Diversity Richmond Loans Event Hall for Virus News Conferences

virus news conference

When Fernando Rodriquez, Communications Director for the Richmond-Henrico Health District, reached out to see if news conferences could be held at Diversity Richmond, of course we said yes. Pictured is Dr. Danny Avula addressing the media with the latest information on the virus impact on a local level.

Diversity Richmond Helping With Surgical Gown Project

Surgical Gowns Jeanne and Tara

During the last few weeks Diversity Richmond, through Diversity Thrift inventory, has supported numerous people who are making masks to help people protect themselves and others from contracting the Corona virus. We were also approached by two local women who are making surgical gowns as there is a national shortage of this particular protective gear.

Tara Hepler, Speech Language Pathologist and Jeanne Laign, Occupational Therapist, who both work in local rehab facilities, reached us in hopes that material was available to help address the depleting supply of personal protective equipment. They needed sleeves of particular fabric types that could be sewn onto pre-existing hospital gowns to create re-usable protective gowns for healthcare workers. Members of Hill City Church have taken on the sewing portion of the project.

The finished products will go to local skilled nursing and rehab facilities.

“As a result of your generosity, sets of reusable protective gowns will be created that will ultimately serve to protect both patients and healthcare workers from further spread of the virus,” wrote Jeanne.

While we appreciate her comments, the real work is being done by Tara and Jeanne, along with their teams at Hill City Church. Bad times can bring out the best in people. No better example.

surgical gowns

Sewing Masks

A member of Hill City Church sews gowns

We love you, but please do not bring donations until we reopen!

Diversity Thrift pile

We could never do our good work in the community without you, our donors. The over one million dollars that we have put back into the community, would never have happened without your support of Diversity Thrift. Thank you!

But we must ask that you refrain from leaving your donations until we reopen. Staff is not here to process your gifts and your donations get rained on or stolen. And thank you to our wonderful community members who have offered to help, but we are not asking anyone to leave home. We are closed and will remain closed until local health officials say it is okay to reopen.

Lots of people are cleaning out those closets and basements and we look forward to being the recipients of your generosity. We will welcome you with open arms, but till then, please bear with us.

Diversity Thrift Best Thrift

Diversity Richmond Grantee Spotlight: Minority Veterans of America

Minority Vets Logo

This past November Diversity Richmond celebrated our 20th anniversary by giving 50k in grants to organizations around the LGBTQ+ community. We did not foresee the reality of the Covid-19 pandemic back in the fall and how that could impact our partners. As such, Diversity Richmond will unrestrict funding so that partners may use funds however they see fit during this pandemic. One grant recipient, Minority Veterans of America (MVA), is answering the call during this crisis.

MVA and their executive director Lindsay Church have been working hard to pivot their services to be provided virtually. “When we started MVA in 2017, it was out of a deep desire to serve the community, in the best and hardest of times,” said Executive Director and co-founder Lindsay Church. “We will continue to check in with our members throughout this national emergency, and after, to ensure that we are responsive, adaptive, and innovative in how we deliver service to meet our community’s greatest needs.”

MVA recently launched their COVID-19 Relief Fund which will provide $30,000 of direct financial assistance to minority veterans and their families in the form of food and transportation assistance. A pool of $4,500 will be dedicated to a minimum of 45 Richmond minority veterans and their families with $1,500 of that total coming from the Diversity Richmond grant. The fund will be open for applications from members May 1 through May 8, 2020 and will reopen during the first week of every month to ensure the community’s needs are met through the duration of the crisis. Membership in the organization is free, and can be gained by visiting MinorityVets.org.

All of us at Diversity Richmond are so thankful to continue working with organizations such as Minority Veterans of America especially during a time like this. For more information about Minority Veterans of America or how to contribute, please contact Cassie Gabelt at .

Health Brigade goes where other people leave

DR Health Brigade 50th

Little did the handful of concerned citizens know when they met fifty years ago to discuss healthcare needs, that their concept would evolve into a community leader, one with a national reputation. Founded as the Fan Free Clinic, the concern was that everyone should be able to access healthcare, no matter of income or insurance qualifications.

The organization has often been there when no one else was. From the very beginning fifty years ago to the year 2020, Health Brigade has provided safe, nonjudgmental, quality healthcare to underserved populations. When AIDS hit Richmond, the Fan Free Clinic created the Richmond AIDS Information Network (RAIN) the first organized response in Central Virginia to the HIV epidemic. They formed buddy systems, ensuring that people kept their doctor’s appointments, made it to the grocery store and had someone to talk to at 3:00 A.M. when the hours felt so dark.

Meetings were held for family members, significant others. Support groups for people who had tested positive or had received an AIDS diagnoses gave safe spaces for people to talk. And scream.

The clinic was a leader in educating everyone about the disease through bold outreach efforts while much of the world, of Richmond, turned their backs.

The clinic has never rested on its laurels. Over the last several years Health Brigade has established extraordinary programs to reach folks that yet again, society has turned its back on. Drug addicts know that they can receive free, confidential support, not only at the North Thompson offices, but through the Clinic’s mobile unit that visits neighborhoods often.

Health Brigade’s transgender clinics supply free treatments and counseling to hundreds of transgender men and women who, quite often, have nowhere else to turn. The clinic staff visits local jails, reaching out to people who so desperately need a place to turn.

There is no way in such a limited space as this article, to fully explain what the Clinic has meant and does mean to our community. While their March celebration was cancelled, we still celebrate this phenomenal humanitarian movement we know as Health Brigade.

The graphic was the ad that was to appear in the 50th anniversary printed program. It was designed by Diversity Richmond volunteer, Lisa Cumbey, Propolis Design Group.

How Diversity Richmond is responding to the virus. How can we help you?

Diversity Richmond

The safety and welfare of our staff, volunteers and customers is our number one priority. When the scare first began, Diversity Thrift staff was wearing gloves, keeping that six-foot distance, constantly disinfecting everything we touched. As the horrors progressed, we decided to close.

Several store employees were furloughed, meaning their jobs will be waiting for them once we reopen. They will also be compensated with their full, normal salaries through unemployment for 39 weeks. If an employee is not eligible for unemployment, we will pay them their normal salary. None of these were easy decisions.

We are a community-based humanitarian organization and our mission is alive today as much as ever. We are searching for ways that we can continue to stay connected and serve our communities. Do you have ideas as to how we can do that? If so, please email us at .

It does not matter how far-fetched the idea may seem. Please share.

Raul Cantu joins Diversity Richmond team

RaulTo say we are excited is an understatement. A few weeks ago, local entrepreneur and community organizer, Raul Cantu, was named our Events Coordinator. Raul’s years of experience as a restaurant owner and events planner made him a perfect fit for the job.

We all remember Raul’s creation, Nacho Mama’s, the popular Carytown restaurant. Raul served as the president of the Carytown Merchant’s Association and was instrumental in raising awareness of the shopping district. An example of his leadership was introducing “Carytown Restaurant Week,” benefitting Richmond Public Schools. He was also appointed by former Virginia Governor, Jim Gilmore to serve on the Small Business Advisory Board.

Raul has lots of ideas for new special events here at Diversity and creative ways of promoting our huge event hall and meeting rooms. And rumor has it, the event hall kitchen will be up and running soon. So not only will caterers have use, but organizations can utilize the space for fundraising dinners.

Once this virus is out of the way, Raul will take our event spaces to new levels. For a long while we have known the potential of our event hall and are excited about Raul leading that campaign. Raul’s email is

Stay tuned!

Black and Bold Awards

DR VA Black Bold 2020

Diversity Richmond is proud to have celebrated our fourth annual Black and Bold Awards by recognizing some amazing community members! Congrats again to Justina Hall, Natasha Crosby, the Sigma Chapter of Alpha Psi Kappa Fraternity Inc., Cheezi Farmer, and Willnette Cunningham. Please visit our Facebook page for more photos of the event and be sure to take this quick survey below if you attended. Take The Survey

DR VA Black Bold 2020

Drag Bingo April 23, giving away $2,000!

Bingo Win

Our next drag bingo is Thursday, April 23rd. Games begin at 7PM and once again we are giving away $2,000! Ten $`100 jackpots and a grand prize of $1,000. We are lining up our entertainers now and will announce them soon, but we wanted you to get the date on your calendars. Photo: Our happy $1,000 winner at our last Drag Bingo game. Our next $1,000 winner could be YOU!

Queer Intersections

Evan and Keith

Queer Intersections (formerly Front Porch) is a Diversity Richmond podcast focusing on the perspectives and experiences of LGBTQ+ people of color around the Greater Richmond area. The show is hosted by VCU School of Social Work Ph.D. candidate Keith Watts and Diversity Richmond Program Coordinator Evan Smith. The show aims to give a platform to individuals whose identities and voices are often erased. This radio show is made possible by WRIR 97.3 FM, an independent, all volunteer, nonprofit community public radio station. Listen here

Black and Bold Awards Ceremony Friday, Feb. 28

Black And Bold 2020 winners

Please join Diversity Richmond for our 4th annual Black and Bold Awards this Friday, February 28th, as we recognize outstanding Black LGBTQ+ leadership. We are pleased to celebrate the profound contributions of the following community members.
Natasha Crosby
Willnette Cunningham
Luise "Cheezi" Farmer
Justina Hall
Sigma Chapter of Alpha Psi Kappa

Jepson Alumni Center at the University of Richmond
442 Westhampton Way, Richmond, VA 23229

The evening will begin with a welcome reception with hors-d’oeuvres and music at 7:30pm. This will be followed by an hour-long program starting at 8pm which will include a keynote from past Black & Bold honoree Dr. Lauranett Lee as well as the presentation of the awards. The event will conclude with a closing reception and desserts.
Register online
Please share our facebook event page

Black And Bold sponsors 2020

Go see “The Cake”

RTP The Cake

Richmond Triangle Players hit this one out the ballpark, or “the kitchen,” shall we say. The Cake is one of the best productions I have seen on the RTP stage, or any Richmond stage, for that matter.

Directed by the notable, Dawn Westbrook, it is a roller coaster of emotions. It’s deliriously funny, has moments of deep reflection and gives us the chance to see ourselves on stage as RTP does so well so often.

Based on the argument that a baker should not be legally required to bake our wedding cakes due to their religious beliefs, the play causes our baker, Della, to struggle on personal levels when her late best friend’s daughter brings her African-American girlfriend home to North Carolina to marry. Della’s husband, Tim, is no help as he cringes at the thought of gays doing just about anything.

Peppered with the conflicts that LGBT people can have when being confronted by the prejudices of people we love, combined with how those conflicts can cause issues with our spouses, the play has us feeling and reflecting one moment and holding our sides in laughter the next.

If you grew up in the south, you knew a Della, played by Terri Moore who just ended her acclaimed role in Always, Patsy Cline. Full-figured and loving, she is unapologetic in her appreciation for sugar, icing and anything that involves cupcakes or Jesus. Joined by husband, Tim, played by veteran actor, Gordon Bass, the couple sometimes steals the show. When Della complains that Tim “has not kissed her with his tongue” for ages, the two bring one of the most hilarious sex scenes to this LGBT stage I have ever seen. And how ironic that it is heterosexual sex that brought the audience to laughing tears.

While the show may be labeled as a comedy, it also carries the heavy weights that many of us have experienced. Struggles with religion, family and friends who say they love us…but, there is always that but. Conflicts with those who are the most important people in our lives bring severe pain and no amount of sugar or icing can cause that pain to go away…or can it?

From the clever and humorous way Macy, the surprise girlfriend, played by Zakiyyah Jackson, is introduced, to the deep tearful, personal sharing of Della talking about a college female she wanted to touch, the production is filled with much of everything.

Jen, the young woman who proudly brings her girlfriend home for her dream wedding, played by Nicole Morris-Anastasi, does a superb job in sharing her elation as well as her deep pain.

No better example of a RTP production that makes us leave the theater smiling following a discussion on the pain that many of us have known, than The Cake. And that is a gift that Richmond Triangle Players often shares.

And this is why I encourage everyone to see this production. It makes us feel good. It makes us feel joy. It makes us feel emotion. It simply makes us feel. And I do not think a play nor an actor can be more complimented than that.

We are very proud that Diversity Thrift Manager, Darren Schledt, is the Assistant Stage Manager for “The Cake.” The show runs through March 7th. Tickets at www.rtriangle.org