NRC Fulton: doing good work in Richmond
Here are four stories of people whose lives have changed for the better when they discovered NRC Fulton. Learn about the services of NRC Works, Jr. Iron Chef RVA, The Food Pantry, Out-of-School Time, and more. You can experience their hardships and eventual personal success in overcoming the challenges life has thrown at them.
Read about the people we have helped:
Learning to eat healthy food
Kenisha Brown is late. But it’s OK. As she walks from the bus stop to NRC after the Shalom Farms kitchen class, the mother of three reflects on the changes in her family’s diet. Now there is fresh asparagus, celery, cucumbers, grapefruits, lemons, and spinach at the table. These foods help restore energy and balance to the body’s metabolism. Last week her daughter tasted pasta with fresh basil for the first time and loved it. Kenisha reaches the door to NRC, welcomed by our volunteers who have waited for her to finish her cooking class, and hand her a bag of vegetables tailored to her family’s needs. This particular mix is based on the “Prescription Produce Plan”.
The NRC Food Pantry provides healthy produce to over 60 families twice monthly. In partnership with Shalom Farms, the Prescription Produce Plan and Kitchen Clinic programs focus on making connections between diet and health through hands-on cooking experiences, using fresh fruits and vegetables in recipes and meals.
Taking the path to financial freedom
David Gibbons lost his driver’s license in his late teens, some thirty years ago. He hasn’t been able to legally drive since then. A few early mistakes impacted his whole life, but with the help of NRC Works, David has changed things for himself.
When he enrolled in the LISC (Local Initiatives Support Corporation) program at NRC, he could benefit from three main services, bundled together: one-on-one financial counseling, employment assistance, and help accessing public benefits that supplement income from work.
David took 4 classes as part of The Pathways to Financial Freedom program. Only then could he apply for a “barrier removal” grant. In David’s case the barrier was the accumulated fines and fees that prevented him from obtaining a current driver’s license. With the funds, David paid a deposit on the court fines, and now has a learner’s permit that gives him provisional permission to drive. David still takes the bus around the city to his job as a voter registration worker, but there is real hope that someday he will have a car and drive to work.
Cooking and competing
Ayana Harris is a twelve year old with bright eyes and a mischievous grin. She likes math class but not English, and has a fondness for zucchini casserole. And now she can make it. From scratch! And she can make biscuits. And her brother Deon will make the salad, from fresh lettuce—he prefers Romaine, but Ayana likes leaf lettuce the best. They learned these things at a cooking workshop.
Junior Iron Chef RVA is an 8 week youth cooking program that focuses on teaching culinary and healthy food skills. Twenty lucky students trained in a professional kitchen– a workshop, that culminated in a festive competition this past summer.
Richmond has made national headlines for its budding culinary scene but has also gained the spotlight for being home to some of the largest food deserts for a city of its size. Greater Fulton is one such food desert. A food desert is an area, especially one with low-income residents, that has limited access to affordable, nutritious food because the distance to the nearest grocery store is not walkable.
Our partners and sponsors hosted demo tables and farm stands highlighting gardening, health, and nutrition. We gave away seeds, sample foods, and cookbooks. More importantly, we connected over 300 community members to local resources they can use to live healthier lives.
Ayana says she’s going to make fresh corn chowder next.
Finding a safe place.
Jayla Walker has learned some hard lessons. Responsible for the well-being of four children, she found herself in Baltimore as a young adult in an abusive marital relationship.
One night she finally left and took the children with her– to be homeless, on the city streets of Baltimore. She immediately fled the city for Richmond, where she had been told there was a relative who would take her and the children in. Eventually a relative in Chesterfield did take them in. Jayla enrolled the children in school, where they thrived. She was looking for work and things seemed to be slowly improving when she learned that her young daughter Candice had life-threatening asthma. But Jayla had run out of money– all her savings.
The hospital Intensive Care Unit team were wonderful in helping her sick daughter pull through. One of the nurses there said something to Jayla that she never forgot… “sometimes you think people aren’t watching you, but they are.” She would soon learn that statement was true.
That fall the family moved into Ashley Oaks Section 8 Housing, with enough room for all the kids. Life was getting better, but she still had no job and no income.
During the holiday season, the ICU nurses and doctors chose to sponsor her family by supplying winter clothing for the children. Her luck was changing.
That’s when Jayla found NRC. But Jayla was out of work again. However, with the help of NRC Works, this time she knew what she needed. If she could get a job where she could walk to work, nothing could stop her from getting there, even a snowstorm. And the kids could go to the Out-of -School-Time program at NRC after school. With determination and courage, Jayla changed her life, and got the job.
Jordan, the oldest boy, is in Baltimore working. Lorenzo, Candice, and Terrance the youngest, now come to a place after school where they feel they are welcome, a stable, warm place with loving people.
We strengthen families.
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The names and photographs of the people profiled here have been changed to protect their privacy.