One of the primary components of the City of Richmond's Love Your Block program is to physically bring together groups of residents and community members to volunteer in beautification efforts. This component was acutely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. For many months, we had to suspend our typical Love Your Block activities, but we could not wait to start working with residents again!
In FY 2020-2021, Love Your Block pivoted by offering COVID-19 Mini-Grants. While our normal scope of work is specific to volunteer beautification, we launched the program to more generally assist volunteer projects that would support Richmond residents affected by COVID-19.
In October 2020, we awarded 9 mini-grants totaling $4,225 to volunteer-based projects. Our metrics show that grantees collectively engaged 342 volunteers in 2,211 hours of service, serving over 10,000 Richmond residents during the COVID-19 pandemic! Check out our grantees' projects below!
Photo credits belong to grantees and/or their respective organizations, unless noted otherwise.
Little Free Pantry Project Lead: Achala & Eagle Jayagoda
Achala applied for a Love Your Block Mini-Grant on behalf of her 8-year-old son Eagle, who started a Little Free Food Table in front of his home, every Sunday since the beginning of the pandemic. The Little Free Food Table has since evolved into a Little Free Food Pantry which was supported through the Mini-Grant. The Little Free Food Pantry provides free non-perishable food items and hygiene items, 24 hours, 7 days a week.
Little Free Library at Happy Lot Farm Project Leads: Cole McCrorie McKnight & Joanna Pace
Cole and Joanna painted and installed a Little Free Library at the Happy Lot Farm on Chanslor Ave. They also filled up the Little Free Library with new books, and received donated books from neighbors in the area.
Introductory Pickleball Workshops Project Lead: Darlene Drapkin, East Bay Pickleball Association
Darlene offered socially-distanced, introductory pickleball workshops throughout Richmond, in partnership with a local USA Pickleball Ambassador, Richmond Tennis Association, and City of Richmond Community Services Department. Darlene engaged 140 participants through 6 introductory clinics from November 2020 through May 2021.
Panhandle Annex Neighborhood Council hosted a Sidewalk Chalk Art Extravaganza to bring neighbors outside of their homes to create their own chalk art. The extravaganza helped relieve stress and anxiety caused by the pandemic.
Black Baby Joy Postpartum Support Group Project Lead: Rachel BoldenKramer
Rachel's Black Baby Joy postpartum support group addressed new mothers' risk for social isolation postpartum and the additional social struggles of COVID-19 by providing safe, supportive baby wearing carriers to new mothers. 16 new mothers in Richmond were served through this project.
Richmond Grows continued ongoing work with volunteers to sustain and expand 11 Little Free Seed Libraries throughout Richmond. The project strengthened the community by encouraging and teaching residents to grow nutritious food and save seeds. The project engaged 65 volunteers and distributed 2,000 seed packets by April 2021.
Richmond Main Street Meal Giveaway Program Project Lead: Ronnie Mills, Richmond Main Street Initiative
Richmond Main Street Initiative worked with volunteers to continue providing meals to food-insecure Richmond residents through their Meal Giveaway Program. They engaged 225 volunteers to distribute 82,500 meals (6,500 meals per week) during the project.
Photo credits: Robin Lopez
Mary "Peace" Head Memorial Garden Project Leads: Sarah Pritchard & Ivonne Malave, Rosie the Riveter Trust
Through their Rosie's Service Corps (former "Rosie Girls") program, Rosie the Riveter Trust brought the Mary "Peace" Head Memorial Garden back to life at Parchester Park. 17 volunteers revitalized the garden by placing 3 cubic yards of new soil in 4 garden boxes, planting 75 seedlings, restoring 4 picnic table benches, and spreading 2 truck loads of mulch.
Zoom Cooking Classes, "Cooking with Chef Arnon" Project Lead: Linda Whitmore, Santa Fe Neighborhood Council
Santa Fe Neighborhood Council offered Zoom virtual cooking classes to 24 Nystrom Elementary School students and 10 community members in partnership with Chef Arnon Oren, Anaviv Restaurant. 8 volunteers helped put the class together and distribute cooking class ingredients to students and participants. Through Chef Arnon's expertise, the participants prepared their own delicious pizza and salad from home.