By Kia Croom
Jamelia Vaughn. Photo by Joe L. Fisher, BAPAC.
Richmond native Jamelia Vaughn has created two organizations– ily Richmond (I Love You) and I am Man, I am Woman – to improve lives of Richmond residents. Vaughn established Ily Richmond (I Love You) in In October 2011. The nonprofit group is designed to help community members obtain, regain and improve their careers, providing them with services such as employment readiness, resume writing and job training. She also has set up another organization, I am Man, I am Woman, Inc., a nonprofit that mentors and empowers youth to be productive men and women. The group offers preparation for G.E.D and S.A.T. exams, targeted career building and training, counseling, mentorship opportunities and other supportive services. “I gave birth to twins,” she said, describing the huge undertaking of establishing two agencies almost simultaneously. According to Vaughn, her vision for these organizations came during a very dark and challenging time in her life. While attending college at Langston University in Oklahoma, she found herself traveling back and forth to Richmond to attend funerals of relatives and friends who were victims of violent crimes. “I was flying from Oklahoma to California constantly. My airfare became more expensive than my tuition,” she said. “My community is in devastation, and people are hopeless. They don’t believe in themselves and what anyone tells them.” Through Ily Richmond and I am Man, I am Woman Inc., Vaughn hopes to restore hope in the community by helping people to realize their self worth, transcend barriers to their success and encourage them to harness opportunities. In the midst of developing these two groups, Vaughn is feverishly planning an “I Run the City” Unity Race and Rally, a fundraiser to benefit I am Man, I am Woman’s programs and services. The event is designed to unite Central, South and North Richmond, while fostering improved relationships between community members and the Richmond Police Department. “This event will be life changing – it will bridge the gap between all spaces and break down barriers,” Vaughn said. As part of the event, runners and walkers will travel a route through the Central, South and North Richmond Communities ending at the Eastshore Community Center. To learn more about ily Richmond, I Am Man, I Am Woman, Inc or to register for the first annual I Run the City Unity Race and Rally visit www.iamrichmond.org or call (510) 730-6793.