It's easy to get lost among the almost 1.2 million people living in the Richmond region when you're on your own. The following groups keep watch over the city's minorities, advocating for tolerance and respect, while providing a safe place to call home.
Paying homage to the millions of lives lost in World War II's concentration camps, the Virginia Holocaust Museum (2000 E. Cary St., 257-5400, va-holocaust.com) provides a concrete example of the consequences of hatred and intolerance. Visitors can walk through a ghetto and a concentration camp, board the "St. Louis" ship, ride in a cattle car and crouch in a hiding place that concealed 13 people for nine months. Featuring 28 exhibits, this interactive museum takes visitors full-circle through the Holocaust, from the Nazis' rise to power to their condemnation in 1945 with the museum's newest addition, a Nuremburg Courtroom replica — the only one in existence. Some annual events include remembrance ceremonies for Kristallnacht and Yom Hashoah v'HaGvurah, celebrations for Hanukkah and Passover, and a film series addressing persecution across the globe, such as the story of Awer Bul, a Sudanese Lost Boy and 2008 VCU graduate.
Some of the Lost Boys came to Richmond in 2001 and 2002 through the Catholic Diocese of Richmond's Refugee and Immigration Services (1512 Willow Lawn Drive, 1st Floor, Suite A, 355-4559, risva.org), a program of the Office of Justice and Peace, with a focus on sensitizing communities to the implications of international policies. Started in 1975, the diocese has resettled refugees and assisted thousands of immigrants.
Catering to one of Richmond's largest minority groups, the Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (10700 Midlothian Turnpike, Suite 200, 378-4099, vahcc.com) empowers Latinos with business acumen, while celebrating Hispanic cultural activities. Some services include the Small Office/Home Office Loans Program, the Hispanic Women in Business Enterprise, business-development seminars and a mentorship program with Capital One. The chamber partners with a number of national economic organizations and the Spanish Academy and Cultural Institute (14241 Midlothian Turnpike, Suite 128, 378-8180, spanishwithin.com) for language- and cultural-training courses.
Operating under the mission of improving the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, the Gay Community Center of Richmond (1407 Sherwood Ave., 353-8890, gayrichmond.com) uses recreational activities to raise funds for charitable purposes. Each Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. and Thursday at 6:30 p.m., the group hosts Diversity Bingo, including two winner-take-all games up to $1,000. The group also runs a shop, Diversity Thrift, which sells furniture, clothing, linens, books, videos, luggage, jewelry and small appliances, among other items. Proceeds from Diversity Thrift and Diversity Bingo go to nonprofit organizations, such as the Fan Free Clinic to support its HIV/AIDS case manager, and Meals on Wheels, which delivers food to homebound HIV patients.
Specifically targeting teenagers and their families, ROSMY (644-4800, rosmy.org), provides a safe and supportive environment for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered and questioning youth. Founded in 1991 by a group of parents, mental-health professionals and educators, ROSMY offers an array of services, including a 24/7 toll-free youth support hotline, youth support groups five nights a week and a youth leadership development program. Youth, parents or professionals seeking confidential support can call the support line at 644-4390.