United Way Volunteer Raland Wallace Gives Back to the Program that Helped Him
Sponsored content by Amy Lynch, Brand Ave. Studios contributing writer
Not so long ago, Raland Wallace found himself in need of some assistance during a particularly difficult time in his life.
“I’ve had problems with addiction in the past, and I was depressed,” he admits. “I knew I wanted something different for me and for my kids.”
Fortunately, Wallace’s story has a happy ending thanks to the United Way of South Hampton Roads’ VBThrive program and its community partners. Launched with the support of a three-year, $15 million grant from the city of Virginia Beach and funding from the American Rescue Plan Act, VBThrive works with local ALICE (asset-limited, income-constrained employed) residents and families to address and provide assistance in five key areas — mentorship, housing, employment and education, financial management and well-being. After conducting a needs assessment to determine exactly where help is required, applicants are then paired with one-on-one mentors to set short- and long-term goals they can work toward through personalized step-by-step action plans.
“When things are going wrong in your life, it’s sometimes hard to get focused on what you need to do,” Wallace says. “VBThrive really helps you channel your goals and concentrate on one thing at a time to help stabilize your situation. It gives you the tools and the means to get where you want to go.”
Now that he’s experienced firsthand the difference VBThrive can make, Wallace gives back by volunteering with the program, helping with recruitment drives and other efforts as needed. He says a sense of fulfillment is the biggest reward he’s gained through volunteering and says that working with new VBThrive enrollees has allowed him to see just how far he’s come.
“I used to be where a lot of these people are now,” he reflects. “I didn’t know which way to turn. But by going through the process, I realized that Virginia Beach has so many opportunities and resources available to help people get back on their feet. I really enjoy seeing it when people are able to pull themselves up.”
These days, Wallace has a job with the city of Virginia Beach, a car and custody of his two children. Thriving indeed.
“The people at United Way work with a sense of compassion,” he points out. “They see you as a person, not a problem. Most people in America are only a paycheck or two away from finding themselves in a bad situation. It feels like United Way genuinely cares about getting you into a better circumstance. I set goals and followed the action plans, and it paid off for me. Things are only looking up from here.”
In 2022, United Way of South Hampton Roads organized nearly 1,500 volunteers to work on 100 projects at regional nonprofit organizations. For more information on how you or your group can get involved, call 757.853.8500 or visit unitedwayshr.org.
If you or someone you know could benefit from United Way of South Hampton Roads’ VBThrive, call 757.385.0113 or apply online here. The program also accepts applications during open enrollment hours at the Meyera E. Oberndorf Central Library Resource Center.
For more impact stories visit unitedwayshr.org/100days.