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February 2023

Lauding the good works helping countless Richmonders prepare for and achieve home ownership

Spirit of Virginia Award SCDHC Main

Southside Community Development and Housing Corporation

February 3, 2023
Richmond, VA

Southside Community Development and Housing Corporation is a metro area community development corporation focused on cultivating housing and financial self-sufficiency for primarily Black, Hispanic and Latino and women-led households. It is Central Virginia’s oldest, historically Black-led community development corporation. Their mission is to build viable, thriving and sustainable communities through affordable housing and wrap-around support services.

Southside Community Development and Housing Corporation has built homes in over a dozen neighborhoods and developments throughout the Richmond area, totaling over 750 units of affordable housing with 450 as single-family affordable homes. In 2022, the organization served nearly 800 clients through their housing counseling and educational services, including foreclosure prevention, rent relief and workforce development tools.

Visit SCDHC’s website

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Event Photos

Spirit-Event-SCDHC president ceo speaker
Spirit-Event-SCDHC president ceo speaker
Spirit-Event-SCDHC president ceo speaker
Spirit-Event-SCDHC president ceo speaker
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Official Governor Youngkin Photos by Shealah Craighead

Please direct questions and inquiries to colleen.messick@governor.virginia.gov.

April 2023

Supporting individuals with intellectual disabilities in work, purpose and opportunity

Spiritaward-April 2023 Cameron's Coffee & Chocolates

Cameron’s Coffee & Chocolates

April 6, 2023
Fairfax, VA

Cameron’s Coffee & Chocolates is a business enterprise of nonprofit Every1 Can Work and provides permanent employment opportunities for young adults living with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

At Cameron’s Coffee & Chocolates, employees with intellectual disabilities work alongside volunteers and culinary specialists to produce delicious chocolates as well as other food products and services. They develop essential workforce readiness skills that serve them beyond their time at the shop and into their broader lives and careers.

Cameron’s Coffee & Chocolates first opened in 2013 with three employees with intellectual disabilities. Today, it employs 23 workers with intellectual disabilities and is serving as a model to other U.S. states and nations on how to effectively empower individuals with disabilities. On October 1, 2023, Cameron’s Coffee & Chocolates will celebrate its 10th anniversary.

Visit Cameron’s Chocolates’ website

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Event Photos

Spirit-Event-2023 Camerons Chocolates Governor at podium
Spirit-Event-2023 Camerons Chocolates Governor at podium
Spirit-Event-2023 Camerons Chocolates Governor at podium
Spirit-Event-2023 Camerons Chocolates Governor at podium
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Official Governor Youngkin Photos by Shealah Craighead

Please direct questions and inquiries to colleen.messick@governor.virginia.gov.

July 2023

Launching youth to new heights through space adventure camps and hands-on learning opportunities

Recipient Virginia-Space-Flight-Academy

Virginia Space Flight Academy

July 28, 2023
Wallops Island, VA

Virginia Space Flight Academy (VASFA) is an educational nonprofit partnered with NASA’s Wallops Island Flight Facility encouraging space flight exploration through a combination of year-round classroom programming and summer space camps.

Established in 1998, VASFA’s camps and programs aim to spark interest and expand opportunities for students interested in learning about space flight and exploration. They have strengthened their program offerings through partnerships with national players in the space industry, holding a Space Act agreement with NASA that allows campers behind-the-scenes access at NASA’s flight facilities on Wallops Island.

Having served over 6,000 students since their founding, VASFA is celebrating their 25th year in operation in 2023. Their camp operations and educational offerings continue to grow and draw students from all over the Commonwealth and across the country, with over 50% historically reporting that they are residents of Virginia.

Visit Virginia Space Flight Academy's website

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Event Photos

Student at podium
Student at podium
Student at podium
Student at podium
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Official Governor Youngkin Photos by Shealah Craighead

Please direct questions and inquiries to colleen.messick@governor.virginia.gov.

September 2023

Training our Nation’s Heroes to Thrive in the Aftermath of Trauma

Boulder-Crest-Foundation Spirit Award Recipient 2023

Boulder Crest Foundation

September 8, 2023
Bluemont, VA

The Boulder Crest Foundation (BCF) is a nonprofit retreat facility that serves veterans, first responders, and their families. 

Opening its doors to guests in 2013, the Boulder Crest Foundation recently received a 2023 Spirit of Virginia Award at its 10th anniversary celebration. The foundation provides evidence-backed practices to encourage Post-traumatic Growth programming and restoration while conducting invaluable research. To date, the foundation has served over 3,500 Virginians and an estimated 100,000 persons across America at no cost to participants.

With 37 beautiful acres in Northern Virginia complete with a labyrinth, garden, horse therapy, sport facilities, communal areas and more, as well as a second facility in Southwestern Arizona, Boulder Crest provides a place for individuals to find peace, draw strength, and interact with others with similar experiences.  The foundation is setting the standard for productive and effective ways to help military, veterans, first responders and their families all across the nation.

Visit Boulder Crest Foundation website

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Group with Gov and First Lady Pledge Allegiance
Group with Gov and First Lady Pledge Allegiance
Group with Gov and First Lady Pledge Allegiance
Group with Gov and First Lady Pledge Allegiance
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Official Governor Youngkin Photos by Shealah Craighead

Please direct questions and inquiries to colleen.messick@governor.virginia.gov.

October 2023

Conserving and enhancing green space for Virginian’s recreation and future generations

Governor and First Lady present the Spirit of Virginia Award to the Wildlife Foundation of Virginia in Chesapeake, VA

Wildlife Foundation of Virginia

October 16, 2023
Chesapeake, VA

The Wildlife Foundation of Virginia (WFV) is a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to conserving land, providing public access and outdoor recreational opportunities, and strengthening the commitment of the Commonwealth to the future of sportsmanship.

Founded in 1997, The Wildlife Foundation of Virginia aims to inspire a passion for outdoor recreation through the preservation of lands used for hunting, fishing, and exploring nature. The organization has been integral in acquiring nearly 14,000 acres of land, much of which is now owned by the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources to manage for public access and wildlife habitats. With the nearly 4,000 acres that the WFV owns itself, they offer hunting, fishing, and shooting sport experiences for youth, veterans, wounded warriors, and others for whom these unique, guided adventures would otherwise be unavailable, as well as the general public.

With several youth hunts and hunting workshops designed for younger generations, The Wildlife Foundation of Virginia aims to spark a love of nature in the leaders of tomorrow while teaching them to be respectful of the world around them. To cater nature to the WFV Wounded Warriors, veterans, and mobility-impaired individuals, the nonprofit has also designed wheelchair-accessible blinds and offer a four-wheel utility vehicle for transport around the properties. In 2014 the foundation also launched a grant program that provides funding to schools, agencies, and nonprofits that aim to connect youth to nature. This grant program has benefited over 69,000 youth.

Visit Wildlife Foundation of Virginia website

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Event Photos

First Lady at podium
First Lady at podium
First Lady at podium
First Lady at podium
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Official Governor Youngkin Photos by Shealah Craighead

Please direct questions and inquiries to colleen.messick@governor.virginia.gov.

November 2023

Healing families and providing hope for those affected by disaster

Governor and First Lady with Randy and Terri Johnson

God's Pit Crew

November 17, 2023
Danville, VA

God’s pit crew is a non-profit, faith-based disaster response team of over 1,100 volunteers who wish to serve others in their time of need.

Motivated by the devastating Oklahoma City tornados of 1999, Danville residents Randy and Terri Johnson began a mission to serve countless communities throughout Virginia, across the nation and abroad that have been affected by disaster.

Today, God’s Pit Crew has expanded to a national, volunteer-backed operation combatting humanitarian crises caused by wildfires, hurricanes and other disasters. In 2022, the organization distributed over 3.4 million pounds of food, water and essential products to individuals and families across the United States, as well as over 30,000 survival kits colloquially known as “Blessing Buckets.”

Visit God's Pit Crew website

News highlights

Event Photos

First Lady at podium
First Lady at podium
First Lady at podium
First Lady at podium
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Official Governor Youngkin Photos by Shealah Craighead

Please direct questions and inquiries to ciara.rascona@governor.virginia.gov.