Building Community in Richmond

By Taneasha White, NPCV Richmond Community Organizer

This month in the Richmond region, we’ve got a lot of things in the works.

One of NPCV’s main goals is that of culture change. There is a ton of shame and stigma that surrounds people trying to access basic healthcare. Our advocacy team is hard at work on the policy side of reproductive shaming, and we also host frequent educational events open to the public in an effort change the culture that surrounds abortion and access to reproductive healthcare. One way that we’ve been combating this shame here in Richmond is through a number of art therapy workshops. We’ve been able to snag local artist Michelle Miott, and she leads guided collage building with a focus on bodily autonomy. Soon, we’ll be incorporating painting into the mix with local artist Aida Bogado!

Back in December, we started an ongoing collaboration with Restoration Fellowship RVA that resulted in a #Campaign4ComfortRVA. C4C is a campaign to increase awareness of the experiences of folks who don’t have adequate access to pads and tampons, coupled with an product drive. When we started, our focus was on folks living behind bars and we collected for local Richmond jails. Luckily, due to the passing of HB83 this past legislative session that enabled those in Virginia jails and prisons to receive a free supply of menstrual products, we have the opportunity to focus on other people in our community.

Currently, we are focusing on local Virginians suffering from housing instability and donating products to Safe Harbor and Advocates for Richmond Youth. Safe Harbor assists and houses women who have been affected by either domestic violence or human trafficking, and ARY advocates and houses LGBTQ youth. Working with RFRVA has been a great partnership for NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia. Churches and religious organizations are really integral to holding communities together, and RFRVA does an awesome job of that, especially considering how open and inviting they are. Their slogan is “Dare to do church differently”, and they take that to heart– they have proven to be extremely sex-positive and LGBTQ friendly. Through this partnership, we were able to collect over 5,000 items over the course of two quarters!

Speaking of great partnerships, here in Richmond over the past few months we’ve also been working with The Richmond Reproductive Freedom Project and The Richmond Doula Project. RRFP is a grassroots, volunteer led non-profit that financially supports folks seeking reproductive healthcare. This ranges from abortion procedures, to bus passes to get to various locations, to full-spectrum doula care. NPCV had a team during their annual bowl-a-thon fundraiser, and it was such a great opportunity to aid repro healthcare in such a hands-on way. Teams have the freedom to fundraise in whatever capacity they chose, and I chose to host a hip-hop show in the city. Local artists prepared sets and came out to support the cause, and it was open to the public with a suggested donation at the door. We raised almost $150 at the event, and that was on top of the $250 we’d raised before!

Through this partnership, RDP and NPCV have planned a panel discussion on the short docu-series episode Death by Delivery. In addition to educating folks on the plight that people face during pregnancy and childbirth on a regular basis, we are also aiming to showcase the work that is being done to combat these injustices.

Looking forward, #Campaign4ComfortRVA will continue to collect donations, and we have our quarterly happy hour and packing party happening late in June. Our therapy sessions will be once a month, and we’ve got some awesome storytelling programming planned. We’ve got tons of festival appearances lined up, including the Hanover Tomato Festival and The Richmond Vegetarian Festival– so keep an eye out for us!

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