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Career Opportunity

Residential Counselors

(Youth Service Workers)


Job#: 2017-10

If you are interested in making a positive impact on the lives of Virginia’s youth, then we want you to become part of our Team!  Rural Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facility located in Jarratt, Virginia seeks positive role models to work directly with adolescent boys and girls in a psychiatric residential treatment program.  The Youth Service Worker is responsible for role-modeling healthy behavior, teaching life skills, administering a trauma informed behavioral support program, and leading youth in and participating in social, cultural, and recreational activities.  This position supervises youth in the residential unit and on off-campus activities and appointments.

Must possess the availability to work weekends, evenings, holidays, and nights.  Supreme flexibility required. 

Seeking candidates with Bachelor’s Degrees in Psychology, Sociology or other Human Services field.   Experience will be considered in lieu of a degree.

Compensation package includes 401(k) retirement plan & employer sponsored health, dental, vision & life insurance.  JBHS is a Drug Free Workplace.  Successful applicants must pass a pre-employment drug screen and criminal background screening.  EOE.  Positions opened until filled.

E-mail cover letter and resume to:

Jackson-Feild Behavioral Health Services
Attn: Chris Thompson
Job # 2017-10

This Paid Political Advertisement does not represent an endorsement by Emporia News. Emporia News does not endorse candidates for any political office.

Improvement Association Plans "Total Service Center

On April 24, The Improvement Association’s Executive Director, Rufus Tyler and staff, met with Community Stakeholders and Leaders throughout Southside Virginia to discuss and plan for an upcoming initiative. The initiative is called The Total Service Center (TSC).  The Total Service Center is a Community Service opportunity to allow individuals to maintain/regain their Self-Sufficiency by developing skills and ways of interacting in the community to complete education and/or to secure employment.

Community Stakeholders who provided input and comments on this initiative were excited and stated “our community needs initiative such as this”.  Ms. Erica Singleton, Housing Coordinator, stated “we as an Organization don’t have all the answers, our Stakeholders and citizens know the problems plaguing their communities, and we value their input. We are looking forward to continuing to work with local stakeholders and Community Leaders to address employment and education issues at a grassroots level.”

The Improvement Association is non-profit organization based in several local communities, with a 35-year old track record of helping individuals and communities identify and address issues of Self-Sufficiency. The Improvement Association provides several initiatives to help adults and children in local communities in order to empower them to become Self-Sufficient.

The Improvement Association’s Total Service Center (TSC) will help individuals reach education and employment goals through many comprehensive initiatives that will allow for positive change in their lives. The Total Service Center workshops will take place in three service areas and implemented over four to five weeks.

We are pleased by the energy, enthusiasm and commitment from Stakeholder and Community Leaders to this imitative. Collaborative partnerships have the capability and power to turn things around in our communities. We are excited to implement and lead this process so that individuals and families are no longer in crisis due to the lack of employment and/or education.

FRONT ROW: Carol Mercer, Emporia City Council/The Improvement Association Board Member; Brenda Drew, Sussex Housing Authority; and Vondrenna Smithers, SVCC; MIDDLE ROW:  Anita Shelburne, The Improvement Association; Jessica Jones, Brunswick County DSS; Erica Singleton, The Improvement Association; and Rufus Tyler, The Improvement Association; BACK ROW: Vandy Jones, III, Sussex County; Shanice Mason, The Improvement Association;  John Holtkamp, Emporia/Greensville DSS; Judy Smith, Crater PDC; Charlie Caple, Jr., The Improvement Association Board Chairman. 

Improvement Asspc Celebrates Dr. Seuss' Birthday

Students participating in The Improvement Association’s Head Start initiative received a special treat when students participating in the agency’s Project Discovery initiative visited their classrooms on March 2. Project Discovery students read various books to the children in honor of Read Across America Day and Dr. Seuss’ birthday.

Head Start is now recreating for the 2017-2018 program year. For more information contact Shikee Franklin, Head Start Director, at 434-634-2490 or Linda Bailey, Family Community Partnership Coordinator at 434-634-2044. For more information about Project Discovery, contact William Ricks at or email

The Improvement Association Honors Famous Americans

Zyric Gibbons shared his presentation on Ray Charles during the parent meeting at Shiloh Baptist Church.

Head Start students and their parents were asked to select a “Famous American” and prepare a presentation to be shared during February’s parent meetings. Children and parents throughout the agency’s 15 Head Start centers are participating in the presentations. Alexis Harris and her father Antwuan Harris share a presentation on Kanye West and his daughter North West during the parent meeting at Shiloh Baptist Church while Zyric Gibbons shared his presentation on Ray Charles. Other famous Americans included Barrack Obama, Rosa Parks, Jay-Z, Tina Turner, Michael Jackson, Bishop T.D. Jakes, and Garret Morgan.

Head Start is now recruiting for the 2017-2018 program year. For more information, contact Shikee Franklin, Head Start Director, or Logan Tatum, Family Service Specialist at 434-634-2490.

Parents as Teachers Visits General Assembly

LaWanda Fisher, Parents as Teachers Supervisor for The Improvement Association met with Delegate Roslyn Tyler of the General Assembly to discuss the importance of home visiting programs such as Parents as Teachers.

Staff and customers representing home visiting agencies from across the state met with delegates, senators and legislative aides from their local districts. Staff from The Improvement Association gathered at the General Assembly to discuss the importance of home visiting programs and theParents as Teachers approach to building strong families and promoting positive parent-child interaction so children are healthy, safe and ready to learn. Parents as Teachers affiliates are dedicated to delivering services to children 0-3 and families that cultivate family well-being and healthy child development.

In Greensville, Emporia, Sussex, and Brunswick, The Improvement Association providesParents as Teachers to more than 68 families per year and conducted 744 visits in 2016. Parents also have opportunities to meet other parents and learn about community resources that support early childhood development and family stability.

For many attendees, this was their first meeting with their elected official. They thanked the legislators for their support and, after a day of meetings, with smiles on their faces, they agreed they will be coming back again next year.

For more information, contact LaWanda Fisher, Parents as Teachers Supervisor, at 434-634-2490 or email

The Improvement Association Addresses Childhood Obesity

Lydia Kearney, LPN, Health and Disability Specialist for The Improvement Association, teaches the children enrolled in the agency’s Head Start initiative various stretching techniques.

The Improvement Association has partnered with the Virginia Cooperative Extension Office to implement the Literacy, Eating, and Activity for Preschoolers (LEAP) health curriculum for the 2016-2017 school year. The LEAP curriculum is being offered to 262 children throughout Sussex, Surry, Brunswick, Dinwiddie, Greensville and Emporia. LEAP includes reading books focused on preparing and eating healthy foods and being physically active. Students have learned about planting and growing healthy fruits and vegetables, they’ve tasted various types of apples and carrots dipped in yogurt, and participated in physical activities such, as stretching, to keep their bones limber.

The LEAP curriculum was implemented in an effort to help curb the growing epidemic of childhood obesity. The Improvement Association’s Health Advisory Committee noticed that 16% of Head Start students were obese during program year 2015-2016. The implementation of the LEAP health curriculum encourages children to make healthy food choices and to include physical activity in their daily life.

Head Start is now recruiting for the 2017-2018 program year. For more information contact Shikee Franklin, Head Start Director, or Logan Tatum, Family Service Specialist, at 434-634-2490.

Improvement Association Celebrates Go Red for Women

The Improvement Association’s staff, Jacqueline Ricks, Education Coordinator; Karlesha Hines, Health and Disabilities Coordinator; and Alice Harris, Teacher; “Go Red.”

According to, cardiovascular disease claimed the lives of nearly 500,000 American women each year. In order to dispel the myths and raise awareness of heart disease and strokes as the number one killer of women, the American Heart Association created Go Red for Women, a social initiative designed to empower women to take charge of their heart health.

In an effort to show their support, The Improvement Association students and staff wore red on Feb. 3 and is using the month of February to focus on heart health. Kerri Combs, a nurse with Cardiac Rehab at Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center, will be speaking at this month’s Health Advisory meeting on Feb. 15. Additionally, The Improvement Association’s registered dietician, Hayley Billingsley, will speak about healthy body mass indexes (BMI) and healthy eating.

The Improvement Association’s Head Start is now accepting applications for the 2017-2018 program year. Please contact our office at 434-634-2490.

The Improvement Association partners with SVRMC in Blood Drive

According to American Red Cross, Virginia is one of many states in urgent need of blood donations. On January 16, 2017, The Improvement Association, in partnership with Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center, hosted a Blood Drive that brought in 42 donors! Although a few potential donors were deferred for various reasons, each successful donation helps up to three people with blood transfusions, etc. That’s approximately 86 people helped from this blood drive alone.

Board chairman, Charlie Caple, stated “The Improvement Association is happy to sponsor the blood drive and give back to our communities to promote better health and save lives.”


Each potential donor received a Dunkin Donuts gift card just for showing up and trying to help our community. Drawings were also held for Target gift cards, Walmart gift cards, and movie tickets. Mario Gillus won the major drawing – a $50 VISA gift card.   

Gamma Lambda Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. sponsored a children’s room during the blood drive. While parents donated blood, children had the opportunity to learn about healthy eating, color, enjoy face painting, and have a healthy snack.

“The Improvement Association would like to thank SVRMC administration and staff, American Red Cross, and Gamma Lambda Omega for the partnership. We encourage the community to support our local blood drives.  Don’t wait until one of our loved ones is in need – help now!” stated Shikee Franklin, Head Start Director.

Visit to find the next blood drive.

Photo Captions

Top: Aja, Shikee, Mario Gillus, and Karlesha. Gillus won the $50 gift card

Middle Left: Brenda Herrington of Gamma Lambda Omega reading about nutrition and healthy eating to RaeLynn Steffan and Starr Gholson

Middle Right: Anita Shelburne drawing for a gift card

Bottom: LaWanda Fisher successfully finished her donation

Savemore Encourages Kids to Say “YES” to Saving!

Zaya Moseley, Charnelle Moseley, Mayliah Prince, and Cameron Bobbitt meet Savemore the Squirrel from Benchmark Community Bank. Savemore and Benchmark’s Branch Manager, Nicole Young, visited The Improvement Association’s St. Paul’s Child Development Center to discuss financial literacy and budgeting while encouraging the children to say “YES” to saving.

For more information about Head Start or other initiatives offered by The Improvement Association, please call 434-634-2490.

The Improvement Association Collects Over 300 Pairs of Socks

Lydia Kearney, LPN, Health and Disability Specialist for The Improvement Association, delivered socks to Leslie Moody-Yates, lead teacher for The Improvement Association’s Shiloh Head Start center.

After noticing an alarming amount of children not wearing socks during the winter of 2015, Lydia Kearney, Health and Disability Specialist for The Improvement Association, decided to initiate a sock drive.

“I noticed so many children were coming to school without socks and I really wanted to change that,” Kearney said. “I decided to hold a sock drive to collect socks that we can distribute to each classroom. That way, if the child doesn’t have any socks or doesn’t have warm socks, the teacher will have some on hand.”

Kearney posted flyers and donation boxes at area departments of social services and the Emporia YMCA in October. By December she had collected over 300 pairs of socks. Each of The Improvement Association’s 15 Head Start centers, as well as The Improvement Association’s St. Paul’s Child Development Center received a collection of socks to be used for children in need. Additional donations were provided to The Improvement Association’s Maternal Infant Early Childhood Home Visiting initiative (MIECH-V) Parents as Teacher program for children ages birth to five.

Kearney will start the 2017 sock drive in August and will be accepting sock donations for boys and girls from birth to age five. If you would like a donation box for your organization, or more information about The Improvement Association’s initiatives, please call 434-634-2490.

The Improvement Association Breaks Ground on New Workforce Education Center

Members of The Improvement Association and its Board of Directors recently joined together with local community leaders to commemorate the beginning of a lifelong commitment to the construction of an early childhood education and workforce facility. The ceremony took place at the site of the former Sussex High School on Coppahaunk Avenue in Sussex, Virginia, which was donated to the agency several years ago by Sussex County Board of Supervisors.

Pursuant to The Improvement Association’s mission of empowering people to become self-sufficient, the agency is constructing a 6,500 sq. ft. Workforce/Education Center (WEC) in Sussex County to develop and prepare a ready workforce to meet future labor market demands. The WEC will operate in conjunction with community colleges, the Virginia Employment Commission, and other community partners. According to the executive director, Rufus Tyler, “This unique center will also include an Early Childhood Education initiative which will serve approximately 51 three and four year olds. The center will also house offices, an adult education center, and a commercial kitchen that will provide nutritious meals for the children enrolled in the Head Start program.

“We’ve had many hurdles to overcome,” said Mr. Charlie Caple, Jr., Chairman of The Improvement Association’s Board of Directors, “but we’re trying to be good stewards in our community.” Rufus Tyler, the Association’s Executive Director, stated this project was in the agency’s strategic plan for over 25 years and will assist children and families in reaching their full potential.”

The proposed project is a joint effort between The Improvement Association, BB&T, and various donors who wish to remain anonymous. “This is a great thing for the community,” said Mr. Walter Mason, Mayor of Waverly. This will be a place to hold community meetings and promote community development.”

The Improvement Association Hosts VML President, Shares Outcomes

Hon. Rufus Tyler, Executive Director for The Improvement Association; Hon. Kenneth Holmes, Board of Directors member; Hon. Ron Rordam, VML President; Debra Davis, Sussex County Administrator; Hon. Omar Smith, Jarratt Town Council member; and Hon. Mayor Bill Herrington of Lawrenceville

The Improvement Association recently hosted Ron Rordam, President of the Virginia Municipal League (VML), during its annual planning session. Rordam encouraged local governments and special guests to stretch their imaginations and consider various opportunities to get involved to make our children more successful in the future. He emphasized how early childhood initiatives, such as Head Start, prepares a skilled workforce and promotes economic development throughout Virginia.

The Improvement Association’s early childhood initiatives include the Maternal and Infant Early Childhood Home Visiting Program and Head Start.

  • The Maternal and Infant Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Initiative: Established in Greensville, Emporia, and Sussex in 2013, and implementers of the Parents as Teachers (PAT) curriculum, services are available to 68 families, pregnant moms and children from birth up to five years old. PAT helps caretakers understand their role in encouraging their child’s development. It helps children prepare for Kindergarten and ensures they are meeting developmental milestones, as well as passing hearing and vision screenings. Parent Educators also provide information on prenatal health to encourage intellectual development, curiosity, and language development.
  • Head Start: This early childhood education initiative is offered throughout the counties of Brunswick, Dinwiddie, Greensville, Surry, Sussex, and the City of Emporia. The Improvement Association’s Head Start initiative serves 262 children each school year and is currently 98% fully enrolled. Comprehensive early childhood services include education, health services, nutrition, social and parental involvement services.

To learn more about any of these initiatives, contact The Improvement Association at 434-634-2490.


Children of the counties of Brunswick, Greensville, and Sussex, as well as the city of Emporia, were recently given the opportunity to participate in a week-long literacy event hosted by The Improvement Association’s Parents as Teachers (PAT) initiative. The event, known as Readers Are Leaders, is a community-wide literacy program developed and implemented by LaWanda Fisher, Program Coordinator for The Improvement Association’s PAT initiative, and her team of parent educators.

“The Readers Are Leaders program was developed with three goals in mind,” said Fisher. “The first goal is to promote literacy. The second goal is to encourage parents to read more to their children, and the third is to encourage children to read more. We really try to promote book sharing with all the children within our service area, not just those enrolled in the PAT program.”
The Readers Are Leaders program debuted during The Week of the Young Child, which was celebrated April 11-15. Fisher organized several notable community figureheads to read at various locations throughout the service areas.

On Monday, April 11, Dr. Al Roberts, President of Southside Virginia Community College (SVCC), visited the children of Saint Paul’s Head Start and Child Development Center (CDC) in Brunswick County. On this day “History met History.” The first African American president of SVCC read to the children on the campus of St. Paul’s College, a historically black college. The Improvement Association kept St. Paul’s name affiliation for the child development center in efforts to maintain the legacy of St. Paul’s College.

On Tuesday, April 12, Brunswick County Sheriff B. K. Roberts visited Country Mouse Nursery School in Lawrenceville.

Also on Tuesday, April 12, Waverly Mayor Mariam Edwards visited the Head Start students at Wakefield ABC. “It makes my heart feel good to be involved with the young people. On behalf of the Town of Waverly, we thank The Improvement Association for allowing us to be a part of our future leaders”, stated Ms. Edwards.

On Wednesday, April 13, Mr. Williams Ricks, of The Improvement Association’s Project Discovery program in Sussex County, visited the children attending the Head Start program at Sussex Elementary.

Emporia Police Chief Rick Pinksaw visited children at two classrooms at Elnora Jarrell Worship Center Daycare on Thursday, April 14.

Greensville Sheriff Tim Jarrett also two classrooms at Footprints Daycare and Nursery in Emporia on Friday, April 15.

At Shiloh Baptist Church, home of The Improvement Association’s Head Start Shiloh location, Mr. Logan Tatum, Family Service Specialist for the Greensville and Emporia area, read to the children participating in the Head Start program on Friday, April 15.

Parents as Teachers is a FREE program for parents and guardians of children from birth up to five years old. PAT helps caretakers understand their role in encouraging their child’s development. It helps children prepare for Kindergarten and ensures they are meeting developmental milestones, as well as passing hearing and vision screenings. Parent Educators also provide information on prenatal health to encourage intellectual development, curiosity, and language development.

One on the main components of PAT is to provide families with books to read with, and to, their children. During the week-long Readers Are Leaders event, 160 books were distributed to the children. The PAT initiative is currently accepting book donations for the next Readers Are Leaders event to be tentatively scheduled in the fall.

“I’d like to encourage individuals, churches, area businesses, and social and civic groups to participate,” said Fisher. Books can be dropped off at any of The Improvement Association’s four office locations in Emporia, Dinwiddie, Lawrenceville, or Waverly. If your agency or organization would like to set up a donation center, please contact LaWanda Fisher at (434) 634-2490 ext. 227 for additional information.

The Improvement Association’s Health Advisory Committee Focuses on Asthma/Allergies

Pictured:  Shikee Franklin (Head Start Director), John Holtkamp (DSS Director), Lakesha Jones (Parent/President), Tracey Gilchrist (Secretary/Sussex County Schools), Karlesha Coleman (Health/Disability Coordinator)

“Asthma is a major health problem in the United States,” reported Ms. Tonya Winders, President and CEO of the National Asthma Education and Prevention Program. More than 5 million school-aged children have asthma. “Approximately 16% of this year’s Head Start children have been diagnosed with asthma and/or allergies. This is significantly higher than previous years. On average, these students tend to miss about 2-3 days more per year than students without asthma”, reported Mrs. Shikee Franklin, Head Start Director.

Head Start’s commitment to wellness embraces a comprehensive vision of health for children, families, and staff. Our Health Advisory Committee is designed to be a link between families and community members to ensure children receive necessary healthcare. The committee includes parents and various community members who help the program establish partnerships with community organizations, engage parents in identifying and accessing health services and resources, participate in the annual self-assessment of the Head Start program, and develop health policies and procedures.

The first Health Advisory Committee Meeting for the 2015-16 school year was held Wednesday, Nov. 18 at The Improvement Association’s main office location in Emporia. Members from area health organizations, as well as representatives from area schools, attended and presented valuable information regarding asthma, allergies, and disabilities. This year’s officers were elected and attendees received a wealth of information regarding asthma and allergies and an overview of the disabilities process within the schools.

Asthma can impact a child’s learning by fatigue, absenteeism, or symptoms that interrupt a student’s attentiveness. Children may wake up throughout the night coughing or wheezing and be left feeling tired in the morning and unable to concentrate. They may have increased absenteeism and/or missed classroom time due to asthmatic episodes, healthcare appointments, and/or hospitalizations. Children with asthma may sometimes suffer lower self-esteem and anxiety about participating in physical education or other activities because they’re afraid of having an asthma episode.

Some things can make asthma worse and initiate the onset of an asthma episode. While not all students are affected by the same factors, sensitivities can change over time. Some of these factors include colds or infections in the upper airways, physical activity, changes in the weather, and strong physical expressions of emotions such as crying, laughing, or yelling. Asthmatic symptoms can also worsen due to allergens such as furred and feathered animals, dust mites, grass/tree pollen, molds, and even cockroaches. In addition, asthmatic symptoms can increase due to certain smells such as environment tobacco smoke; air pollution; strong fumes or odors such as those associated with cleaning supplies; and scented products like air fresheners or perfumes.

In addition to this valuable information regarding asthma, parents were also presented with a disabilities overview for the Sussex and Surry school districts by Ms. Tracey Gilchrist and Dr. Barbara Brown, respectively. 

To learn more about how you can participate in The Improvement Association’s Head Start program, contact our office at 434-634-2490.

Secretary of the Commonwealth to Address Improvement Association

Levar Stoney, Secretary of the Commonwealth, will be the guest speaker at The Improvement Association’s Annual Board Banquet/Meeting to be held Friday, May 29, 2015 at the Golden Leaf Commons Building, at 6:30PM in Emporia.  

Levar Stoney was sworn in as Secretary of the Commonwealth on January 19, 2014. Stoney is the first African-American to hold this post and is the youngest member of Governor McAuliffe’s Cabinet.

The Secretary of the Commonwealth is designated by the Code of Virginia as the keeper of the seals of the Commonwealth.   Among the office’s various duties, Stoney assists the Governor in his appointments of nearly 4,000 individuals to serve on Virginia's boards and commissions and the restoration of civil rights to ex – offenders.

Prior to serving as Secretary of the Commonwealth, Stoney served as the Deputy Director of the McAuliffe Gubernatorial Transition. He was the Deputy Campaign Manager of McAuliffe's 2013 campaign for Governor. In 2008, he served as Executive Director of the Democratic Party of Virginia. At the time he was one of the youngest state Democratic Party executive directors in the United States.

During his career, Levar worked in various public and private sector capacities, including for Virginia State Senator R. Creigh Deeds and former Delegate C. Richard Cranwell.

Levar remains engaged in civic and community service by serving on a number of boards and committees.  He is a member of VCU Massey Cancer Center Advisory Board; member of LEAD Virginia Board of Directors; member of the Virginia State Bar’s Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee; member of the Jamestown Yorktown Foundation 2019 Commemoration Steering Committee; and member of the Ujima Legacy Fund.

Levar received his undergraduate degree from James Madison University in 2004. In 2006, he completed the Virginia Commonwealth University Minority Political Leadership Institute's leadership development program. He is a native of Yorktown and is a product of the York County public schools. He and his wife reside in Richmond.

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