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Local nonprofit in “urgent need” of foster parents in Richmond area

UMFS is seeking loving families willing to take in one or more kids in order to give them stability, security, and set them up for success later in life.

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There’s a desperate need for families in the Richmond area to take in teenagers currently in Virginia’s foster care system. This according to UMFS, a nonprofit which serves the needs of kids in need of foster care and other high risk populations.

In recent years across Virginia, the number of children entering the foster care system has grown, the organization says. A majority of children are removed from their homes due to physical abuse or neglect, according to data from the Virginia Department of Social Services. In 2016, 386 teenagers in central Virginia needed foster families. Today, there are 414 teenagers in central Virginia that need a place to call home and the support and security of family.

“We know that there are simply not enough homes available to support all the teenagers in central Virginia who are entering the foster care system,” said Adalay Wilson, vice president of community-based services at UMFS. “We are calling on the community to help in this time of need. Parents who will support the teenagers in our community by standing up and taking action, are the ones we are looking for.”

When there are not enough foster homes available to care for children entering the system, they are typically placed in emergency shelters or group homes. Studies have shown that when a teenager is transitioned from these settings and placed in a family setting, the result is often long-term stability, success in school, and mastery of basic life skills.

“All of the children need families that can give them stability,” Wilson added. “A lot of the children are coming from environments where they didn’t have a lot of consistency or security or boundaries. They need a lot of those.”

“Our highest need is homes for teens and sibling groups,” she said. “The best gift we can give children who enter the foster care system is to preserve their connections with their brothers and sisters. We are passionate about recruiting homes that can accept sibling groups.”

Those interested in supporting children who need a home can contact Adalay Wilson at 804.353.4461 ext. 1105, or by email.

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Trevor Dickerson is the co-founder and editor of RVAhub.com, lover of all things Richmond, and a master of karate and friendship for everyone.

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Ardent Craft Ales launches food bank for restaurant workers affected by closures, reduced hours

“The restaurant industry has been decimated by the COVID-19 virus and the country’s need to close or restrict public gathering spaces. We want to do our part to help the thousands of restaurant workers in Richmond and the surrounding area who have been laid-off, furloughed or are suffering from reduced hours,” said Tom Sullivan, Ardent’s co-founder.

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Ardent Craft Ales is teaming up with SyscoThe Holli Fund, and Digital Minerva to launch Ardent Helps, a food bank resource inspired by Harrisonburg-based Pale Fire Brewery to support restaurant workers during the COVID-19 crisis.

The food bank will start taking orders on Monday, March 30. All orders must be placed online at www.ardenthelpsrva.com. Orders will be packed and made available for pick up the next business day between 2-8 p.m. at Ardent Craft Ales’ taproom at 3200 West Leigh Street in Scott’s Addition. Orders may be placed seven days a week, with pick-up times scheduled during our operating hours of 2-8pm on Tuesday-Sunday.

“The restaurant industry has been decimated by the COVID-19 virus and the country’s need to close or restrict public gathering spaces. We want to do our part to help the thousands of restaurant workers in Richmond and the surrounding area who have been laid-off, furloughed or are suffering from reduced hours,” said Tom Sullivan, Ardent’s co-founder. “Pale Fire’s popup food bank concept connected with our brewery and community and we’re honored to be able to help the Richmond service industry.”

The Ardent Helps food bank will only be available to restaurant industry workers. However, it is not limited to Richmond residents, and all restaurant workers are welcome to place orders and pick up goods. Participants are asked to avoid stockpiling and take only what they immediately need. The program will last as long as it can safely continue to operate and donated items are available. Responsible sanitation and social distancing measures will be followed at all times.

A variety of perishable and non-perishable items donated by Sysco will be available. Ardent is also accepting both shelf-stable food donations to support this program and monetary donations to directly benefit affected restaurant workers via grants from The Holli Fund.

There is no cost to participate in Ardent Helps. Participants are asked to show their most recent pay stub to confirm eligibility upon pick up. Ardent’s taproom will remain open to the general public for to-go beer and merchandise purchases.

Learn more about the program at www.ardenthelpsrva.com.

Ardent Helps. Photo courtesy Ardent Craft Ales

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A spirited solution: GRTC sources sanitizer from Reservoir Distillery

GRTC contacted Reservoir Distillery last week to place a recurring bulk order for their newly produced sanitizer. Just as sanitizer dispensers at GRTC’s headquarters emptied, reinforcements arrived today from Reservoir Distillery, normally a bourbon whiskey producer in Scott’s Addition.

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Normally barrels and buses are buddies as a safe solution for patrons traveling after imbibing. Today there’s a new spirited solution. As hand sanitizer supplies quickly back-ordered during the COVID-19 crisis, GRTC needed to find a supplier quickly to refill dwindling inventory for essential employees. A Richmond Times-Dispatch news story about local businesses shifting production from spirits to sanitizer sparked a solution.

GRTC contacted Reservoir Distillery last week to place a recurring bulk order for their newly produced sanitizer. Just as sanitizer dispensers at GRTC’s headquarters emptied, reinforcements arrived today from Reservoir Distillery, normally a bourbon whiskey producer in Scott’s Addition.

“Creative solutions like this are exciting, said GRTC Chief Executive Officer Julie Timm. “Our essential employees need sanitizer at headquarters and in the field, and a local business benefits from our need. This is a win-win solution for both of us and I am proud of our Procurement Department’s ingenuity.”

“We are happy to be able to support GRTC during this unprecedented time,” says Dave Cuttino, co-founder of Reservoir Distillery. “Reservoir will continue to make hand sanitizer as long as resources are available and the need is there within our community.”

More than 100 gallons of liquid sanitizer were picked up Monday from Reservoir Distillery, helping GRTC staff reporting to headquarters maintain proper personal hygiene practices. Operators and other frontline staff can refill personal bottles to use in the field.

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Councilwoman Gray hosting online Second District town hall, introducing two resolutions to help small businesses

Councilwoman Kim Gray (2nd District) issued a statement today calling for the City of Richmond to support small businesses, especially the hard-hit restaurant industry, during the COVID-19 crisis, through two draft resolutions.

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Councilwoman Kim Gray (2nd District) issued a statement today calling for the City of Richmond to support small businesses, especially the hard-hit restaurant industry, during the COVID-19 crisis, through two draft resolutions.

Gray’s first proposed paper asks the City administration for revised revenue estimates for FY 19-20 and FY 20-21, including any assumptions and methodologies used in the revised forecast, by April 3.

A second proposed paper calls for the Administration to find ways to administratively, legally or legislatively accomplish the following:

  1. Rescind the Richmond City meals tax for the months of February, March and April (March, April and May payments);
  2. Refund 50% of the 2020 Richmond Business, Professional and Occupational license taxes paid by restaurants prospectively to the City in January 2020 or later (given that estimates of future restaurant sales for the remainder of the year were based on normal operations, which is no longer a realistic assumption); and
  3. Re-forecast restaurant-related revenues for FY 19-20 and FY 20-21 to allow for timely amendments to the current and proposed annual budgets in order to offset any fiscal impacts.

Both proposed papers also call for the Administration to submit new budget recommendations based on the impact of the effects of COVID-19 to date.

“While the Governor is aggressively addressing the major health and education issues confronting our Commonwealth, City Council needs to prepare for the long-term battle and help pave the way for ultimate economic recovery,” Gray said in a news release. “First and foremost, we need to create a substantial contingency fund to address the many challenges that lie ahead. That will require a revised revenue forecast for the current fiscal year and the fiscal year that begins on July 1, 2020. Creating such a contingency will also require hard choices and due diligence on each and every expenditure by the City.

Equally important will be meaningful and immediate tax relief for our small businesses and especially our restaurants. Richmond restaurants face perhaps the highest tax burden of any industry in the City, and its workers have been the most immediately affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

Finally, the City needs to build long-term COVID-19 prevention into every decision. The dismantling of the Camp Cathy encampment is a case in point: With no long-term plan for the housing of these individuals, they, as well as the community at large, are vulnerable to further transmission of the virus.”

City Council should not be forced to make what will likely be very tough budget decisions on the fly with outdated information,” Gray said. “We need the city government to come together to meet the needs of its citizens, and that may very well require additional tax relief to the most threatened families, individuals and businesses in the City.”

Gray will host a Facebook Live session tonight, Monday, March 30, at 7 p.m. to discuss the proposals and hear from Richmond residents. View her page here.

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