Amy Wentz has been volunteering in Richmond since she was 9. As a child, she worked alongside her parents serving food at a homeless shelter. As an adult she's taken it a step further — founding two Richmond-based organizations dedicated to uplifting the black community.
The first, BlackRVA, has grown to a core group of 11 volunteers who make it their mission to highlight positive community news in a city that can be weary of hearing about killings and crime. Its website, Blackrva.com, serves as an online presence for black-owned businesses that otherwise might not be able to afford the online marketing services that Wentz says are critical in the modern economy.
The second organization Wentz spearheaded is an offshoot of the first. We Are Richmond made a splash earlier this year with a music video Wentz produced featuring a variety of well-known Richmond musicians singing a rendition of "Wake Up Everybody." While the video and its message spread, We Are Richmond works to connect willing volunteers to organizations putting on events and spearheading projects. The group has amassed a roster of 300 potential volunteers.
An Army veteran and mother, Wentz says she's amazed and awed by the outpouring of community support the two organizations have received.
"The amount of people who have come forward and said, 'You know what? I want to be a part of this change and do something that's going to make things better for the next person,' — that's what surprises me and inspires me the most," Wentz says. "It's a positive ripple effect. It's just a great thing."