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Young professionals team up with Danville counterparts

Halifax Young Professionals and Entrepreneurs will soon be branching out to meet and network with their counterparts in neighboring Danville.

The graduating class of the Halifax Leadership program decided in 2011 to rename and revamp the Young Professionals networking group here branding it with the moniker HYPE - for Halifax Young Professionals and Entrepreneurs.

According to HYPE Co-chair Kristy Johnson, the leadership program is a nine-month program that meets once a month to listen to a speaker and discuss the issues and opportunities about various topics ranging from government, service, health care and education. 

“When we finished leadership, our group pledged to help try to encourage and increase community involvement and voter participation in the younger demographic. Each member filled out the county board of supervisors’ interest application form, and we conducted a voter registration drive,” said Johnson, “This is what really drove us to revamp HYPE.” 

Co-chair Patricia Ricketts added, “HYPE is a sub-committee of the chamber that hosts three different types of events once a month - professional development, social events and service events. Our membership is open to chamber and non-chamber members. There are no dues and no membership fees.” 

The professional development events consist of a local business owner or leader coming to speak to the group on “what would you have told yourself as a young professional” or “about their own business or experiences.” 

“Sometimes they aren’t quite old enough to give advice to their younger self,” Johnson joked. 

Their next professional development event will be Oct. 17 at noon at Ernie’s featuring a speaker from United Methodist Family Services. 

Another type of event includes service events. In the past they have volunteered with Habitat for Humanity to help build a home as well as with Habitat’s pumpkin patch fundraiser last fall. 

“We have a couple of events coming up. We have been asked to help UFMS with face painting, and we plan to help Habitat build on their current home as soon as they get to a point where they can have outside help with limited skills,” said Ricketts. 

The third type of event involves social events where members meet at local venues or restaurants after work for appetizers, which provides a networking opportunity. Their next social event is Oct. 3 at Virginia International Raceway; they plan to go go-karting with the Danville young professionals. 

“We’re excited to be teaming up with them so we can introduce the groups to each other,” said Ricketts. 

The locations and times of the events vary in efforts to appeal to members from “all different stages of life as a young professional.” 

Currently, there are approximately 30 members. However, the number of attendees at events varies. 

“It’s very simple to join - just show up,” said Ricketts, “When you show up, I’ll take down your contact information so that I can contact you with future events. Our events also can be found on our Facebook page.” 

“Right now we have a big mix of members. We have a hotel general manager, people in education, an accountant, an I.T specialist, small business owners, social services, workforce services, economic developer and health care providers,” said Johnson, “We are always welcome to more.” 

Johnson and Ricketts both credited HYPE with being a great place for networking and providing new opportunities. 

Ricketts said, “I think some of the benefits of HYPE are meeting new people and creating those connections. As a group, we are always introducing each other to other organizations that we are involved in outside of HYPE. While I wasn’t introduced to the Mental Role Model program, HYPE did spur my involvement.” 

Johnson added, “Lots of opportunities have come from HYPE networking. We also try to encourage each other and help each other career-wise. Personally, I was encouraged to apply for the vacant town council position.”  

Both co-chairs reiterated they always are looking for new members and any service opportunities.