This month marks a new fiscal year for VOACC and we are off to a bittersweet start. On one hand, we are excited to be working with amazing champions of hope like you to support kids in need through Operation Backpack®. On the other hand, however, we are teary-eyed with the departure of our Chaplain and champion of love, Rev. Sandra Trice Gray, as she officially enters retirement. There are so many emotions in this month's issue and we hope you enjoy all of them.
Our 2022 Goal 
This year our goal is collect supplies and raise $40,000 to support 2,500 underprivileged students in the community and the hundreds of children we serve through our supportive housing and homeless services programs. By supporting Operation Backpack®, you will make a lasting impact on the lives of underprivileged children in your area!
We recently held our Kickoff Event on July 7th. The photo above is of a young boy and his mother receiving our first backpack donation of the year.

The video to the right is from our friends at ABC 7 News who came out to be a part of the event, did some live reports and interviewed VOACC's Dr. Sheryl Neverson. You can watch the reports by clicking the video.
We are excited to partner with IKEA, The Maryland Zoo and Lexington Market this year to host our supply drive drop-off and give-a-way sites! Whether you’re an individual donor or a part of a larger group, you can engage with us and drop off your donated school supplies here. 
Friday, July 15th 
2901 Potomac Mills Circle
Woodbridge, VA
August 1st & 2nd
The Maryland Zoo
Shipt Back to School Bus Tour
1 Safari Place
Baltimore, MD 21217
Friday, July 15th 
2901 Potomac Mills Circle
Woodbridge, VA
Saturday, September 3rd
Lexington Market
400 W. Lexington Street
Lexington, MD 21201
To learn more about how to make an impact,
contact Christle Baker-Gill at or click the button below.
In 2010, our CEO & President, Russ Snyder says he was led by God to find VOACC's first Chaplain to help build our church without walls, and that the Lord was leading him right to Reverend Sandra Trice Gray. "It was predetermined by God to have me check into my LinkedIn account and I connected with Reverend Gray who had just left where she had pastored for many years," says Russ.

After Russ met with Rev. Gray and spent some time with her in our programs, she came on as our first Chaplain on July 6, 2010 to help VOACC build our spiritual foundation.
Truly the work of Rev. Gray was foundational. She led by example all the time, putting God first and being present for all, not only when she pastored, but when members of our church needed support. According to Rev. Gray, "I believe if you are not available when people need you, you might as well not be available at all."

On many occasions, Rev. Gray has been known to visit those in need at the hospital. And when she couldn’t visit in person, she would pray with those who were sick by phone. In addition to providing personal support, Rev. Gray spearheaded numerous initiatives to grow our church without walls including the launching of our annual Spiritual Colloquium and Healing Conversations.

Through spiritual mentoring and the gift of prayer, Rev. Gray helped transform the lives of so many of us. She taught us the ministry of presence and to let the Holy Spirit guide our church and ministry of service. "The foundation she built is mission critical for VOACC and her legacy will be this foundation that we have built our church on which is solid ground for the future," says Russ.
Prior to becoming our Chaplain, Rev. Gray was already a well-established and influential leader in the community. She is an internationally recognized pioneer of coalition building and partnerships across government, business, and nonprofit sectors. She was chosen as a member of a delegation of American women leaders to the Soviet Union sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation, one of America’s Top 100 Black Business and Professional Women, and a HEW Fellow and served as a member of the President of the United States’ Committee on Education Partnerships. Rev. Gray also has an extensive career in education and administration at the local and state levels, and was the first Black person to teach at a white school in the desegregated public-school system of Little Rock, Arkansas.
In June, we held a farewell celebration during which Russ presented Rev. Gray with a Resolution from the Maryland Senate recognizing her work and extending best wishes on her retirement. Rev. Gray was also awarded the status of Chaplain Emerita.

"This is actually my 'third retirement,'" says Rev. Gray. "But it's time to move on. I am going to spend my time reading, enjoying the people in my life and spreading light and love."

During the celebration Russ recited the following poem in honor of Rev. Gray by one of our former Chief Development Officers, James Wynn.
“A Woman for Such a Time as This”

Light and Love is what we wish for
Someone to feed us when we’re hungry.
Someone to care, console and restore us.
Then she arrives
Faith drives her
Peace surrounds her
Joy radiates from her
 God loves her.

Her presence reflects God’s light
Her actions whisper love
She is a warrior of justice
She gives her best to us
She exemplifies patience
She is always present
She never tires
She always inspires.

Rooted in African American tradition,
she has overcome.
Carrying the shield of faith, 
She pushes back evil.
The belt of truth
Is never undone.
She connects the generations for us to see,
God, family, friends, community and even me.

We revel in her light
We benefit from her love
She is truly an angel
Sent from above.
Our world is better;
Our burdens are lighter;
To know her is to know bliss
A woman for such a time as this!
For Rev. Gray, it is has always been the staff that have moved her the most at VOACC."Because of you this has been an incredible spiritual journey," she states.

Rev. Gray, while you will be sorely missed by all of us here at VOACC, your presence will reverberate in our church without walls for years to come. "Let us continue her legacy and make a difference in the lives that we touch to glorify God and better His Kingdom," says Russ.
We’re excited to announce the launch of our new Healthy Opportunities program in North Carolina! We are now a part of a network of Human Services Organizations (HSO) that have come together as part of North Carolina’s new Healthy Opportunities Pilot (HOP) initiative to address barriers to health and wellbeing for low-income and underserved communities in the Cape Fear region.
In response to the need for more comprehensive Medicaid services that address all aspects of health, the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services created HOP, the nation’s first comprehensive pilot program to test and evaluate the impact of providing nonmedical interventions related to food, housing, transportation, and toxic stress (specifically Intimate Partner Violence) to those insured under Medicaid who also have the greatest needs.
Through our arm of Healthy Opportunities, we will be providing housing services to Medicaid beneficiaries at risk of homelessness in Bladen, Pender and Columbus counties. Our staff will help eligible households find housing, provide additional support to help them remain housed, provide financial support to cover down payments and first month’s rent, and connect those with medical needs to short-term housing where they can recover.
"Although there is a shortage of housing, potential renters trust working with us because we are advocates for our clients and we support them in more than just financial resources. We help them navigate the process and provide a wide range of life skills to better prepare them for moving on."

- Sonya Green, VOACC Healthy Opportunities Program Coordinator
Why It Matters
There have been many studies over the years that have connected Medicaid coverage to better health outcomes for low-income individuals and families. But clinical interventions alone aren’t enough to overcome health inequities and ensure those at the greatest risk can experience long-term health and wellbeing.
Lower-income people often face social and structural barriers to achieving health known as Social Determinants of Health (SDoH), which drive about 80 percent of health outcomes. These barriers include food and housing insecurity; racism, discrimination, and violence; access to jobs and quality education; access to nutritious food; and access to clean air, land, and water. Here’s a snapshot of what these barriers look like for North Carolinians based on a report published earlier this year by the Center for American Progress.

  • More than 1.2 million North Carolinians are unable to access affordable housing.
  • North Carolina has the 8th highest food insecurity rate among all U.S. states.
  • In North Carolina, 1 in 5 children live in food-insecure households, and nearly 1 in 4 have experienced trauma during childhood.
  • Nearly 1 in 2 women in North Carolina have experienced intimate partner violence.

Despite the need for more comprehensive services, little funding is available to alleviate these barriers for Medicaid patients. That’s where HOP comes in. Community Care of the Lower Cape Fear was one of three Network Leads chosen to pilot the program and will work within a six-county region including Bladen, Columbus, Pender, Onslow, Brunswick, and New Hanover counties.
To read the full news release and learn more about Healthy Opportunities, click the button below.
“Some people see a closed door and turn away.  
Others see a closed door, try the knob and if it doesn’t open, turn away.  
Still others see a closed door, try the knob, and if it doesn’t open find a key.  
If the key doesn’t fit, they turn away.

A rare few see a closed door, try the knob and if it doesn’t open
they find a key. If the key doesn’t fit, they make one.” - Anonymous

Volunteers of America Chesapeake & Carolinas believes in investing in emerging leaders. This is why we take part in our national organization's KeyMakers program.

KeyMakers is a one-year program designed to inspire and equip participants to be leaders by: encouraging intentional and constant learning in participants and those around them; and providing practical, immediately applicable tools and concepts that help increase self-awareness, build stronger teams and impact the organization.

We would like to congratulate and recognize the graduating class of 2022.
David Belton II, MDiv, LMSW
Therapist, The Hope Center
"I believe that the KeyMakers program was amazing. Not only did it allow me to strengthen my voice as a leader; but it gave me a better look at the inner-workings of VOACC and it left me feeling more connected to employees from different regions of our agency. KeyMakers really helps to affirm YOU as a leader and provides you with a vast array of resources and leaders to help inspire and shape your leadership journey."
Donna Cheung
Coordinator, Support Services
"I wanted to learn how to be a better leader. My biggest hurdle was how to have sensitive conversations with someone. KeyMakers taught me how to lead into a conversation without causing the other person to be on the defense and are able to have an open honest discussion. It is a great opportunity to learn things about yourself as well as others."
Makhinohn Walden
Program Specialist, YouthBuild
"When I joined VOACC, I was just starting my journey in Non-profits. My belief in myself was low, but my work ethic was strong. KeyMakers was amazing! I loved every moment of it and learned so many things about myself. This program opened my world up to new levels I had never even imagined to reach. I can now step into rooms that previously I would have been terrified of, and enter with confidence. For this, I am honored."
Michelle Booker
Director of Billing & Utilization Management
"It was quite an experience. I wasn't expecting it to be as rewarding as it was. The lessons I have learned and relationships I've built will last a lifetime. I'm so glad that I was encouraged to sign up, and actually went through with it. My favorite part was the in-person sessions. We all had a chance to come together forget about our day-to-day responsibilities and just be in fellowship with one another. I will forever be thankful for the opportunity and can't wait to pay it forward." 
Tanea Manning
"When I heard about KeyMakers, I was drawn into how I could contribute to this organization in a meaningful and impactful way. I knew I had the potential but I didn’t know how to lead with that potential. The programs’ design exceeded my expectations as each session was very carefully planned and fostered independent participation and team synergy. I feel equipped to exceed my own expectations and truly cultivate the skills learned to bring about positive and long lasting continuity of service."
The Volunteers of America KeyMakers Program was awarded the Association for Talent Development Excellence in Practice Award for 2022! This is a very prestigious award that recognizes exemplary practices in workplace learning and talent development. 

This year the VOA KeyMakers program was chosen as the winner from more than 140 entries from 13 countries.
To learn more about KeyMakers, watch this video.
Don't let the sun or a low trade-in offer burn you this summer.

Donate your car to VOACC.

Pick up is FREE and your donation is tax-deductible.

Click the image or give us a call at 1-833-300-5737