During a summer of record heat, a worldwide health crisis and explosive civil unrest, one local not-for-profit organization rose to address two pandemics: coronavirus and racism.
Hinesight, a family-owned operation that provides youth mentorships and adult empowerment programs, teamed up with the Fredericksburg Area Museum to put on a program in response to events surrounding and following the death of George Floyd. Every Friday night in June, “A Night of Black Stories” took place in Fredericksburg’s historic Market Square, where keynote storytellers shared their experiences living and leading in communities of color.
After each speaker, the organization’s staff and city leadership shared ways individuals could get involved by making changes at home and within the community through programs at Hinesight and government policy.
“We knew that both black people and white people, and all types of people wanted to do something but the large majority either felt paralysis by polarization or didn’t know what to do,” says Jaraad Hines, executive director at Hinesight.
Hinesight’s mission is to reshape communities of color by permanently uplifting families and individuals from poverty. What originally began as youth-focused is now an all-encompassing approach to empower the entire family by assessing their goals and connecting them with the short-term and long-term resources.
The Fredericksburg Area Museum was honored to create a space for members of the black community to share their perspectives. “The oral histories that were shared at a Night of Black Stories are a part of our community’s history. The FAM plans on preserving these stories for future generations,” says Theresa Cramer, Education and Public Programs Coordinator for the museum.
Another important element of the event was the cohesion between the facilitators and the Rappahannock Area Health Department. They provided support by implementing social distancing measures as well as giving out health information to educate attendees about the coronavirus.
Health education is an important topic at Hinesight, and one that’s importance has become increasingly more apparent during this pandemic. The effects of health inequity are being played out in real-time as studies continue to show that people of color are at higher risk of contracting the coronavirus. Hinesight’s Getting Ahead program aims to help people understand the roots of certain challenges and how they can overcome them for themselves and future generations.
“What good is it to have a job but either be sick all the time or drowning in medical debt because you are always at the hospital receiving treatment you can’t afford,” says Hines. It is Hinesight’s goal to show their clients how employment and health are equally important.
Through a partnership formed between the organization and the YMCA, graduates of Getting Ahead receive a free one-year membership to their local YMCA branch so they can put into action some of what the course teaches about health and well-being.
Volunteers are the superpower behind their organization. Volunteer Joan-Diaz Mendez desired to respond to the summer’s unrest that birthed A Night of Black Stories. Their strategy is to have a 3:1 volunteer ratio for each client family.
“We are on a mission to reach 10,000 families, online and in-person,” says Hines. “Hinesight is empowering everyday people—volunteers—to get involved in the fight to ensure that those who are less fortunate have support systems in place to build their resources.”
If you are interested in joining Hinesight to fulfill their vision of building a community that ensures no one STAYS in poverty, follow them on Facebook or Instagram for more information about their upcoming volunteer-interest sessions.