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A Writer & Her Garden

 A granddaughter helps her grandmother’s legacy continue to flourish.

Written by Hayleigh Worgan   Photos courtesy of Anne Spencer House & Garden MuseumIn early 2008, Shaun Spencer Hester sat on her mother’s porch contemplating where her career would take her next. She caught sight of her grandmother’s home across the street, and an idea began to take shape. A historic landmark, the Anne Spencer House and Garden Museum (part of the Anne Spencer Memorial Foundation, Inc.), was maintained by Hester’s parents, but closed to the public. A historian, preservationist, and writer, Hester decided to reopen the museum in time for Virginia’s Annual Garden Day. 

When she stepped inside, she was struck by the feeling that she had stepped back in time. In that moment, she recalls, she knew that it was imperative to preserve as many of the original features of the home and garden as she could. With the windows clean and the floor swept, she opened the doors in time for spring that year. She became the museum’s curator, and introduced a new generation to the life and work of her grandmother, Anne Spencer. 

(photo: Anne Spencer in 1940)

Every inch of the Spencer property tells a story. In her time, Spencer used her garden as a sanctuary and gathering place, hosting intellectuals and African American travelers during years when our country was deeply segregated. Both inside the home and out in her community, she understood the value of planting seeds and helping them grow. An important figure in the literary and cultural movement of the 1920s and Harlem Renaissance, Spencer left quite a legacy. Her many accomplishments include being the second African American published in the Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry (1973), assisting in the foundation of the Lynchburg chapter of the NAACP, and working as a librarian for the all-black Dunbar High School for twenty years. 

“The whole reason she wanted that job was because, at the time, there were no libraries in Lynchburg open to African Americans,” Hester says. “She thought, if she got the job, she would be able to allow access—not necessarily physical access—but she would be able to check out books for people in her community.”

Sources have described Spencer as a recluse because of the many hours she spent, day and night, working in her garden. Although she enjoyed her time alone, this accusation is unsubstantiated. Not only did she welcome people into her garden and home, she listened to their stories.

“For my grandmother,” Hester explains, “her garden was a place she could entertain visitors and guests. It was a way for her to connect to people, but it was also a place for her to get away from people, and she used it in both of those ways.”

The cottage in Spencer’s garden was built by her husband, Edward. There, she would escape to write poetry and prose that continues to be published in anthologies today. 

“It was a place to think and just be quiet. I think that is important for everyone, writer or not, and what better place to be than with nature?” Hester adds.

By preserving her grandmother’s home and gardens, Hester, the Anne Spencer Memorial Foundation’s Board of Directors, and the advisory board, are doing much more than providing another lovely stop on a garden tour. They are sharing part of the African American experience in American history.

“I tell people on these tours, when you think about my grandparents who met when they were young, in the 1800s, they were the first generation of their family to be freely educated just over 100 years ago. It’s really not that long ago. To see how we’ve grown, and understand the African American story over all of those periods of time is just starting to be told and of interest to all people. These stories aren’t written down in our history books, and if we don’t write them down they will all be lost. It’s now time for people to tell their story, whether it’s good or bad,” Hester says. 

Hester is currently working on a book detailing the history of her family, including the many ways they impacted the Civil Rights Movement and integration. Follow her on Instagram (@shaun.hester) for current information on the project. 

Visitation to the Anne Spencer House and Garden Museum slows down in October, but the garden is an unforgettable sight, even in the fall. From mid-October to March, Hester encourages those interested in a tour to book it two weeks in advance through the museum’s website. For more information visit www.annespencermuseum.com.

Hayleigh is a freelance writer, independent author, and writing consultant. In 2017, she published her first novel, The Huntsman: A modern retelling of Red Riding Hood. She spends a lot of time traveling and exploring new regions for inspiration, but Roanoke will always be her home. www.hayleighworgan.com.

Virginia Made: Urban Flora

Urban Flora

Meet Katelyn Summerville, specializing in French garden-style florals.

Written by Faith Jones, Hill City Handmade

Beautiful colors are beginning to emerge as we transition from one season to the next. Cool breezes are a welcome replacement of summer’s intense heat. The change is gladly welcomed as sweaters, jackets and boots make their debut. French-garden is not the first word that comes to mind when you think of business and psychology but to Katelyn Summerville, the key word is change.

As transitions in life brought Katelyn from Oregon to Virginia she found herself drawn to a more creative side of life. Searching for connections in a new place, she found herself searching within the floral industry. For years before moving Katelyn freelanced with well-known floral designers. From Oregon to North Carolina, she took notes as a young designer and learned all she could about the industry.At the age of 22, it was finally time. Time for Katelyn to branch out on her own and dive into the business world of flowers. Urban Flora is a Virginia-based design company specializing in French-garden themed arrangements. Simplicity, romance and femininity are words that immediately come to mind when looking at Katelyn’s work. Leaning towards more muted and saturated colors in her designs, her creations are made to fit any venue.

Although Urban Flora embodies many aspects of creativity, Katelyn still finds a way to use her degree in both business and psychology. As someone once advised her, “Empowered women empower other women.” Her relationships with her clients reflect that motto as she strives to build healthy relationships with each person who crosses her path.

The serious time spent in creating beautiful garden inspired arrangements requires a little comic relief during her downtime. Being a huge tv nerd, Netflix and Hulu often find their way into date nights. Investing in a good series is the name of the game with Modern Place currently in the cue. Katelyn’s secret talent of being able to name all the actor/actresses’ voices behind cartoon characters is one that never fails to amuse her husband. Walks with the dogs along Blackwater Creek and collecting plants add to her list of life’s happy moments.Now settled in Lynchburg, Katelyn believes that the key to her success is a strong community. She embraces the idea that there is room for every creative. Given the same supplies and the same amount of time, each will create something unique and beautiful. Katelyn’s passion and creativity are certainly reflected in her arrangements as is her heart for people.

For more details visit www.urbanflorava.com.

Faith Jones is a local entrepreneur, creative, and believer.  Her businesses include Faith Inspired and The Hill City Handmade. Faith has a degree in Art and Photography and is a former high school art and culinary teacher. She enjoys spending time with her family and traveling. www.thehillcityhandmade.com

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Six Tips for Keeping your Smartphone Secure

How your device could be just as vulnerable to hackers as your computer. Presented by Member One Federal Credit Union

What’s shiny, contains some of your most precious memories, and is rarely out of sight? No, it’s not your child after being slathered in sunscreen at the beach. It’s your smartphone. You hear about the importance of securing your computer from hackers, but are you aware of how vulnerable your smartphone could be too? In honor of National Cyber Security Awareness Month, we’ve rounded up tips to help keep the sensitive data on your device safe. 

1. Set a personal identification number (PIN) on the lock screen. While it may be more convenient to keep your phone unlocked, setting up a PIN is one of your first lines of defense against fraudsters in the event your phone is lost or stolen. Many devices prompt you to complete this step upon setup. Pick a PIN that’s difficult for a criminal to guess but easy for you to remember. 

2. Make sure your software and apps are up to date.  Many devices will send a push notification when a software, app, or security update is ready to install. When you receive those notices, install them. It’s also a good idea to occasionally visit your phone’s settings to look for any updates you may have missed. 

3. Log out of applications when you’re done using them.  If you access mobile banking, email, social media, or websites that contain personal data with your phone, get in the habit of logging out when you’re done. You’ll be thankful that fraudsters won’t have easy access to your personal information in case your phone is lost, stolen, or hacked. 

4. Understand what apps you’re downloading.  Before installing an app, consider reviews from previous customers and look over the permissions before downloading it onto your device. Try to stick to only downloading apps from the mainstream app stores or from developers that are well-known and have high ratings. 

5. Be cautious about public wireless networks.  As a rule of thumb, never connect to an unknown wireless network. Cybercriminals may set up a network name that looks very similar to one established by a legitimate venue, so it’s best to ask staff for the network name and password. Avoid opening apps or visiting links that contain your personal information while connected to a public network. 

6. Don’t click on suspicious links.  This includes links sent through email or text messages. If it’s an email, flag it as spam or junk. If it’s a text informing you that you’ve won a prize or have a special offer awaiting you, delete it right away. Unless you’ve opted in to receive notifications by text, a legitimate company will typically not contact you with important information this way.

Taking a few simple precautions now to protect the data on your smartphone could mean fewer headaches and heartbreaks if your phone is ever lost, stolen, or hacked. Our smartphones aren’t nearly as precious as our children, but they contain plenty of sensitive data that needs to be secured. 

Join Member One here each month for more money-saving tips and financial advice! Be sure to visit their website, www.memberonefcu.com, for more info on their products and services. Member One Federal Credit Union is federally insured by the National Credit Union Administration.

 

Meet the ladies of Punch Boutique

After owning several stores in the south, former owner Tammy Theoharis decided to introduce some Florida fashion to the Blue Ridge Mountains. In September of 2011, Punch Boutique opened its doors to Roanoke and added a unique style to the area. Just six years later, Punch was taken over by Whitney Greene and Catherine Justice with an envision to keep the bold pink and orange-walled paradise with colorful merchandise open to the community. Featuring a wide selection of upscale resort-style clothing brands such as Southern Tide, Crosby, and Lola Australia, you are sure to find something that fits your personality!

Punch offers three rooms and 2,000 square feet of merchandise, and their staff is always available to help you put together an outfit or find that missing piece for your wardrobe. We love that they have a little something for women of all ages, and they’ll even offer a fashion tip or two if you need it!  

If you’re looking for a little inspiration on-the-go, Punch’s Instagram features monthly arrivals and showcases customers out and about fashioned in Punch attire. 

If you can’t shop in-store, don’t worry because their website has a wide selection of merchandise to buy online! The ladies at Punch also feature their “Punch Picks” with their favorite items at the moment. Any new arrivals to the store are on their website and posted on Instagram as well, so you don’t miss out on any fun finds.

Punch is much more than a store with racks, and there is always something fun going on. Be sure to stop in and check out the fabulous finds and welcoming faces! You can follow Punch Boutique on Instagram @punch_boutique or visit their website at www.punchboutique.com.

Komen on the Creeper

Ready to go above and beyond a 5K? Take the next step in the fight against breast cancer along the Creeper Trail in Abingdon.

Over 30 years ago, Nancy Brinker began a national organization in honor of her late sister who lost her battle to breast cancer, Susan G. Komen. With a goal to end breast cancer forever, the Susan G. Komen organization has raised over two billion dollars to date and started many programs to inform women about the effects of breast cancer and the importance of mammograms. 

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and on October 27th, the Virginia Blue Ridge affiliate of Susan G. Komen is hosting Komen on the Creeper, a 15-mile walk along the Virginia Creeper Trail in Abingdon to raise money for breast cancer research. In order to participate, walkers commit to raise a minimum of $500. (Did you know 75% of all donations received from every walker will stay in Southwest Virginia to help women in the community affected by breast cancer? The other 25% goes directly to national scientific research.)

The walk will take you through downtown Abingdon and on the Creeper trail in a 10-mile loop. All participants are welcome to a Happy Hour and Sponsor Expo at the Heartwood on Friday and a Celebration Brunch the morning after the walk. Throughout the day of the event, there will be live music, food, and drinks for guests and walkers.

Once registered, there is a training plan available, hydration tips, and mentors to help you prepare for the journey. If you’re looking for more motivation, you can also join a team or make your own! Although each member is still responsible for raising the minimum of $500, you can set a team goal and make a significant impact to end breast cancer.

If you’re not interested in walking the 15 miles and are still passionate about the cause, you can join the event as a Volunteer and help with organizing the event before and the day of. 

Registration is currently open to the public and can be done online at komenvablueridge.org/creeper or over the phone at 540-400-8222 ext. 3. More information about the Komen on the Creeper and the Virginia Blue Ridge chapter of Susan G. Komen can be found at www.komenvablueridge.org.

Creeper photo by Sam Dean.

Profile: Cedar Rush Farm

Cedar  Rush Farm

Two first-generation farmers find a place to pursue their passions

Written by Hayleigh Worgan

Soil health and community are at the heart of Cedar Rush Farm. The two first-generation farmers, Fain and Kyle, may be new to the farming business, but they are eager to learn about sustainable practices. From honeybees to low-till methods, they are not only concerned with production, but also with their long-term impact on the environment. 

Their mutual love and respect for the land has helped create a place where both farmers’ dreams can flourish. Kyle, who grew up in Craig County, attended culinary school, but always knew he wanted to do something with the four acres of his family’s land that were not being used. Until recently, he wasn’t sure when or if starting the farm was possible. Then, a few years ago, he met Fain while working at an outdoor adventure camp. Fain had just switched jobs, and found that combining her love of working with people with a physically demanding routine suited her better than her previous role in the mental health field. Soon after, Kyle and Fain decided to merge their passions for food and inspiring joy and wellness in others to create Cedar Rush Farm.

“I really enjoy adding back to the earth and the soil,” explains Fain. “That should be the basis of any farming and you can do it most with regenerative practices. I did an apprenticeship at an organic market garden in North Carolina last year, and then we plunged into it.”

One of Fain’s main goals is to reconnect people with nature and their food source. She requests feedback from customers, and enjoys sharing information with both families and restaurants regarding seasonal availability, new vegetables, and more.

“Knowledge is power, and we want to empower people to ask questions, get to know us, and know where their food comes from” says Fain. “We would both love for this to be our full-time career. Coming to the market even when the weather is poor or signing up for our Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) share will be a huge support for us.”

“It’s hard, because all these big farms have access to farm loans, but we just don’t have the experience. Getting that experience is hard without the tools we need. It’s kind of like when you graduate college without any experience, and you need a job to get the experience, but you need experience to get the job,” she adds.

You can support Cedar Rush Farm by visiting them at the Salem Farmers Market every Saturday morning until November. They are also at the West End Community Market on Tuesdays from 3-6pm. Their CSA program is a great way to pick up vegetables during the week if you can’t make it to one of their market times. 

For up-to-date information on their location, and how to sign up for a CSA, visit their Facebook page, www.facebook.com/cedarrushfarm. Tell them Bella sent you!

 

Hayleigh is a freelance writer, independent author, and writing consultant. In 2017, she published her first novel, The Huntsman: A modern retelling of Red Riding Hood. She spends a lot of time traveling and exploring new regions for inspiration, but Roanoke will always be her home. www.hayleighworgan.com.

Virginia Made – Guy Piper

Meet Marion Hedgepeth

Written by Faith Jones of Hill City HandmadeEvery day our social media feeds and timelines are full of hilarious memes. Most of the time they’re attached to instant thoughts of “that’s so me!” or a flash of a friend’s face who fits the description to a tee. “The mind of a creative person is like a web browser that has 2,857 tabs open all the time.” One would be hard pressed to find a maker who would debate this popular quote to be untrue. Marion Hedgepeth is one who agrees wholeheartedly. 

Marion’s maker journey began at the age of ten years old when she learned to knit. During her senior year in college, she opened her first handmade shop on Etsy. As with all things after college, life happens. A full-time job and being a full-time wife and mother took priority until 2015. Things began to change as she and her husband moved to Richmond from Lynchburg and she became a stay-at-home mom. Marion knew that this was her chance to begin rebranding her knitting business into Guy Piper (Handmade + Vintage). 

Inspired by the middle names of her daughters, Rebecca and Olive, Guy Piper has taken off in the last three years. Marion’s one stop shop for clever mugs and handmade accessories (including tote bags), speak to customers through pop culture and current events. If you’re a fan of those quirky ladies of the Golden Girls, you’re sure to find that quote from Sophia, Rose or Blanche on a mug. Yes, the one you wouldn’t dare say aloud. The handsewn tote bags of Guy Piper provide inspirational quotes on the outside and bold patterns that reflect her love of fabrics on the inside. A recently renovated sunroom in the Hedgepeth home serves as her studio and workspace. Yet another creative DIY Marion took on herself. 

As if she doesn’t have enough on her plate with one successful business, this maker is also the co-owner of Merry Bee Photobooth Co. “I have always described myself as a ‘restless creator’—meaning I’m always moving from one project to the next. I’m not quite happy if I’m not working on something.” Though it’s often tough to juggle homeschooling, running a store, photo booths and being a mommy, the future looks bright. Marion envisions Guy Piper expanding beyond her online shop and local craft markets and into retail stores.

Aside from working creatively, Marion enjoys her garden and hanging with her peeps. That would be peeps as in the four chickens she calls her BFFs. The surprises from this maker don’t end there. One of her life goals is to have a pet dwarf caiman someday to feed her crocodile/alligator obsession. That someday depends on a change of heart from her husband, which does not look promising in the near future.

For now, Marion is content spending time with her family and snuggling with her peeps as often as possible. www.guypiper.etsy.com

 

Faith Jones is a local entrepreneur, creative, and believer.  Her businesses include Faith Inspired and The Hill City Handmade. Faith has a degree in Art and Photography and is a former high school art and culinary teacher. She enjoys spending time with her family and travelling. Faith’s motto is, “Paris is always a good idea.”  www.thehillcityhandmade.com

 

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Financial Tips for Growing Families

How to maintain your family’s finances now & well into the future.

Presented by Member One Federal Credit Union

Whether you have a new baby on the way or already have children in your household, being financially stable should be a top priority. As vacation season winds down and the school routine ramps up, it’s a perfect time to reexamine your family’s financial situation to ensure you’re on track. We’re here to offer tips for setting your family up for success now and into the years ahead.

Ensure your household finances are stable. While it can be tough to determine what to make a financial priority, there are a few things that should always remain at the top of your list. These include meeting your basic needs like food and electricity, paying down debts, setting aside an emergency fund, and saving for the future. Maintaining a household budget is key to ensuring that you live within your means to meet these financial goals. If you’re finding it difficult to pay your housing costs or set aside savings, take a hard look at your budget to identify areas to cut down on expenses.

Take steps to protect your children financially. There are several ways to do this, but some options include investing in life insurance and establishing a will. Life insurance serves as a financial safety net for your dependents in case something happens to you or your spouse. A will ensures that the distribution of your assets and how your children are cared for after you’re gone are followed according to your wishes. While these investments in your future won’t yield a return right away, they’ll provide peace of mind and make certain that what’s most important to you is taken care of.

Save for your child’s future. It can be a daunting task figuring out how much you should save, especially when you add children to the equation. A good starting point is to decide what you’re saving for. For children, a popular long-term savings goal is higher education or even a wedding, but you may also want to consider short-term goals such as summer camps, family trips, or educational tools. All savings goals should be worked into your family budget to help determine what you can truly afford. To reach the long-term savings goals, look into education savings accounts, 529 plans, or even a Roth IRA. It’s important to research your options as each has specific criteria for contributing and unique benefits. Since there’s no best way to save for your child’s future, you may want to consult a financial advisor. As with any savings plan, the earlier you start the better.

Making sure your household is financially solid is one of the best ways to set your family up for success. It can be a difficult adjustment—in several ways—when a little one joins your clan. But following these tips could help guide you and your expanding family on the path to financial success.

Join Member One here each month for more money-saving tips and financial advice! Be sure to visit their website, www.memberonefcu.com, for more info on their products and services. Member One Federal Credit Union is federally insured by the National Credit Union Administration.