Symposium to address racial inequity, neighborhood problems

Grassroots leadership and community-building with churches and non-profits will be the focus of an inaugural, three-day symposium this week in Virginia Beach.

Grassroots Symposium hopes to get citizens more involved in their communities. (Courtesy of Second Act Communities)
Grassroots Symposium hopes to get citizens more involved in their communities. (Courtesy of Second Act Communities)

Second Act Communities, a nonprofit that creates housing for veterans, seniors, people with mental and physical disabilities, and others, is hosting the event with the hope that it will empower church and community leaders to seek out troubled areas and offer help. Second Act is a partner organization of the Virginia Beach Community Development Corporation.

The purpose of the symposium is to help citizens improve their communities and learn how to confront challenging issues, such as a lack of funding or racial inequity, according to a release. It is sponsored through a partnership with Essential Church, Ebenezer Baptist Church and the Equity Leadership Circle of Hamptons Roads.

Jessica Guglielmo, chief operating officer at the development corporation, said the goal is to address neighborhood concerns.

“Some of things that we’ve heard are security in the community, and a need to bring resources back to that community,” she said.

The symposium, which begins Tuesday, is titled “Strengthening Our Alliance, Changing Lives: The Church and the Non-Profit Community.” Three events are scheduled, two of which are open to the public.

On Tuesday, Addie Wright Thomason, president and CEO of Second Act Communities, will give a talk titled “The Elephant in the Room: The Impact of Racial Inequity on Struggling Communities.” That begins at 9 a.m. at the Princess Anne Recreation Center, 1400 Nimmo Parkway.

On Wednesday, John Perkins, an acclaimed civil rights and community development activist and author, will speak at 6:30 p.m. at Essential Church, 4020 Ware Neck Dr. He will lead a talk titled “A Critical Community Conversation.”

The third event will be a breakfast beginning at 8:30 a.m. Thursday with Perkins, primarily for pastors and outreach ministers, at Ebenezer Baptist Church.

Guglielmo said each neighborhood is unique, so she emphasized the goal of the symposium is to give citizens an opportunity to address their needs, which range from security to getting more resources for their community.

Second Act Communities plans to make the symposium an annual event.

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