Personality: Tracey Hardney-Scott

Spotlight on board chair of Help Me Help You Foundation

12/22/2022, 6 p.m.
Tracey Hardney-Scott is a tireless force for underserved Virginians, the result of her many years of advocacy work with several ...

Tracey Hardney-Scott is a tireless force for underserved Virginians, the result of her many years of advocacy work with several organizations.

The Prince George County resident is the latest board chair of the Help Me Help You Foundation, a resource to the city of Richmond and the Virginia Department of Corrections to assist former jail and prison inmates. HMHY focuses on reducing recidivism and poverty, and providing aid for released inmates and their families.

“Each day I have an opportunity,” says Ms. Hardney-Scott, “to lead, to inspire, to help develop, to engage, and to train others to serve. To watch this team bring hope to those that feel hopeless. To truly make a difference in someone’s life. That means the world to me.”

As HMHY’s board chair, one of her top priorities is to push for better housing. She calls it “both the most important need and biggest challenge for returning citizens,” and it is an area in which she has developed a strong level of expertise.

Prior to being elected HMHY’s board chair in January, Ms. Hardney-Scott served as chair of the Virginia NAACP’s housing efforts. She plans to balance her new leadership with her roles as housing liaison for HMHY and chair of the Richmond NAACP’s Housing Committee.

“Housing (affects) everybody – health, criminal justice, education – that’s why it’s so important,” she says. “Housing establishes stability for employment, substance abuse treatment, and mental health care.

“When basic needs like housing aren’t met, individuals are at greater risk of returning to crime and being reincarcerated,” she continues. “We can’t keep saying that people have the right to have their rights restored, but we only restore them partially.”

Keys to accomplishing this include educating landlords and asking them to pilot second-chance programs and advocacy to eradicate discriminatory practices.

“It’s going to be very challenging if the local and state government don’t put any measures in place to secure affordable housing, to eradicate rapid evictions, price gouging,” Ms. Hardney-Scott says. While she hasn’t seen much planning from local officials around housing issues, she believes the Richmond community is eager for solutions, and can be a great help in shining a light on HMHY’s work.

Ms. Hardney-Scott says HMHY wants to partner with a number of Richmond agencies to achieve long-term, mutual success. The group is preparing its legislative agenda for the 2023 Virginia General Assembly by meeting with stakeholders and working to improve its services.

“There’s a lot of justice-involved people out there that aren’t getting the services, that don’t know,” she says, referring to former criminal defendants. “We want to make sure that we have a full-fledged street team out in the public saying, ‘Hey, we are here and we’ll be able to help you and help you navigate through.’”

Meet an advocate for reducing recidivism and making improvements in poverty and housing, this week’s Personality, Tracey Hardney-Scott:

Volunteer position: Board chair and legislative chair, Help Me Help You Foundation.

Occupation: CEO, Tenant Landlord Resource Center.

Date and place of birth: Nov. 15 in St. Albans Queens, N.Y.

Education: Proud alumna of Grambling State University.

Family: Husband Randolph Scott, son Michael Santos, and two grandchildren, Ma’lonia and Ja’son.

Why I became involved with HMHY Foundation: HMHY founder and CEO Michelle Mosby invited me to become involved because of my passion for helping people. I share in her vision, and agree that once (a formerly incarcerated) individual have served their time and paid their debt to society they should be released as a returning citizen instead of being re-sentenced to a life of hardship. We realized that often, the so-called “debt to society” was still being collected long after offenders had been released.

Why I accepted position as board chair: My spiritual gifts are service and administration. Serving as board chair presents a perfect opportunity to work alongside Michelle Mosby to work with a team of individuals committed to helping those who have been justice involved rebuild and restore their lives through advocacy and support.

Services offered by HMHY Foundation: HMHY offers high fidelity wrap-around services through Navigation Continuum of Care, including a licensed clinical social worker who oversees our case managers, lived experience experts (LEEs), navigators, and other direct support staff.

Through our partnership with J&G Workforce, we offer a back-to-work program in fields that many of our returning citizens would find difficult to access. HMHY also offers financial literacy programs through Bank of America, family support and mentoring, drug and alcohol treatment referrals, mental health referrals and housing referrals.

What people re-entering society and their families need most today: Social support from families and social support networks are critical for those who have been justice- involved as they transition from incarceration to the community. Many have burned bridges or their families believe they cannot accept the burden of providing housing, so many of the formerly incarcerated return home to nothing.

How to get involved with or obtain services from HMHY Foundation: Anyone may contact us at 1731 Wall St., Richmond 23224, or call our office at 804.384.9979. Also www.hmhyfoundation.org, and hmhyfoundation@ gmail.com.

Upcoming events: We are currently preparing our 2023 calendar of events, which will include our annual HMHY luncheon.

A perfect day for me is: Spending time with my husband and grandchildren.

What I am continuing to learn about myself during the pandemic: One of the most im- portant things I continue to learn is to take care of myself and to devote more time to myself. The pandemic has escalated the need for advocacy. I realize I am no good for anybody if I’m not good to myself.

Something about me that people may not know: I get anxiety before public speaking.

A quote that inspires me: “I speak to the Black experience, but I am always talking about the human condition.” – Maya Angelou.

My friends describe me as: Direct, bold, courageous, no- nonsense.

At the top of my “to-do” list is: Complete my second book.

Best late-night snack: Cheese Doodles.

The person who influenced me the most: Definitely my mother.

Book that influenced me the most : “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne.

What I’m reading now: “You Owe You: Ignite Your Power, Your Purpose, and Your Why” by Eric Thomas.

Next goal: The launch of my two new business ventures.