Category Archives: Charity and philanthropy

A VSU Officer was Shot and Left Paralyzed. At Thanksgiving, Readers Can Help Him and His Family

VSU Police Officer Bruce Foster. Courtesy Foster Family fundraiser website

by James C. Sherlock

Virginia State University (VSU) Police Officer Bruce Foster, 38, was shot on November 12.

He had chased down a suspect who was causing an early Sunday morning disturbance on campus.

Officer Foster was shot from behind while making the arrest.  He remains hospitalized and paralyzed from the waist down.

The five-year veteran of the VSU Police Department has a wife and four children.

This Thanksgiving, each of our readers can help him and his family through this.

VSU Police Officer Bruce Foster and his wife, Deidra. Courtesy Foster Family fundraiser website

I hope you will.

To donate to the Foster Family fundraiser, click here.

Bruce Foster and his four children.  Courtesy of the Foster Family fundraiser website.

Pat Robertson, 1930-2023

by Kerry Dougherty

To those of us who live in Virginia Beach, Pat Robertson, who died yesterday at the age of 93, was more than just a religious broadcaster who ran for president in 1988.

He was a man who built a television network, a university, a major charity, and a law school in our city. His enterprises provided good jobs to thousands of folks and his international evangelization put Virginia Beach in the spotlight.

Yet politics was also in Pat’s blood. He was, after all, the son of a prominent U.S. Senator, A. Willis Robertson, a conservative Democrat who served in that chamber from 1946 to 1966. When Pat stunned pundits by finishing second in the Iowa caucuses, he established evangelical Christians as a powerful bloc in the Republican Party.

Pat Robertson was loathed by the left and by most members of the media. Yet reporters found him curiously addictive and waited for him to say something they thought was kooky on The 700 Club so they could mock him and invite late-night talk show hosts to join in.

There were eye rolls and outright groans whenever the local newspaper had to cover Robertson. You see, the media instinctively distrusts most Christians and almost all Republicans.

Trust me on this one. I was on the inside for decades. Continue reading

Sentara Does a Very Good Thing

Courtesy Sentara

by James C. Sherlock

Sentara brass will not believe that I wrote that headline. We have a history.

But right is right.

A Sentara mobile care unit will start June 1 to provide primary care service two days a week in two separate locations in Petersburg.

The people of Petersburg desperately need it. That city is rated the Commonwealth’s least healthy jurisdiction.

Without good primary care, a health system never has a chance.

The partners in providing the mobile unit are Sentara, Potomac Health Foundation and Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center Auxiliary.

Congratulations to all of them. Continue reading

Virginians Ship Another 22 Ambulances to Ukraine

Departing from Harrisonburg, a convoy of 22 ambulances arrived at the Port of Baltimore this morning and boarded a cargo ship bound for Ukraine. In total now, non-profit Ukraine Focus, founded by former USAID official Brock Bierman, has shipped 112 of the life-saving vehicles to Ukrainian medics on the frontlines of Russia’s aggression.

Ukraine Focus estimates that each ambulance will save the lives of up to 200 soldiers per month. (Due to Russian targeting and theft of ambulances on the battlefield, however, the average lifespan of an ambulance in Ukraine these days is only 30 to 60 days.)

Find out more about Ukraine Focus here.


RVA 5×5: RVA = DIY

by Jon Baliles

Jack Jacobs at Richmond Biz Sense has an update about the ongoing fallout from the collapse of the Enrichmond Foundation last summer. All of the small organizations that used Enrichmond as a fiduciary lost access to their money (which may be gone for good; stay tuned) and other things like insurance coverage.

While there are efforts underway to transfer two historically Black cemeteries formerly under Enrichmond’s purview to the city, there has not been any statement, hint, clue, concern, or any sign of emotion uttered by the Mayor about when or if the city will help restore the funding of these small groups that do a lot of valuable work to help the City and save staff time.

Since no one at City Hall seems to be interested in helping, Richmonders are doing what they do best — they are doing it themselves (aka DIY).

For example, the group RVA Clean Sweep counts nearly 1,500 people who support it by going around the city picking up trash. They lost their insurance coverage and about $3,000 when Enrichmond folded. Have they quit trying to help clean up the city? Nope.

They held fewer cleanups and told volunteers to be extra careful as they were volunteering without insurance, but they still kept cleaning and sweeping. But no insurance means they were not able to apply for grants or hold as many cleanups as they would like, according to RVA Clean Sweep Director Amy Robins.

But they still held cleanups because they wanted their volunteers to stay engaged. “Robins feared that a prolonged hiatus on activity would cause volunteers to drift away from the cause of cleaning up litter in the city,” wrote Jacobs.
Continue reading

Feeding Petersburg

Garrison Coward oversees Gov. Youngkin’s Partnership for Petersburg initiative – photo contributed to the Progress-Index

by James C. Sherlock

I have written in this space many times about the struggles of Petersburg.

Petersburg is blessed in one way.

The Progress-Index’s Bill Atkinson and Joyce Chu may be the best pair of local news reporters working in Virginia.

Mr. Atkinson, in a series of reports, has detailed the continuing struggles of that city to get a grocery store downtown.

The big grocers surround the center of the city in more prosperous, safer areas but have not entered there.

Food Markets in Petersburg courtesy of Bing Maps

It is no secret why. Poverty and crime do not attract retailers vulnerable to shoplifting and worse. And Petersburg is among the poorest and most crime-ridden in Virginia.

A recent Petersburg solicitation for interest in building a grocery store downtown drew no bidders.

The Governor has a broad Partnership for Petersburg initiative to help Petersburg help itself  It is run by Garrison Coward, an external-affairs senior advisor to Gov. Youngkin.

He reports that the Governor is “hell-bent” on seeing a grocery store built there.

I will offer an idea. Continue reading

University of Richmond: Don’t Want The Name? Send Back The Loot.

by Kerry Dougherty

Most of us didn’t pay attention last September when the University of Richmond Board of Trustees voted to remove the name of T.C. Williams from its law school because the Williams family who endowed the law school were slave owners.

After all, U of R is a snooty rich kids’ school. Not a public institution. They can be as woke as they like.

But in a delicious turn of events, wokeness is now biting the University on its well-tailored derriere.

A descendant of the philanthropic Williams family wants the money his great-great grandfather gave to the school returned — with interest — to the family.

“If suddenly his name is not good enough for the University, then isn’t the proper ethical and indeed virtuous action to return the benefactor’s money with interest? At a 6 percent compounded interest over 132 years, T.C. Williams’ gift to the law school alone is now valued at over $51 million, and this does not include many other substantial gifts from my family to the University,” Rob Smith, Williams’ great-great-grandson, said in a letter to President Kevin Hallock.
Continue reading

Virginia Community Schools Redefined – Hubs for Government and Not-for-Profit Services in Inner Cities – Part 1 – the Current Framework

by James C. Sherlock

I believe a major approach to address both education and health care in Virginia’s inner cities is available if we will define it right and use it right.

Community schools.

One issue. Virginia’s official version of community schools, the Virginia Community School Framework, (the Framework) is fatally flawed.

The approach successful elsewhere brings government professional healthcare and social services and not-for-profit healthcare assets simultaneously to the schools and to the surrounding communities at a location centered around existing schools.

That model is a government and private not-for-profit services hub centered around schools in communities that need a lot of both. Lots of other goals fall into place and efficiencies are realized for both the community and the service providers if that is the approach.

That is not what Virginia has done in its 2019 Framework.

The rest of government and the not-for-profit sector are ignored and Virginia public schools are designed there to be increasingly responsible for things that they are not competent to do.

To see why, we only need to review the lists of persons who made up both the Advisory Committee and the Additional Contributors. Full of Ed.Ds and Ph.D’s in education, there was not a single person on either list with a job or career outside the field of education. Continue reading

Dominion Energy Scholarships Define “Communities” by Race

By Carol J. Bova

Dominion Energy is offering 60 undergraduate Equitable Education Scholarships totaling $500,000 for “students from historically underrepresented communities.”

The rules exclude White students (unless they identify as Hispanic), no matter what “community” they’re from, because to be eligible, applicants must:

— Self-identify as Black or African American; Hispanic or Latino; American Indian or Alaska Native; Asian; or Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander with higher education expenses;

— Be high school seniors or graduates or current college undergraduates residing in Connecticut, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Idaho, Wyoming, or Utah, with plans to enroll full-time at an accredited two- or four-year college, university or vocational-technical school for the entire upcoming academic year.

The press release quotes Robert M. Blue, Dominion Energy’s president and chief executive officer, who said: “We have already seen a tremendous return on investment supporting students obtaining higher education. Dominion Energy remains committed to investing in students’ access to higher education, strengthening our communities and future generations, and building a sustainable workforce.”

Scholarship America, a nonprofit specializing in managing scholarship and tuition assistance programs, says it “will support Dominion Energy in the selection of finalists.” Scholarship America says: Continue reading

RVA 5X5: Enrichmond and the City’s Radio Silence

Photo credit: Flickr

by Jon Baliles

I won’t do a “Top Stories of 2022” list for this newsletter, but if I did, one of them would surely be the collapse of the Enrichmond Foundation and the radio silence on all fronts concerning its finances, the groups that depended on it, their assets, and the two historic Black cemeteries in its portfolio — Evergreen and East End Cemetery.

The important question is not so much what happened in 2022 (although that is important); the critical next steps — should anyone decide to take them — are what will happen in 2023?

A brief recap from the October 14 newsletter: “The Enrichmond Foundation was founded in the early 1990s and had grown to support more than 80 small, local, all-volunteer groups that worked to help Richmond in various ways, many of which focused on keeping the City green and clean. Enrichmond allowed the groups to use their insurance coverage and raise tax-free donations, served as a fiduciary for the funds each group raised, and distributed those funds as directed by the groups.

Suddenly in June, the Foundation announced a cessation of operations, leaving no transition plan. The Board voted to dissolve the Foundation but left no accounting of the funds it had in its accounts, and then within weeks the lawyer representing the Board stepped away from his role as counsel.

None of the “leaders” at City Hall has said anything about this. Not. A. Word.

The City’s Parks & Recreation Department has been able to assist some of the organizations, but there are so many they can’t do it all themselves. That’s why the Foundation existed. It is known that the amount of money held in trust for the various “Friends Of” groups is anywhere from $300,000 to $3 million, though I have been told recently that it is closer to the lower estimate.

While the City dawdles, how are these small “Friends Of” groups to do the important work they do (much of it is environmental) if they can’t access their donations? How can they raise money if they have no place to put it? The more this drags out, it is a safe bet those groups will lose volunteers, who will put their time toward other causes. Continue reading

The Governor Asks Virginians to Support Food Banks

by James C. Sherlock


Homelessness in Petersburg – Part 2

Travel Inn was shut down by the ACE team in June. Courtesy Joyce Chu, Progress Index.

by James C. Sherlock

I wrote yesterday about the excellent investigative reporting by the Progress-Index about the knock-on effects of the renewal of fire and building code enforcement in Petersburg.

My position is that Petersburg must enforce its codes for public safety and the livability of the city.

But I also recognize the need to provide better solutions to homelessness in that city. I am pursuing a story on that subject.

But in the meanwhile, the Progress-Index’s Joyce Chu has posted her second article in that series.  I refer to

‘A fresh can of nowhere to go’: Health and stability stumble with fewer motel rooms for those on the edge”

It consists almost exclusively of the stories of those displaced with the closure of those motels.

It is powerful stuff.

Petersburg Resumes Important Actions Against City Code Violators — Homeless Needs Increase

Travel Inn was shut down by the ACE team in June. Courtesy Joyce Chu, Progress Index.

by James C. Sherlock

Sometimes absolutely necessary actions have more than one outcome.

Such is the case in Petersburg.

Joyce Chu of Petersburg’s indispensable Progress- Index last evening initiated a multi-part series on the impacts of the city’s closure due to safety violations of two motels used by otherwise homeless people.

Her first article makes a case for more government and charitable services for the people affected by the closures. Good for her. No one wants people living on the streets and everyone wants the kids in school.

She explains that the California Inn, OYO and Travel Inn motels, among a group of low cost motels right off of I-95, were

also hotbeds of crime, drug overdoses and prostitution mixed in with families with children, according to former residents and homeless advocates.

She points out that Petersburg has resumed (after a lengthy period when it did not) enforcing its zoning codes. A team called the ACE team — Abatement, Compliance, and Enforcement — is on task, run by the Fire Chief.

Code enforcement is an absolutely necessary step to revitalize the city.

So is helping those adversely affected.  -Hotel owners should be forced within the limits of the law to assist. Continue reading

Food Bank Shelves Emptying — Time to Help

Almost empty food pantry Austin Tx. Courtesy KXAN Austin

by James C. Sherlock

Showing the dual effects of inflation — more people need food assistance and the costs of providing that food have risen — a local food bank we have long supported ran out of food this weekend.

First time ever.

The director told us that this is happening everywhere. See empty shelves in Austin Texas above.

If you have not dealt with one, food banks in my experience tend to be exceptionally well run, most by churches, synagogues, mosques or other faith- based organizations.

They screen their clients and keep careful track of donations. Most provide food by appointment or specific days of the week or both.  All that I am aware of have limits on how many times a month each client can access food to make it go as far as possible.

The best ones are hyper-efficient with donations of money. Most staff are volunteers.

I request those readers who can afford it to please try to help. If you have a food bank you already support, help them.

If you do not already give, you can go here and put in your zip code to find local food banks. I tried other sites and web search terms and none of them provided nearly so complete a list.

Donate food, money, your time or perhaps more than one of those.

You will feel good about it and God knows people need the help.

Feel-Good Story of the Day: Ambulances for Ukraine

Senator Mark Warner speaks at Richmond Ambulance Authority event in front of the ambulance going to Ukraine.

The Richmond Ambulance Authority (RAA) has announced the donation of one of its ambulances as part of the “U.S. Ambulances for Ukraine” initiative. The RAA partnered with the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association (VHHA), which coordinated donations from HCA Virginia, VCU Health, and the Northern Virginia Emergency Response System to stock the ambulance with medical supplies.

So far, the Ambulances for Ukraine initiative, launched by an Illinois hospital executive, has donated more than two dozen ambulances with supplies.

“Healthcare workers in Ukraine are risking their own lives for their calling to help others in times of need,” said Michael Roussos, president of VCU Medical Center, in a press release issued by the VHHA. “VCU Health’s mission to preserve and restore health for all people extends beyond the commonwealth.