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Our goal is to spread the word about the valuable contributions that a wide range of organizations make to our communities and to encourage others to become involved. For more than six decades, the organization has provided a safe, educational and welcoming space to young people throughout Richmond and Petersburg. The organization focuses heavily on providing after-school support for children from ages 6 to

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Many Club members have parents who are young, single, or working multiple jobs. Brandie has many connections to Petersburg—she grew up in the neighboring town of Ettrick, and her grandparents used to own a store downtown.

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The Blandford neighborhood fits into the larger story of Petersburg. City of Possibility. Ken Pritchett, chair of the Petersburg public school board, sent both of his daughters to the Club. The Club has also ed with 4H to offer health courses and even with local Shrinerswho have adopted the Club and mentored students.

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As she sat listening to both young women from the group and her fellow Club members discuss their experiences with bullying and abuse, she was struck by their bravery. Soon after, the desegregation of public schools led white residents fearing integration to abandon Petersburg for less-diverse counties nearby.

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The aim of the Petersburg Club is to do just that, Brandie says: encourage students to take what they learn and use it to lift up the people around them. There are amazing, real-life learning experiences happening here. But she is quick to add that the Club does much more than that. Like really shy.

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The Petersburg Club has had many homes since then, but always in buildings where classrooms had to be shared. Stebbins, who lives in Petersburg and occasionally bikes around the Blandford neighborhood, fondly recalls attending a holiday party at the Club where members were crafting pipe-cleaner ornaments. Well, what is that like?

Club member Josie serves on the Youth Action Board, a local organization that combats youth homelessness. Ken says that opportunity was important for his daughters.

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Then as now, he was working from 8 a. In addition to connecting with local organizations year-round, Club members mingle with students from other school districts during the summer months, encountering new people and making new friends. Josie ed the Club four years ago, when she was 13 years old. I never would've thought that about someone as strong as you. Club members and staff also have the power to shape the neighborhood itself. Ken remembers watching his daughters, Ebonie and Faith, perform together in a talent show.

The move to its current location inside Blandford Academywhere spaces belong to the Club alone, brought with it an exciting new opportunity. Since ing the Club, Josie has become a straight-A student and been accepted to the Richard Bland dual enrollment programwhich offers students a way to earn college credit during their last two years of high school. Members participate in a jump-rope interest group with Club partner JumpStarz. One neighbor even helped prepare the land for the sensory garden.

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She particularly remembers a visit from Girls for a Changea nonprofit group seeking to empower girls of color in Central Virginia. Others are raised by their grandparents. Outside the building, picnic tables offering a space for socializing and relaxing were built by Club members themselves, and a plot of land nearby is slated for a sensory garden geared toward members with autism. Faith, who now works as an expert at T-Mobile, attended Virginia State University and returned to volunteer with the Club while she was a student.

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You come to school every day with a smile on your face. You see so many children really thriving when you visit. But serious trouble began for Petersburg in the s. Ken says the Club was the perfect solution to the problem of finding childcare and homework assistance.

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Committed to funding youth and family services in the region, among other vital causes, the foundation has supported the Club for nearly 15 years. They might use the sports facilities at the YMCAreceive homework help from a Virginia State University work study student, or take a yoga class through a partnership with Yoga Onea local studio. The whole community is changed in that way.

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Former Club member Faith Pritchett returned to volunteer with the Club after graduation. With few jobs to offer and a diminished population that lacked a critical mass of higher-income residents, the city entered an economic decline.

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At the time, she was very reserved. When Josie ed the Youth Action Board, she saw a side of her city that surprised her. Formulated to develop a proposal for a grant that would help address youth homelessness in the Petersburg area, the board is composed of young people between the ages of 14 and Two-thirds of those children have experienced homelessness themselves, and as Josie quickly learned, some of them were her friends from school.


Brandie, who nominated Josie for the board, has been impressed with her sensitivity and open-mindedness. Prior to the Civil War, it was also home to the largest community of free blacks in America. Located 25 miles south of Richmond along the Appomattox River, the historic city of Petersburg was a thriving trade, transportation, and manufacturing hub for years.