What Our Students, Volunteers & Supporters Tell Us
"I always tell people that we are creating a community of caring adults for each of our students. Then one day it dawned on me that they had created a caring community for me as well! My life is so rich now through my friendships with students, volunteers & supporters. People I never would have met without Change the World RVA. For that I am so blessed and grateful." -- Natalie May, founder, Change the World RVA
"I wish we could clone you guys."
-- Social Worker, Richmond Public Schools
"You all are basically my second family."
-- Huguenot High School graduate
"Thank you so much for everything you have done for my daughter. She has grown so much in life and now in sports...I love it...Change the World has made OUR child a true champion in this crazy world. With my health I now feel confident that my child will be successful in her future endeavors! Again thank you for all!!! And may God continue to bless the Change the World program, and you, too, Ms. May."
"Everyone I've met is so nice, both kids and volunteers and there's so many different ways you can help out."
--Volunteer driver & all-around good egg
"Before being a part of Change the World RVA, I dreamed about the life that I am currently living. When life was the hardest for me, I had many supporters from Change the World RVA sending me words of encouragement and being a shoulder to cry on and an ear to listen. I am currently in my third year of college and without Change the World RVA, this would not be possible. I am extremely grateful that God bought me a wonderful mentor and network of caring people who have been by my side cheering me on since the day they met me. I have had a family for the past two and a half years, something I have longed for all of my life. I am my own bed and room, and I have parents who love me and tell me constantly that it’s my home and I am there to stay. Change the World RVA helped me find the stability that I have lacked all of my life. I am dedicated to making change in other individuals’ lives and giving back to my community because of the love and support I received from my Change the World RVA family. I am currently working on my Bachelors in college because of the support from Change the World RVA. I am able to help others in my community because I know the importance of caring for an individual and sticking with them. I have faced many challenges and Change the World RVA has been by my side every step of the way. I strongly believe I wouldn’t be where I am today without the help of Change the World RVA. I will continue to pursue my dreams with the help of my supporters from Change the World RVA."
-- Virginia Commonwealth University student, age 21
"Hello. I want to express the various ways Change the World RVA has helped me. CTWRVA introduced me to yoga, which introduced me to myself. It also introduced me to very amazing people ranging in different ways. It has helped me be more comfortable with my own adversities, and stronger to not only face them with confidence, but seek help. It's helped me go to the doctor. And I've met someone who is a great mentor who was there for me when I couldn'tbe so strong. It's helped me focus more on school by taking some of my worries off of my shoulders. I can say that being a part of this program has made me a happier person."
-- Huguenot High School student, age 16
"Let me start off by saying Change the World RVA has changed me as an individual, has made me a stronger and more sophisticated woman. Without Ms. May, the founder of Change the World RVA, I wouldn't be where I am today. Without Ms. Adlich, the McKinney-Vento Social Worker in Richmond Public Schools, I would have never had the chance to meet Ms. May and be a part of this change society. Change the World RVA has helped me tremendously from their food pantry in the school and our after school program to going on college visits to Richard Bland College and VCU. When I experienced homelessness I thought there was no one to turn to. I thought nobody else could be in as bad a condition as I was, but I was wrong. Change the World RVA connected us to others with the same problem, people I could actually talk to about my struggles and never feel judged. Don't forget the volunteers! They are friendly and knowledgable about a lot of things. They have taken me to doctor appointments and even came to visit while I was in the hospital for surgery. The love and concern they have for the Change the World RVA family is amazing and appreciated by all, especially me!"
-- Huguenot High School graduate, college freshman, age 18
"I love you guys."
-- Huguenot High School graduate, age 18
"I had recently retired and wanted to help in the community. My church, Bon Air United Methodist, was planning a graduation party for students in the Richmond City Schools who normally would not have a party to celebrate their accomplishments. I decided to help with the party by contributing gift cards and other monetary support. From that experience, I was sold on these wonderful young adults. I decided to become more involved and am now a board member of CTWRVA. I support the students through transportation to schools, doctors' appointments, job interviews, and after school programs. I would encourage others to step up to the plate and experience a whole new world with some pretty awesome people!"
-- Sidna Gragnani, Volunteer & former Board Member
"One day, as Mission Director for Bon Air United Methodist Church, I got a phone request for assistance with needs of students at a Richmond High School. These students struggled with unstable housing life situations. Soon I met Alia Butler, McKinney Vento social worker at Huguenot, Armstrong and Wythe high schools, and soon she had Natalie May mentoring Elaine Williams. And CTWRVA was born. Little did I know the beautiful impact this would have on my life, my family's life and so much more. Elaine Williams now has a home with us when she is not living at VCU as a junior Social Work Major. Our lives have been blessed and forever changed."
-- Rev. Larry O. Tingle, Host Dad and Board Member
"Serving as a board member of Change the World RVA has opened my eyes and heart to the Richmond community in a new way. I am touched by the circumstances of many of our homeless teens and inspired by their determination to succeed."
-- Paula Squires, Volunteer & former Board Member
"Over the past year, I have had the great pleasure of working as a community partner with Change the World RVA. This partnership has been transformative for me personally, and for our community. After moving to Richmond to work with the VCU School of Social Work in 2013, I quickly learned that services to support homeless and unstably housed youth are severely limited here. This was incredibly distressing to me. I soon learned, however, that an amazing group of volunteers were refusing to just stand by and do nothing. In the spring of 2014, I made my first visit to Change the World RVA and met several young people who were fired up and ready to make a change in our community. Together, we built an action research team to do just that! Having the opportunity to work with these young leaders has been life changing, but seeing them take on leadership roles to advocate to address youth homelessness has happened because Change the World RVA was there all along the way. They believe in the youth and their ability to make change. They also get what it takes to support their leadership – transportation, child care, cheerleaders! In a community where resources are scarce and eligibility for help is limiting, Change the World RVA has been able to respond quickly and flexibly to meet the needs of young people – often preventing another instance of homelessness. The passion and vision of this organization and its leadership has inspired others to ask, 'What more can we be doing?' Not only does Change the World RVA respond to the immediate and pressing needs of homeless and unstably housed youth, such as housing and food, they also use their experiences and partnerships to mobilize our community to take on this important issue."
--M. Alex Wagaman, PhD
Assistant Professor, VCU School of Social Work