Darvonette Johnson, a senior at Franklin Military Academy is The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club 2017 Youth of the Year. Johnson received the honor by exemplifying characteristics of community involvement, leadership, compassion for others, and strong moral character.
“When I first came to The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club I was a quiet and shy little girl who kept to herself,” said Johnson as she addressed the panel of judges representing Spice Rack, Church Hill People’s News and I Vote for Me. “The Club has helped me blossom into an outgoing, determined leader who loves helping my community and the people around me. I’ve become a better person thanks to the staff at the Club.”
Since 1947, Youth of the Year has been the Boys & Girls Club of America’s premier recognition program, celebrating extraordinary achievements of Club members. Each year, Boys & Girls Clubs across the country select a Youth of the Year from their selective Clubs. The competition is a premier recognition event for Club members, promoting to the club, community and family, academic success, public speaking ability, life goals and strong moral character.
Two members of The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club in Richmond’s East End competed for the 2017 honor, with Johnson taking the top honor over Ty’wann Jackson, a junior at Armstrong High School.
“Darvonette exemplifies the critical impact of the Club on the lives of young people and will be a great representative for The Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club at the state Youth of the Year competition in Norfolk,” explained The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club executive director, Hugh Jones. “Youth of the Year participants embody the values of leadership, service, academic excellence and healthy lifestyles. Through the Youth of the Year program, young people are able to showcase their talents and achievements, share their hopes and dreams, and work toward a bright and positive future.”
Johnson has been a member of the Club for four years and is the president of the Keystone Club.
Johnson will work with Club Council members to prepare to compete against other youth from Boys & Girls Clubs across Virginia and Washington, D.C. for the distinction of State of Virginia Youth of the Year in early April.
For over 95 years, The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club has had a positive impact on Richmond children through core programming in Education/Career, Character & Leadership, Health & Life Skills, Arts, Sports & Fitness, and Morality & Values.
The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club is working on a renovation project that will change how the Club supports and empowers Richmond’s East End residents and youth. As alums of the Club, you’ve had a first-hand experience of how participating in Club activities can change a child’s life. We want to hear your stories on how The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club changed your life so we can change more lives!
* We will not publish your quotes, name or information without your permission.
Andrew moved from Washington, DC to Richmond in 2003. He left DC after years of dealing drugs and life in the fast lane and came to Richmond with all his belongings, put them in a storage unit and figured he spend the next year on the road as a bus driver. The job didn’t work out though and soon Andrew had no income, he turned to the pastor at the church he was attending and got connected with The Salvation Army.
Gerald Williams is a senior at Franklin Military Academy in Church Hill, a short walk from The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club. Gerald has been a member of the Club for three years and noted that he has learned a lot and gained valuable experience while a member.
“I’ve learned a lot about leadership inside the Club,” he said. “The different programs and initiatives have helped me become a better person and more committed to supporting the children and staff here but also supporting my community.”
Gerald has participated in several programs while at the Club but notable has been the Keystone Club, a club for teens that provides opportunities for youth to participate in activities in areas of community service, academic success, career preparation, and teen outreach. “Participating in Keystone Club helped me to socialize with my peers and feel comfortable discussing important issues that many of my friends are facing,” he said.
As the 2016 Youth of the Year for The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club, Gerald competed against other youth from Boys & Girls Clubs across Virginia and Washington, D.C. for the distinction of Regional Youth of the Year in early April.
This Friday, April 22, NASCAR driver David Ragan will make a personal appearance at the Atlee-based sweetFrog location (10040 Sliding Hill Rd, Ashland, VA) to commemorate his partnership with sweetFrog and raise funds for The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club. Richmond residents and all race fans are encouraged to visit sweetFrog from 7-9PM this Friday, April 22, to meet Ragan, enjoy their favorite sweetFrog creation and take home a limited edition sweetFrog racing T-shirt and signed limited edition David Ragan hero card. sweetFrog will donate 25% of all sales from 7PM to close to the Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club located in Richmond’s East End.
“I am excited to have sweetFrog on our Toyota for Richmond,” said Ragan. “Richmond is one of my favorite races of the year, and the Sunday afternoon event will be a new challenge for our team. sweetFrog is my family’s go to spot for frozen yogurt. Let me put it this way – I am thrilled about this partnership, but my excitement pales in comparison to my daughter Julia’s face when we walk into sweetFrog!”
Regardless of whether you’re a fan of NASCAR or not, please make time to visit the sweetFrog at 10040 Sliding Hill Rd, Ashland, VA on Friday from 7PM to 9PM to enjoy premium frozen yogurt and sweetFrog will donate 25% of all sales from 7PM to close to the Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club located in Richmond’s East End.
On February 27, a Salvation Army Case Manager, Yasmir Hall, volunteered with the team of volunteers from Project W.A.R.M.. A service that provides firewood to households in the Richmond area who heat their houses with wood burning stoves. Hall visited the woodlot in the northside area of Richmond near John Marshall High School. When he arrived the volunteers had already split the wood necessary to deliver to the houses on that day’s deliver list. Hall rode with volunteers to deliver the wood, greeted families and assisted in carrying wood into the homes. During the deliveries he saw on recipient who had been into The Salvation Army earlier in the week for assistance with her electric bill. Hall, who will be moving back to New Jersey at the end of March, said he’d been working with the Project W.A.R.M. team for two years and wanted to experience it before leaving.
The process works by Yasmir qualifying the families who call into The Salvation Army seeking assistance to heat their homes, he completes an application with them to confirm eligibility and then sends the list of qualified families for the week over to the Project W.A.R.M. team who will then chop and cut the wood on Saturdays and deliver to the families on the list in the afternoon.
Below is a letter from Mary Ann Wilson (pictured in red jacket), wife of the program’s late founder, Lou Wilson. Ms. Wilson is also an Advisory Board Member with The Salvation Army:
“I thought I’d share this photo taken recently at the woodlot. We were thrilled that Yasmir joined us – literally got his hands (and nice coat) dirty from such good work 🙂 So sorry to see him go as I know you are – some people are truly a genuine loss and I count him among them…He was dependable and accurate and a huge help in fielding requests and providing the weekly list of our wood recipients. We are much grateful for his “faith-full” and prompt service so that we could manage to keep many people warm with our simple yet effective means. One of the beautiful outcomes of Project W.A.R.M. is the exposure it has to the young people who join us every week to help as best they can – from toddlers to teens they’re getting a birds-eye view of not only the needs of others but how caring people try to meet those needs without passing judgement.
Thank you all for your ongoing support – we truly couldn’t survive without your being there. The best to you as you continue life’s journey, Yasmir. As Lou would say: “You’re a good man – not too many of us left” :)”
We hope you had wonderful Christmas and are enjoying an equally wonderful 2016 so far. High among our blessings in 2015 was your continued support our community feeding program, Community Meals. Your cooking and service made it possible for us to serve 50,000+ meals over the course of the year and we are grateful for your support.
We are taking this opportunity to update you on Community Meals and its future. Recently we have experienced a rise in violence during our breakfast and dinner service to the community. Within the last week, several altercations have taken place, some resulting in personal injury and others in property damage, leading us to serve the meals carryout rather than dine in, simply out of danger to our shelter residents, volunteers and staff. In 2015 we also had to call the police over two dozen times to report incidents and request assistance.
Additionally, we have experienced issues with client confidentiality and safety as a result of allowing close to 150 individuals into our building to receive a meal. The use of the cafeteria and staff time during the Community Meals service has also hindered the service we aim to provide for our shelter residents whom come to us expecting transformational programming to help them in their journey toward self-sufficiency. However, because of strained staffing and lack of space, we have been unable to provide this service to the level our residents deserve and we expect of ourselves.
With that said, we will be ending our service of the Community Meals program. Friday, January 29 will be the last day of breakfast service and Saturday, February 27 will be the last day of the Community Meals dinner.
Mid-way through 2015 we began review of the Community Meals program and whether the growing number of calls to the police, property damage and staff strain justified continuing the service at the cost of serving our shelter residents. We concluded that our mission, “To preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and meet human needs in His name without discrimination”, was not being applied among our shelter residents appropriately while we continued Community Meals.
We had hoped to have serve meals further into the New Year, however, due to the rise in incidents such as mentioned above, we feel no choice but to completely end the program on Saturday, February 27.
We will continue to serve breakfast and dinner to our shelter residents, a number of about 60, seven days a week. We pray that you can continue to support our feeding efforts and respect the decision to close the Community Meals service. Within the week our Volunteer Coordinator, Joanna Brown, or a member of our staff, will call you to discuss this. We will also be working on a list of other organizations who offer feeding programs to the community and communicate that to you, should you wish to continue with this type of support.
Thank you again for your support and God bless,
Major Timothy Carter
Area Commander, The Salvation Army Central Virginia
The Amazing Raise is our region’s 36-hour online giving challenge that inspires and empowers our community to support Central Virginia nonprofit organizations in an amazing way, regardless of where you call home. It gets even better – when you give during The Amazing Raise, you can help your favorite nonprofits win additional incentive prizes ranging from $500 to $15,000!
Over the last five years through the Amazing Raise, The Salvation Army has raised close to $10,000 through donors locally and across the country to support services and solutions to families and individuals working to overcome hardships here in Central Virginia.
Please visit this page on Wednesday, September 16 beginning at 6AM to make a gift to The Salvation Army during the Amazing Raise.
The Salvation Army Emergency Shelter in Petersburg is participating in the “100 Day Challenge”, a campaign to house homeless veterans, which began August 3, and will conclude on November 10, one day before Veteran’s Day.
Prior to the challenge, The Salvation Army Emergency Men’s Shelter (835 Commerce St., Petersburg, VA) was already serving a steady stream of homeless veterans. On a given night as many as 25% of shelter residents are veterans. In the shelter men receive meals, case management, referrals to other programs and fellowship.
“The ‘100 day Challenge’ puts the spotlight on one of the most vulnerable populations in the Tri-Cities, our homeless veterans,” said Jewel Farrar, Shelter Manager for The Salvation Army in Petersburg. “When men come through The Salvation Army shelter, we’re able offer them a stable environment and empowering employment and education preparation courses, business and life skills programs that help break the cycle of homelessness and prevent relapse. And this challenge is a great spark for collaboration with other agencies to serve the men who have served us.”
Since January 1, 2014, The Salvation Army Emergency Shelter has provided 450 men, 113 of them veterans, with resources connected to the shelter such as assistance with substance abuse, direct financial assistance, assistance with mental illness & treatment for stability, and collaboration with other local agencies assisting with employment and stable housing.
“A lot of soldiers aren’t equipped for civilian live when leaving the military,” said Charles Kelley, a U.S. Army veteran with more than 10 years of service who has received assistance from The Salvation Army. “These programs are beneficial to a lot of people. If The Salvation Army didn’t help me, I’d be in a pretty rough situation.”
The “100 Day Challenge” is part of Governor Terry McAuliffe’s initiatives for Virginia to be the first state to reach the federal goal of ending veteran homelessness by the end of 2015.
“We must renew our commitment to better serve our veterans in every community across the Commonwealth,” said Governor McAuliffe in a news release about the campaign. “Our labors on their behalf pale compared to the sacrifices these men and women have made in service to our country.”
Leading up the challenge, the Virginia Department of Veterans Services (VDVS) and the Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness (VCEH), hosted a Veteran Housing Boot Camp on July 31 at the Petersburg Public Library. The Boot Camp gave Salvation Army staff and volunteers the opportunity to reevaluate their process for serving veterans and collaborate other service providers on the spot.
During the 100 Day Challenge, Crater District services providers have committed to reaching 75 homeless veterans and successfully housing 40 of them.
On Tuesday, July 21, The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club welcomed Councilwoman Cynthia Newbille, of the 7th voter district, to meet with nearby residents of the Club and share the news of the renovation project to begin at the Club in the fall of 2015.
The proposed renovation will add 7,000 square feet onto to the facility, allowing for enhanced programming for members but also allow for extended hours and programming to serve all members of the community. All parts of the Club will receive upgrades, computers, fitness equipment, HVAC, kitchen to be renovated, aquatics center upgrade and locker rooms redone.
The first phase of renovation will include upgrading the aquatics center. Replacing the pool and mechanicals to make operable year-round, expand locker rooms, renovate kitchen and upgrade HVAC.
The renovation to The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club is expected to bring programming and possibilities for youth members but also for their families and our community.
Construction on phase one of the three phase project will begin in the fall and conclude in time for the aquatics center to be open for summer camp in 2016.
Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club summer campers participated in the Optimum Sports Speed and Agility Camp in early July. What made the two-day mini camp additionally unique was that it’s host, Ron Davis of the Richmond Raiders, is a an Advisory Board member with The Salvation Army in Kansas.
Campers gained valuable insight and feedback into proper techniques for running, sprinting and agility movement. Many strong points were observed such as: including age appropriate communication of instructions, various forms of motivation, a fun atmosphere for learning and explanation of the skills taught in relation to athleticism in sports.
The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club hosted their annual Think Pink Talent and Fashion Show. Female members of the Club put on a talent show and were inspired by guests of honor Delegate Delores McQuinn and Dr. Delores Whitaker. The Richmond Boys Choir performed. Advisory Council member, Kelli Lemon, hosted the event.
When Sergeant Charles Kelley filled his duty over 10 years in U.S. Army support personnel, he ensured soldiers and their families were cared for so that those troops could focus on their mission.
So, when Charles’ family experienced a crisis, he invoked personal faith and a grateful heart while receiving temporary financial assistance through The Salvation Army’s Family Services Program.
During Donuts of Hope, we have celebrated the transformation, unconditional love and character our veterans have demonstrated.
We have been reminded that in the operation of God’s grace, the broken places can be healed, even if scars remain.
We thank you for helping those heroes feel God’s mercies, know His love, and look forward to tomorrow because of our Lord’s promise of presence.
This is the final story for Donuts of Hope 2015. Please visit DonutsOfHope.org to learn more or make gift.
The partnership between the Boys and Girls Clubs of America and the U.S. Armed Forces helps children of military families face the unique challenges of military life. During the 20th anniversary celebration, veterans credited club experiences for their readiness in character while serving in military service roles.
As Regina rose to the rank of Sergeant Major, she set the example in courage, integrity, humility, and empathy; all part of the US Army’s 23 traits of character.
While involved in combat and peace keeping missions, Regina’s children were learning and applying those same values under the guidance of The Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club staff and volunteers.
True character is shown in how we act in any situation. We salute our veterans and youth mentors who in spite of adversity, still exhibit the fruits of the spirit in word and deed.
You have been a blessing as the heroes that wear the cloth of our nation and those that positively impact the hearts and minds of youth forge character, change lives and give for a cause greater than oneself.
As we understand the depth of those experiences, let us aspire to the values our service men and women learn and share with their families and communities upon return: loyalty, duty, respect, honor and unconditional love.
Rodney is a loyal marine. He was not spared life’s struggles, but, he now practices the traits of unconditional love with the homeless and others who may be faced with challenges.
The power of unconditional love was exemplified as The Salvation Army Lassies and Volunteers worked 18 to 20 hour shifts to operate 1,000 canteens on 26 battlefronts during World War I. That compassion etched a place in the hearts of thousands of ordinary soldiers who gratefully received help and comfort in their darkest hour.
Jesus led with unconditional love and taught us it will have the final word.
This Memorial Day please allow us to thank you for rekindling the spirits of our veterans with your involvement and showing them their worth to the One who matters.
The Salvation Army Donuts of Hope campaign celebrates the connection between the donut and the support Salvation Army Donut Lassies offered to soldiers on the front lines during both World Wars. The campaign also raises awareness and support for Salvation Army programs serving veterans in our community, who today, find themselves fighting for housing, food and employment. Please allow us to share their stories of hope with you over the next three weeks.