Together We Rise Above 2020!

Submitted by Wendy McCaig on Mon, 12/14/2020 - 11:58

When I started Embrace more than 15 years ago, we were an all-volunteer organization made up largely of my suburban neighbors and individuals transitioning out of homelessness.  We had very little organizational structure and even less financial resources.  What we had was each other and together we did some amazing things.

In 2018 when we launched our Empowered Communities Institute, we shifted from working directly with community level leaders to an intermediary role.  In our intermediary role we provide training, coaching and consulting services to other organizations who are on the front lines strengthening communities from the inside out using our Empowered Communities Framework.  This shift allowed us to expand our impact and brought us into deep lasting partnerships with some of the most impactful and amazing organizations in our community and beyond.

As you can imagine, community building has been exceptionally challenging during a global pandemic.  Our partners have been inundated with requests for basic needs and our largest partner, Communities in Schools of Chesterfield County has been attempting to meet not only the growing physical needs of students but the social emotional needs that have us on the verge of a mental health crisis on top of a health and economic crisis.

While Embrace spent more than a decade on the frontlines in communities across Richmond, we are no longer providing direct services the way our partners are.  While we would be grateful for your financial support, we feel that during this challenging time our trusted partners need your support even more. 

It is for this reason, that this year we are requesting that you direct your year-end financial gifts to one of the following organizations who have committed to using our Empowered Communities Framework in their efforts to strengthen the most vulnerable communities in the Metro Richmond area and beyond.

Communities in Schools of Chesterfield, Richmond or Petersburg:  If you want to support students and families in our most challenged communities, we recommend you donate to Communities in Schools. While our deepest relationship is with CIS of Chesterfield, we are also training site coordinators from CIS of Richmond and CIS of Peterburg and are hopeful to expand that effort in coming years.  You can give here: CIS of Chesterfield -, CIS of Richmond -, CIS of Petersburg -

Virginia Community Health Worker Association: Community Health Workers are on the front lines in neighborhoods across our nation. They are often the link between vulnerable community members and the resources made available through institutions. This Richmond based association is striving to support these crucial community leaders who are boots on the ground in the communities across the state of Virginia who are hardest hit by this pandemic. Learn more about these frontline workers here: or donate here: VA-CHW ASSOCIATION (

Hillside Court Partnership and Brookland Park Collective: The Hillside Court and Brookland Park communities and the associations that emerged out of our direct organizing efforts in these two communities will always be near and dear to our hearts.  If you would like to give direct support to families in need this holiday season, we recommend you send gift cards to the following: Hillside Court, please contact Patrice Shelton ( or mail to 1500 Harwood St, Richmond, VA 23224. To support those in need in the Brookland Park area we encourage you to contact Willie Hilliard ( or mail your support to P.O. Box 25271. Richmond, VA 23260-5271.

Belmont Community Resource Services:  If you are concerned about rising food insecurity and want to help insure no one goes hungry this holiday season, we highly recommend you support Belmont Community Resources Services, one of our region’s largest food distribution programs.  BCRS has been an Embrace client for many years and seeks to go beyond simply giving out food to connecting with their clients at a much deeper and impactful level.  You can learn more and donate here:

The Pace Center:  One population that has been severely impacted by the pandemic are young adults.  The Pace Center is located on the Campus of VCU and has been one of our most innovative clients.  They have been applying ABCD principles using our Empowered Communities Framework to their campus context.  Many young adults work in service industries and VCU’s student population had a very high level of food insecurity before the pandemic which has only grown over the past year.  Pace not only seeks to address this physical need but is striving to address the deeper more difficult social emotional needs of young adults. Connecting students to peer support is where Pace really excels and there is no time like now when we need organizations like Pace ensuring the leaders of tomorrow are given the support they need today. You can learn more and donate here:

Coastal Bend Neighborhood Empowerment:  To all our friends who are passionate about homelessness or those of you who live in Texas, we want to encourage you to give to our favorite non-Richmond client – Coastal Bend Neighborhood Empowerment.  This organization is located in Corpus Christi, Texas and has been an Embrace client for many years.  They are doing some really innovative work with the unsheltered homeless population by applying our Empowered Communities Framework to that context. You can learn more and donate here: 

Embrace is truly blessed to be a strong financial position allowing us to survive this crisis that is threatening so many non-profits across our nation.  However, our work would be meaningless without these amazing partners.  We encourage you to help us fuel the Asset-Based Community Development movement by giving generously to our partners this holiday season.

Together we will rise from the ashes of 2020 into a much more hopeful future!

If you prefer to donate directly to Embrace you can do so from our home page at and we will be happy to pass along your gift to one of our amazing partners.

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