Alliance Board Member, Gregory Wims: An Activist for Victim’s Right Foundation
Gregory (Greg) Wims is a local businessman and community activist who has been on the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay’s Board of Directors for the past three years. Greg has occupied his time quarantining during COVID-19 by keeping himself busy with his day job in construction, as well as with his volunteer activism work. In his spare time, Greg is heavily involved with the Victim’s Right Foundation.
Founded 24 years ago, the Victim’s Right Foundation (VRF) is dedicated to supporting victims of violent crimes and attacks and their families. In 2002, Greg and the Victims Right Foundation were instrumental in forming and supporting the Sniper Victims Fund in response to the sniper attacks in the Washington D.C metro area and raised $500,000 for victims of the Sniper Shootings. Since 2002, VRF has worked on over a dozen projects that have supported victims of violent crimes.
Today, Greg and the VRF are busy with two projects. First, they’ve been working with Crittenton Services for Children and Families, a child advocacy and mental health nonprofit organization with more than 50 years of experience serving the most vulnerable system-involved children, youth and families. The partnership has worked to pack and deliver food to about 100 families from low income communities with young women in high school, of which about 5% are young mothers with infants. Greg explained that what they’ve found during these times of uncertainty with COVID-19, is that these young women and their guardians have been challenged to provide food and security.
Greg described the second project that he is working on as a part of the VRF, “Because [of] what we found with the VRF with discrimination and so forth, and what we’ve been seeing now with protests against police brutality, we have co-sponsored one event with 1,500 marchers protesting police brutality, and I was one of the speakers.” Greg explained how he and the VRF are taking action through both protests and press conferences. He described a press conference VRF held in regards to an incident at a wealthy high school in Bethesda, MD where three students put a noose and a racial slur on one of the buildings at the school. Greg and the VRF responded to this racially fueled incident, “So we had two acts of Social Justice [in response]; one, the actual walk and two, the press conference.”
Greg is excited that the Victim’s Right Foundation will be celebrating 25 years in January, 2021. “We plan to have a major celebration for 25 years of assisting victims of crime, not only in the Maryland area, but also globally.” VRF will also be celebrating three years since the opening of a preschool they founded in Kenya, Africa. Greg shares, “So our work has reached the global level!”
Greg’s involvement with the Alliance started about three years ago. He said that becoming part of the Alliance’s Board of Directors came naturally to him. “Of course I love the Bay. I’ve always loved the Bay. Born and raised in Maryland!” Bob Paul, former Board Chair of the Alliance, knew Greg through the Rotary Club, where Greg was the Governor for the state of Maryland’s Rotary Club. “That year that I was Governor, we planted 7,000 trees in Maryland and an additional $30,000 globally in Kenya and Uganda.” So when Bob told Greg about the work that the Alliance was doing with trees, Greg said, “It seemed like a natural thing for me to do and I am really pleased to be on the Board.”
With Greg’s extensive experience and background in leadership and philanthropy, I asked him, “What does leadership mean to you?” He said, “Leadership means you listen. You have to listen to those that you are leading.” He explained that you are never going to be able to come up with a solution without listening to what the problem is. He also said that to be a leader you need to follow through with what you are asking others to do. “If you ask someone to do something, you have to do it yourself.” He said for example, “If I ask someone to clean up a stream, I will be there cleaning up too!”
At the end of the interview, Greg asked me to emphasize how pleased he is to be on the Board, and how much he enjoys working with the staff at the Alliance as well as his fellow Board Members.
Thank you, Greg, for all that you do for your community through the Victim Rights Foundation, Rotary Club, and the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay!