Our One Year Celebration

Last night we celebrated one year of the REAL LIFE Community Center and we’re still trying to find the words to express how meaningful of a celebration it was. About 150 people attended the birthday party and while we can’t thank every single person who attended, we hope each person knows how much we appreciate the love and support as we work hard to help those in our community who need it most. The past year has been one of trials, ups and downs, and celebrations for the men and women who have walked through out doors because that’s the first step. Just walking through the door is a celebration at REAL LIFE, because it means you’re one step closer to recovery and change. And every time we felt defeated, we were blessed with another REAL LIFE alumni, a client who has completed the first 30 days in the program and is ready to work, manage a budget, and have a bank account, amongst other things. We feel incredibly honored and blessed that they have worked so hard to succeed. Take Brad for example (pictured below). Brad is a house member at the REAL HOUSE and spoke last night. Two days ago, however, he shared the following with his case manager, “…It hit me, I just want to do so good, I want to get better everyday and I don’t want to go back out and I don’t want to use…”. Brad has been working so hard at his recovery and this is the longest time that he has been able to stay clean. Upon intake, Brad was told,  “You won’t find anyone out there who will be bigger cheerleaders for you. Our only stipulation is that we will not work harder than you. You put in the effort and we will meet you there 100%.” We’re so proud of Brad and the other “Brads” that we have – all the clients who are putting in the effort day after day. Because as cliche as it sounds, it really is all about taking it one day at a time.

There are many people we have to thank for our success over the past year. First, we would love to thank our sponsors from last night’s event: Bistro 27, Celebrate! RVA, RVA Light Coffee, and Zaxby’s (on Broad Street). Without your support, our celebration would not have been as amazing as it was.

Last night we were able to announce a new status – the REAL LIFE Team Member; an honor that is received after at least 6 months of consistent sobriety and relationship with REAL LIFE. Last night, we were proud to honor our first 11 inductees as REAL LIFE Team Members – they each received a Team Member lapel pin and are recognized on the Team Member plaque that will hang prominently at the center! Below are the team members.

Peggy Crawford: with us since opening
Misty Kirby: with us since opening
Keith Travers: with us since opening
Kevin Bland: with us since January 2018
Alisha Coles: with us since January 2018
Sherman Green: with us since January 2018
Andre Hunter: with us since January 2018
Mark Lee: with us since January 2018
Van Faggins: with us since February 2018
Tahoura Simpson: with us since February 2018
Scottie Wood: with us since March 2018
Rodney Roane: with us since April 2018


Thank you to our donors who make this all possible. REAL Life is funded directly by community partnerships and financial investments. That means that your donation, regardless of size, is directly impacting a life (or lives). We asked some of our clients to write Thank You cards for our donors, highlighting why their contributions matter to REAL LIFE and we were truly touched by their responses. REAL LIFE works! And, your contribution is what helps our men and women create lives they can be proud of. If you feel called to make a donation, visit our website, www.reallifeprogram.org/support, where you can see exactly how your donation will be used to help a person take back their life. Even a small donation has big impact. In fact, a donation of just $17.50 sponsors transportation for one person for a week. We also wanted to give a special thank you to Mark and Barbara Wheless and Jen Campbell of the Wheless Family Stewardship Fund, as our largest donor they continue to support us financially, but also through expert consulting that truly no nonprofit could ever afford.


Thank you to our REAL Life employees – the leaders who make our programs like the Expectant Mother Program, REAL House, classes, groups, and services at the center, all possible. They are doing amazing work every day making sure that the men and women who enter the Community Center are treated with respect and dignity and that they receive all the help they need to be successful.


We’re excited to share with you this amazing graphic that highlights our successes this year and how many people we reached. We are excited to see where this next year takes us and to see how these numbers change. It’s a double edged sword – knowing there are much more than 411 people we can help.