January 30, 2022
Dear Church Family,
My heart is full these days- feelings of gratitude and hope for the future. I have been so very grateful for the opportunity to bring ExCELL to Tabernacle to build a new home base for our non-profit. I thought it might be a good time to share what we have been able to do since arriving in July for our Richmond children and their families, and their teachers. Tabernacle’s willingness to open her doors has allowed ExCELL to use precious funds to provide monthly and quarterly services and supports to over 1300 children and their families and over 200 teachers in the Richmond Public School system. We like to share that a recent financial review revealed that $.91 of every dollar we are awarded goes directly to programmatic costs – there is very little “fluff” in our program. That makes me so very happy and proud!
Our work takes place in Title 1 schools where needs are great and challenges for family engagement abound. Meeting families where they are requires a responsive heart, great flexibility and a commitment to find a way. Using scheduled school-based drive-by distributions, ExCELL is providing carefully selected high-quality children’s books with aligned parent-child learning games and activities for families in preschool through first grade. These are critical years for a child’s future success in school and vital for partnering with families in their child’s learning.
Preschool families receive books and learning materials that help build early language and literacy development and awareness for kindergarten readiness. We’re increasing our focus for social and emotional development in response to the impacts from the pandemic. Families with kindergarten and first grade children receive books and learning materials for emergent and beginning readers. Prior to the onset of COVID-19, everything was in-person. For the past two years now, we have continued our services and supports through virtual means. All families are provided with pre-recorded videos that offer information relevant to their grade level. Interactive family read alouds of the books received are included in every virtual family event. We are also quite busy beyond Richmond City providing similar services and supports in Petersburg, Hopewell, Campbell County, and Northern Virginia programs.
New ideas are emerging for how we might increase our family partnerships here in Richmond with virtual parent camps where conversations are facilitated by volunteers trained to help parents feel safe to share their ideas and build relationships within the groups. We are also exploring the idea of regional family learning centers. I have such hope and belief that we can build that abundant community with Tabernacle. My belief that God is present and active in this work has never been stronger than in the past six months since arriving back home at 1925 Grove Ave.
Feeling so blessed,