Tag Archives: community

Heart to Heart Conversations in Roanoke

This November the Heart to Heart: Conversations on Loving our LGBTQ Neighbors and Strengthening our Faith will be holding a series of discussions in the Roanoke area. These conversations will feature the internationally known speaker, author, and spiritual director, Susan Cottrell. Susan is a wife and mother to five children, two of whom are members of the LGBTQI community, and author of Mom, I’m Gay! Loving Your LGBTQ Child and Strengthening Your Faith and True Colors: Celebrating the Truth and Beauty of the Real You. She has also founded the organization, www.freedhearts.org, a nonprofit that aims to address LGBTQI issues theologically and religiously. Having recently been featured on ABC’S 20/20, Nightline and Good Morning America, Susan is a firm believer that the foundation of faith is based upon one’s love for God and all others.

The main purpose behind the Heart to Heart conversations is to create and promote serious discussion and support for the LGBTQ community. What once started as a one-day event, has now turned into a week-long series of events to promote discussion, love, and understanding. Among many topics discussed, some of the most prominent include curiosity and difficulty with sexual orientation, gender identity, and faith. The Heart to Heart events will be held November 8-12 with the main event, the Heart to Heart Conference, occurring November 11, 9am-2pm at the Christ Episcopal Church in Roanoke. A schedule of these events may be found at www.hearttoheartva.com. Most of these events, unless stated otherwise, are free and open to the public.

Donations can be made to the Heart to Heart foundation online at www.donate.hearttoheartva.com or checks can be made payable to the Roanoke Diversity Center and mailed to 806 Jamison Ave SE, Roanoke, VA 24013. All donations will go towards funding for these conversations that deepen our love and support for the LGBTQ community and featuring authors and leaders, such as Susan Cottrell.

 

Written by Taylor Ward

Meet Erica Snipes of Imagination Station!

When did you decide to start working for Imagination Station?
I needed a fun part-time job, and I have a twelve-year-old so we spent a lot of time in the toy store in Blacksburg. The owner put up a notice and said she was looking for help, so I decided that was a sign! Then, about half a year after I started working for them we decided we were going to move to Roanoke so my daughter could go to school here. The owner asked if I wanted to manage a toy store in Roanoke if they opened one. I thought about it, and a couple months later I said I would do it.

What is one important lesson that you’ve learned along the way as a manager?
Unlike some other retail businesses, you are growing up with the families and the kids. Establishing a relationship is really important. We are more than a place to come and shop. Upstairs we have a room that has toys, games, and books that we call our “chill out” room. You can just hang out; you don’t have to buy something. Go to Cups, grab a coffee, and bring your kids here.

With the technology we have available, why is this type of imaginative play still so important?
We are passionate about helping parents, caregivers, and teachers find ways to keep children engaged. With the advent of technology, it is so easy for all of us as caregivers to just hand over the cell phone or the iPad. There needs to be more tactile person-to-person play. For example, building blocks used to be the core of play. Everybody had building blocks, but people don’t really buy them anymore because they have so many pieces. They say their child doesn’t really know what to do with them. However, they need to be bored and build something because it helps with learning physics, gravity, and trial and error.

Find Imagination Station at www.imaginationstoys.com.

Kids & Interior Design in Southeast Roanoke

The story begins with Mike Eaton, who lives in Southeast Roanoke with his family, contacting me about painting the interior of his home. A few days later, Joey Coakley, Bella publisher, is in a car with me driving to Mike’s home. Joey is to be their paint color consultant!

So, is it true you haven’t done any upgrades since you bought your home 9 years ago?
Mike: Yes, with the exception of painting the kids’ rooms, we haven’t done much of anything in the house. And let me tell you it was a long nine years–did you see the hideous purple living room walls? From the Barney-colored living room to the pea green dining room, the house was in desperate need of fresh paint and modern upgrades to truly make it feel like a home.

We bought the house with the intention of updating and painting, but the reality was after we moved here–me, my wife, Armendia and our 10 year old son, Lewis–life became very busy for us and home improvements were put on the back burner. And before you know it 9 years have gone by.

What happened? Let me guess, more children?
Mike: Yes. We started being foster parents. Our first one, Addy, was such a sweetheart. It breaks your heart learning of the environments and experiences these kids have lived through. We have the space and feel compelled to give a home to these children. We ended up adopting Addy.

Since then we have had numerous children stay with us, mostly for a brief period. In December of 2015 we received a call for two-day-old James. To make a long story short we ended up adopting James and his four-year-old brother, Donny. Now our home AND our hearts are full. As a matter of fact our home is so full we are planning on adding an additional master bedroom/bathroom to our home!

What’s it like, fostering children?
Mike: We 100% love it but it can be emotionally hard. Armendia was working outside the home until recently but now she works full-time with the kids. She has the patience of a saint because it can be stressful at times but there are also tremendous amounts of joy with these precious little ones. The children have had rough backgrounds and like with any kids, life isn’t predictable with them. But truly we consider it a blessing and honor to be bringing them into our family. We wish we could have more.

How does someone become a foster parent?
Mike: Start off by contacting your local Department of Social Services. Training consists of nine weeks of PRIDE classes. Basically, boot camp for prospective foster parents. The classes contain a lot of good information. There is tremendous need in the Roanoke Valley for qualified foster parents to provide a safe, loving home to these wonderful children.  

Can I become a foster parent?
Mike: Anyone can! But for you, I recommend adopting a cat or two first to “get your feet wet!”

Tell us a little bit about your background. Are you Roanoke natives?
Mike: Armendia is, but I’m originally from New Jersey. After being stationed in Norfolk for five years with the U.S. Navy we moved to Roanoke to be closer to her family. I was fortunate to get a job as an electrician at Norfolk Southern. Our day to life is very routine. I pack my lunchbox, go to work, and clock in. When the bell rings, I leave and come home to my lovely family in a quiet neighborhood in Southeast Roanoke–just like in the movies!

At the time our budget led us to the Southeast section of Roanoke. We were able to find a bigger home on a smaller budget in the quaint Waverly Place neighborhood.

Moving to the present, you now have a beautifully colored interior for your home. How did you come up with this color combination?
Mike: We knew we needed help! We wanted something timeless, yet trendy and modern. With Joey Coakley Beck’s guidance we now have wonderful new colors that highlight our home’s interior. It truly feels like a new place. The interior is bright and airy where before it seemed dark and cramped. It’s great! Thank you, Joey!

By way of closing, Armendia says, “Please contact me if you have any questions at all about foster parenting. My email is mendieaton@gmail.com

Click here for more information on fostering a child within Roanoke.

Information is also available here for Salem and Roanoke County residents.

 

Interior paint colors:
Living and family rooms: Sterling
Dining room: Fresh Willow
Kitchen: Tinfoil
Trim: Ultra Pure White
Ceilings: Matte White

All paints by Behr Marquee.

Written by River Laker