Earlier this month, participants of the IRC in Richmond’s Youth Mentoring Program volunteered at Evergreen Cemetery, a historic African American cemetery in the East End of Richmond. National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) AmeriCorps members have been working in Evergreen Cemetery since early April as part of National Volunteer Month activities. Partnering with the Enrichmond Foundation, the AmeriCorps team is clearing debris and locating missing grave sites in their mission to restore the Evergreen Cemetery. Given the team’s experience across the country working on rough terrain and addressing various environmental issues, they were able to recover two headstones.
Kiana Graves, IRC’s Youth Program Specialist, was delighted to accept an invitation from the AmeriCorps team to join in a day of service with youth from IRC’sYouth Program and Capacity Building AmeriCorps member, France-Elvie Banda. The Youth Mentoring program connects youth age 15-24 from refugee backgrounds with a mentor who can guide them in personal and educational aspirations. Many of the youth are active in soccer, boxing, and tennis, and are interested in pursuing higher education in health, social work, business administration, and skilled trade professions. The mentoring program requires youth to complete a minimum of ten volunteer hours. Through this volunteer opportunity the youth were able to assist in the ongoing reclamation and restoration process of the historic Evergreen Cemetery, a site that had been neglected for nearly 50 years, and gain a deeper understanding of Richmond’s history.
Evergreen Cemetery was founded in the early 1900s by a group of newly freed enslaved Africans. One of the founders, John Mitchell, Jr., was a civil rights activist and editor of the Richmond Planet newspaper. Youth were educated on the historic significance of the cemetery and the notable Black figures interred at the site including Maggie L. Walker, the first Black woman to run a bank in the United States. Helping restore the site to its former dignity and grace while bonding with one another was an invaluable experience for the Mentoring Program members.
To apply to be a volunteer Youth Mentor with the IRC in Richmond, fill out the online application.
Click here to learn more about the legacy of the Evergreen Cemetery and assist in the restoration process.