Power of Good - Day 5

This is the fifth in a series of five blog posts featuring local volunteers in honor of National Volunteer Week. Nominated volunteers will be honored with a custom portrait on Friday April 11, 2014 at the Power of Good Show.

Sharing Different RVA Childhoods

Justin Kern

“One of the most fulfilling things about being a Big Brother in Richmond is being able to share the city’s secrets with someone who wouldn’t otherwise know they existed. Before I met my Little Brother, Richmond was Chamberlayne Avenue, Gilpin Court, Hotchkiss pool, and Pine Camp. Unlike my friends and I growing up, he didn’t play tag in the bamboo forest at Maymont, mountain bike along the buttermilk trail and Belle Isle, or have picnics at Scuffletown Park (admittedly, my parents didn’t often take my sisters and I to Scuffletown for picnics when I was younger, but we did walk our dog there).  While a lot of my experiences with my Little Brother are nostalgic and cathartic, I am hoping these activities are broadening his perspectives of the city, and will ultimately help him find more opportunities outside of his former comfort zone.”


The Volunteer You Can Always Count On

LaShawn Hewitt

I have been volunteering with Safe Harbor for just a little bit now and volunteering with this organization is one of the best things I've ever done! I'm thankful for the experiences that I've had and the wonderful people that I have come in contact with. I hope that in some small way, I'm making a difference, if but one person at a time. I look forward to the day when there isn't a need for Safe Harbor, but until then I look forward to continuing the work that I've been doing. Thank you Safe Harbor for allowing me to be a part of your organization!”

LaShawn has been volunteering for Safe Harbor over a year and has shown an enthusiastic willingness to do non direct service volunteering (staffing tables at events and interviewing/supporting/mentoring new volunteers). LaShawn has been the face of Safe Harbor at approximately 10 events in just a 12 month period, from the Burlesque Festival to a Chiropractic Open House, and I always know that she represents us well. You know that one volunteer you know you can count on when you are in a pinch and *really* need someone to step up? That's LaShawn.


To Discover a New City

Margaret Woody

“My motivation for volunteering was to discover new things about RVA, when I was new in town, in 1989.

All of my volunteer experiences are amazing.

Make sure you are not volunteering just to "look good" and make sure your motivation isn't self-serving.

I have volunteered as an usher for musical and theater events, so I can see everything cultural, in town. I worked as a development volunteer for WCVE-TV's former Great TV Auction. For the past 16 years, I have been a key volunteer for Art 180 (and received the Bank of America Neighborhood Excellence Initiative "Local Hero of Richmond" Award, which was $5,000 distribution for Art 180, in 2011.) I volunteer for Concerned North-side Congregations, serving neighbors in North Richmond, VA, who are mentally challenged and live in group homes on Chamberlayne Avenue. I volunteer for St. Thomas Episcopal's Food Bank and help "gleen" donated food from Food Lion, and shop at FeedMore/CVFB. I am a Key Volunteer for C.A.R.I.T.A.S. Shelter Program (Family Focus), who partners with YMCA Bright Beginnings Program. I have been a 10 year volunteer of National Folk Festival and Richmond Folk Festival. I have volunteered with Laburnum Elementary School, Chimborazo Elementary School and taught art and creative writing. I have been a "Book Buddy" for Virginia's PASS Partnership/Mentoring Program. I volunteered at Richmond City Jail and Treatment Programs at Tucker Pavillion.”


An Aspiring Librarian and Avid Volunteer

Tiffany Harris

“My name is Tiffany Harris and I am a sales associate at The Clothes Rack and a full time student at the University of Richmond's School of Continuing and Professional Studies.  I am an on-call Volunteer Leader with HandsOn Greater Richmond, volunteer with the Boatwright Memorial Library at the UR campus, and a Community Advisory Board member with the Junior League of Richmond.

As an aspiring librarian, I am generally interested in organizations that improve community access to information and resources.  As a HandsOn volunteer I am able to explore different types of projects and organizations.  I have been pleasantly surprised that some of my more memorable experiences have been things that involve being outside and getting dirty such as gardening at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden and goat sitting at Maymont.”

Give advice for the next generation of awesome volunteers.

“Just dive in - ask questions, and advocate for yourself to ensure the best possible experience.  Don't be afraid to take some time to find the right fit - whether it's the organization, cause, or type of volunteer activity.”


From Biomedical Engineering to Autism Advocacy

Waleed Llyas

Give some advice to the next generation of awesome volunteers.

“Being a volunteer is a great thing. And the reason it's so great is because you're willing to take out your time and put in your effort to help others without asking for anything or being physically rewarded. If someone is able to pick up this quality at an early age, where they know not to ask for things when they do favors, it's something that will benefit them forever. Because as the world continues in the path it is in today, we will need more and more volunteers to take out time from their ever-so busy lives and help our world. We've been giving so many blessings in this world, and through these, we need to remember to give back- it's our responsibility. And volunteering doesn't always have to be something to sign up for! Volunteering can even mean to open a door for someone, or to pick up litter off the sidewalks, or even to smile at someone- these acts are voluntary acts that you take your time and effort to do in order to benefit others. Volunteering is something we should always keep in our hearts, and we should remember to not only just volunteer, but volunteer beautifully- volunteer with passion.”

Waleed is in the biomedical engineering program at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). He volunteers with the Autism Society Central Virginia (ASCV) at our monthly bowling events for individuals with autism. He has also co-founded an organization at VCU called SPARK Autism. Through this group, he organizes other volunteers from VCU to join him and volunteer each month with the ASCV in the different volunteering opportunities we have. SPARK is also organizing an educational talk on Autism, a bake sale to raise funds to benefit the ASCV, and a game night at VCU for those Autism as part of  the April events for Autism Awareness Month. Waleed has not only volunteered, but has formed friendships with many of those he has supported in our organization (ASCV) through his volunteering.

A Blessed Opportunity

Debbie Lewis-Taylor

“When I was young, I always wanted to volunteer in the community to make a difference in someone’s life.  That opportunity came in 07/2012, when I became unemployed.  As a single mom, I kept looking for work.  In between my job search, I was able to volunteer with HandsOn Greater Richmond to help various organizations.  In 01/2013, I became a Volunteer Leader working with the Kidney Foundation.  In addition, I am a substitute leader for other leaders who are unable to work on their projects.  My 13 year old daughter is volunteering as well.  I thank God for the opportunity.”


Crisis Intervention and Inspiration to Others

Carolyn Gladwell

Carolyn Gladwell has been volunteering with The James House since 2011 and in that time has embodied the spirit of The James House volunteer program.  Carolyn has devoted hundreds of hours to their 24-hour crisis hotline and support groups, and has recently become involved with the volunteer training program, sharing about her experience in crisis intervention with new volunteers.  Her work ethic is solid and she is a hard-working, compassionate, and sincere person who is willing to tackle new challenges – qualities that are essential for the population they serve.


Mentoring Hearing Impaired Students

Ann Wilder

Ann is a VA Dominion volunteer mentor for Thompson Middle School who has certainly exhibited how the community can help power good in the Richmond Region. Ann is currently mentoring one of Thompson's most talented students who is hearing impaired.  Ann took the initiative to further engage with her mentee by joining the Sign Language Club to better communicate with her mentee and currently tutors and participates with her other enrichment activities. Ann consistently exhibits the most warm, patient, and kind demeanor despite the challenges the school has encountered and is always offering to lend a helping hand. Ann your efforts are greatly appreciated!


A Consistent Champion of Animals

Claire Tetrick

What was your motivation to start volunteering?

“I've always been an animal lover so when I moved to the Richmond area, I thought volunteering would be an ideal way to not only make a difference in the community, but to get my "dog fix" as well! I've continued to volunteer because I enjoy seeing the transformation of dogs that come into rescue as shy, untrusting, and fearful and blossom into outgoing, friendly, and incredibly appreciative animals ready for their forever homes.”

Give some advice for the next generation of awesome volunteers.

“It's important to find a cause that you really believe in. There are so many ways to volunteer and make a difference in the lives of others - it's just a matter of identifying that passion and developing it!”

Cycling an Avenue for Change

Craig Dodson

Craig created Richmond Cycling Corps which is a cycling program for at risk youth that helps build confidence and aspirations. 

“It’s simple. If there’s a need and one has the ability, vision, and dedication to serve that need, then do something.”


Know Your Gifts

Denise Lee

Advice to future volunteers:

“Look for what you know matches the unique gifts with which YOU came into this world.   Volunteering in any way is beneficial to the giver and the receiver,  but when you give from the place you feel is YOUR calling, magic happens.  Not only do you see the rewards for recipients of the giving, YOU receive more than you can possibly measure!!!”

Denise is a music therapist by trade, and has a passion for helping young children with autism through music therapy.  Denise volunteers with us each month and leads a music group for preschoolers in the Central Virginia area that are affected by autism.  Denise brings all of the supplies needed from instruments for the children to movement items.  She leads the session for these preschoolers and their parents, and helps build language and social skills through music.  She does all of this as a volunteer!  


Embodying the Spirit of the Visual Arts Center

Gerry Nixon

“If you're considering volunteering, I would suggest that you first think and pray about it, which should lead to finding opportunities to use skills and talents you've been given.  That, along with a real passion for the work/goals of the organization, helps you to make a contribution and to be willing to pour yourself into the work, even when some tasks are less fun than others, or if things do not go smoothly at some points.  I would also advise you to pick a limited number of organizations with which to serve on a regular basis, so that you can spend more time with each and really build relationships with staff and others there, as well as gain some level of knowledge/expertise about the organization and its work, which in turn enables you to help even more.”

As one of their most reliable and long-standing volunteers, Gerry truly embodies the spirit of the Visual Arts Center. She never hesitates to lend a helping hand to any facet of the organization, dipping her toes in multiple pools, and leaving an indelible mark of kindness on the people and programs that she touches. Gerry was one of the first mentors to participate in their SOHO program in 2009 as a role model for a pre-teen girl from Richmond’s Gilpin Court Projects, and has since given “more of her time and talent to bettering our Richmond arts community than we could possibly thank her for”.  

Beautifying Lewis Ginter

Maya deBrunner

Maya has volunteered at the Garden for over 16 years and giving 4700 volunteer hours in the Garden Shop as a cashier &  in the Horticulture department as a gardener--EACH WEEK giving of her time and talent to make this a beautiful and welcoming place for Richmond residents and visitors.

A Volunteer Leader for HandsOn

Natalie Grossett-Campbell

“Natalie has been a volunteer leader with us for 3 years and currently leads the project, Bon Secours Healing Garden, with Tricycle Gardens.  She is interested in project and people management and her outgoing nature makes it easy for volunteers to work with her. She’s previously led projects with a small nonprofit, the Free Foundation. Her leadership has provided space for nearly 100 volunteers to serve.” Holly, HandsOn Greater Richmond

Elevating the Children of Woodville Elementary

Page Luxmoore

For 15 years Page has been a Woodville Elementary volunteer.  Page’s volunteer roles vary from classroom assistant to housing advocate to camp registration guru. Her efforts are many but one unique impact she has made is coordinating scholar role field trips, helping to expose students to experiential learning on a regular basis.  Just this past summer Page's efforts resulted in 206 Woodville students attending 35 different residential and day camps.  Page is helping to level the playing field for Woodville kids and has become a trusted member of the Woodville community. 


Couldn’t Nominate Just One!

Regional Hospital Accompaniment Response Team

“I couldn’t nominate just one so I wanted to recognize volunteers who support the Regional Hospital Accompaniment Response Team (RHART). RHART volunteers go through over 30 hours of training before signing up to respond to area hospitals to support patients who've experienced sexual or intimate partner violence. Volunteers provide a shoulder to lean on for those who’ve experienced trauma and provide information, referrals, and support. These volunteers have responded to approximately 175 calls from MCV, Bon Secours, and HCA hospitals in the last 6 months to provide much needed support to survivors.”

He is, in Fact, The Man

Phil Munson

 “Phil Munson has chaired The James House's Board of Directors for the past 2 years. Phil is a strong and dedicated volunteer who believes in our mission, and he has worked tirelessly with the agency's leadership team to create a solid infrastructure for the organization while elevating our profile within the community. Phil recognizes the power of mutual respect for colleagues and he values community partnerships. Strong supportive leadership from Phil allows the agency team to operate at peak efficiency, serving more than 1,400 people impacted by sexual violence, domestic violence and stalking in 2013. Phil’s the man!”

Working to Raise Awareness of New Legislation

Sarah Gross

Sarah Gross currently serves as Chair of the Legislative Committee on the Virginia PTA.  She works tirelessly to inform herself and others about important legislation impacting all Virginia school children.  She is specifically invested in Richmond schoolchildren, frequently encouraging policy makers, parents and teachers to act in thoughtful ways for the benefit of all children in the Richmond Region; because of this, she has been asked to serve on countless committees and task forces addressing a host of issues including school safety and school assessment systems. Her compassionate focus on the people in the public school system powers good ideas for the Richmond Region.



A Passion for Improving Healthcare

Shirley Gibson

Shirley is VNF president, a past president of the Virginia Nurses Association, and co-lead of the Virginia Action Coalition. Her life’s passion is improving the healthcare of all Virginians through the advancement of the nursing profession and is the driving force behind the important work of our foundation. Shirley is a true inspiration to our volunteers and staff, and because of her, Virginia can look forward to a future with a highly skilled and trained nursing workforce providing quality care where and when patients need it.   


Leading With A Smile

Tamila Mitchell

“Tamila has been a volunteer leader in our current programming for the last 3 years, but really she's been leading volunteers with HandsOn since 2007. She has overseen projects with several organizations, including FeedMore, but where she's been most committed is with the homeless shelter, HomeAgain. Tamila has provided consistent leadership and opportunity for volunteers to help the clients and their children while in crisis. Most recently, she was invited to give feedback at a meeting of HomeAgain staff as they discussed restructuring and a renewed focus on volunteerism. Always poised and with a smile, we’re grateful to have her.” – Holly, HandsOn Greater Richmond


For The Sake of Art – And Service

Tiffany Glass Ferreira

 “I know more about Richmond and its great people through Tiffany Ferreira, her artwork, and her presence on social media than I would if I lived in your state. She creates "Real Small Art" and hides it in businesses throughout RVA for people to find and keep. When she posts, she softly promotes a business and the community. Recently, she hid paintings of coffee cups, encouraging people to treat each other to coffee. Now her Shrinky DInk portraits are showcasing generous, strong souls in Richmond. This artist is about love and service and Richmond.”  Musi

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