The Relationship Foundation of Virginia Builds Relationships, a Fundamental Element of Our Community

Lisa Schaffner, UNOS PR and Marketing Director and former news anchor “The Relationship Foundation of Virginia reminds me how important relationships are in my life, and they require work and attention. The organization provides educational opportunities where I not only learn something, but I have fun. That’s a win-win!” Every morning, Anson gets up, drives his oldest daughter to work, makes sure his younger daughter gets to school and works a full-time job. He also takes care of his wife, who is legally blind from complications from diabetes. Anson always puts his family’s needs over his own ... as evidenced by the holes in some of his shirts! Anson is a hardworking dad who never expected to be recognized for doing what he believed was right: taking care of his family. However, his wife thought differently. Last year, she nominated him to be recognized by FATHER Christmas, a program of  the Relationship Foundation of Virginia (RFVA). RFVA is dedicated to building healthy relationships and families in our community. Since 2015, RFVA has honored 75 dads with an extravagant lunch at The Jefferson Hotel and a $100 gift card to make their holidays a little brighter. Anson's wife hoped her husband would spend the gift card on himself. True to form, the selfless dad replied, "I'll still spend it on them!" Help build relationships, a fundamental element of our community by volunteering or donating to the Relationship Foundation of Virginia today!

The Relationship Foundation of Virginia Builds Relationships, a Fundamental Element of Our Community2018-12-25T07:01:54-07:00

Richmond Ballet Shares the Power of Dance with Young People in the Richmond Community

Dana Ailsworth, Director at Aquent “I was one of those children who saw The Nutcracker and always wondered how I could be a part of the magic. Richmond Ballet offers the opportunity for children in the community and across Virginia to marry creativity and movement through their Minds In Motion program. Outreach and accessibility are super-important to their future patronage and success.” Eleven-year-old Neri’ah has loved to dance since she was 2 years old. According to her mom, that’s all she wanted to do, dancing to Michael Jackson’s music and participating in Praise dance at her church. However, despite Neri’ah’s passion and talent, her family simply couldn’t afford formal dance lessons for their daughter. When Neri’ah reached the fourth grade, Richmond Ballet brought its Minds In Motion (MIM) program to her elementary school. Each year, MIM introduces more than 1,500 RVA fourth graders to dance, also offering a scholarship program called MIM Ambassadors for training at the School of Richmond Ballet. After much hard work and dedication, Neri’ah received the Ambassadors scholarship and became eligible to audition for The Nutcracker. She’s made it into the cast for the past two years (that's Neri'ah in this year's production in the photo above). Although Neri’ah also wants to sing and play a musical instrument, she’s  completely focused on becoming a professional dancer. MIM has given her a safe space where she can fall in love with the arts and confidently move toward her goals. If she could give advice to other young dancers, Neri’ah says: “Just go for it. Be confident in yourself because you can do anything you set your mind on.” Help share the power of dance with Richmond's young people by volunteering or donating to Richmond Ballet today!

Richmond Ballet Shares the Power of Dance with Young People in the Richmond Community2018-12-24T05:58:10-07:00

MHP Helps Children with Special Needs and Their Families Find Much-Needed Support

Shannon Ferrara, Medical Esthetician, Virginia Ear, Nose and Throat “I support MHP because they help and advocate for families like mine. Our kids don’t come with a manual and sometimes it can be so overwhelming and isolating to say the least. I can’t tell you how life-changing it is to have an advocate like MHP available to help when you need it.” Nine-year-old Bradley, who has autism, was overwhelmed by all the sensory distractions in his classroom—the pictures on the bulletin board, the sound of a lawnmower outside, the smell of lunch cooking in the cafeteria. These distractions were causing the student to have explosive outbursts in class, and the school suspended him over and over again. Not only did these suspensions cost Bradley valuable instructional time, but they also cost his parents time off from work, which they simply couldn’t afford. The coordinators of Medical Home Plus (MHP), who are parents of children with special health care needs themselves, helped Bradley’s parents navigate the complex process involved with IEP (Individualized Education Program), a document that is developed for each public school child who needs special education. They explained the process to his family, accompanied them to the IEP meeting for support, and advised them as to how to most effectively work with his IEP team to finalize that important document. Because they had personally been down this road countless times before, they understood this family’s needs, could relate to their frustrations and always knew the best course to take. As a result of the IEP process, Bradley was able to move to a new school that was better able to handle his behavioral needs. The result is a student who is happier, making better grades, and [...]

MHP Helps Children with Special Needs and Their Families Find Much-Needed Support2018-12-23T06:55:04-07:00

The Brain Injury Association of Virginia Gives Brain Injury Survivors and Their Families Hope

Trey is not pictured. Martin Donlan, Attorney, Williams Mullen “In 1999, our son, Andy, suffered a traumatic brain injury. After three months in intensive care units and months of rehabilitation, we looked to the BIAV for support. As it turned out, our son was eventually able to go to medical school and is now a board-certified specialist in TBI rehabilitation. But every day I think about how important BIAV is to the TBI community—for education on the importance of concussion protocols, support for TBI victims and their families, and advocacy for the development of and funding for TBI rehabilitation and long-term care services.” While stopped at a light, Trey was rear-ended by a drunk driver who was traveling at more than 50 m.p.h. The 20-year-old was severely injured, sustaining a broken neck and a traumatic brain injury (TBI). For the next four months, he underwent treatment in acute care and rehabilitation facilities. While that period was difficult for Trey and his family, they had no idea of the challenges ahead. During the weeks that Trey was semi-conscious, the Brain Injury Association of Virginia (BIAV) provided his family with the information, support and referral assistance they needed to get the young man on a path to recovery. Plus, the nonprofit connected Trey with a community-based brain injury program, which allowed him to develop job skills and start to regain his independence. Most importantly, BIAV gave the family hope. BIAV also introduced the family to Camp Bruce McCoy, where Trey made physical and mental strides while having fun with new friends. In addition, the camp gave his mother, who is his caregiver, a much-needed respite. Trey went to camp the first year in a wheelchair. Five years later, the wheelchair [...]

The Brain Injury Association of Virginia Gives Brain Injury Survivors and Their Families Hope2018-12-22T05:59:55-07:00

MomsVA Finds Loving Families for Abandoned Dogs

Only six out of the 10 puppies pictured. Click the arrow on the right side of the photo to see the puppies today. Karen Callihan, Program Manager, FAA Center of Excellence for Technical Training and Human Performance “My 9-year-old daughter desperately wanted to volunteer with an animal rescue organization; however, our Google searches only resulted in disappointment until we found MomsVA. Catie loves volunteering for MomsVA; the experience has given her an opportunity to contribute and I’ve been surprised at how it’s changed her.” A driver saw a small, cream and white terrier dumped from a moving car. She hurried to where the dog lay on the side of the road and found that the dog was pregnant. The rescuer, fearing the worst, took the dog to the vet. Thankfully, the soon-to-be mom was unhurt, and a liaison connected the vet to MomsVA (Making of Miracle Stories), a dog rescue organization, to take the dog in until her puppies were born. The founder of MomsVA personally fostered the abandoned dog, whom she named Tara, until the 25-pound mom gave birth to 11 adorable puppies (unfortunately, only 10 of the litter survived). All 10 were placed into loving foster homes, at least two per home, where they were socialized and began the process of housetraining. This is a distinct benefit over other rescue organizations, which house their dogs in kennels where they have little interaction with people and aren’t able to adjust to living in a house. In early December, when the five boy and five girl puppies were 15 weeks old, MomsVA began advertising their sweet faces on Petfinder. All it took was one pet stand—where there was no shortage of eager arms to cuddle the fluff balls—for [...]

MomsVA Finds Loving Families for Abandoned Dogs2018-12-21T06:32:13-07:00

Armor Down Uses Mindfulness to Help Veterans More Successfully Return to Civilian Life

Kim Brundage, Kim Brundage Photography "I heard Ben King's powerful story of how he once considered his veteran experience a curse and now he sees it as a blessing. How profound is that? We can all benefit from mindfulness and meditation and Armor Down is bringing those benefits to veterans in RVA." Joe, a 38-year-old, highly decorated Marine veteran who served in Iraq during the invasion in 2003, was already dealing with PTSD when a devastating family crisis hit him hard. The resulting emotions were almost too much for him to bear. During this time, a friend ran into Joe at a bar and recognized that the Marine was struggling. As a result of the “see suffering, say something” campaign, he connected Joe to Armor Down. Warriors are taught to push through their emotions or ignore them altogether, but Armor Down uses mindfulness techniques to help them address these emotions and retrain their minds to process events and sensations in a calmer manner. In Armor Down’s New Mission First program, Joe was given an emotion screening test so that he was able to recognize emotions he had long ignored and the role they were playing in his life. The team then prepared the Marine for a Mindful Memorial Day at Arlington National Cemetery. On that day, Joe visited the grave sites of some of his fallen brothers at arms and participated in mindful meditation, including a gratitude practice. “I am staying on the ‘course,’” says Joe, who has since coordinated a personal Bridge Project where veterans and civilians will sign an American flag to take to Arlington Cemetery on Memorial Day. “I hope we can change the way our veterans are treated and cared for. I need it to [...]

Armor Down Uses Mindfulness to Help Veterans More Successfully Return to Civilian Life2018-12-20T06:32:38-07:00

Capital Trees Transforms Richmond into a Greener, More Beautiful and More Livable City

Mark A. Olinger, Director of Planning and Review, City of Richmond “Capital Trees has created a beautiful, welcoming place along the Capital Trail in the city. They took an ugly, abandoned strip of land and turned it into a parklike setting that I now look forward to walking as often as possible. Their dedication and commitment to raising our awareness of green landscapes inspires me and others to remember how important it is for our collective well-being as a city.” When more than 300,000 visitors arrive in RVA by way of the Virginia Capital Trail each year, the first part of the city they see is the green space along the banks of the James River and the Kanawha Canal. This area, which had been severely neglected and overrun by weeds and invasive plants, didn’t make the best first impression for our beautiful city. Capital Trees, which works to identify, create, environmentally restore and beautify public urban green spaces in RVA, began rehabilitating these 5.5 acres in 2015. The result was the Low Line Gardens, an urban oasis beneath CSX’s train trestles, where tourists, downtown workers and others residents can bike, walk and enjoy nature. Yet another benefit of this project is the three-acre riparian buffer, or vegetated strip that helps shade and partially protect the James River watershed. The next phases of this project will include creating the Low Line Green, a beautiful urban green space for community gatherings, and enhancing the portion of the Capital Trail that runs under the CSX trestle. Vibrant open spaces, integrating the best science and design practices, benefit a community on multiple levels: social, economic, public health and environmental. Capital Trees is a group of passionate horticulturalists, landscape architects, historians, [...]

Capital Trees Transforms Richmond into a Greener, More Beautiful and More Livable City2018-12-19T06:15:25-07:00

Senior Connections Empowers Older Adults to Live with Dignity and Choice

“Transforming Perspectives,” a mural designed by local artist Colleen Phelon Hall and painted on the side of the Senior Connections building by more than 500 members of the community, highlights the positive and transformative aspects of aging. Partners: Senior Connections, Genworth, Age Wave and Colleen Phelon Hall Trina Willard, owner and principal at Knowledge Advisory Group "Senior Connections is a rich gem that provides a wide array of services to seniors and their caregivers in Richmond and its surrounding counties. Whenever a friend expresses concerns or needs regarding an older parent, neighbor or family member, I always point them to the team at Senior Connections for information and support." Mrs. Johnson was in very poor health and in the hospital being treated for diabetes. Because her children lived out of state and couldn’t provide full-time care, they'd decided that their mom needed to transition to a nursing home once she was discharged. They contacted Senior Connections, The Capital Area Agency on Agency, to determine their mother’s needs and help her find the right facility. Senior Connections’ primary goal is for older adults to maintain their independence in their homes and communities, preventing or delaying more costly services, such as nursing home care, assisted living and repeat hospital admissions. After determining that Mrs. Johnson not only had complex health requirements but also many other needs, Senior Connections arranged for their client to receive a host of the agency’s services, including transportation, home-delivered meals, and Medicare counseling and Medicaid enrollment. Seniors Connections also helped Mrs. Johnson more efficiently manage her money so that she could remain in her home. Thanks to Senior Connections, Mrs. Johnson is still where she wants to be six months after her hospital discharge—in [...]

Senior Connections Empowers Older Adults to Live with Dignity and Choice2018-12-18T05:57:36-07:00

The READ Center Helps Adults with Low Literacy Reach Their Full Potential in Life

Latoya and her tutor, Linda   Jo Lord, owner of iwritewords “Reading and writing have been a central and cherished part of my life since I can remember. In fact, I've had the great good fortune to make my entire career as a writer. Over the years, I've felt compelled to help bring the joy of reading to those who haven’t yet learned and volunteered for a time doing just that. (Resolution for 2019: Get back to it!) Based on my lifetime love for reading and the life opportunities that literacy brings, the work of The READ Center here in Richmond is close to my heart.” Latoya wanted to become a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), which meant she’d have to go back to school and pass an exam. That’s challenging for anyone, but for Latoya, that was an almost insurmountable obstacle because of her reading level. The READ Center, which helps adults with low literacy develop basic reading, communication, math and digital skills, matched the aspiring CNA with a tutor who is a retired Navy nurse. After two years of hard work, Latoya graduated from the Virginia School for Nurses Aides with an “A” average and then went on to pass her Virginia State Board of Nursing exam with flying colors. Latoya now has a job as a CNA doing what she loves—helping patients. More than 72,000 adults in the metro Richmond area lack basic literacy skills. Many come to the READ Center with goals like Latoya’s, such as attaining a GED, reading medical information, helping their children with homework or reading the Bible. Through classroom instruction and one-to-one tutoring, the nonprofit helps these adults achieve their personal goals and their full potential as employees, parents [...]

The READ Center Helps Adults with Low Literacy Reach Their Full Potential in Life2018-12-17T06:13:42-07:00

MEGA Mentors Provides Meaningful Learning Experiences and Life Skills to Underrepresented Students

Stock photo by Samantha Qeja on Unsplash  Whitney White, Senior Project Manager at JMI marketing and communications firm "What's amazing to me about MEGA Mentors is, simply put, they make the time. When the corporate world already has such high demands on time, energy and resources, these business leaders still make time for what's important, which is being a light to underrepresented students."  Desiree, who had just transitioned from middle school to high school, wasn’t adjusting well. On the outside, the new ninth grader was angry and apathetic. She seldom even smiled. On the inside, she was lacking in self-confidence. MEGA Mentors, which provides meaningful learning experiences and builds life skills in African American and other underrepresented Chesterfield County Public School students, sent a group of dedicated professional mentors into the school to work with Desiree. The mentors, each of whom commits to spending two hours a month with students, initially focused on teaching the young woman about respect, responsibility, effort and achievement. Then, through a series of facilitated workshops and experiential learning experiences, the mentors worked to expand Desiree’s perspectives – personally, professionally and socially. The ninth grader eagerly embraced this support. Desiree quickly became more focused, disciplined and results-oriented. She joined the cheering squad and was also recognized as MEGA Mentor’s “Student of the Year”! And these inner changes were apparent to everyone around her by the brilliant smile, which once again on her face. “Thank you for the inspirational speech today at my high school,” Desiree told MEGA Mentors. “It really touched me and really opened my eyes!” Help underrepresented students have meaningful learning experiences and build life skills today by volunteering or donating at MEGA Mentors!

MEGA Mentors Provides Meaningful Learning Experiences and Life Skills to Underrepresented Students2018-12-16T12:01:11-07:00
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