Being a Visionary

by Michael Volpe

The work that Nova does would be impossible without the support of our donors and volunteers. The new ‘Visionaries’ scheme has been developed so that we can create a fund for new and creative work as well as bring the various parts of our community together. Today, we meet one of the schemes founder members, Virginia Dooley.

Since coming to London five years ago from the US, New Jersey native Virginia Dooley has been on something of a voyage of discovery. Moving into a new community is always challenging and it is often the case that finding local charities to offer time and money to can initiate a whole new social circle. For Virginia, however, her professional life had involved the evaluation of charities who were seeking funding so she had some unique insights.

‘I met Lizzie (Cho, chief executive of Nova) through an informal grouping of women who got together after Grenfell to see how we could help in the community. I was immediately struck by how Nova was so adaptable, responding to needs as they arose and getting things done. I was very impressed and have been involved ever since,’.

Virginia became involved with the development board of Nova and was found herself pitching in, along with her two young boys, to help with food deliveries during the pandemic. Work after the Grenfell tragedy has led to the formation and growth of a Families service which is now flourishing and the Visionary fund will provide much needed support for this enormously positive service, too.

‘What sets Nova apart in my mind — and our recent rebranding has really articulated this well — is that it is unashamedly positive in its outlook. The tag line ‘Welcome to a better world’ is so heartwarming and ambitious. I find it reassuring that the charity is being so bold and knowing the staff there, I believe they can do it — certainly for our local community. From my professional work, I know that charities are all about the people and Nova is completely covered in this area. The team care so much about the work that they do.’

Americans are generally more used to the concept of almost dutiful philanthropy and of helping communities. This is especially true of those who move to a new city and seek out ways they can help out. ‘It think that comes from the fact that in the US, we know that there are not as many charities to pick up the pieces and cover for what the government should be doing instead. So we bring that with us,’ she says. Reflecting on her first year or so in London, Virginia found that getting involved with local charities (and she supported a few in the early days) was a great way to get to know the community and build a social group too. But supporting a charity also brings personal reward and I am curious to know from Virginia what specifically she finds fulfilling about Nova.

‘ Well if I put my business head on, I know that my financial support is being well spent and goes a long way because of the staff commitment. But it is rewarding to know that your support is making a difference to lives — there is really not a great deal more to it than that and I encourage anybody to take the plunge and get involved. All of us in the community benefit.’

We couldn’t agree more Virginia!

Welcome to Nova. We are a small diverse charity with a big reach and novel approach to social change.