February 17 marks the third entry in the Rappahannock Community College Student Support Services (SSS) Office’s ongoing celebration of Black History Month. RCC students, faculty, and staff heard talks from two “Black History Makers” — area people who have achieved success through hard work and perseverance. This time, SSS administrative officer Lorraine Justice introduced Ebony Campbell and Dr. Merthia Haynie to speak on the theme of “Endless Possibilities.”
A Tappahannock native and a graduate of Essex High School, Ebony Campbell participated at RCC in “Upward Bound,” a federal program that encourages high school students who might not otherwise have thought of doing so to get a college education.
As the first member of her family to graduate from college, Campbell is one of the program’s success stories. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Old Dominion University, and a master’s in information systems from Virginia Commonwealth University.
Soon after her graduation, Campbell experienced what she calls a “quarter-life crisis” — she had completed her formal education and had a job, but found herself thinking, “This can’t be all there is!” In order to shape her life in a more satisfying way, she made up a board listing things that she liked or did not like: four years later, she says, “I have accomplished everything on my board.”
Photography was once her “hobby and passion,” but is now also her business — “Photos By Ebony,” specializing in portrait photography, where Campbell “constantly strives to provide top quality, creativity, and professionalism tailored to each client.” She is also the president and founder of a Richmond-based organization called R.I.S.E. Up (Raising Interest in Social Equality), which was formed to educate, empower, and engage the community on socio-economic issues, and hopefully to bring about social change on a national scale.
Campbell’s latest venture is “Echoes,” a cafe and coffee shop in Tappahannock with the motto, “Going out of our way to make your day!” Her mission there, she says, is to cater to the local business community, commuters, students, and families, and to provide a relaxing environment where the town will always feel welcome. “Echoes” displays the work of local artists, as well as offering a venue for musical and other performances.
People tell her, says Campbell, that she is trying to do too much — “If you try to do everything, you won’t do anything well.” She admits that she sometimes feels overwhelmed, but says that the benefits of all her projects far outweigh the negative aspects. “A lot of doors have opened for me. You just keep your mind on it, and get it done,” she says.
The second speaker was Dr. Merthia Haynie, the owner of “Abilities Abound” Physical Therapy and Wellness Center in Northumberland, her native county. Haynie grew up on her family’s farm in Reedville, and graduated from Northumberland High School.
“I couldn’t wait to leave home,” says Haynie; and her next stop was Hampton University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in biology. In her junior year, she had the opportunity to volunteer as a “shadow” with a physical therapist, and the work appealed to her so much that she decided to make it her career.
In 2005, she was one of the first ten graduates from the new doctoral program in physical therapy at the University of Maryland’s Eastern Shore campus; she was also the only African-American in that first class. Returning to the Northern Neck, she began practicing in Kilmarnock, but soon realized that she was needed more in Northumberland, where there were no physical therapy practices at that time.
“I left a high-paying job,” she says, “to start my own practice in Callao — it’s been two years now, and people are glad we’re here.” Older patients especially like being able to keep their independence, with a therapist near enough for them to drive to her office by themselves.
In the course of her training and practice, Haynie has treated a wide variety of patients and is well-versed in a broad range of physical therapy programs and treatments for mitigating disability and restoring function to injured patients. She has completed numerous continuing education courses covering advanced therapy techniques and holds a certificate of advanced practice in hand and upper quarter rehabilitation from Drexel University in Philadelphia. In addition, as a clinical instructor she mentors physical therapy students who are gaining experience in clinical rotations.
“Abilities Abound” provides physical therapy, massage therapy, personal training, nutritional coaching, and group exercises. Haynie felt that adding wellness services would help to improve the lives of Northern Neck residents, particularly those who suffer from chronic pain. She is dedicated to serving her county and local communities, and gives back through participation in various boards and organizations, as well as providing volunteer services once a month at the Northern Neck Free Health Clinic. In addition, she has founded the nonprofit Abilities Abound C.A.R.E.S. (County Adolescent Recreation Education Service), which is a partner of the Boys and Girls Club of the Northern Neck.
“In my practice,” she says, “I‘ve treated patients from four to 100 years old. It’s very rewarding. I love what I do.”