HRCAP held its 4th Annual VA CARES Graduation on Thursday, October 26, 2017 at 5 p.m. in the Downing Gross Cultural Arts Center located at 2410 Wickham Avenue, Newport News, VA. VA CARES is a reentry program for returning citizens, is operated throughout 8 sites in the state of Virginia, and is the only statewide, one stop program of its kind in the nation. HRCAP, a 501 (c) 3, community action agency serving the Hampton Roads area is one of the 8 site locations, and notable, HRCAP’s VA CARES Program was named Site of the Year in 2016. In addition to the VA CARES Program, HRCAP provides a host of other programs to the community such as Head Start, Project Discovery, Emergency Services, Homeless Services, Senior Services, Teen Moms, Housing Services, and Veteran Services.
Twelve participants completed all the requirements for graduation this year which included program enrollment, support groups attendance, and achieving at least two life goals. This year’s graduates made some significant accomplishments to include obtaining employment (6 full-time, 1 part-time, and 1 entrepreneur); educational training (1 received certificate in Medication Assistance, and Phlebotomy, and 1 currently is in training for welding); and housing (10 obtained stable housing). As returning citizens these miles stones are monumental in their efforts to achieve goals they have set for themselves. Also a few of the graduates are giving back by becoming mentors to those that are still in or entering the program. These 2017 HRCAP VA CARES graduates are to be commended for their commitment and determination to becoming successful returning citizens.
The guest speaker for this event was Hasan Zarif, Reentry Specialist/Certified Workforce Development Professional with Goodwill of Central and Coastal Virginia. Mr. Zarif talked about “nudges” and how nudging from others changed his life story. Mr. Zarif was once incarcerated, and was sentenced to over 600 years in the Virginia State Penitentiary. He spent 16 years in prison before being paroled. After completing all conditions of his parole his parole was unanimously discharged. Mr. Zarif has a very remarkable story to include becoming the first returning citizen to become a Provisional Chaplain, receiving a pardon, and well as numerous awards. Mr. Zarif gave a dynamic and motivational speech that inspired the graduates and others in attendance.
HRCAP’s VA CARES 2017 Graduation was successful.
For more information about HRCAP’s VA CARES Program call 757.245.0328, and for more information about HRCAP and its other programs call (757) 247-0379.
By Michele Grant
Director of Community Services