- Published: Thursday, January 13 2022
- Written by Diversity Richmond
Each year in February, Black History Month gives us opportunity to have well-intentional conversations about the contributions and accomplishments of Black folks. Recognizable names are talked about for their writings and how they speak truth to their Black experience. It is always about slavery abolition or the civil rights movement in the 1960s, important parts of our history. But it's never about an aspect of Blackness just as important - our LGBTQ history.
Despite being part of the LGBTQ community, the experience of prominent Black figures in history is often relegated to just their Blackness, reducing their lives to a single aspect that minimizes their struggles and accomplishments. Many famous names like authors James Baldwin and Lorraine Hansberry are discussed without once mentioning their sexuality.
Also, other notable Black members of the LGBTQ community include Langston Hughes, Little Richard, Audre Lorde, Alice Walker, Miss Major and Angela Davis. All are incredibly important names in both their art and the civil rights movement, but this pattern of erasing aspects of their gender identity has largely gone unnoticed.
So, as we honor the experiences of our LGBTQIA+ community, Diversity Richmond, in its 6th year, celebrates the Black and Bold Awards. These awards honor the Black leaders in our community who have created change. Each person honored has their own personal journey that has contributed to conservations about Black representation, identity, and diversity in our community today.
Our awards will be presented on Friday, February 25th. Please save the date.
Luise "Cheezi" Farmer
Board Chair, Diversity Richmond
Black and Bold nominations should be submitted on our web site by January 25, 2022. If you have questions, please email
Gift is first of many planned disbursements from massive Amazon donation we received in November
Diversity Richmond donated more than 60 boxes of new household essentials, valued at more than $10,000, to the CARITAS Furniture Bank, just in time for the holidays. The donation is the first disbursement from more than $120,000 in merchandise Diversity Richmond received from Amazon last month as part of its ongoing partnership with the company. Staff from Diversity Richmond arrived in a box truck, wrapped in a huge red bow, to deliver the items to CARITAS.
The donation is comprised of a wide range of new items, still in the packaging, including bedding, housewares, kitchen supplies, small household appliances and toys which will be given to CARITAS clients, free of charge, through the organization’s Furniture Bank.
"The CARITAS Furniture Bank helps families who are coming out of a crisis to start their new lives," says Furniture Bank Program Manager Sandy Morris. "Our very own neighbors in need come in here to find new furniture and full of hope every single day and it's so exciting to be a part of. We are enormously grateful for organizations like Diversity Richmond that help us help others."
CARITAS's mission is to create a safe place to heal and time to rebuild. More than 1,000 adults and children receive essential furniture and household items each year through the CARITAS Furniture Bank, one of five CARITAS programs. Other programs include The Healing Place, the Emergency Shelter, CARITAS Works, and the CARITAS Recovery Residences. Through these programs, CARITAS provides men and women with the tools to make a successful transition to dignity and self-sufficiency.
“Diversity Richmond is honored and humbled to be able to make this donation to CARITAS, which has been one of our community partners for several years,” said James Millner, a spokesperson for the organization. “We know that, through CARITAS, this merchandise will immediately go into the hands and homes of people and families who are working hard to get back on their feet. This is exactly the kind of impact we hoped we could make with this donation from Amazon.”
Staff and volunteers at Diversity Richmond began sorting through the Amazon merchandise, currently stored in the organization’s warehouse, just before Thanksgiving and will continue to make donations to other community partners during the holidays and beyond.
“There is just so much good that can come from this massive donation of merchandise,” Millner continued. “It is a shining example of what can happen when non-profits work together with companies like Amazon to serve the communities in which they operate.”
A big thanks to our Thanksgiving volunteers from Black Pride RVA, UGRC, Minority Vets, and Diversity Richmond ! We served over 125 people a delicious hot buffet with turkey, green beans, mac & cheese, stuffing, and pie. The buffet was set up in our event hall for anyone to dine-in or take-out from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
We also deliveredt dinners to homeless folks nearby and a woman in a crisis stabilization program stuck in a hotel room with no food because of the holiday. We cannot do what we do without community support and we are grateful!
Since 1999, Diversity Richmond has contributed more than $1.1 million in community grants, free meeting and storage space, use of our event hall, help with homelessness, rent, and food.
It's only through community support that we can do this work. Here are a few ways we serve the LGBTQ+ community:
We are also pleased to continue our grants program this year, offering $80,000 to deserving nonprofits.
Thank you for your support. May your holiday season and 2022 be safe and healthy.
Giving — whether that’s money, time, or donations of goods — is an opportunity to join together and change things for the better in your community.
Donate money to Diversity Richmond (no amount is too little): diversityrichmond.org/how-we-do-it/fundraising-and-donations.html
Donate your time. Sign up to volunteer here: diversityrichmond.org/support-us/volunteer-application.html
Donate goods to Diversity Thrift - 1407 Sherwood Ave., RVA 23220 or call (804) 353-8890 for more information on items we accept or schedule a donation pickup. diversitythrift.org, @diversity.thrift
Our Holiday Boutique Team (L to R): David Turner, David Ballas, Susie Wood, Kris Woodson, and Petie Bogen-Garrett
The line down the block was visible from I95 for the opening reception of our annual Diversity Thrift Holiday Boutique so we opened our doors an hour early. This year's boutique is the biggest in the event's seven-year history. We have so many items this year that we've added a larger shopping area and extended sale dates from two weeks to six.
In October, curator David Ballas started organizing the boutique by viewing the contents of the storage rooms where everything that had been collected over the past year was stored. "And boy was it a lot! At first I was a little overwhelmed at the visual amount but then methodically started in one area at a time. I started coming in daily about six hours a day, sometimes longer to price items. It took about three weeks of pricing to get about 90% of it completed.
On Sunday November the 7th, unbeknown to me, store manager David Turner had coordinated with the good staff at Diversity to have all of the priced items brought over from storage to the staging area just outside of the Iridian Gallery in the store itself and had relocated all the furniture that was currently in that area. That was certainly no small feat. When I came in Monday November the 8th, I was actually surprised to see it all there, but was excited to get started setting up the boutique. As a degreed Interior Designer, I knew I could make the boutique visually beautiful!
Volunteer Susie Wood helped with all of the lovely vintage linens. She washed, ironed, priced and displayed them beautifully! I bet she doesn't ever want to see an iron again ... Lol.
Petie Bogen-Garrett, a Diversity board member, with her knowledge of art, volunteered her time to price all of the art to be displayed in the boutique. Again, not a small feat in itself.
When I arrived Monday morning November the 8th, I just started placing items in the boutique, hanging art, doing displays, putting down rugs, setting up tables with skirts until it all started coming together. We all worked hard hours during that week to be ready for the opening reception on November 12th.
It would not have been possible to have done this without the help of the volunteers and all of the wonderful hard working staff at Diversity. I also want to thank Kris Woodson and Eva Entzminger for their help and support. Kudos to everyone involved!
I am very happy and proud to have brought this project to life. It's going to be a great success!"
The Holiday Boutique is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily until December 23rd. Enter on the Sherwood Avenue side of our building at 1407 Sherwood Avenue, RVA 23220. You'll find a wide variety of art, estate jewelry, antiques, silver, crystal, fine china, vintage clothing, rare books, novelty toys and games, and furniture. New items added every day and some will be featured on our facebook page @diversity.thrift.
Proceeds from sales support the programs of Diversity Richmond. Come shop with us and spread the word!
For almost a week, Diversity Richmond has received a lot of public attention that has prompted us to remind ourselves of our mission as an organization. Several of our employees exercised their rights and protested our working environment because they felt unsafe. As an organization who prides itself as an advocate and safe space for the LGBTQ+ community and their allies, the employees challenged us to live out our mission just as much internally as we do externally.
On Tuesday, our Executive Committee and our employees participated in a five-hour long meeting where we listened to and absorbed our employees’ concerns while supporters gathered outside. Although the meeting lasted for quite some time, the information we gained from the conversation gave us the insights we needed to properly deliberate over the best decision for the entire organization.
After much discussion with the employees and with the Board, we reached solutions that we believe will help propel us forward to better serve our community.
Diversity Richmond is committing to several things, including:
The controller, will be on paid administrative leave pending an independent investigation of workplace practices, not related to finances. Separately, the President of Diversity has chosen to retire from Diversity, effective November 10, 2021. His decision to retire is not related to any sexual harassment allegations nor has he been accused of any sexual harassment. His retirement was not solicited by the Board.
The employees have been invited to a full Board of Diversity Richmond meeting on Monday, November 15, at 6:00 pm. Although the matter is not yet complete and we appreciate their input, we await a full investigation of the organization to better understand our culture.
We want Diversity Richmond’s environment to be one where no one feels unsafe or unappreciated. We admit that we have learned a lot during this process, and will continue to learn and progress. We appreciate the community’s support during this time, and we ask that you continue to support us as we work through this entire process and work toward a better organization.
The Executive Committee of Diversity Richmond is looking forward to meeting with our employees tonight, Tuesday, November 9 at 6:00 pm, to discuss their concerns. This meeting will be closed to the public and will only include current Diversity Richmond employees, members of our Executive Committee and Board representatives. No Diversity Richmond management will be present. We understand that there is significant interest in this meeting and welcome any members of the community who wish to rally outside the building in support of our employees to do so. The meeting will be held in our classroom space, inside Door Number 2 to our building. Only employees of Diversity Richmond and our Executive Committee or board will be allowed inside the classroom once the meeting begins.
At Diversity Richmond, we value our staff, our organization and the work we do for members of the LGBTQ+ and greater Richmond community. While the list has not been presented to us formally, we have been made aware of the social posts and allegations of staff members regarding working conditions. We take these allegations very seriously and are reviewing the list of demands employees have posted.
We welcome the opportunity to discuss these concerns and will work with employee representatives to find a time to discuss these issues as soon as possible.
From the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors of Diversity Richmond