[Commentary] Engage Norfolk Puts the Power of Change in Your Hands

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Is there something that’s been on your mind that you want to get done for your neighborhood or the City of Norfolk? Welcome to the Engage Norfolk club.

If you want to improve your community by volunteering, make your mark on how your money is spent or be heard by a Norfolk board or committee, the place I’d go is the 3rd Annual Engage Norfolk. It will be held from 1-5pm on Sunday, February 10, 2019, at Norview High School.

I know this is the place to get engaged done because if I’d had this event available to me when I was struggling to create a free chess program for the city 10 years ago this week I’d have been able to do much more, much sooner.

I wasted months, even years, trying to make all the right phone calls to all the right offices to gain traction, space in which to operate and volunteers. This event right here is your one-stop-shopping event not to be missed.

All I wanted to do was find a place for my youngest son to play chess. When I couldn’t find a place that was kid-friendly in Norfolk I decided to start one myself.

What I needed was a community space where we could invite the kids and mentors to come and learn, play or teach the game. I needed to know was which City of Norfolk office or official I needed to talk to and calling offices at random for months on end.

If only there’s been an Engage Norfolk event with a CivicFAIR showcasing the many organizations in our community that might donate chess sets or provide volunteers or even meeting space.

I would have gotten out of the blocks a million times faster had there been Civic Workshops all in one place on one day geared to learning how city government works, how to lobby your elected officials and turn my passion into action.

Perhaps the most valuable part of Engage Norfolk, had I a time machine and Council Member Andria McClellan to found the event 10 years earlier, would be the Meet & Greet with City Council members, School Board members, state Delegates and Senators and U.S. Representatives & Senators (or their regional directors).

Since I don’t have a time machine, just a 10th anniversary for the Norfolk Initiative for Chess Excellence (NICE) on the same date as this year’s Engage Norfolk, I feel it’s my civic duty to share this event with you.

Come on out. I’ll be there to answer questions about how to do any and all of the community projects I’ve run over the past 10 years from chess to helping set up a food pantry for furloughed U.S. Coast Guard members in our community.

If you have a community passion that needs backup or you want to volunteer for an organization like mine come on out. You are the resource your community is missing right now. Somewhere, someone is hoping that you show up.


Lisa Suhay, Journalist, author, mother and activist. (Source: Twitter)

Lisa Suhay is the founder of the Norfolk Initiative for Chess Excellence (NICE), mother of four boys, community activist and motivational speaker who has done a TEDx TALK on chess in the community. Ms. Suhay is also a working journalist for the past 25 years and is also the author of eight children’s books including two books of life-lesson fables and an audio tape on the power of storytelling with Dr. Deepak Chopra, “Tell Me a Story.” Ms. Suhay has worked to seed chess programs, create scholarship and education opportunities for at-risk children and build community through chess.