Breaking News
More () »

Portsmouth nonprofit teams up to tackle community challenges

A Purpose Driven's goal is to help youth and families by teaming up with others. The group wants to send a message that there's strength in numbers.

PORTSMOUTH, Va. — Editor's note: This story is a part of our "Making A Mark" series.

On a mission to effect change, Portsmouth-based nonprofit A Purpose Driven believes it's better to work together.

"We grew up in Portsmouth... and it has lines drawn through it now where kids are claiming neighborhoods and the violence is striking from neighborhood to neighborhood," said Carlton Copeland, who helped found the nonprofit to combat community issues impacting youth and families.

A Purpose Driven aims to help people find common ground and alternatives to violence.

"We can bring our kids together in a neutral place," Carlton said.

His cousin, Tonia Copeland-Bailey, serves as the nonprofit's secretary. She said it's important to reach out to every child regardless of their situation at home.

"We're trying to make the environment, the community as a whole, better," Tonia said.

President Dionne Copeland helped found the nonprofit with her brother, Carlton. She said partnerships formed with other community organizations and leaders allow for greater outreach and impact. 

"We can touch more people," Dionne said. "You can, you know, connect with more people and your draw is a little bit bigger."

Reaching as many people as possible, Carlton said, is why the nonprofit is called A Purpose Driven.

"We all have a purpose, and you find that purpose by being able to connect with other parts of the city and the community," Carlton said.

Tonia and Dionne hope to encourage more people and groups to join forces with the nonprofit.

"We need the parents, we need the churches, we need the nurses, we need the waste management, we need the city," Tonia said.

"Just the overall community," Dionne said. "Whatever we can do, where the need is."

Through collaboration, A Purpose Driven is able to mobilize more skills and resources. Those connections also help produce events and projects centered around young people and the community.

"Whether it's school supplies, whether it's Christmas, whether it's feeding," Dionne said.

"Idle minds are the devil's playground," Tonia said. "So, we try to keep them busy, as busy as we can."

Collective action is key for the nonprofit as it works to make a lasting impact on more lives.

"We have to see what we need to do to save them and bring them in," Dionne said.

Carlton hopes kids and teens learn the power of creating and utilizing positive relationships.

"We can show our youth, for one, that it's okay to be with our people and to have a good time, to provide a safe place," Carlton said.

You are invited to join A Purpose Driven in the 76th Annual Fish Bowl Classic Parade on Saturday, September 23rd from 10 a.m. to noon on High Street in Portsmouth. The nonprofit is wearing blue and white in honor of Alopecia Areata Awareness Month.

You can also support A Purpose Driven by volunteering or making a donation. Visit the nonprofit's website or Facebook page for more information.

Before You Leave, Check This Out