We, in Virginia, had a redistricting done not that long ago. That’s a whole different diary, rife with crazy drama. I will do that one day...perhaps after I’ve imbibed a crate of wine. I kid, of course! I do intend on writing it though. Someday soon in the upcoming future.
When a district is all torn up because of redistricting, we wait to see what kind of jolt that will send into the district and what kind of candidate will rise to the challenge. And of course, we all hope the candidate lives in the same district they are running to represent!
Also, we all hope for a worthy Democratic candidate!
What a novel notion that when we go to the polls to vote , we get to vote for someone who is a resident of the same district they intend to represent in the legislature!
This diary is about a lovely candidate who lives in the district that just came into being due to redistricting.
Well, meet Terrence Lavelle Walker.
Mr. Walker lives in the newly drawn District 81 that includes parts of Henrico, Chesterfield, & Charles City Counties.
There is no incumbent in HD 81.
I want to tell you about this guy. He is pretty amazing.
Mr. Walker has been a “Henrico resident for over 20 years and is the current vice chair of the Henrico County Democratic Committee.” Henrico County is in Virginia’s legislative/house district 81.
Here’s some information about the candidate —
Mr. Walker has a M.Div., degree from Howard University. He is an administrative assistant at VCU University Counseling Services, and has done charity outreach in the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) area, and other places.
Mr. Walker was one of the people that went around talking to the representatives in the Virginia General Assembly to help further this cause of expanding paid family leave:
Walker was invited by the Campaign for a Family Friendly Economy Virginia to share his story with the General Assembly. He listened as legislators voiced concerns that a statewide paid leave system would require time and money to be built and maintained, and fears that people could abuse the benefit.
“The data suggests otherwise,” Walker said to the lawmakers, referring to the five states (plus D.C.) that have paid leave programs up and running effectively, with another three states set to begin in the coming years. “If we want to talk about the well-being of the Virginia economy, that goes back to Virginia families.” LINK
Walker knew about the repercussions of not having paid family leave first-hand, as he juggled child-care, providing care for a very ill life-partner/wife, all the while continuing working at his job. Tragically, his wife never reached her 50th birthday. That death, and the fact that he became the sole parent for his son, informs the way Terrence Walker sees and experiences the world. That is a lived experience that makes him a powerful advocate:
Walker has given back frequently to support causes at VCU. He supported a food pantry for students experiencing food insecurity, helped fund a scholarship for Dreamers, and donated to the chapel at VCU Medical Center, where Walker remembers many moments reflecting and praying during Tracy’s treatments and hospital visits. To him, his latest gift was a natural progression to support the MCV Campus and its mission.
- Terrence Walker was recognized by Terry McAuliffe, in 2015, for creating RamPantry. The pantry as we know it today is a VCU student-run pantry for students experiencing food insecurity. Terrence Walker has also been a coordinator of the Pantry. Here’s a website description from the VCU Dean of Students which describes the pantry’s mission as:
The mission of Ram Pantry is to ensure food security, human dignity and well-being on campus by providing in-need VCU students with food. To this end, Ram Pantry will collaborate with university and community partners to research and implement innovative approaches to food security and community health. We will do our part to ensure that no student in the VCU community goes hungry and that every student has access to nutritious food.
The cost of college tuition, food, room and board, textbooks, and supplies weighs heavily on many families. While the “poor college student” is an ongoing stereotype in society, the public is seemingly unaware of the dire need for food for some students. LINK.
How did this pantry happen — perhaps you’re wondering?
The pantry was created after a survey of VCU students found 57 percent of respondents were not sure each day where they would get their next meal. The results led to the launch of Ram Pantry in January 2014.
Walker worked with others to secure space and equipment and organized a group of student volunteers to staff the pantry and run it as a student organization. The pantry served more than 1,800 people in its first year of operation.
The students running RamPantry partner with Food Lion grocery stores and other vendors to keep the shelves stocked. Senior executives from Food Lion have been so impressed that they have asked VCU to serve as a model for universities near the company’s North Carolina headquarters. LINK
Mr. Walker, has a clear headed understanding of how people live on a day to day basis.
He totally understands how, sometimes, many who are trying to make their lives better can have a hard scrabble life as they get on with daily living, even while paying their tuition and buying their books.:
"When you think of hunger, we don't think of college students," said Terrence Walker. But he says it's a big problem.
Terrance Walker is the faculty advisor for the student run Ram Pantry.
"I think there is still think there is still this myth that students leave home with a check book and anything they need they call home and get," he said.
That is not the case and that's why Ram Pantry was started more than a year ago.
"The first week we opened we had over a hundred and 20 students in line," Walker explained.
Since then over 2000 students have made trips to the pantry for emergency food. Weekly anywhere from 30 to 100 students stop in. LINK
RamPantry is still going strong, even as need is on the rise.
Think about that — here’s a candidate that has a seen life changing problem up-close and understands what food insecurity looks like. More importantly — how to do something about it.
Mr. Walker’s lived experiences are really powerful ones, and will only help him as he runs for office.
These are the kinds of lived experiences that will make him a cogent and effective advocate as a Delegate, in the Virginia Legislature.
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