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Posts Tagged ‘community service’

by Heather Creswick

Our adventures began in 2016 when two friends, Heather Creswick and Stacy Sirois, formed a Brownie troop with the mission of providing all girls in the Richmond area access to Girl Scouting regardless of their school or neighborhood affiliations. Richmond’s First Baptist Church generously welcomed us to join their existing scouting tradition. We are grateful to Linn Kreckman, an FBC member and lifetime Scout, who helped arrange this.Get to know Girl Scout Troop 413!

Get to know Girl Scout Troop 413!We began with a core group of 12 Brownies. We have since grown to a multi-level group of 24 Girl Scouts (including Brownies, Juniors and Cadettes) representing many different parts of the Richmond metro area. Our meetings involve collaborative activities that support the development of independence, confidence and leadership for girls. We have had guests including an artist, an author, a detective, a doctor, a business owner and someone who has earned a black belt in taekwondo. We also enjoy camping, learning outdoor skills, and of course, selling Girl Scout cookies! As leaders, we emphasize the importance of contributing to the community and we reserve a portion of the troop’s cookie sale proceeds for a charity of the girls’ choosing. The troop has supported Bridging RVA’s Beds for Kids, an organization that connects people in the Richmond to advance initiatives in the community, and the Richmond Ronald McDonald House (RMHC), a charity focused on keeping families together and close to the medical care they need. In fact, several of the Juniors earned their Bronze Award this year and their Take Action Project was focused on supporting the RMHC. The girls spent a morning painting the patio furniture at the RMHC. The troop also donated a patio umbrella and rolling cooler so that they can deliver lunches to the families who are visiting their children in the hospital.

Our girls are looking forward to a fun year ahead. We continue to welcome new members and adult participation.

Editor’s note:
For information about our troop, you choose Girl Scouts on our contact us form.


Heather CreswickHeather Creswick is a mother of two Scouts and a Golden Retriever. She is a genetic counselor at Massey Cancer Center and faculty in the School of Medicine.

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Story by Justin Pierson. Photos courtesy of CARITAS.

shelter family_250pxCARITAS (Congregations Around Richmond Involved to Assure Shelter), began in the 1980s as an all-volunteer effort to provide shelter, cots, and blankets in area churches to those in need for a week or two during the year. The participation of Richmond’s First Baptist Church in the program has been one of the largest undertakings of the Compassion Ministry for over 10 years. Volunteers have cooked meals, taken laundry home to wash, and spent time with CARITAS guests facing crisis in an effort to make a difference in our community for the Kingdom of God.

Through the years, FBC has housed those in the Men’s program during the Thanksgiving week. This grew to include caring for women during a separate week, usually during the summer. However, the constant changing of locations from one church to another each week or two became stressful to guests. In an effort to help alleviate as much stress as possible for their participants, CARITAS has decided to change their model of service for those facing homelessness.

The Healing Place

The Healing Place

The Men’s shelter program has now moved to a permanent location at the Healing Place, a drug recovery facility operated by CARITAS. The Women and Family programs are operating the same as in the past, but will move to a permanent location in 2020.

New facility rendering

New facility rendering

What do the changes mean for those at FBC who want to help? Leadership of the Men’s program would still like churches to help with meals during their assigned week, as well as the “extras” (building relationships, playing games, showing movies, putting on programs, etc.). However, since the facility now houses approximately 200 men, our specific responsibilities and schedule will be a little different. The facility does have a kitchen onsite with staff, so on our assigned week, FBC volunteers will host a Saturday evening meal. FBC will also host other evening activities during the week, as well as collect toiletry and cleaning supplies that CARITAS may need. Currently, FBC is signed up to help during the week of Thanksgiving. While we will not be hosting the Men’s program in our building, our willingness to prepare and serve food, and visit with those at the facility will be just as important a part of our Compassion Ministry.

The Women and Family’s program is still operating the same and will continue to for the next two years. However, because area churches are no longer needed to host the men, more churches have signed up to house CARITAS for women, leaving fewer weeks for FBC to help. The only weeks available this summer were during weeks when other big events had already been scheduled, so we will not be hosting this summer.

More information will be available in the coming months, but for now, take the summer off, reflect on all that we have experienced through helping with CARITAS in the past, and be ready to take on new challenges come November.

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Story by Beth Allen Cuthbert.

Betty Allen sometimes describes herself as a “Connecticut Yankee.” She was the last child born in the 18th century house in Guilford, CT, where her father’s family lived for over 250 years.

Betty’s mother, Claudia, who grew up in Arlington, Virginia, certainly didn’t think of herself as a Yankee – she yearned for her Virginia home. When Betty’s Virginia grandfather died and her father was invited to join his late father-in-law’s real estate and insurance business, Claudia claimed she never said anything to her husband to encourage the move. She simply closed herself in a closet and prayed. Betty, however, always doubted this story because Claudia never kept a thought to herself! In any event, the family moved to Virginia, and Betty was soon joined by a little brother, Billy.

A good student, Betty graduated as valedictorian in the first graduating class at Arlington’s Washington and Lee High School. She was 16 years old when she left for Duke University at the end of that summer.

George and Betty AllenBetty met George when he traveled to Arlington to visit his uncle who was married to Betty’s great aunt. They had a date on a Sunday night, and George wanted to take Betty to the movies. Betty’s mother was a strict Southern Baptist. She loved movies, but not on Sundays. On this particular evening, however, she made an exception to her rule: Betty and George could go to the movies. Instead, the couple changed plans and went dancing at the Shoreham, which was much worse. Betty never told her mother what happened.

A year later, after Betty had graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Duke, she and George married, George having sold his car to pay for Betty’s engagement ring. They settled in a small apartment on West Grace Street, in Richmond, where Betty kept house and George practiced law with his father in the Mutual Building.

Housekeeping was new to Betty. Until her marriage, she had never made a bed or helped with the cooking because she could never meet her mother’s high standards. But as a new bride, she was a quick learner. Soon, she and George were inviting other newly-wed couples to dinner in their home. They took dancing lessons at the Country Club of Virginia and enjoyed evenings out playing bridge at friends’ houses. George and Betty spent a wonderful 52 years together raising four children, Beth, Margaret, Ted, and Meredith.

George served in the state legislature for 27 years. With this job came special opportunities. Betty’s favorite was meeting Queen Elizabeth when she visited the United States in 1957 to celebrate the 350th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown. Betty still has the kid gloves she wore to shake hands with the queen.

Betty AllenService to community is important to Betty. A member of First Baptist, she was honored to be one of its first women deacons and to hold leadership positions in Woman’s Missionary Union. She served on the board of The Virginia Home for 40 years. Until 2015, she sent Christmas cards to every resident. An art history major, Betty led docent tours at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and also served on its Council and Board of Trustees.

After George’s death in 1990, Betty carried on with her busy life and spent time enjoying the company of her seven grandchildren. In 2002, she moved to Cedarfield Retirement Community and continues to entertain friends with her upbeat outlook and great sense of humor.

Read related story:A Few Good Women


Beth Allen CuthbertBeth Allen Cuthbert, Betty Allen’s daughter, grew up at First Baptist and was involved in GAs and youth activities. She was a lawyer for 30 years, most of that time in Petersburg, where she now lives. She has two grown children, who live in the Richmond area. Beth is retired and takes classes and teaches at The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.

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By Nancy Mairs. Photos by Susan Brown.

While most folks were looking forward to a day off from school and maybe even work, callouta group from Richmond’s First Baptist Church decided to use that day to help bring the Kingdom of Heaven to Richmond Virginia (KOH2RVA). It all started with one member’s question to the administrator of the Anna Julia Cooper School a few months ago. The school, located in Church Hill, is an independent, tuition-free, faith-based middle school for students of limited resources.

Martin Luther King day of serviceMelissa Brooks, a member at First Baptist since 2009, discovered the school through an article in a community newspaper. Wanting to be part of the church-wide effort to bring KOH2RVA, Melissa decided to ask if there was anything she could do for them. As Melissa puts it, “This is a great question to ask when you’re trying to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to Richmond, VA, or at least it’s a great place to start.” Melissa began helping out each week at the school. As she explains, “I fell in love with the mission and vision of the school, the kids, their stories, and the faculty.”

Martin Luther King day of serviceAs Melissa was dropping off her son, Sawyer, at his class in the FBC Weekday Preschool, she approached Mary Hiteman, Minister of Weekday School, with the idea of the preschool sponsoring the Anna Julia Cooper School as one of its monthly community mission projects. From this conversation, FBC’s involvement in the Martin Luther King Day of Service Project began.

Martin Luther King day of serviceWhy was Martin Luther King Day selected? Dr. King spoke often about love being the way to overcome the problems of the world. What better way to honor Dr. King’s vision than to help a school that is committed to the academic, social and spiritual development of children who might otherwise live a life unfulfilled and in despair? And as the school’s namesake, Anna Julia Cooper, said, “Jesus believed in the infinite possibilities of an individual soul.” 

Mary Hiteman facilitated the FBC Staff’s involvement. Others heard about the project and by the third Monday in January, not only had most of the First Baptist ministers agreed to participate, but other members of the church and several of the families of children who attend the FBC preschool had joined in. Their work started in the morning at the Anna Julia Cooper School with painting; putting up bulletin boards where more than 500 photographs were displayed; sanitizing tables, chairs, and door knobs; and even climbing up on the roof to sweep out the gutters.

Martin Luther King day of serviceThe group then traveled to the Essex Village Apartments, a public housing project in the East End of Richmond, for the second part of their King Day Service Project. Through an invitation from FBC member Len Morrow, a special guest provided a dramatic portrayal of Dr. King. This guest, Rev. James D. Daniely, a dynamic and inspirational speaker who is also the Director of the Pace Center for Campus Ministry at VCU, helped bring Dr. King to life for the children.

Martin Luther King day of serviceAs Mary Hiteman explained, “Most of the children do not know why they have the day off – our intent was to change that through Dr. Daniely, and then follow-up with art activities and, of course, birthday cake to celebrate Dr. King’s birthday.” The final activity of the day was picking up trash throughout the area.

And how does Melissa, whose question started this project day at First Baptist, sum up the activities? “My hope is always to continue to shine the bright light of Jesus to our community so that others will see good and glorify God. It’s not a ‘me’ thing or a ‘First Baptist Church thing’ or even a ‘Martin Luther King Day thing’. This is a God thing. All we have to do is show up!”


Watch a video about the project. Produced by David Powers.


Nancy MairsNancy Mairs joined Richmond’s First Baptist Church more than 20 years ago and is a member of the WebClass. She works in the Regulatory Affairs group at Dominion Virginia Power, and enjoys hiking, canoeing, traveling, and spending time with her husband, Jim, and son, Jack.

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Reported by Mickey Woodward. Photos by Skyler Cumbia.

volunteers preparing for meal distribution

FBC volunteers prepare for meal distribution.

FBC members put God’s love into action through service in many community organizations not directly under the First Baptist Church umbrella of ministries. Meals on Wheels is one such organization that benefits from the contributions of hundreds of service hours by many FBC members.

delivery preparationEvery second Friday, fourteen volunteers deliver approximately 180 food packages to Richmond’s elderly and homebound on fixed incomes. The deliveries include weekend boxes, as Meals on Wheels operates only on weekdays. Seven volunteers drive their own vehicles and seven assist with the route directions and deliveries all over the city.

Meals on Wheels is part of FeedMore, an umbrella organization that includes the Central Virginia Food Bank. It serves 31 counties and five cities in central Virginia. Meals on Wheels serves more than 1,800 seniors, children, those needing temporary assistance due to job loss, and those recuperating from surgeries.

volunteers sort and pack mealsThe Richmond community supports Meals on Wheels in several ways. This year Richmond’s Restaurant Week raised more than $50,000 in support of FeedMore. If you dined at a participating restaurant, a portion of the cost of your meal helped provide food for those in need. Donations of food or money to Central Virginia Food Bank also aid Meals on Wheels. Of course, volunteers are the core support needed for this program to continue.

While some couples volunteer, most are individuals who are willing to give two to three hours every month. Ten substitute volunteers currently fill in when regulars are unavailable, but more would be welcomed.

For more information or to volunteer, contact Mickey Woodward (804-353-5168) or staff liaison Steve Blanchard (Blanchard@FBCRichmond.org).


Mickey Woodward

Mickey Woodward

Mickey, an FBC member since 1961, is a VMI graduate, a retired Army colonel, and a retired structural engineer with VDOT. He is a member of the Adams-Fellowship class and serves on the Tellers Team.

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