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Community seed grant in review 2022: Ebenezer Baptist Church

Jan 25, 2023


The mission of Ebenezer Baptist Church is to “Love People and Empower Our Community.” In 2022, the Richmond, Va. church used a seed grant from VCU Massey Cancer Center to offer community members the tools they need to make informed decisions about their health.

Awarded through the Massey Community Grant Initiative, the $5,000 allowed Ebenezer to host cancer prevention activities in Richmond’s historic Jackson Ward neighborhood. The church shared screening recommendations through social media, newsletters, bible study discussions, cancer prevention spotlights during Sunday morning worship services and group exercise classes. Workshops with Massey oncologists eliminated health care barriers that exist for some individuals.

“People may feel powerless over a cancer diagnosis or afraid to ask questions about cancer,” said Aria M. Kirkland-Harris, director of stewardship and community development at Ebenezer. “Having access to kind, accomplished, well-respected oncologists that speak and answer questions in a manner that is easy to understand restores a sense of peace, agency and even control to patients and their loved ones.”

In the fall,  Douglas Arthur, M.D., chair of radiation oncology and associate director for clinical affairs at Massey; and Alfredo Urdaneta, M.D., a radiation oncologist at Massey,  visited Ebenezer to connect with the community.

“Participants were particularly touched by the fact that the doctors stayed for the entire event, including chair yoga and lunch,” remembered Kirkland-Harris. “They hung around afterwards to answer lingering questions. It was a wonderful experience. Members of the community also felt loved and cared for because they could see the amount of time, effort and intention that volunteers from both Massey and Ebenezer put into making the program a success.”

Ebenezer aims to share cancer screening recommendations and cancer prevention information with at least 100 African Americans through outreach funded by the Massey seed grant.

Six other organizations also received 2022 seed grants; they are all located in Massey’s catchment area, the 66 counties and cities served by the cancer center.

  • World U.P. Foundation (Richmond)
  • Vance Street Missionary Baptist Church (Danville)
  • Saving Pennies 4 A Cure / Trials of Color (Petersburg)
  • Virginia Breast Cancer Foundation (Richmond)
  • Fifth Baptist Church (Richmond)
  • Northern Neck Middlesex Free Health Clinic (Kilmarnock)

Criteria for the 2023 seed grants is included in the Request for Applications (RFA). Massey will score applications received before the Jan. 20 deadline on merit, and the winners will be notified by Feb. 3.

“Other qualified organizations should apply for the 2023 seed grants because Massey is invested in their partners’ success,” said Kirkland-Harris. “The time that the Massey team dedicates to site visits, progress check-ins and event planning support is a wonderful gift to community-based partners, especially those that are new to the grant process.”

Launched in Dec. 2021 by Massey’s Community Outreach and Engagement (COE) team, the Community Grant Initiative offers funding to programs focused on the promotion of health and  health equity. It also focuses on person-centered care across the cancer continuum (from prevention through survivorship) and reducing suffering from cancer.

Written by: Amy Lacey

This article is part of a series highlighting each of the seven 2022 seed grant recipients

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