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Hampton-Newport News Community Services Board receives $400,000 for mental health support

Hampton-Newport News Community Services Board Executive Director Natale Christian and Deputy Executive Director Daphne Cunningham accept a $400,000 grant presented by Congressman Bobby Scott, joined by Hampton and Newport News Mayors Donnie Tuck and Phillip Jones.
Nick McNamara / WHRO
Hampton-Newport News Community Services Board Executive Director Natale Christian and Deputy Executive Director Daphne Cunningham accept a $400,000 grant presented by Congressman Bobby Scott, joined by Hampton and Newport News Mayors Donnie Tuck and Phillip Jones.

The money will go toward hiring two new crisis therapists and trauma support training for existing staff.

New federal funds will help Hampton and Newport News support survivors of traumatic events.

Congressman Bobby Scott was joined by Hampton Mayor Donnie Tuck and Newport News Mayor Phillip Jones on Friday to present the $400,000 check to the Hampton-Newport News Community Services Board at its Hampton office.

The money will go toward hiring two new crisis therapists as well as trauma support training for existing staff.

“This funding allows us to develop a specific response, a planned response,” said Natale Christian, executive director for the CSB. “So when there is a crisis, we’ll have staff who are ready to go to address that.”

The funding request stems from the shooting at Richneck Elementary in 2023, which saw CSB staff providing mental health services to people directly and indirectly affected.

“This will allow them to set up an emergency group so when there’s an event, that group can be dispatched immediately without diverting attention from ongoing services,” Congressman Scott said.

But the need for expanded trauma support goes beyond high-profile tragedies, according to CSB Deputy Executive Director Daphne Cunningham.

“Within our communities, all communities, we’re seeing more traumatic events,” she said.

Cunningham noted that there are day-to-day events like suicide attempts and car accidents that leave lasting impacts on people that don’t always get broad community attention.

“We have amazing staff that are always willing to step up and do what is needed,” Cunningham said. “This helps us support them as well.”

In addition to that, the new CSB staff will work as liaisons to the community helping to raise awareness of the services offered and connect people in need with those services.

“The other thing that [the money] does is provide some resources to family members where necessary,” Christian said. “Sometimes folks need bus passes, so [we’re] just trying to fill that gap to get a person to where they need to be to receive services.”

Tuck thanked Scott for his efforts to secure the grant for the CSB, saying he’s “been a great partner … for our city, for our region, in respect to trying to bring back dollars that will help us and improving the things that we offer our residents that affect quality of life.”

Jones echoed Tuck’s sentiment, noting the need for greater capacity for mental health services in the aftermath of the Richneck shooting.

“That was a hard day for our city, a day that we’re still recovering from,” Jones said. “But these funds will help not only Newport News, but also Hampton, so we appreciate it from the congressman as well as our directors and the board members.

“We cannot do it without you.”

Nick is a general assignment reporter focused on the cities of Williamsburg, Hampton and Suffolk. He joined WHRO in 2024 after moving to Virginia. Originally from Los Angeles County, Nick previously covered city government in Manhattan, KS, for News Radio KMAN.

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