Tackle Reading

We believe that one of the most important things you can foster in your child’s life is a love for reading. It serves as the foundation for developing skills that will serve them in every facet of life. Recently, we were ecstatic to learn that Kathryn Starke, author and native of Richmond, Virginia, is helping parents and educators everywhere achieve that goal.

Starke has experience teaching multiple grades in elementary schools, and served as a literary specialist for over a decade in Richmond and Chesterfield’s public school systems. Her multicultural children’s book, Amy’s Travels, is used in schools in over twenty countries.

Tackle Reading COVER 6x9.inddTackle Reading, her most recent book, combines her expertise with advice from valuable community mentors and resources including NFL players, celebrities, and authors to inspire children, parents, and fellow educators. It includes lesson plans, activities, and guidance to improve literacy for all children.

The impact of this book is just beginning. Thousands of copies of Tackle Reading were donated to inner city elementary schools nationwide thanks to charitable giving and sponsorship. Regardless of your role in a child’s life, it can be a great tool to nurture their love for reading. To purchase your copy and learn more about Starke, visit www.creativemindspublications.com.

The Art of Avoiding the Scam

As technology evolves to secure our identities, so has scammers’ creativity and resourcefulness to steal it. While we may think we’re savvy enough to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft and fraud, the reality is that we’re all susceptible to the threat. Secure yourself with these helpful tips.

Don’t give out personal information unless you’ve initiated contact. Scammers will contact you by phone, mail, and even email requesting personal information. Never give out that information unless you’ve initiated contact or know exactly whom you’re dealing with.

Avoid logging on to personal accounts on public computers. This can make your information accessible to the next person who uses it. Additionally, accessing your checking account via public Wi-Fi puts your information at risk. Only use your personal computer on a private, trusted Wi-Fi signal to access any information that people could use to do you harm.

Create strong passwords. Make it something challenging for others to guess by interchanging E with 3, switching between upper and lowercase, and adding special characters. For example, if you wanted to make your password “animal”, a better alternative might be @N!mA1. That’s much harder to guess and still easy to remember.

Check your credit report annually to look for any discrepancies. The three major credit reporting agencies—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion—are required by law to provide you with a free credit report every 12 months. To request a free copy, visit www.AnnualCreditReport.com or call toll-free 1-877-322-8228. Be cautious of websites that advertise a “free” credit report. They often require you to sign up for a monthly subscription fee in order to receive your report.

Secure your debit and credit cards. You can sign up for digital wallets, which help add a layer of security to your debit and credit cards by encrypting the card information. You can also sign up for purchase alerts where you’re notified via phone and/or email if a certain parameter, such as a dollar amount on a transaction, is hit. It’s also a good idea to let your financial institution know if you’ll be traveling to prevent your card from becoming locked due to unfamiliar transactions.

Being proactive and staying on top of your credit and finances goes a long way toward protecting yourself from scammers; however, if you find you’re already a victim, visit https://www.ready.gov/cyber-attack to learn what your next steps should be.

 

Article provided by Member One

Woven for Mutts Helps Local Dogs

Ariel Lev has always loved dogs. She and her husband were able to rescue two, but they found that they were not in a place to have more than that at the same time. Still, like many animal lovers, she knew she wanted to do more.

Photo Jan 04, 12 33 53 PM“Donating money was one thing, but I couldn’t always do as much as I wanted to,” Ariel explains. “Volunteering and fostering are dangerous for me because I know that would mean a third dog for us, and we are unable to do that right now. Walking away from those dogs in need would be heartbreaking.”

With all of these things resting in the back of her mind, Ariel sat down last summer to watch a friend weave. Her friend let her try it out, and shortly thereafter, Ariel bought her first loom.

Ariel began posting pictures of her creations on social media and received an onslaught of support from her friends. The interest generated a new set of questions.

Photo Jan 04, 12 32 36 PM“I have a full-time job, and I didn’t want to commit myself to making a profit or selling my weavings to friends,” she says. “What would I charge them? What would I do with the money? At that point, I realized that I could sell them, but donate the money to senior dogs in shelters. Donating the money keeps the acting fun and fulfilling for me.”

As many of us already know, a lot of shelter dogs are seniors. People decide they can’t keep them, they move, or sometimes, unfortunately, owners die and the pets don’t have anywhere to go. Puppies are quickly adopted out of shelters because they are an easy sell. Potential adoptive families often avoid the dogs who already have someone else’s habits or illnesses. They forget that the dogs who are not always the most appealing also need and deserve a loving, safe, and warm environment.

“Senior dogs have lived their entire lives with a human and, all of a sudden, find themselves in a concrete cell wondering what happened,” Ariel adds. “As our dogs have gotten older, I’ve fallen more in love with their greying faces. When I see other little grey faces in shelters, it breaks my heart.”

Photo Jan 04, 12 31 46 PMLast month, Ariel hit her first thousand dollar mark and donated the money to Angels of Assisi. She has committed to donating every one thousand dollars she makes from her creations to a different shelter, and the next beneficiary will be Franklin County Humane Society Planned Pethood. Currently, she chooses shelters out of her interest in them. However, if the business continues to grow, she will be accepting nominations.

Ariel will also begin teaching weaving to the public this month in a series of classes at the Taubman Museum of Art on February 5, 12, and 19. Visit www.taubmanmuseum.org for more information on the class, and check out Ariel’s Etsy shop at www.etsy.com/woven4mutts.

Top 10 Romantic Getaways in the US

We all need a vacation sometimes, and that’s inevitable. What better time to start planning a romantic getaway than in the month of love? Whether that means a getaway accessible by car, or by hopping on a plane for a few hours, I have a few beautiful trips that don’t even require a passport.

#10 Indianapolis, IN
If the city is your cup of tea for a vacation, this city does it all. Many of the hotels here celebrate their love of art, sports, or both. A short walk leads to museums, restaurants, shopping, monuments, and sports arenas. At night, a lighted Canal Walk gives a tour of the city and sinks you into sweet dreams.

#9 Ketchum, ID
With a “small town” and European blend, this vacation was meant for keeping a packed schedule while relaxing. Breathtaking mountains offer stunning views that are also known for skiing. Music and art play a large role in the community, and day trips to the nearby Sun Valley offer many outdoor adventures.

#8 Portland, OR
This location truly has something for everyone. Contemporary art tends to be a common theme throughout the city with modern inventions making their way into society. City life sits right on the water, and you are always a short ride to mountains and hiking. Music and museums reign, night life is bustling, and a good restaurant is always in reach.

#7 Gatlinburg, TN
Maintaining timeless beauty for years, the mountains in Gatlinburg are a second home that call to you once you’ve begun to return home. With plenty of dining and shows to see within 30 minutes of anywhere, there is a guarantee to never be bored. Horse and buggy and skyline rides offer an insider’s view that can never be forgotten.

#6 Napa Valley, CA
Modern cottages are nestled in acres of wine country in this part of California. With elaborate pools, 4 and 5 star restaurants, and plenty of shopping, Napa Valley will make for an unforgettable experience and some great pictures. If hotels aren’t your thing, there are many camping sites that allow hunting, fishing, hiking, and other outdoor activities.

holding-hands-1599054_1920#5 Pittsboro, NC
Writers, authors, and musicians have all been bred from this area due to the luscious landscapes and the love for the arts. Bed and breakfasts and small inns are popular in this neck of the woods, and the Fearrington House is your perfect destination for a place to stay and a full blown spa.

#4 Barnard, VT
Many writers and journalists have passed through this area of Vermont, and have described the crisp air and clean spirit that it holds. This vacation would be perfect in the fall; leaves changing with the background of cottages, barns, and old farms. Silver Lake State Park provides beauty through the seasons, and peace and quiet are sure to help you wind down in this small town.

#3 Newport, RI
Many mansions serve as hotels in this little town, and they sit quietly on the coast. Despite how warm or cold the weather, the sound of water lapping the rocks and views of sailboats always cleanse the soul. Downtown, you can explore small, privately owned shops and great food. If you’re looking for a tan, small stretches of beach can be found all around town.

#2 Savannah, GA
Historic buildings and cobblestones bring many people to this location for their vacations. Southern hospitality keeps shops and sidewalks full, and meal times aren’t ever set in stone because deciding on a restaurant is far too difficult. Scary ghost stories don’t keep people from going out at night and even going on ghost tours. Music, water sports, and theaters are also large parts of the community.

#1: Little Torch Key, FL
It’s as close to the Caribbean as you can get without leaving the country. Little Torch Key is a small town in Florida that is right off the coast, accessible by boat or small plane. Tiki themed barbecues and thatched roofs throughout the small island provide the lasting impression of a friendly Caribbean town, and the white sand and crystal waters don’t hurt either.

 

Written by Zoe Pierson

Go Red and Be Healthy

February is also known as National Heart Health Month. It’s a hard truth, but heart disease is not picky, so men and women are both at risk. About 1 in 4 deaths are linked to heart disease, according to the American Heart Association. With that in mind, we’d like to take some time to discuss a few ways to eat and exercise in order to achieve a better lifestyle.

Track what you put into your body. Add color to your plate and make sure to get two servings of fruits and vegetables, but avoid the extra salt and sugar that is sometimes present in canned fruits and vegetables. Whole grains are a better option when faced with multiple choices. Fish and poultry products should be your first choices due to the omega 3 fatty acids within them, prepared without the skin and leaning towards salmon and trout when preparing fish. When wanting red meat, always check for the leaner cuts. Skim and 1% dairy products get you a step closer to a fat-free and low-fat diet. Sugary drinks are extremely bad for you, and you should ultimately try to cut them from your diet. You really want to rid yourself of saturated and trans fats, in order to replace them with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Paying attention to serving sizes or cooking meals at home will help  keep you from overeating and not paying attention to your calorie intake.

push-ups-888024_1280Walking, stair climbing, swimming, and biking are all ways to increase heart health.
A good week of activity should typically include 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity at least five days per week or 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity at least three days a week. Of course, it is very important to speak to your doctor to create a routine that is safe and right for your body, health, and age.

Remember that everyone has to start somewhere, so if you can’t make each workout when you first start out, you’ll get there! Doing something is always better than doing nothing. Visit www.heart.org for more tips.

 

Written by Zoe Pierson

Give a Gift They’ll Really Love

Don’t wait until the last minute to do your gift shopping, especially when you’re on a budget. Here are a few ideas to help you out:

For your leading lady: 

Kate Spade Tumbler
With a multitude of patterns and colors, you can keep their drinks cold and stylish!

Cupid Bath Bomb 
A blend of rose and bergamot will fizz away the stress of the day as it melts in warm bath water.

il_340x270.1041904003_gaajAmethyst Air Plant
If she loves foliage around the house, this is a great gift for her! A fully functional plant resides in the amethyst and only needs a little water and a little sunlight once a week to thrive. There are a variety of plants and colors available.

 

For your #ManCrushMonday:

asos-trunks-in-gift-box-with-heart-print-3-pack-black-1481669215ASOS Heart Print Boxers (3 pack, ASOS) 
Keep him comfortable and festive with this mix of black, red, and heart adorned cotton boxers.

Sugarfina Single Malt Scotch Cordials 
With a dark chocolate shell on the outside and a Scotch filled center, it is sure to shock the tastebuds off of your man. The perfect blend of the ingredients is sure to mean they wont stick around long.

Tile Finder
Never lose your keys again! You can attach the tile to just about anything, and when you don’t know where you’ve left it, use the Tile App to locate it.

For the little ones:

Free People Heart Sparklers (Free People)
Eyes wides and hearts aglow, these sparklers are sure to keep the little ones involved in the festivities.

recycled-conversation-heart-crayonsHeart Shaped Message Crayons
Sets of 5 crayons that reminisce on conversation hearts are the perfect gift for the artists in your family. Packaged in cupcake liners, they look almost good enough to eat!

Don’t forget–regardless of your recipient–ChocolatePaper has the cutest array of greeting cards ranging from sentimental to hilarious! Check out their website here.

 

Written by Zoe Pierson

Extraordinary Women: Alice Allison Dunnigan

Now more than ever we need to be reminded how diversity should be celebrated instead of ignored. Without the many contributions of every race and gender, our country would never have reached the feats that we know today. Black history month provides the opportunity to remember the influence that African Americans have had on the past and will have in the future.

Alice_Allison_DunniganOne of the most important careers in communications has always been reserved for a journalist. They must tell a story transforming it from reality to paper, which can be very testing. However, Alice Allison Dunnigan communicated the country’s information while creating history along the way. Dunnigan was the first African American female correspondent at the White House and the first female member of the Senate and House of Representatives press galleries. In 1925, she was a teacher in a segregated school house and attended a college for journalism. Alice created fact sheets of historical African American’s in Kentucky while she was a teacher called, The Fascinating Story of Black Kentuckians: Their Heritage and Tradition.

As her dreams of becoming a journalist grew, she began to write freelance. America was still highly segregated during her era, and her road to success very challenging. Dunnigan started writing for the American Negro Press full-time and gained the opportunity to have a capitol press pass. Her experience gave her the access to Congress news events, which was never given to women or African Americans. Dunnigan made her dream a reality when she began to write for Lyndon B. Johnson’s Administration in 1966.

Even as a correspondent in the White House, she still suffered through prejudiced actions. Alice fought for equality of women and African Americans in every aspect while a correspondent. She often asked questions about the growing civil right movement. Dunnigan made many pushes and achievements for women and African Americans. It’s important to appreciate that without women like Alice, we might not have accomplished the feat of black women in the White House. During February, take the moment to remember these forgotten heroes and share the stories of strong women to inspire an even greater future for the next generation.

Written by Stacy Shrader

Wellness for the Family

Intercept Youth Services began in 1996 when its founder, Mark Bogert, decided that he wanted to redefine the group home experience. That year, he opened a group home for children with eight beds. Now, twenty years later, the company has grown to provide 14 group homes and 32 services for entire families and individuals across the state. They average around 1,200 clients each week.

“I came here because of the company and our values,” says Natalie Elliott, Senior Director of Program Development. “When you work with a population that is affected by mental illness and children who come into foster care, it is important to be innovative and collaborative. You have to be able to meet the needs of the community.”

There are several parts that make up Intercept’s full continuum of care. This includes Crisis One, a program that allows patients to call Intercept whenever they are in need of brief therapeutic interventions to achieve mental stability. It offers immediate response—24 hours a day, seven days a week. Mobile counselors will travel to children, adolescents, and adults that need help.

“Crisis don’t always happen between the hours of 8 am and 5 pm,” says Natalie. “We are not an 8 to 5 agency. Services have to be worked around families.”

Additionally, Intercept offers LifeBridge Counseling, an outpatient treatment that allows individuals (of all ages) with a variety of insurance providers to get the help they need. Through a partnership with Carilion, they have also opened True North Health Clinic. In this facility, doctors and physician assistants provide medication management for patients. Not only is this beneficial for adults, it helps meet a need for children in our area as well.

“There is a severe shortage of child and adolescent psychiatrists,” explains Natalie. “In many cases, they could wait as long as six months to see a doctor. True North gives patients the option of seeing a physician within three weeks.”

Intercept clients go through True North, but once they cease a service with Intercept they can continue to receive medication management without attached services. The ultimate goal is to make psychiatric treatment easier to attain. In an effort to achieve that, Intercept launched a program last month called Open Access. This allows patients to walk in, be assessed for services, and connected with those that can help them based on what they need and how the treatment plan matches with their insurance.

Essentially, what began as a group home has grown to meet the needs of entire families. This goes above and beyond serving children once their lives are in crisis, working to stabilize their environments before things get out of hand.

However, there are around five thousand children in foster care every day in Virginia. Intercept continues to offer many services for these children in addition to group homes throughout the state. Those who live in Intercept’s group homes attend public school and blend right in with their peers—exactly what they are meant to do. The company also works with local departments of social services to place children in foster homes. They take matching children to families very seriously, citing that it is imperative to helping them be successful in youth and as adults.

As these children get older, many of them become eligible for independent living services offered by Intercept. Young adult participants, between the ages of 17-21, live in supervised apartments and practice the skills they need before they go out into the world. After they leave custody, they can return to the program to receive additional services as needed. This reduces the likelihood that they will not have good outcomes once they age out of foster care.

Visit www.interceptyouth.com for more information on the myriad of services that Intercept offers, their involvement in the community, their values, and more!