The Noblemen's Red Hot Valentine's Ball
By: Kim Cuachon-Haugh
Fine. Dont believe in the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy or Santa Clause. But do believe in the Noblemen. Theyre not magical. Theyre real. And theyre spreading goodwill throughout Hampton Roads.
In the home of Al Midgett, with a flip chart with some of his closest friends, began the Robin Hoods of Virginia Beach in 1995. As Midgett wrote on his website, The Noblemen was a natural evolution of that.
HRM touched base with Midgett and loyal member, Richard Ray, as they prepared for the Red Hot Valentines Day Ball. Midgett and Ray illustrated while they are not the mounted warriors, they sure as heck fight for their causes.
HRM: Why is an organization such as the Noblemen so important to the community?
AM: The Noblemen allow others to share being "part of the solution" for many needs in Hampton Roads. We know we are not the end all so we invite others to share in what we do and be "part of the solution".
RR: We are able to make a giving decision within an hour or less of receiving a request. Recently, we had a request to assist a veteran who was unable to find assistance through normal veteran channels. Well, we have a lot of vets as members, and when the email request went out, we had our first response in four minutes and a complete fulfillment of the needs within six minutes.
HRM: What made you join the organization, Ray?
RR:I have been a Nobleman for six years. I joined after I read a newspaper article about them which highlighted Al Midgett, the founder. I retired from Virginia Beach Rescue Squad (VBRS) and I was looking for another community organization to give time to. Growing up in my family, working to help those less fortunate than me was not only encouraged; it was expected. I come from a long line of men and women who have given generously of their time and money to help their community. I dont see this as an obligation; rather I see it as a privilege.
HRM: You guys have helped so many in the community. Is there one particular person that you remember?
AM: One of my favorite families that we have recently revisited in Portsmouth always sticks in my mind. A grandmother in Portsmouth named Mimi took over her daughter's family five years ago. She, in my opinion was a hero. At the time, she was 79 and took on six additional kids. As a result, her house was condemned. The Noblemen stepped up and built the necessary additions and fixed problems that allowed her to be the great lady she was and needed to be to her grandkids. Every year since, we have visited her and her family at Christmas to check up and spread a little more magic. This year was no different. We were able to supply one of the kids with a new saxophone, which he quickly played back Christmas music for us all. Priceless!
HRM: What is one of your favorite events?
RR: We have two major giving events that occur at Christmas. First, we have our toy drive. This year we collected and distributed 20,000 toys to children. What we do that is unique is that members attend all of the giving events, but the members only supervise. The children of The Noblemen do the actual giving of gifts to the other children. We accomplish two things doing this: The Noblemen children and the receiving children are able to connect on a one-on-one level that creates a genuine spirit of the season that neither ever forgets, and we, as parents, have a forum to teach our children about giving, what it is, what it means and why its important. Second is our annual Trolley Ride. It is the Noblemens longest standing giving event and is an event that we do about 10 days before Christmas in partnership with the wonderful team at Edmarc Hospice. We leave no one out. Their expressions of joy are priceless gifts to us.