One Year with REAL Life

It was just one and a half years ago that we were discussing that REAL LIFE’s (RL) operation of just volunteers was not enough. We knew that something like a community center was critical to Richmond, as was the need to further our mission of serving individuals in adverse situations, primarily due to incarceration or homelessness, or who are battling a substance use disorder. Just six months later, we held the grand opening of the REAL LIFE Community Center (RLCC) in December of 2017. It is hard to believe that the RLCC has now just reached a year of service to the Richmond community!

Prior to opening, we forecasted and planned strategically– we thought we knew exactly what the needs were in our community. Boy, we were off – the need in Richmond far exceeded what we anticipated, both in sheer volume of those seeking help and also with the plethora of needs each had. However, I am proud to share we were able to meet the needs of those who walked through our doors throughout the year, due to the steadfast support and dedication of so many wonderful supporters.

Just two weeks after opening, we realized the staggering number of pregnant women, or women with newborns, who needed assistance. As a response, we immediately began an Expectant Mother Program and hired a case manager, Tauchanna, who specialized in this area. Serving 73 ladies this year, this program has allowed these ladies to overcome great adversity by facing the trauma they have experienced, obtaining employment and housing, and locking arms and uplifting their sisters who have also walked that path. This, coupled with ensuring proper prenatal and post-partum medical attention is obtained (as most did not have this prior to coming to RL), these ladies have continued to overcome and defy what some may deem “impossible.”

Similar, is the work of our other three case managers, Jessica, Young, and Ryan. While we originally anticipated serving 200 clients total for the year, 338 clients have been served holistically (this is in addition to the 73 served through the expectant mother program). Through intense case management and our comprehensive behavior modification and trauma informed model, we have seen sobriety reached among clients who thought it could never be achieved and many have gained housing and employment. Others have gone back to school and reunited with their children, to name just a few accomplishments. As one of our clients Henry recently shared, “A lot of these programs just show you how to get clean, but REAL LIFE shows you how to live when you are clean.”

None of this, however, would be possible without people like you! Through community partnerships and financial investments, REAL LIFE is able to provide clients specifically with what they need: intense case management, an expectant mother program, recovery housing or housing referrals, mental health services, classes and groups, job preparation and placement, transportation assistance, substance use disorder support, educational opportunities, clothes closet, a computer lab and more! And most important – unconditional love and support.

I ask you to consider supporting REAL LIFE so that we may continue to provide critical services. All donations received directly support providing services to further our mission. If you would like to donate you can do so online at www.reallifeprogram.org/support. We hope you have a wonderful new year and we look forward to all that is to come in 2019.