Our Story

Live your beliefs and you can turn the world around.

Henry David Thoreau

ROOTS began as an idea at the Richmond City Jail. Several residents, including Travis Mines, Richard Cheatham, Richard Sparrow and Lionel Glover, met during the six-week recovery program called B.E.L.I.E.F. (Becoming Experienced Liberated Introspective Encouraged Free). They had each struggled with the “revolving door” of incarceration and were confronting addiction and the long shadow it had cast over their lives. Each was working to turn their lives around and start new.

The B.E.L.I.E.F. program is a voluntary therapy for inmates who wish to undergo treatment for alcohol and drug addiction. Once accepted into the program, participants must remain clean, sober, and willing to positively change their lives while living in a separate, structured setting. Individuals spend about 12 hours each day in class activities and group discussion. The program combines 12-step recovery principles with cognitive behavior therapy. Mentors guide newer participants using 12-step recovery principles and cognitive behavior therapy techniques. Members in later phases of this program may be eligible for work/study release.

After completing the B.E.L.I.E.F. program and upon release, they saw a need for continued peer support and resources for individuals re-entering the community. No space was available for meetings or administrative offices, so Travis Mines, Richard Cheatham and other leaders did not give up. Instead, they met in Patrick Henry Park for months until they found their office at 510 N. 9th Street. They were the first group of newly released citizens to start an organization dedicated to the cause of re-entry in Richmond, Virginia.

ROOTS founders met in Patrick Henry Park

Today, their offices on Leigh Street offer a wide range of services that aim to help re-entering citizens “get out and stay out.” From job readiness to a food and clothing pantry, to peer support groups and cognitive behavior therapy, ROOTS helps individuals rebuild their lives in the community. The organization continues to grow and help men and women address and overcome the pains of incarceration, negligence, alcohol and substance abuse and many other self-defeating attitudes and behaviors.

The work of ROOTS has been recognized by the Richmond City Sheriff’s Office for their work both in and out of the Richmond City Jail. Because of ROOTS’ outstanding work, the Richmond Circuit Court has made several direct parole appointments to the organization. That’s a significant marker of their success and track record in helping to reduce recidivism.

In addition to running the many programs and services that ROOTS offers, all ROOTS staff and board members have regular “day jobs” in addition to their volunteer work at ROOTS. ROOTS is entirely operated by volunteer power; it receives zero federal, state or city funding.