Personality: Lindsay Kylene Bunting Eubanks

Spotlight on board chair for ReEstablish Richmond

6/13/2024, 6 p.m.
Throughout her career, Lindsay Kylene Bunting Eubanks has prioritized service to others. As an attorney with Sands Anderson, a Richmond-based …
Personality of the Week ..Lindsay Bunting Eubanks.board chair.ReEstablish Richmond..June 13-15, 2024 edition....Regina H. Boone/ Richmond Free Press. Regina H. Boone Regina H. Boone /Richmond Free Press

Throughout her career, Lindsay Kylene Bunting Eubanks has prioritized service to others. As an attorney with Sands Anderson, a Richmond-based law firm, she supports their Litigation Group. She said her work as a legal ally requires being proactive and remaining nimble.

In her five years with the firm, she’s enjoyed many professional highlights. However, through her philanthropic work, as board chair of ReEstablish Richmond, Eubanks is able to combine her faith-based values with her drive to give back to the community.

ReEstablish Richmond facilitates the integration of refugees into the city, enabling them to lay a foundation and establish themselves.Typically, refugee resettlement agencies support refugees during their first six months in the U.S., but ReEstablish Richmond helps refugees well beyond that time period. It connects refugees to the resources needed to establish roots, build community and become self-sufficient.

The organization works with refugees from all over the world, each with their unique challenges. From language barriers to societal norms, the struggle to assimilate is real.

Eubanks said many refugees find Richmond a reprieve because they no longer have to struggle to survive death and starvation. Some are sad because they’ve left family members behind — knowing they can never return. Eubanks highlights the significant contributions of numerous hard-working and intelligent immigrants to Virginia, implying that the challenges faced by refugees are ultimately rewarding.

“The American experiment is supposed to be about overcoming cultural differences,” she says. “Cultural sensitivity is important. It’s an uphill battle sometimes.”

As a mother of four, Eubanks spent 14 years as a stay-at-home mom before pursuing her law degree. She reduced her hours to balance her roles as an attorney, mother and board chair. Now it’s all coming together to help an underserved population.

Meet a lawyer who lends her legal expertise to those in need and this week’s Personality, Lindsay Kylene Bunting Eubanks:

Volunteer position: Chair, ReEstablish Richmond Board of Directors.

Occupation: Attorney.

Date and place of birth: 1980 in Newport News.

Where I live now: Henrico.

Education: Bachelor’s, University of Virginia, double major in political and social thought and French, juris doctorate, William and Mary Law School.

Family: I am married and have four children, ages 13 to 21.

What is ReEstablish Richmond: We help Richmond area refugees and new immigrants grow roots in our community beyond the first six months of their arrival in the U.S. through refugee resettlement agencies.

Specifically, we help refugees and new immigrants gain transportation independence through public transit and driver’s education programs, obtain better employment opportunities in Virginia, navigate the school system for their children, become financially and digitally literate, and gain English proficiency — skills vital to their success.

Mission: We connect refugees and new immigrants to the resources needed to establish roots, build community, and become self-sufficient. We envision a community where all are united in the well-being and welcoming of newcomers.

Founder: Patrick Braford

Why ReEstablish Richmond was founded: Patrick saw a gap in the government programs for Richmond’s refugee services while getting to know newly resettled families from Myanmar.

How I initially got involved with ReEstablish Richmond: I had a friend serving on the board of directors who asked me to help.

When elected board president: I was elected in the summer of 2022.

Why ReEstablish Richmond is meaningful to me: Over 100 million people worldwide have been forced to flee their homes due to armed conflicts, environmental disasters and other hardships. Refugees make the hard decision to uproot their families and agree to go through an extensive vetting process before being placed in various host countries, including the US.

Many of the individuals in our current refugee population in the Richmond area risked their lives to serve the US Armed Forces in Afghanistan as military interpreters.

Once here, it’s difficult for refugees to adjust to a new environment and learn to be self-reliant. ReEstablish Richmond’s work is crucial in helping these individuals adapt and thrive. I am a native Virginian. I want our newest Virginians to feel welcomed and help them adjust to their new surroundings. Many of my forebears also were once refugees. Kindness builds community, especially when we extend that kindness to people who most need it despite real or perceived differences.

My No. 1 goal and strategy as board president: I want to raise community awareness about newcomers and refugees. I also aim to meet the needs of the people who come in a way they specifically want and need. It requires active listening and the flexibility to respond to the unique needs of a diverse refugee population. I am committed to helping grow sustainable programs and supports that help Richmond area refugees gain long-term self-reliance.

Biggest challenge: Like most nonprofits, we are perpetually challenged to find funding that is both consistent and flexible enough to meet refugee needs as they arise and change over time.

The most joy I’ve witnessed through working with ReEstablish Richmond: Watching the community formulating in real time is my greatest delight.

For example, during the current international crisis, witnessing a Jewish family and a Muslim family break bread together in support of Richmond area refugees was terrific, given the current state of affairs in the Middle East.

The countries newcomers to Richmond are arriving from: Due to ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan, Ukraine, Sudan, and other areas, refugee and immigrant communities are among Richmond’s fastest-growing populations. The Richmond area has seen a 700% increase in arrivals since 2021. In just the two years following the US exit from Afghanistan, over 1,000 Afghans have settled in the area. Refugees are 64.9% Asian, mainly from Afghanistan, 9.8% African, predominantly from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan, 10.3% Hispanic/Latino, and 3.4% Ukrainian.

The gender mix is 71% female and 29% male.

The biggest hurdles our new Richmonders face: Language access and navigating the immigration system are the toughest for most.

Ways to contact ReEstablish Richmond for services: Anyone can go to our website and navigate to the Refer a Client — ReEstablish Richmond page.

Ways to volunteer: Volunteers can match one-on-one to help a newcomer work toward a self-determined goal. Other volunteer opportunities include supporting our group programs as drivers and child care providers or delivering materials to clients so they can participate fully in group programs, performing administrative tasks, and supporting events. You can sign up on our website to attend a volunteer orientation, usually held every two weeks, to get involved.

How I start the day: I read the scriptures.

The three words that best describe me: Hopeful, cheerful and, according to my husband, stubborn.

Best late-night snack: Anything dark chocolate.

A quote that inspires me: “Think celestial.”

The best thing my parents ever taught me: My parents taught me most through their examples. My mother served as a public schoolteacher in Gloucester County for over 30 years. My father was a school psychologist and administrator in Gloucester and Henrico counties. He also coached basketball for local high schools for many years. They valued family, and they valued community. They truly loved the people they served, the students they interacted with, and all our neighbors and friends. My parents don’t know strangers. I learned from them that we are all brothers and sisters. We should treat every person with kindness and respect.

The people who influenced me the most: My parents.

A book that influenced me the most: Many books have influenced me. One refugee-specific one is “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe. It chronicles the impact of colonialism on a Nigerian village.

Next goal: To make our Richmond refugee population more visible and integrated.