Group helps girls in public housing

RICHMOND,VA (WWBT) - At Virginia Union University, thousands of scholarship dollars have been awarded to deserving young women by the dedicated women of Ebony Ladies Incorporated. This group is committed to helping grade school girls in a public housing community reach their full potential.

Today one of their proudest program promoters is getting a $300 Act of Kindness.

In an introduction with the Ebony Ladies I learned about their 42 years of community service since 1969.

And for several years, their Selena program has been changing attitudes among young girls in Richmond's Gilpin Court community.

"Wanting to be better, wanting to do better in school, being able to communicate, being able to talk to people and tell people how they feel and us being available to listen," said Danise Harmon of Ebony Ladies.

The group holds twice monthly sessions tutoring girls in academics and mentoring in topics from self respect to teamwork to etiquette.

"Enrich the girls in table etiquette, health and beauty, money management, safety, fire safety in the home," said Harmon.

The Ebony Ladies all agree this program wouldn't be possible without the wife, mother and Gilpin community activist who makes sure the girls don't miss out on mentoring.

"We meet here at Virginia Union. Mrs. Pitchford actually walks them here and comes back in two hours and walks them back home," said Harmon.

Charlene Pitchford is an Ebony Lady ambassador and Gilpin resident.

"Because most of these young ladies may be that person at home in charge when mom's at work, Mrs. Pitchford assures that they have those life skills to be able to manage at home and at school," said Harmon.

Today we don't have to travel to pay it forward. Our leading lady arrives for what she thinks is an appreciation luncheon.

This Ebony Lady looked like she'd seen a ghost. She was jaw dropping, could hardly breathe and was absolutely speechless. For a moment, we thought she might surprise us and faint.

Having regained her voice, she explained her crusade in Gilpin Court.

"We want Gilpin Court to be on the map as number one, as a model for public housing," Pitchford said.

She says she has proof the Selena program works. Her daughters took part.

"They have a mind to go to college. They don't have a mind to want a handout, they want a hand up," Pitchford said.

She now wants to pay it forward and invest in more neighborhood programs. She has as much love for the Ebony Ladies as she does for girls growing up in Gilpin Court.

"I'm not ashamed of Gilpin Court, because Gilpin Court has made me what I am today. It is not where you live at, it's how you choose to live," said Pitchford.

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