That’s what we storytellers do. We restore order with imagination.
We instill hope again and again and again. — Walt Disney

Even before humans could talk, we found ways of telling each other stories about life and death, hope and desire. Today, stories are the common thread that weave all our lives together, forming the fabric of the world we share.

kids standing around a group of trees
Children in our ML2 program pose for a quick picture after a day of learning outdoors.

What really makes stories so important is that they let us know what’s possible. The stories we tell can open doors for the future, filling us with hope, determination, and the confidence it takes to reach for what seems impossible. But stories can also bring us to believe that the world is much smaller than it really is, as though the only possibility is a life filled with hopelessness, stagnation, and dependence. This latter story—the story of generational poverty—is the one most often told in the Southside region of Virginia.

Southside Transformation Opportunities for Residents and Youth (STORY) is rewriting the story of poverty that has come to define this region. We aim to become an impactful cornerstone in the lives of low-income citizens, showing them that while poverty is their past, it doesn’t have to be their future.

girl playing with a balloon
One of our ML2 participants experiencing the simple joy of play.

In providing programs that increase exposure to education and cultural experiences, we show local youth that the world is open to them, giving them the tools to become the first homeowner or college graduate in their families. By exposing youth to new opportunities, we expand their horizons and encourage them to dream bigger. Through mentorships with positive role models, we pen a new chapter in their journey toward self-sufficiency while strengthening the bonds of community.

STORY’s role is to help edit the traditional path taken by many low-income people through connections and opportunities that create better outcomes for families. Only in telling a different story can we achieve the transformative changes that will mark our movement toward a restored, hope-filled Southside region.

Join us as we rewrite the story of poverty in the Southside region. Find out about our volunteer opportunities by visiting our Get Involved page, or email Sarah at to sign up. You can also support our mission of renewing minds and restoring hope through a tax-deductible gift.