Diversity board member for three years and chairs the Special Events and Fundraising Committee. The committee coordinates several events every year, helping to raise much needed funds in support of Diversity Richmond programs. His board term ends in June.

A SunTrust employee, Brian has often recruited co-workers as volunteers at Diversity Thrift and at events that have attracted hundreds of participants. Brian has also been the LGBTQ Teammate Networks Chair at SunTrust for the past three years.

Brian returned to Richmond six years ago, from Baltimore. He was a director with a similar organization in the Washington D.C. / Baltimore area, “Brother, Help Thyself” and appreciates that Diversity emphasizes fundraising and community support.

Above, Brian Harrison, left, works with SunTrust
LGBTQ Teammate Networks volunteers in Diversity Thrift.

That community support was the reason he wanted to join Diversity. “I like the philanthropy of this organization. I also like interacting with the community. Community engagement is important to me.” Being a part of Diversity has given him, “A feeling of activism and being able to support the LGBTQ community in Richmond.”

When asked if he will continue to volunteer at Diversity after his board membership ends, he laughed and said, “You couldn’t keep me away with a ten-foot pole.”

We give big thanks to Brian for his commitment to Diversity Richmond. We have benefitted from his wealth of experience and are sure he will be an important part of the Diversity team for many years to come.

Customer finds ancestors in Diversity Thrift!

DT family photoRegular thrift store customer, Jerry Dagenhart was elated during a recent visit. “My niece saw the picture on the store’s Facebook page and emailed me, asking if they were not our relatives. And they are!” Jerry hastened to the store and, thankfully, the picture was still there.

The photograph is of Jerry’s great aunt and uncle, Ed and Cenie Dagenhart, taken about 1910.

Diversity Richmond recognized by The Valentine with Richmond History Makers award

Richmond History Makers

Diversity Richmond is being honored on March 13 with the prestigious “Richmond History Makers “ award. The annual presentation, hosted by The Valentine, will be held at Virginia Union University, Claude G. Perkins Living and Learning Center.

Diversity is being recognized in the “Championing Social Justice” category. The organization’s 2017 celebration of Black LGBTQ History Month impressed the judges, who stated, “This nonprofit has evolved into a multifaceted organization while remaining a respected voice for the acceptance of sexual and gender minorities.”

For the past two years, Diversity Richmond partnered with the Black History and Cultural Center of Virginia to recognize the contributions of African American LGBTQ people and their allies. It is the only LGBTQ organization in the country to have such a partnership with a Black History Museum. It is also the only such organization in Virginia to celebrate LGBTQ Black History Month.

Rodney Lofton, Diversity Richmond Deputy Director, will accept the award.

“We are certainly honored and humbled,” shared Diversity Board Chair, Art Toth. “The entire month of recognitions was Rodney Lofton’s idea and it has become a very meaningful time for us all. I don’t think many objectives better define who we are striving to become than our Black History programs.”

Click here for more information or to purchase tickets

Please vote for your favorite thrift store!

Style Weekly’s annual Best of Richmond contest

It’s that time of year again when Style Weekly runs their annual Best of Richmond contest. There is a category for best thrift store, if one in particular comes to mind!

VOTE HERE

Capital One employee volunteers were a big help with huge Fan Video donation

Capital One Volunteers

The popular store, Fan Video, located on Strawberry Street, closed their doors a while back. They were most generous as they donated their entire film inventory to Diversity Thrift. We have hundreds of DVDs and VHS tapes of every genre. Comedies, classics, love stories, dramas, chick-flicks ~ we have it all. And we are practically giving them away at $1 each.

The good folks at Capital One took on the project of installing our video pop-up store to showcase this fantastic gift. Thank you for the generous contribution and help from both Fan Video and Capital One.

Ethnic Studies Conference

Ethnic StudiesVCU hosts the 46th Annual Conference of the Association for Ethnic Studies which focuses on confronting white neo nationalism. There are more than 40 sessions and 200 presenters.

March 8 - 10; $10 (day rate)
Learn more

Diversity Celebrates Only Black History LGBTQ Project in Virginia

Black History Month Honorees

Pictured: Award recipients Officer Ellio? Anderson, The Reverend Lace?e Cross, Jelani Drew, Rebecca Keel, Dr. Lauranett Lee, The Honorable Cynthia Newbille, Schiavone McGee and “Wiggles.”

By Rodney Lofton

As I write this tribute to Diversity Richmond’s recognition of the Black LGBTQ History Month, I am reminded of the Virginia Slims tagline, “You’ve come along way, baby.”

On February 2, in partnership with the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia, Diversity Richmond celebrated the kick-off of the 2nd Annual Black and Bold Awards, a program to celebrate the rich and vibrant contributions of Black LGBTQ community members. Nine honorees, ranging in ages, genders and identities were celebrated in the fields of activism, education, the arts, religion and social justice.

With a packed room of family, friends and supporters, the eight honorees, including two LGBTQ allies, were awarded one- of- a-kind medals, designed by Virginia Commonwealth University student, Angelique Scott. This year’s list of honorees included:

  • Officer Elliott Anderson, LGBTQ Liaison, Chesterfield County Police Department
  • The Reverend Lacette Cross
  • Jelani Drew
  • Rebecca Keel
  • Schiavone McGee
  • The Honorable Cynthia Newbille
  • “Wiggles”

In addition to the awards ceremony and recognition for their work in the community, the honorees and guests were treated to the unveiling of their individual portraits photographed by Harron Fells, with art direction by Fernando Rodriguez of ONE MAN DESIGN.

Diversity Richmond would like to thank our community partners: Dominion Energy, The Monument Group, Suzanne Makarem and Alan Hutson, Jr., for their sponsorship for this incredibly beautiful and moving event.

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