Students Yamir Chapman and Victoria Lara

Not for profit: Students act locally

August 28, 2023

Student Experience

Yamir Chapman recently recalled a small but impactful moment from his internship at Goochland Cares this summer.

“Are these onions!?” exclaimed an excited woman who seemed surprised to find them at the food pantry. It provided the Spider junior a new perspective on the importance of access to fresh produce when Richmond community members are feeding their families.

Students spent the summer in the community getting real world experience working with nonprofits and governmental agencies, including a number in the Richmond area.

Chapman, a Marsh Civic Fellow, worked full time at Goochland Cares for seven weeks. The organization assists the community with an onsite medical and dental clinic, financial counseling services, and emergency housing for victims of sexual and domestic violence.

As a leadership studies major, he appreciated the chance to shadow the CEO and COO of the organization to learn how to write grants and understand the leadership model of a non-profit organization. He also conducted a survey to assess the effectiveness of the food pantry and created training manuals involving practices of trauma-informed care.

Chapman spent most of his time interviewing more than 80 potential clients to assess their eligibility for programs. He also assisted in the food pantry and clothing closet.

“Goochland Cares tackles so many issues within society, such as food insecurity, clothing insecurity, and homelessness,” Chapman said. “I enjoyed knowing that I was going to make a difference in someone’s life every day.”

Senior Victoria Lara shared her Spanish language and other skills with CrossOver Health Ministry, which provides high-quality healthcare to the uninsured and those enrolled in Medicaid. The organization operates two clinics in Richmond and Henrico County.

Lara, a Bonner Scholar and Civic Fellow, who is majoring in health studies with a minor in data science & statistics, worked at the Richmond clinic for 40 hours a week over nearly three months. She acted as a Spanish interpreter for the obstetrics program, conducted Medicaid enrollment appointments for patients, and assisted with financial screening for prospective patients.

Lara also assisted with Teledentistry, a virtual program focused on patients’ dental health during pregnancy. Every morning, she made reminder calls for patients and scanned ultrasound reports.

“I gained tremendous knowledge of medical terminology in two languages,” she said. “And I loved being able to help patients freely communicate with the provider in Spanish.”

Sylvia Gale, executive director for the Bonner Center for Civic Engagement, said the University’s proximity to Richmond offers students an exciting opportunity to engage community members and work with local leaders who are advancing innovation and change. 

“Students are contributing to those efforts,” Gale said, “and they are also learning from residents and community leaders. There’s no substitute for that kind of experience.”