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Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities (VCIC) Celebrates Local Changemakers

Written by Alyssa Wilson, University of Lynchburg Bonner Intern

The Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities is making strides towards change and inclusivity across the Commonwealth throughout schools, businesses and communities. They don’t only work to make a change, but to celebrate the changemakers of the community as well.

What is the VCIC? 

Founded in 1935 as the Virginia Office of the National Conference of Christians and Jews, VCIC was focused on bringing together people from different religious groups. They worked to bridge divides and promote understanding across religions, but realized they needed to be doing more. 

“Over time our organization’s mission and scope broadened to think more broadly about other aspects of identity – to make sure that we were combating racism and classism and sexism,” said Jonathan Zur, President & CEO of VCIC. 

The organization notes that success is not possible without inclusion. 

For example, they work within public schools to teach students how to be an “upstander” rather than a bystander when they witness a peer being bullied and show teachers how to foster a respectful and inclusive classroom environment. 

Zur continued, “We do the same work in businesses, thinking about how businesses can be more successful when employees can be innovative and collaborative, and we work across communities  to promote dialogue and understanding.”

In fact, research shows that businesses, communities and schools all have more successful outcomes when there is a shared understanding of respect and inclusivity.

56th Lynchburg Humanitarian Awards Dinner 

Due to the work that VCIC does in the community, they constantly witness the change that key players in the community are making. 

For the past 56 years the organization has gathered hundreds of people together from across the state to celebrate and recognize local humanitarians making changes in their personal and professional lives. 

This year, VCIC is recognizing:

Award Recipients

Jennifer Bryant-Foster & Watt Foster

Laura Lacy Hamilton

Muriel B. Mickles

Chalmers M. Nunn, Jr.

Dr. Verna R. Sellers

The dinner serves not only as a celebration of award winners but also supports VCIC funding so that they can continue to promote inclusivity in Central Virginia. 

In years’ past the Greater Lynchburg Community Foundation (GLCF) has supported this dinner through sponsorship, and this year two of our own board members are receiving recognition for the work they do with GLCF and beyond. 

Jennifer Bryant-Foster and Dr. Verna R. Sellers were nominated to sit on the GLCF board due to their active participation in the community and dedication to the Foundation’s mission. It is with great pride that they will be recognized for their continued good work. 

The dinner will be held at the University of Lynchburg on May 23, where VCIC was originally founded. 

It is close to a sell-out event with multiple options for those who wish to purchase a ticket. If interested visit here to learn more about how to attend this inspiring evening.

“You walk out of there feeling better about the community as a whole, knowing that these people are out there doing good work,” says Bill Bodine, previous Humanitarian award winner and Chair of the dinner planning committee. 

Learn more about the amazing work that VCIC does across the Commonwealth by visiting their SHARE Greater Lynchburg profile. To see Jonathan Zur, Executive Director, appear on the The Mike Show, click here.

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