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Personality: Ryshonna T. Addison

Spotlight on volunteer head of program administration with Community 50/50

2/11/2021, 6 p.m.
For more than 10 years, Community 50/50 has worked to empower youths and families in the Greater Richmond area. And ...

For more than 10 years, Community 50/50 has worked to empower youths and families in the Greater Richmond area. And for more than 10 years, Ryshonna Taylise Addison has been there as the organization strives to create positive ripples through community service.

Ms. Addison has been involved with Community 50/50 since it was founded by Zenobia Bey in 2009. It began as a program to feed the less fortunate and to help in community cleanup efforts.

Since then, however, Community 50/50 has expanded immensely. While it continues a community feeding program and a community clothes closet, Community 50/50 also now provides mentorship to youths ages 5 to 18 and their families and builds positive thinking through workshops and pro- grams focused on social skills, the arts, education and family improvement.

The organization works with youths in various areas of the city, as well as several middle and high schools in Richmond.

“I’m not from Richmond, but serving the community is my passion,” says Ms. Addison, a native of Providence, R.I. “When Zenobia ran the idea by me,I was all in and have been ever since.”

As the volunteer program administrator, Ms. Addison manages operations, ensuring the quality of the programs and positive outcomes. Her strategy for success includes three simple tenets, she says, “Communication, collaboration and consistency!”

Community 50/50’s commitment to the community has continued in the midst of COVID-19. Ms. Addison says their workshops and engage- ment activities with youths are now virtual. And the community feeding and clothes closet has continued with social distancing. The group also gives out personal protective equipment, or PPE, to those in need.

Ms. Addison says community support also has grown during the pandemic, with more donations to the clothes closet of gently used clothing. Distributions from the closet also have grown, she says.

“Community 50/50 Inc. believes that if we do 50 percent of the work and the community as a whole does 50 percent of the work, we will have an infinite impact on the problems we can solve together,” Ms. Addison says.

Meet a conduit for community service and this week’s Personality, Ryshonna T. Addison:

No. 1 volunteer position: Volunteer head of program administration, quality assurance and compliance, Community 50/50.

Date and place of birth: Oct. 22 in Providence, R.I.

Where I live now: Henrico County

Occupation: Human resource generalist with the City of Richmond.

Education: Bachelor’s in general studies, Virginia Commonwealth University; master’s in management, University of Phoenix; and a licensed massage therapist.

Family: Three daughters, ages 24, 19 and 17.

Community 50/50 is: A grassroots community service organization founded to pro- vide mentoring and outreach programs designed to include youths and their families in programming that empowers and engages to foster an environment that encourages positive thinking through arts, social skills, health, education, prevention and overall family involvement.

When and why founded: Founded in 2009 to feed the less fortunate and conduct consistent community cleanup projects. That purpose has since evolved into many programs in a variety of settings. Founder: Zenobia Bey.

How Community 50/50 got its name: Think of when a raindrop hits a puddle of water. There is a ripple effect. Community 50/50 believes that if we do 50 percent of the work and the community as a whole does 50 percent of the work, we will have an infinite impact on the problems we can solve together.

Location: Our programs are spread through Metro Richmond. We work with youths in Jackson Ward, North Side, Blackwell and several middle and high schools within the city of Richmond. Our main office is on Westwood Avenue.

How long have you volunteered with Community 50/50: I’ve been with the organization since its inception in 2009. I’ve been there since we fed our first group of people and hosted our first Hip Hop Critical Thinking workshop for youths and their parents at the Boys & Girls Club.

Why I accepted position: I’m not from Richmond, but serving the community is my passion. When Zenobia ran the idea by me, I was all in and have been ever since. I enjoy interacting with the recipients of our services and assisting the organization with consistent practices and creating ways to include our programs in a variety of settings.

No. 1 goal: To ensure service delivery continues with qual- ity programs and positive outcomes.

Strategy for achieving goals: Communication, collaboration and consistency!

No. 1 challenge facing Community 50/50: Limited funding.

How Community 50/50 is impacted by COVID-19: We have not stopped operations. We have modified how we interact with youths in our workshops and engagement activities by going fully virtual. Regarding other programs, we still feed the community in Blackwell every third Sunday, but socially distanced. We also give PPE to those in need. Our clothes closet donations and distributions have grown throughout COVID-19 and we still are able to connect resources with proper planning to ensure recipients in need get clothing and basic necessities by appointment.

Racial equity and Community 50/50: We believe in equity and inclusion. Many of our volunteers are from a variety of cultural and ethnic backgrounds. We welcome anyone who wishes to lend a hand to join us (the ripple effect).

Upcoming events and how to get involved: Community Feeding — Every third Sunday from noon to 12:30 p.m. in Blackwell at 17th Street and Chicago Avenue. Bring cooked food, dessert, beverages, toiletries, gently used clothing. Anyone is welcome to participate. No advance notice required.

Community Closet — Donate gently used clothing for any gender or age. Every Wednesday noon to 4 p.m. and every other Saturday noon to 2 p.m. at Morning Star Storage, 1716 E. Cary St.

Virtually participate in any of our workshops. Follow our FB/ IG pages @community5050.

How I start the day: Normal routine, put my feet on the floor and take on whatever comes my way for that day! Carpe Diem!

Three words that best describe me: Loyal, compassionate and professional.

Best late-night snack: I’m trying to stay away from snacks, but if I could indulge, Southern Butter Pecan Talenti Gelato!

How I unwind: Binge watch any and everything on Netflix, Hulu and Fire Stick or listen to music. There’s lots available during the quarantine — Mad Skillz, 9th Wonder, D-Nice and many more.

Something I love to do that most people would never imagine: Sit on the beach on a brisk day bundled up in a warm and cozy blanket by myself to listen to my music in between listening to the waves crash!

Quote that most inspires me: “Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” — Buddha

At the top of my “to-do” list: Figure out my “next chapter.” My baby is graduating from high school this year. I need to work on how my life will look without a minor in the household!

Best thing my parents ever taught me: My mom taught me to be strong and independent. My dad taught me how to properly vacuum a floor. (You have to see the patterns of Vs and Ws or you didn’t vacuum properly!)

Person who influenced me the most: My grandmother.

Book that influenced me the most: “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey.

What I’m reading now: “Your Money or Your Life: Nine Steps to Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence” by Vicki Robin.

Next goal: To start investing in real estate. I’ve been getting educated since June 2020. I need to take a leap of faith and acquire property by the end of 2021.