2010 Richmond History Makers Honorees

Creating Quality Educational Opportunities

Virginia Mentoring Partnership
Jennifer J. Smith-Slabaugh, Executive Director
Allison Roberts, Programs

“Without VMP, there would be a significant element missing in the formula needed for creating healthy young people, positive youth-adult relationships, strong schools, and safe communities.” Miriam Davidow, nominator

In the 15 years since its inception, the Virginia Mentoring Partnership (VMP) has paired 30,000 children across the state with mentors trained in one of its ten programs. The organization’s goal that “every child in Virginia who needs or wants a mentor is provided with one” has resonated with many individuals and groups statewide.  Within the Richmond region alone, the VMP has partnered with universities, faith communities, civic groups and corporations to provide mentor training to more than 25,000 volunteers. In 2009, VMP mentors were paired with more than 2,100 children within the Richmond Public School system. The VMP also offers school-based mentoring for at-risk youth and consultation on the implementation of mentoring and tutoring programs and is a strong advocate for volunteerism in general. Under the leadership of Executive Director Jennifer J. Smith-Slabaugh, the Virginia Mentoring Partnership continues to be a strong advocate of volunteerism in the region.

Demonstrating Innovative Solutions

HandsOn Greater Richmond
Vanessa Diamond, Director

“Volunteering through HandsOn Greater Richmond has actually changed my life.  It has made me a more productive citizen in my community and has given me direction.” Jennifer Miller, nominator

More than 4,500 individuals have found volunteer opportunities through HandsOn Greater Richmond, a web-based service founded locally in 2005 as Activate Network. By connecting people to projects that require no advance training, Activate Richmond was an instant success. In just two years, Activate joined the national HandsOn Network and became HandsOn Greater Richmond. Embraced by the community, the organization has grown tremendously and now connects scores of individuals, families and corporate groups with nonprofits, schools and other organizations that could use a hand. With its intuitive website and volunteer database, HandsOn offers an easy, flexible way for residents to get involved with a variety of projects, from one-day events to long-term commitments, on behalf of organizations such as the Central Virginia Foodbank, the Virginia Home for Boys & Girls and the Neighborhood Resource Center. Under the leadership of its director, Vanessa Diamond, HandsOn has grown into a premier resource for community service and is part of the Partnership for Nonprofit Excellence (PNE), which also houses Connect Richmond, the Nonprofit Learning Point and Consulting Solutions.

Encouraging Regional Collaboration

Minds Wide Open: Virginia Celebrates Women in the Arts
Keith Martin
Peggy Baggett

“Even though Keith and Peggy have high profile positions within the arts community, they value and understand the importance of ALL arts and artists within the Commonwealth – no matter the size.” Linda Dalch Jones, nominator

696 events. 402 locations. 324 participating cultural organizations. 10,123 individual performances or exhibitions. These impressive numbers belong to the 2010 program MINDS WIDE OPEN: Virginia Celebrates Women in the Arts, a statewide initiative led by Keith Martin, managing director of the Richmond Ballet, and Peggy Baggett, executive director of the Virginia Commission for the Arts.  After a three-year planning process, MINDS WIDE OPEN (MWO) launched March 1st and for four months honored contributions by women to arts and culture across the state. Mr. Martin, Ms. Baggett and their team worked to unite hundreds of arts organizations, artists, cultural agencies and host sites with corporate and government support to produce the first-ever regional cultural arts celebration. The program featured a full schedule of performances and exhibitions by groups large and small, in dance, music, art and theater, and the Virginia General Assembly passed two Joint Resolutions on its behalf. The work of Ms. Baggett and Mr. Martin has provided new cultural experiences for many Virginians, as well as brought attention to smaller cultural organizations across the state.

Improving Social Justice

The Daily Planet
Anne Lane

“Anne has continued to be at the forefront of the Planet’s adaptation to evolving approaches to homeless services and the changing profile of the homeless population itself.  If not for her…, the current state of The Daily Planet and the community it serves would both be quite different.” Alexander H. Slaughter, nominator

Anne Lane is a founding member of The Daily Planet, a 41-year-old organization in Richmond that provides health and human welfare assistance to the homeless and those at risk of homelessness. Formed in 1969 to help struggling youth, the organization has evolved to include a variety of services, including a medical respite facility that provides adult convalescent care for up to 30 days; Safe Haven, a 21-bed facility that supports homeless individuals who suffer from severe mental illness; and dental and eye clinics for underserved populations. Ms. Lane has been extremely active with The Daily Planet throughout its journey from a small youth counseling center to its present role as a significant provider of health services to those in need. When Anne left the staff and joined the Board, she played a key role in expanding the organization to include homeless services. In addition to her current position on the Board of Directors, Ms. Lane also has held leadership roles with nonprofit groups such as United Way of Greater Richmond and Petersburg and Jewish Family Services.

Promoting Stronger Communities

Freedom House
Melba Gibbs

“On the surface, Melba’s business is fighting homelessness and hunger.  It’s not warm and fuzzy and it doesn’t get a lot of sympathy.  Dig deeper and you’ll see that Melba’s real business is getting people to see for themselves what she sees in them.” Brandon Walters Davis, nominator

As the executive director of the Freedom House for the past 12 years, Melba Gibbs has been at the forefront of the fight against homelessness and hunger in the Richmond community. In addition to providing food to 300 people a day (75,000 meals annually), Freedom House helps the chronically homeless acquire the skills and support necessary to become self-sufficient for the long term. In fact, half of the organization’s employees are graduates of its programs.Under Ms. Gibbs’ leadership, Freedom House, which was founded in 1983, has greatly expanded its services and visibility. She recently ran a campaign to raise $1.6 million for the Conrad Center, the current location of Richmond’s main soup kitchen and central intake services, and led the development of the Greater Richmond Respite Program, which provided short-term health services for the homeless. Her efforts such as these, along with her strong ties to many key individuals and organizations throughout the city, are indicative of her passion for improving the quality of life for Richmond’s underserved populations.