Melissa Peele, MSW
Founder & Executive Director
Melissa has a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Norfolk State University and a Bachelor’s of Human Services Counseling from Old Dominion University. She is a Licensed Minister through Vanguard Ministries under the leadership of Dr. Bobby Hill. She is a member and Deaconess serving at Riverbend Church in Suffolk, VA. Melissa worked with pregnant teen mothers for almost seven years as After Care Social Worker and Assistant to Program Manager. She also has provided intensive in -home services to children and their families for ten years. She was a Regional Independent Living Consultant for almost five years as she helped youth prepare to transition out of foster care. As she served in these roles she saw the need for transitional housing as pregnant teens, youth aging out of foster care and the families she worked with struggled to make ends meet, had experienced homelessness, lived in poverty or were in crisis. Her passion for serving single mothers was ignited almost thirty years ago as she supported her own sisters as single parents. She is a resident of Portsmouth, VA and has resided in Hampton Roads since 1991 after serving in the United States Air Force. She believes this her life work and desires to see generations changed by rebuilding the lives of single mothers.
Shirley A. Breedlove
Shirley received her Bachelor of Social Work degree from Temple University in 1979 and her Master of Social Work degree in 1981. She has over 30 years of experience, and has worked in various facets of helping the community throughout her profession. Shirley is looked to as an expert source in counseling and coaching employees who work with patients who struggle with substance abuse, mental illness or in need of individual or family therapy. During the early years of her profession, Shirley worked mental health facilities in Philadelphia, PA. She began as an AfterCare Director. organizing, administering, evaluating and monitoring all activities of the chronically mental ill clients. Her skills quickly advanced her to be the primary source for providing comprehensive case management and providing direct assistance to clients who needed resources and services for treatment and advocacy on their behalf.
Her passion for helping those in need led Shirley to open her own adult home in Newport News, Virginia called Lawson Haven of Hope. Shirley supervised the day to day operations, and provided personal and professional assistance to clients. From Philadelphia to Virginia Shirley has touched many lives through her expertise in the field of Social Work.
Gertrude C. Jackson, PhD, MSW, ACSW
Gertrude is a recent retired college professor in the Social Work Department at North Carolina Central University, Durham, North Carolina. She has 15 years of teaching in higher education and over 25 years of social work practice and related experiences in mental health and medical fields. Her work experiences include the provision of individual, group, couple and family counseling, and crisis intervention services to veterans, children and families, women, and older adults from diverse social, economic, cultural, and ethnic/racial backgrounds. She earned a Ph.D. from Howard University, Washington, DC, and Masters in Social Work and Bachelors of Arts in Psychology degrees from Norfolk State University, Norfolk, VA. Dr. Jackson brings a wealth of knowledge and years of experience working with children and families.
James Edwards, M. Div.
James is a graduate Virginia Union University, Richmond, VA (2020) with his Masters in Divinity. He is an ordained minister at Grove Church, Portsmouth, VA. Among his many accomplishments he is a retired Sheriff with the City of Portsmouth, VA as well as veteran of the United States Navy. Mr. Edwards is passionate about restoration of lives. He volunteers with Portsmouth Volunteers for the Homeless and Portsmouth Christian Outreach. He brings years of leadership, business and non-profit management skills with him.