Jul 13, 2021
Joe Varaska, Founder, Hope Is Everything
Backpacks filled with HOPE: Local support for displaced children and families

NOTE: this special meeting of the Rotary Club of Charlottesville will be held at The Center at Belvedere: 540 Belvedere Boulevard, Charlottesville, VA 22901 - at the same time, 5:30pm cocktail half-hour, 6:00pm dinner meeting begins, catered by Mission Barbecue.

Chaplain Varaska will talk about his experience as a Jail Chaplain and some of the things he encounters on a daily basis. The need he saw for inmates needing backpacks when released which led him to start thinking about the needs of the children of those incarcerated parents whose kids were put into protective custody/foster care, which in turn led to the formation of Hope Is Everything, Inc. (https://hopecville.com/) This organization has begun to distribute filled backpacks for kids in their intake with the Departments of Social Services in Albemarle, Charlottesville and Nelson County. These duffels, filled with teddy bears, blankets, stress gadgets, for example, can be extremely beneficial - especially when a child otherwise keeps their few personal items in a garbage bag if they were displaced without much notice. Joe will also discuss exciting new partnerships with the Georgia’s Healing House - a rehab facility for women.

Chaplain Joseph Varaksa began his ministry as a volunteer serving the homeless community of Virginia Beach while he was stationed at the Norfolk Naval Base.  After serving 6 years in the Navy, Joseph turned his attention to full-time ministry and secured his undergraduate degree from Eastern Mennonite University with a BA in Youth Ministry and minoring in Biblical Studies and Theology followed by a Masters of Divinity degree from Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida.  During this time he served as Youth Director for several churches and poured his passion into developing and growing those programs through discipleship and relationship building.  In 2000, Joseph and his family were called to Charlottesville where he served at Grace Community Church as Youth Director and Assistant Pastor.

Prior to becoming the ACRJ Chaplain, Joseph worked for more than 15 years in sales for various manufacturing companies.  Throughout his 30 year career, he has served in church and community ministry in a variety of roles, including work with at risk youth, indigent services, church youth ministry and adult and youth discipleship programs.  Chaplain Varaksa and his wife Bruns, have two grown sons, a daughter-in-law, a 15 year old daughter, and two beautiful grandchildren.