A local service organization has teamed up with a Virginia Beach barber shop to offer free and reduced-price haircuts, as well as book bags and supplies to deserving kids headed back to school next week. Photojournalist Bono Herrera dropped by BSupreme Barbershop to check out this event sponsored by We Serve The City.
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Written by hrgazeti
We Serve the City, founded by military retiree George Rupert, is an all-volunteer nonprofit based in Virginia Beach. They provide many simple yet important services to families, including the popular “We Got the Kids” program. Above, McGruff the Crime Dog poses at a Green Run “National Night Out” event, which We Serve the City helps with each year.
It all began with a conversation between Mayor Will Sessoms and a military retiree with a desire to serve the city. Rupert George, who had served in the United States Navy for 20 years, wanted to organize volunteers to provide simple yet important services to the community.
Seeking advice on how to best serve the people, Mr. George went straight to the top. His meeting with Mayor Sessoms became the catalyst for the creation of a nonprofit, We Serve the City.
Based on recommendations from the mayor, Mr. George decided to focus on the needs of families. Over the past four years, We Serve the City has provided many services to families in Virginia Beach, including annual community picnics and Christmas parties, campaigns for feeding the homeless, back-to-school bookbags and haircuts, and more.
We Serve the City also provides family counseling, information and resources, as well as support services. Individuals with special needs are also included in the programs. Events are made possible through partnerships with local businesses and organizations that provide funding and resources.
Raising the entire community’s awareness of the need for these services within their own city is an integral part of providing and sustaining those services.
Mr. George, who serves as executive director, describes his nonprofit’s mission: “We serve the city of Virginia Beach through simple acts of service.” He quickly points out that, although the nonprofit is housed in Virginia Beach, no one in need of services will be turned away.
“Residents of surrounding cities, such as Portsmouth, Norfolk, and Suffolk, regularly participate in events and receive services.” Mr. George adds, “All services are free, and we have no paid staff. Everything we do is accomplished by volunteers.”
Providing services to families involves meeting the needs of children. Many of the events and services provided are child-centered. One of the most popular services is the “We Got the Kids” program.
As the name implies, this program provides parents with an opportunity for a few hours away from their children without having to worry about child care. This has been especially beneficial for military families and others new to the area who have not had opportunities to find a safe, reliable place to leave their kids for a few hours.
Jessica Baccus of Virginia Beach says her three children, ages 12, 10, and seven, regularly attend We Got the Kids and other We Serve the City events. “My kids love it. They have so much fun, they don’t want to leave,” she says.
“The children get to watch a movie, eat a good meal, and play games with other kids.” She adds, “I like the hands-on activities for children. There are always games and craft activities at the kids’ events. It’s hard to find activities that don’t involve electronics.” Ms. Baccus says she is also pleased that staff are attentive, and she knows her children are safe and happy in the well-supervised setting.
Another child-centered event is “Haircuts & Book Bags.” Just before schools re-open at the end of the summer, families are invited to bring their children for free back-to-school haircuts. The kids also receive free book bags filled with school supplies.
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