June Remote Volunteer Highlight: Jiabi Chen

Published on May 29th, 2020 by Enrichmond Foundation

We’re highlighting the stories of some of our volunteers for East End and Evergreen Cemeteries who are working remotely while COVID-19 limits on-site volunteer activities at the cemeteries.

Our remote volunteers are doing work crucial to reclaiming information lost at the two cemeteries. Their roles include Biography Writer, Cemetery Research, and Record Transcription. Record Transcription volunteers are transcribing hand-written burial records into a digital database so that the records will be easily accessed and searchable by the public.

Jiabi Chen
Role: Record Transcription

Jiabi Chen is a rising fourth year medical student at VCU School of Medicine. During the first year of medical school at one of her I2CRP program lectures, she learned from a visiting speaker about the neglect that happened in both East End and Evergreen Cemeteries during the last century and the recent renovation efforts by hard-working volunteers.

Now, with much of her medical education temporarily suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she decided that it would be a great time to give back to her community through participating in the effort to restore the heritage of African Americans of the Richmond community.

During the months of April and May, Jiabi volunteered diligently for a total of 160 hours to transcribe the burial records of 2,218 Black Richmonders who were buried at the East End and Evergreen Cemeteries during the first half of the 20th century. She has transcribed the most pages of any volunteer – second only to Enrichmond staff member, Kelly Pratt!

This meaningful volunteer experience exposed her to the health inequities faced by African Americans in the 20th century. Further research into the time period showed her that African Americans suffered much higher mortality and morbidity from tuberculosis than their White counterparts due to the systemic discriminations they faced.

In the future, she wishes to continue volunteering with the Enrichmond Foundation!