By Tara Bozick Daily Press
The Hampton Roads Community Action Program is aiming to increase its visibility and engagement in the community, the executive director said.
"We cannot do it alone," Executive Director Edith G. White said.
The nonprofit, which was established in 1965 as the Newport News Office of Economic Opportunity before becoming known as the Office of Human Affairs, changed its name last year to represent its expanded client base and officially launched a new website and logo.
The awards dinner, the nonprofit's major annual fundraiser, attracted more than 500 people to the Newport News Marriott at City Center Tuesday night.
HRCAP has about 20 programs focused on lifting residents out of poverty and preventing people from sinking into poverty, White said. The nonprofit is known for its federally funded Head Start early childhood and preschool programs in Newport News, Hampton, Chesapeake, Norfolk and Portsmouth in addition to housing and financial literacy services, emergency help and college readiness program Project Discovery for teens.
"It's vitally important as the safety net for our community," White said. "We really just need to do more."
Individuals, businesses and organizations can help by volunteering, donating or partnering with HRCAP, she said. For every $1 leveraged by the nonprofit, $21 is put back in the community, she added.
Asia Monique Shell, a 17-year-old Heritage High School junior, was honored with the Youth Leadership Award for her work in various organizations, academic achievement and specifically as a student ambassador representing her school for the Project Discovery program. Shell said she also looks up to HRCAP's children's services director Hermelinda Miller as a mentor.
"Being around her, I feel like I'm learning all the time," Shell said.
Thomas Nelson Community College President John Dever accepted the Community Service Citizenship Award on behalf of the college. Dever said the community college's role aligns with HRCAP's mission of helping people in need gain self-sufficiency.
"We've got to see everyone has the opportunity," Dever said.
Other recognized honorees were: former Virginia Secretary of Commerce Maurice Jones with the Norveleate Downing-Gross Lifetime Achievement Award; Enterprise Holdings with the Corporate Citizenship Action Award; and HRCAP board member Charlene Christopher and Advantage Business Strategies Inc. founder and President Donna Speller Turner with the Robert Bigelow Award.
For more information about the nonprofit, which marked 51 years of service, visit hrcapinc.org.