Larry Raybon-Hall refused to be deterred by obstacles that interfered with his education. That’s a message he wants others in Norfolk’s public housing projects to hear loud and clear so that they can make a better life for themselves and their families.
The president of Young Terrace Tenant Management Council suffers from multiple sclerosis that left him paralyzed from the waist down. None of his siblings graduated high school. Watching television one night, he fixed on a commercial that featured Tidewater Community College’s motto, “From here, go anywhere.”
Today he’s a first-generation college graduate with a TCC associate of science degree that allowed him to transfer to Old Dominion University. “I tell people that with my MS, with my poor health, if I can go and be successful and move to a four-year, so can you,” said the senior, who will graduate with a bachelor’s in criminal justice in May.
Raybon-Hall is happy to share his story as part of “TCC at the Murray Center,” a St. Paul’s District community resource fair on Nov. 17 from 2 to 4 p.m. The Murray Center at 455 E. Brambleton Ave., sits across the street from Tidewater Gardens in Norfolk.
While anyone is welcome, the event is directed at recruiting the residents of that district who will be displaced when city leaders and the Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority move forward with plans to tear down the public housing in the St. Paul’s District and replace it with mixed-income housing. Nearly 1,700 families will be relocating, using vouchers to move into private housing or moving to another public housing unit.
What they need the most, Raybon-Hall stresses, is education to pave the way to a successful future.
“I tell the people here, ‘They are going to tear this place down. We need to get ready,’ ” Raybon-Hall said.
At the TCC event, representatives will show residents how to start taking classes this spring in programs that range from culinary arts to hospitality to early childhood development to small business/entrepreneurship. Raybon-Hall used financial aid to pay all of his college costs and knows other residents in the St. Paul’s District can do the same.
“I haven’t had to pay anything,” he said.
TCC’s Center for Workforce Solutions will be on hand to promote its Job Skills Training Program and its new partnership with Hampton Roads Transit, which trains people and helps them find employment as bus operators. It’s a short-term program that can be covered with grants for qualified candidates.
Down the line, residents of the St. Paul’s District will benefit from the opening of the TCC Perry Center for Visual & Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management, which will be at the site of the Greyhound station. The state-of-the-art building, expected to open in 2021, will create workforce training opportunities for Norfolk residents in addition to the dual enrollment opportunities with Norfolk Public Schools.
TCC will have staff on hand at the Murray Center to help residents take those first steps to a college degree. Future students can get help applying to TCC, get a head start on financial aid, and learn about additional support services.
The event will also feature culinary arts students cooking up some sweet treats, music, food and giveaways.
For more information, email Angel Hicks at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the college’s new student support team at 757-822-1111.