Category Archives: Columns

Save Smarter

Is Your Family Prepared for a Disaster? 

Being disaster-ready is easy. Follow our few simple tips.

Presented by Member One Federal Credit Union

From tornadoes to house fires and floods—all are disasters that can devastate our lives. If you’re ever in one of these situations, the last thing you want to be doing is picking up the disorganized pieces when a little preparation could have helped alleviate some of the chaos. Hopefully you’ll never experience a disaster, but if you do, our tips on what to collect and how to keep important documents safe could help put your mind at ease if the unexpected happens. 

Collect key documents. This includes personal identification for everyone in your household such as birth certificates, social security cards, passports, and pet identification tags. Also gather insurance policy numbers and the insurance company contact information for each type of coverage. You’ll also want to store a copy of property records like deeds and mortgage documents, medical information including prescriptions, estate-planning documents, and legal and financial records including taxes from the past few years. Record contact information for family and friends in case you don’t have access to your cell phone and need to reach out for help. 

Invest in storage. Select a way to store the items that’s easy to grab in a hurry. Options include a fireproof and waterproof safe, a binder with sleeves to hold all documents, or a safety deposit box at your local financial institution. You could also opt to store everything electronically on, for example, a memory stick, external hard drive, or the cloud. It may be wise to combine a few options—a safe for paper documents plus an electronic storage option. Whatever you choose, place it somewhere that can be quickly and easily grabbed as you head out the door. 

Take inventory of your possessions. This is especially helpful if you need to file an insurance claim. Go through your home, room by room, and record your belongings. Make note of household valuables, such as jewelry, antiques, or collectibles, and write down their worth. Take photos or videos of your home’s contents so you have proof of your possessions. Store your inventory list and photos or videos with your other important documents. 

Set money aside. If a disaster impacts your whole community, it’s likely that your local financial institution could be affected as well, making it difficult to access your money. Additionally, merchants may not have electricity, making a quick swipe of your debit or credit card impossible. Set aside enough cash to cover essentials for a couple of days, which might include a few nights in a hotel, food and water, and basic amenities like clothing. 

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. 

Save Smarter – Financial Fitness for Youth

6 Tips to Guide Children through a Healthy Relationship with Money

Presented by Member One Federal Credit Union

With school out for the summer, the kids are likely hanging around the house more than usual. Your little audience is watching and probably soaking in more than you realize—which includes how you manage finances. Healthy financial habits begin at a young age, so what better time to teach responsible spending and saving than during a break from the daily grind of school? Here are a few ways to help your kids get started on the path to financial success.

Set an example.  Parents who make poor financial decisions like impulse purchases, excessive credit card use, or have arguments about finances only confuse children about how to make smart money choices. Make a point to practice what you preach by not only explaining positive financial habits but demonstrating them as well.

Begin early.  Once children start saying, “I want,” it’s a good time to teach savings habits. While they won’t understand compound interest or annual percentage yield, you can explain how we sometimes have to wait for the things we want. Delayed gratification is an important lesson to learn.

Give commissions, not allowances.  There is nothing wrong with giving your child money each week, but it should be earned. Have them perform chores like mowing the lawn, taking out trash, or doing dishes. This will teach them the value of work and prepare them for adulthood, and starting a job outside of the home.

Make it visual.  For younger children, give them transparent jars to keep their money in so they can see their progress. For older children, it’s wise to open a savings account with a local credit union. Online banking can help them easily monitor their progress.

Set savings goals.  It’s much easier to put away money when you know what you’re saving for. If your child wants a game or pair of shoes, show them how much it costs and how long it will take before they can buy the item. You can also show them ways to reach their goal faster by earning more money through additional effort. 

Explain responsible credit card use. As a teenager, getting your first credit card can be very exciting. Make sure your child knows how to use the credit card wisely and warn them that they should only make purchases if they can afford to pay off the balance each month. It’s also important to explain what credit is and how it affects their future—from buying a car to getting their first mortgage.

Financial responsibility begins at a young age. Use these tips to help teach your child healthy money habits that will set the foundation for success now and continue well into the future.

Flavors of Summer

Our new favorite local, handcrafted hot sauce!

Written by Hayleigh Worgan

Ryan and Chrissi Scherer, the husband and wife team behind Zen Pepper Company, are making waves in the local agricultural community. Born in Texas, Ryan has always loved hot foods. He began growing and experimenting with different hot peppers in his early 20s. Through this experimentation, he was able to discern how their flavors came to life once blended with other ingredients. In 2010, he began small-scale farming Virginia Tech’s sustainability center in Catawba, researching forms of organic crop management and environmentally-friendly irrigation methods. 

“Virginia Tech owns the Catawba Sustainability Center,” Chrissi explains. “They have great land that they lease to people trying to start small agricultural businesses. The center receives grants for sustainable types of tools, equipment, and practices they are able to implement. Ryan took a course that the Virginia Tech Cooperative Extension offered a few years back called, ‘Growers Academy.’ [The course] was geared towards farmers who wanted to step into developing a small business. We both have been growing and gardening for a long time, and that was his first step in beefing it up a little.”

Zen Pepper Company’s hot sauces first appeared at the farmers’ market at the end of 2016. There, Chrissi and Ryan met new friends through the Local Environmental Agricultural Program (LEAP). This connection, in addition to the popularity of their products, encouraged them to continue creating and sharing their sauces.

As their popularity has increased, so has their knowledge and implementation of sustainable practices. All of their hot sauces are created in a commercial kitchen, and they consider the impact on the environment with every step in their development. Pepper seeds germinate in soil blocks that they keep in their home. The couple avoids using high energy grow lights, and puts their lights on timers so they can cut down on energy usage during the growing process. They also implemented drip irrigation practices, which reduces the amount of water they use.

“The sustainability center is a fantastic resource, because they supply the means for us to be able to do that,” Chrissi says.

2018 promises to be a big year for Zen Pepper Company. They are discussing expanding their presence at the downtown Roanoke Co-Op, and plan on attending a couple of festivals this year (TBA). Their business has taken off, and their most popular sauce, Ginger Habanero, is flying off of the shelves. Last year, they grew about four hundred pepper plants during the growing season. This year, they have expanded to about two thousand, and are encouraged by how receptive Roanoke has been of their products.

For more information on Zen Pepper Company including where to find them and the flavors they offer, visit www.zenhotsauce.com. Find them on Facebook at Zen Pepper Co.

5 Tips for Getting your Finances Vacation-Ready

Learn how managing your money this summer can make travel season even easier

Presented by Member One Federal Credit Union

Planning for summer travel means choosing a location, booking your stay, and counting down until vacation time. It also means effectively managing and protecting your money so your anticipated getaway doesn’t turn into an unexpected staycation. Follow these simple tips for keeping your financial life in order before, during, and after vacation. 

Notify your financial institution before you hit the road. Nothing could ruin a vacation faster than a lack of funds due to a limited cash supply and/or a frozen credit or debit card because of suspicious-looking account activity. Letting your financial institution know that you’ll be traveling helps keep your accounts safe and avoids interruptions in your credit or debit card services, especially if you’ll be out of the country. Many financial institutions offer a simple online form that you can complete ahead of your travel.

Record card information and other important documents. Before you leave, record card numbers and customer service contact information, your passport, and insurance cards. Take photos of each item or write the information down on paper and keep it in a safe location, like a hotel safe. You can also store the information on your computer or email it to yourself. As long as you can locate an Internet connection, you’ll have quick access to this information in case you need to report that it’s been stolen.

Pay for larger purchases with cards. A credit card in particular offers the most security because, unlike a debit card, it’s not linked directly to your bank account—so there’s no risk of fraudsters gaining direct access to your money. Plus, purchases made with a credit or debit card might be replaced by the card company if the item is stolen. 

Don’t carry all your money at once. One tactic to keep cash safe is to split it up. Keep a certain amount in your wallet and another amount stashed away for later. Overall, the best approach is to carry a combination—a credit card for the majority of purchases, another card as a backup, and cash. While cash can be easily stolen, it’s a good idea to keep a small amount on hand in case you encounter a merchant or service that only accepts cash. 

Review your bank and credit card statements. Upon returning from your trip, look at your bank and credit card statements to check the accuracy of transactions. Get a receipt for every transaction made while on vacation and compare this to the total charged to your account. Receipts are also helpful to have on hand in case you have to dispute a charge with a vendor. 

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.

Young Female Writers Club

The Lyrical Side of Writing

Written by K.L. Kranes

The first time I read the name “Odessa Hott” I think it sounds like the name of a feisty, no nonsense protagonist in a YA detective novel. When I tell the real Odessa Hott this she laughs. You can tell a lot about a person by a laugh. Odessa’s is quick and soft, but sonorous. It’s my first clue Odessa’s much more than a 16-year-old girl from Mechanicsville, VA.

As Odessa and I continue to talk, I quickly realize I’m right. Odessa plays the Taiko (Japanese drums) and reels off opinions on Emily Dickinson with ease. When she discusses the writing process, effortlessly weaving metaphors and similes, I have to remind myself I’m not interviewing a seasoned English professor, but a young teenage girl. 

“Writing is a gateway into a multitude of new and used ideas. It’s similar to an enormous thrift shop!” Odessa explains, her enthusiasm palpable. Although Odessa and I speak over the phone or communicate via email, it feels as if there is a bright smile of excitement hiding behind her every word. “There are so many unexplored concepts. Even the ideas that have been used over and over can always be twisted into something never before seen. I don’t believe that any idea has been completely wrung dry. There is always a way to reinvent what has already been invented.”

Odessa has been inventing and reinventing stories since she was just 6-years-old when she began writing blogs on WordPress. Soon after, she discovered Storybird, a website where young authors can self-publish online using assorted work from global illustrators. In her teenage years, Odessa moved to new platforms, but continued writing, publishing over 30 works on the writing and fanfiction sites Quotev and Wattpad where she accumulated thousands of readers. 

“To this day, I get daily notifications of people leaving comments on my old stories, although I have since taken a break from online publishing,” Odessa says. 

As part of her creative growth, Odessa also participated in writing workshops with the Richmond Young Writers (RYW), based out of Chop Suey Books. Through the RYW, Odessa published her first picture book called Melting Tears, collaborating with local artist Sarah Hand. The story, along with stories from fellow RYW writers, is available on the RYW website. 

“Seeing not only my own book but everyone else’s in print was surreal,” Odessa says when discussing the project. 

Melting Tears is a fairytale about an imaginative rice paper girl and a morose king. Odessa explained her love for Japanese language and culture, which she has been studying for 4 years, inspired the story. 

The international influence of Melting Tears highlights the breadth of Odessa’s background. From K-Pop to Sherlock Holmes, it’s clear Odessa’s unique interests have continually influenced her life and creative process. If she were a song, Odessa would have a passionate drumbeat, a complex guitar riff and a dreamy harmony melding seamlessly with the melody of youthful optimism. I think Odessa would like this metaphor given writing isn’t her only passion. 

“For a long time, I thought writing was my calling,” Odessa says. However, as she got older, Odessa felt herself increasingly drawn to music. 

Although music had always been a large part of her life, Odessa’s father and mother are both musicians, it wasn’t until recently Odessa realized music is her true dream. And, if Odessa believes in anything, it’s the importance of following your dreams.

“I am a firm believer that you should chase your dreams for your own sense of fulfillment. Otherwise, it will leave you feeling exhausted trying to be what someone else wants you to be,” Odessa explains.

That doesn’t mean Odessa plans to abandon the writing side of her creative spirit. Even when speaking about her favorite artists, Odessa describes them with a literary undercurrent. 

“In 2017, my mother introduced me to Solange,” she says. “And ever since, I have been enthralled by her aesthetics, genre and voice. Her lyrics convey a powerful, poetic message.”

Odessa admits combining her two passions can be difficult. “My lyrics are mediocre,” she admits humbly when speaking about her attempts at songwriting. “I write poetry, but usually my lyrics sounds nothing like my poetry. I try to write a song but the lyrics don’t capture the real emotion I’m trying to find.” 

Even if Odessa hasn’t yet figured out how to merge her talent for writing with her talent for music, she certainly already understands how writing can influence music as much as music can influence writers.

“I think that having an understanding of different forms of writing can give you a powerful insight into lyrics you hear that you may have never considered before,” Odessa opines. 

It’s likely one day soon Odessa will turn that powerful insight into a beautiful music. I, for one, can’t wait to hear the combination of Odessa’s musical voice with her distinctive literary voice.

K.L. Kranes is a blogger and author of young adult novels. Her debut novel, The Travelers, was published in 2016 by Saguaro Books, LLC. See more from K.L. at www.klkranes.com/blog.

Hears to a New (Y)ear!

Top 5 things parents need to know about pediatric hearing loss 

Today, it seems almost impossible to avoid increased noise exposure– loud music, noisy toys, vehicles, snow blowers, TVs, drills, hairdryers and more! Especially during this time of year full of celebrations and gatherings, it is a good opportunity to make sure that the youngest members of your family are prepared for the additional noise exposure.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 5 million young people between ages 6 and 19 in the U.S. have suffered permanent damage to their hearing from noise exposure. Hearing is critical for a child’s safety and development of speech, listening, learning, and social skills, so it is important to start monitoring their hearing as early as possible.

Your child may have passed a newborn screening prior to leaving the hospital, but parent should still continue to monitor and protect their hearing. Moreover, if an infant fails a screening, it is crucial to follow-up with additional hearing tests no later than three months of age.

“Missed follow-up visits are rapidly becoming one of the most common reasons children with hearing loss miss out on critical interventions and support,” said Benjamin Cable, M.D., Pediatric Otolaryngologist with Carilion Clinic. “Those interventions work to keep a child on a normal developmental path.”

As a parent or caregiver, be aware that exposing a child over time to anything louder than 85 decibels can cause damage to sensitive structures in the inner ear.

“In practical terms,” explained Dr. Cable, “Any environment where the background noise would require raised voices or shouting to communicate could potentially be damaging to children who are exposed for more than short periods of time.”

Noise-induced hearing loss is usually gradual and painless, but can be permanent. Once sensory nerve cells are damaged, they do not regenerate.

As one might expect, the risk of permanent damage is higher with longer exposure. Damage also occurs more quickly with increasing loudness. There are also non-auditory consequences of repeated noise exposure, including increased stress and irritability with reduced relaxation and concentration.

What can parents do to reduce their children’s risk of damage?

  • Avoid or limit exposure to loud sounds when possible.
  • When not possible, use hearing protection.
  • Noise-cancelling headphones are best for babies and children. Consider the child’s age as well as weight, size, comfort level and the noise cancellation rating of protectors.
  • Kids two years and under need earmuffs that are lightweight and will not put strain on neck muscles and bones. They will provide the highest level of noise cancellation.

Hearing loss including noise induced loss can be detected with a hearing test conducted by an audiologist. No child is too young for hearing testing. Agencies in the Roanoke Valley providing audiological services include:

  • Carilion Clinic Otolaryngology (540-224-5170)
  • Hearing Health Associates (540-774-4441)
  • Jefferson Surgical Clinic (540-283-6023)
  • The Hearing Clinic (540-553-8626)
  • Roanoke Valley Speech and Hearing Center (540-343-0165)

Visit www.ehdipals.org  for a national web-based directory of facilities providing pediatric audiology services.

For more information check out the following:
www.sightandhearing.org
www.HowsYourHearing.org
www.noisyplanet.nidcd.nih.gov/parents
www/asha.org/public/hearing/Noise/
www.tufitech.com/gadget/best-noise-cancelling-headphone-for-babies

About the authors: Debbie Williams, Molly Brown, Emily Guill, and Megan Harrison are speech-language pathologists at Carilion Children’s Pediatric Therapy.

 

Kindness Matters: House of Bread

To break bread is probably one of the oldest human traditions that continues to ignite the spirit of sharing. In the Christian faith, it is symbolic of the Eucharist, or Holy Communion. To make bread is the activity that unites women who are participating in job training sessions offered by the House of Bread, a new non-profit in Roanoke.

The House of Bread was created in January 2017 to help formerly incarcerated women gain skills to strengthen their confidence and hope. Over the course of a six-week session, women learn new skills through hands on training in the Local Environmental Agricultural Project Kitchen (LEAP kitchen located in the West End) and gain spiritual development while baking and selling bread alongside volunteers from the community.

In addition to learning basic kitchen and baking skills, the women in the program receive ServSafe food handler training, develop marketing and customer service skills, and partner one-on-one with mentors who shepherd them through a job search and resume building process. The students are given a $50 weekly educational stipend and are expected to attend a weekly class and sell bread with the organization once a week. They meet weekly with their mentors. Each session culminates with the ServSafe certification exam and a mock interview clinic where students practice their interviewing skills and receive feedback. The first clinic was staffed by attorneys, business leaders, and people in the restaurant industry.

The inaugural session kicked off in October 2017. Most of the first session’s participants were chosen through Transitional Options for Women or Total Action for Progress. Six women began the program, and four graduated, all with ServSafe certifications. Alongside women from the community, the students learned how to bake a variety of breads and sold over 350 loaves, often selling out in an hour.

What was the recipe for this success? The baking skills honed at home and shared in the LEAP kitchen by Lisa Goad (co-founder), the organizational finesse of former teacher and current seminary student Jordan Hertz (co-founder), and the vision of licensed professional counselor and seminary student Jen Brothers (co-founder). Sprinkle in a handful of motivated students, passionate volunteers and mentors, wide-ranging community support, and generous funding from church grants and private donations, and House of Bread was born.

Brothers realistically anticipated some attrition, and it did happen in the case of one student, who relapsed after finding herself in an unsafe living situation. Her mentor did not give up, saying she wouldn’t leave her until she was ready to stand on her own two feet. She connected her mentee with resources to help her regain her footing and start a new job.

Currently in its second session, the House of Bread has big projects on the rise.   Transitional Options for Women, a recent recipient of a Roanoke Women’s Foundation grant, will open a coffee shop this January on 13th Ave. It will be staffed by TOFW residents and House of Bread graduates. A former HOB student and current House Manager at TOFW will manage the shop. HOB plans to rent a space beside the coffee shop to host meetings, hold interviews, and allow for greater connectivity to the neighborhood and its residents.

Brothers wants to hold the graduates together in community and is currently working on organizing weekly “soup nights” where program graduates, volunteers, and friends come together to break bread and share in storytelling and prayers, with local ministers presiding over a simple round table Communion service.

House of Bread fills a unique niche in our community, offering hope to those who may have lost it along the way and the tools to rebuild a life and become a healthy and productive citizen. It also allows for the formation of friendships across neighborhood and socio-economic divides. House of Bread actively seeks volunteers, donations, and customers. To learn more about House of Bread please visit www.houseofbreadroanoke.com.

Written by Kate Ericsson

 

Meet Essential Bliss!

Ten years ago, Cheryl Murphy started to look for ways to live a more environmentally friendly life. Like many of us, she started by investigating her cleaning products. The harsh chemicals that often make up these concoctions can be terrible for adults, children, and pets. She turned to essential oils to address her cleaning and household needs. Next, she bought an essential oils kit and began researching their benefits on the internet.

fullsizerender-3Of course, you can’t believe everything you read on Pinterest and Facebook,” she says. “I wanted to learn more, so I decided to seek a certification in aromatherapy.”

Cheryl began an online course from a school in Sedona. The course was rigorous, but that didn’t stop Cheryl or her friend, Tammy Ewen, who agreed to take the classes with her. Cheryl completed that training, and continues to take classes to this day at another school in Sedona.  The classes she takes now, however, she flies out to attend in person. Both Cheryl and Tammy are certified aromatherapists.

“There is a growing interest in this field. People want to take control of their health. They don’t always want to take a pill. They want more natural alternatives, and they want to have control,” she explains.

Cheryl and Tammy share their knowledge through their business, Essential Bliss. They offer consultations and workshops to help people learn how to use essential oils safely and effectively. Not only can Cheryl teach a client how to use their own oils, she can also mix oils to create a product that will specifically target trouble areas.

img_4497For those who want to take their aromatherapy on-the-go, Cheryl has developed aromatherapy bracelets. This concept is the result of merging aromatherapy and her jewelry-making business, Follow Your Bliss, to create a unique and beautiful product for her clients. With the addition of a lava bead to any one of her mindfully handcrafted bracelets, the jewelry becomes a diffuser.

Of course, clients who seek jewelry featuring symbolic charms and semi-precious gemstones without aromatherapy can purchase them through Cheryl as well.

Like her essential oil blends, her jewelry can be customized to target specific needs of the client. To help determine what will work best for an individual, Cheryl offers workshops on healing gemstones. Participants can attend these workshops and design their own bracelets as she talks about the metaphysical properties of gemstones. A bracelet created at one of these events can contain many different gemstones. It is not always about aesthetics, but instead about healing.

If you’re interested in learning more about gemstones, consider attending one of Cheryl’s upcoming workshops. She will be at Center of Gravity Yoga and Pilates on November 5 and Uttara Yoga Studio on November 20. To place an order or request a bracelet customized to fit your needs, go to www.fybbracelets.com.

For information on aromatherapy, clients can schedule consultations at Laurel Hill Salon. You can also attend our Aromatherapy Lunch and Learn on Thursday, November 17. Visit www.facebook.com/bellamagazine for more information.