Tag Archives: give back

Opera Roanoke Makes Case for the Arts

In a time when the NEA (National Endowment of the Arts) might face elimination due to proposed budget cuts, Opera Roanoke is pushing for more arts & culture in the region.
The 41-year-old non-profit organization announced the appointment of Nancy Harder as the Director of Outreach and Associate Conductor.
“I am thrilled to join Opera Roanoke in a leadership role after my involvement as a pianist and vocal coach,” says Ms. Harder. “Opera Roanoke is an innovative, exciting opera company with a national reputation that is an integral part of the arts & culture scene in Roanoke and the New River Valley. I look forward to playing a significant role in its future.”
Opera Roanoke was recently named as one of only a handful of recipients of OPERA America’s highly competitive Building Opera Audiences grant.
“The most recent grant awardees demonstrate the many ways companies are developing innovative strategies to not only attract audiences, but to increase the civic impact of new works — by engaging generative artists with local communities, developing partnerships with organizations outside the arts, and facilitating dialogue to connect storytelling with contemporary issues”, said Marc Scorca, OPERA America President/CEO.
Following the OPERA America announcement, Opera Roanoke was awarded a $50,000 challenge grant from the Ceres Foundation. The grant must be matched by new contributions before June 30. The grant will assist Opera Roanoke in leveraging funds towards its productions, programs and youth music education opportunities in our region.
As a way to connect with new audiences, Opera Roanoke will be holding its first “Opera Tap Takeover” at Soaring Ridge Brewery on April 19 at 6pm. The fundraising event includes great southern food, live music and craft beer.
And on April 28 & 30, Opera Roanoke will present Carlisle Floyd’s American opera Susannah at the Jefferson Center under the baton of Metropolitan Opera conductor, Steven White. Artistic Director Scott Williamson will direct the company premiere of Floyd’s award-winning “folk” opera, set in the Appalachian mountains, which will feature the mainstage debut of Met Opera soprano, Danielle Talamantes.
“We couldn’t be more excited and grateful for all of the great things happening right now,” said Williamson. “The recognition and support from OPERA America, one of the leading arts organizations in the country, and the matching grant from one of our most generous foundations just heightens the anticipation of our premiere production of Floyd’s Susannah. We hope our community here will not only share the excitement of our good news, but will join us for this moving and lyrical drama, full of music which sounds like it came from our beloved Blue Ridge Mountains.”

For more information on Opera Roanoke, and how you can help give back to keep the arts alive in our region visit www.operaroanoke.org.

Extraordinary Women: LeeRay Costa

As LeeRay Costa wraps up her spring semester as a professor at Hollins University, she looks eagerly towards summer and the fourth year of Girls Rock Roanoke—a volunteer-run, community-based organization that she began in 2012. The week-long day camp is part of a larger global network called Girls Rock Camp Alliance. It is a place where girls and gender non-conforming youth form bands, write their own songs, and perform at a final showcase. They also participate in workshops on topics like women’s music history, body confidence, and stage performance. This incredible experience is changing lives right here in the Roanoke Valley.

What made you want to bring Girls Rock to Roanoke?
Our family knew about the Girls Rock concept for a long time. We watched the documentary when our daughter, Tallulah, was young. When she became old enough to attend camp, we found one in Durham, North Carolina. We planned our summer vacation around camp so she could have that experience. She played keyboard for several years, but at camp she discovered the drums. Through working with the band, she found she had a real skill for it. At the end of each day she couldn’t wait to tell us everything she had learned.
Her excitement was inspiring, and I started talking to the organizers of the Durham camp because I wanted youth in Roanoke to have these opportunities and experiences.

Photo by Siobhan Cline
Photo by Siobhan Cline

How does Girls Rock Roanoke help empower its participants?
Some people think of us mainly as a music camp, but music and creativity are mediums for developing other skill sets. For example, campers learn risk-taking, because in one week campers learn an instrument, write an original song, work with a people they may not know, and then perform their creations live on stage. We live in a culture that tries to mold girls into a certain way of being. They are expected to be cute and silent. This crushes their potential in many ways. We want to create fertile ground for their potential to grow.

Has the camp opened doors for you to explore your own interest in music?
Yes. A few volunteers, including myself, attended Women’s Rock Retreat through a Girls Rock camp in North Carolina because we thought, “If we are going to ask the girls to do this, we need to put ourselves out there and see what it’s like.” I played bass and sang for the first time. At the end of the three-day camp, we played at the Pinhook. There I was, in my 40s, up on stage singing a punk rock song called, “Hormone Whiplash.” It was scary but very empowering at the same time.

How do you balance Girls Rock Roanoke and your work as a professor?
One important factor is the support of my partner, Andy Matzner. Not only does he happily claim the label of feminist, but he truly walks the talk in sharing all the responsibilities of being in a partnership and raising Tallulah. He was the first person to encourage my dream of bringing Girls Rock to Roanoke, and he has been there every step of the way.
Furthermore, Girls Rock is a team effort. It would be irresponsible for me to take credit for the tremendous labor and deep love that many others have contributed to Girls Rock camp over the years. Our program director, Lucy Coronado, our volunteers, and our Board work year round to make camp a success. Together with our campers, they inspire me to make Girls Rock a priority.

If you would like more information on Girls Rock Roanoke, go to www.girlsrockroanoke.org.

There are two camp options available this summer: one week for ages 8-11 (July 11-15) and a second week for ages 12-16 (July 18-22). This year’s theme, “Rocking for Change” will incorporate social justice issues into camp activities. Be sure to pick up our June issue for LeeRay’s interview and the interviews of nine other extraordinary women we are celebrating this month!

Heels for Healing

If you’re looking for a fun way to celebrate spring and meet new friends, you don’t want to miss Heels for Healing on Friday, April 29 from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Berglund Center in Roanoke! This annual women’s fundraiser for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals will feature a shoe raffle with gorgeous footwear from Yarid’s. Wine, heavy hors d’oeuvres, and a cash bar will be available. The event will also include a large silent and live auction.

Tickets to Heels for Healing are $55 each, or $400 for a table of eight. Since its inception, the event has raised thousands of dollars and awareness for local nonprofit children’s hospitals. These funds help provide lifesaving medical equipment and services for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and Pediatric Units at Carilion Clinic Children’s Hospital in Roanoke. Each year, over 2,200 hospitalized children and 25,000 children visiting 17 speciality outpatient clinics benefit from the money raised by Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

12814617_10154034110948140_1515970955429804959_nThis is possible because 100 percent of funds raised remain locally to enable the hospital to pivoted miracles of health and healing for babies and children in our communities. Every ticket, every pair of shoes, every donation—every single dollar makes a difference.

In previous years, the event has been held during the day. The new hours this year may be more convenient for attendees to relax and enjoy the event—all while doing their part to help children in our community. For more information about this event and how to purchase tickets, visit www.carilionclinic.org/cmn.

Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas

Flowers and chocolate are nice, but let’s be honest–it isn’t that hard to go to the grocery store, grab those items, and make it look like you actually thought about Valentine’s Day for more than three seconds on the way home.
Surprise your Valentine with unique and creative gifts that appeal to their personality this year–it only takes a few extra seconds to find something beautiful, thoughtful, and perfect for the one you love. Here area  few of our favorite ideas:

VDay_Paramour2Paramour Valentine’s Day Archipelago candles: These candles are elegant, and they smell wonderful also. This is a gift that your Valentine can appreciate for quite some time, and the glass containers make wonderful keepsakes once the candle is gone!

Bubblecake Cupcakes: Again, candy is great… but we love cupcakes! This option is perfect for any sweet-loving male or female in your life. Plus, they are having a really great deal this weekend. Head over to their Facebook page for more information!

word-notebooks-declan-3pack-coverWord. Notebooks: We featured these in our February issue, but we have to mention them here as well! There are many different styles of these notebooks available, making them the perfect gift regardless of gender. Plan an adventure for your Valentine, but don’t forget to give them the notebook first–that way they can record it and remember it forever!

2016 Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure Registration: The Virginia Blue Ridge Affiliate of Susan G. Komen is hosting their Race for the Cure on April 9 this year. Surprise your sweetheart by registering them and yourself to participate! Take advantage of their sweetheart deal, which offers the lowest race registration prices available, before it ends on Monday, February 15. Click here for details!

Happy Valentine’s Day from your Bella girls! We hope you have a great weekend!

 

Giving Back: Love Your Melon

Love Your Melon was founded in October 2012, with the simple idea of putting a hat on every child battling cancer in America. Two college sophomores, Zach and Brian, set out to fulfill their mission of improving the lives of these children, traveling from coast to coast with hats in hand.
Not only does Love Your Melon provide hats for patients, they also sell them (along with other items) to the public. Through funding from product sales, they can continue to give hats to children newly diagnosed each year in addition to the 45,000 to which they have already committed.
Also, fifty percent of the net proceeds from their sales go to the Pinky Swear Foundation (providing immediate support for children battling cancer) and CureSearch for Children’s Cancer (to fund research initiatives to beat childhood cancer completely).
In order to reach their goals, Love Your Melon has expanded significantly in the last few years. They now include a network of college students across the nation called Love Your Melon Ambassadors. To date, more than 2,500 college students at over 225 different schools have signed on to sell and donate hats. Locally, Kinzie Trompak began a chapter at Virginia Tech in the spring of 2015.
IMG_8888For Kinzie, the desire to help children battle this disease went beyond sending a check to an organization. It was about getting involved personally and creating a bond when people needed it the most.
“It is really rewarding to be able to go and do donation events at hospitals,” she explains. “It gives you the opportunity to put a face to the cause.”
Kinzie’s initiative to establish a chapter at Virginia Tech was the first big step to help children in our area battling cancer. However, it is important that we get behind her and show that we, as a community, are part of their team.
“Readers can help by purchasing anything on the Love Your Melon website and crediting the Virginia Tech campus,” she says. “We are currently the only campus in Central and Southwest Virginia that participates in the Love Your Melon Ambassadors program.”
Visit www.loveyourmelon.com to check out their selection of beanies, caps, shirts, and accessories. Their beanies are perfect for the remainder of winter, and their shirts will make a great addition to your summer wardrobe so you can love your melon throughout the year!

The Gift of Kindness

bellawebLooking for a great gift for the health-conscious person in your life? Give them a delicious surprise from Kind Healthy Snacks. Their new, Limited-Edition KIND Holiday Cube is not just a gift, it’s an experience. Filled with 20 seemingly indulgent Nuts & Spices chocolate flavors, the cube sides fall away to make a perfect present!

Plus, this is a gift that keeps giving. Inside you’ll find a #kindawesome card which you can use this season to celebrate someone spreading kindness in your world. Simply:

  1. See a KIND act, big or small.
  2. Give the #kindawesome card to the person doing the KIND act.
  3. Share that the card can be redeemed for a sample of KIND snacks as a thank-you for being KIND.

Visit www.kindsnacks.com for more information and to order a box for the special person in your life today!

SuperFood Drive

Woman checking food labellingIn the next few weeks we will be surrounded by food drives. Although all of them are important, a non-profit organization called SuperFood Drive is changing the way we think of donating to the hungry.

To simultaneously combat the epidemics of hunger, malnutrition, obesity, and chronic disease, SuperFood Drive works with and supports food banks and food pantries around the world to transform them into healthy hunger relief organizations.

“Our goal is to fill all food banks and food pantries with nutrient dense foods so those in need get the food that is critical to living a healthy and active life,” says Ruthi Solari, founder and executive director of SuperFood Drive.

Over the years, many products have been donated to the one in six Americans struggling to keep food on the table. Unfortunately, filling empty stomachs with unhealthy, non-perishable food is not enough. Often it does not satiate the recipient’s hunger. Even if it does, it can lead to health problems down the road that will present yet another financial obstacle.  

bellaweb1SuperFoods are foods with the most nutrient-density per calorie. They are packed full of vitamins and minerals, and they are what we all should be filling our bodies with to get healthy. Some of us have the choice to purchase them for ourselves. For those that do not, it is important that they are given the same opportunity to be healthy as everyone else. By transforming every food drive into an opportunity to collect healthy, nourishing food for those in need, obesity and its related diseases will fall by the wayside in this highly susceptible population. SuperFoods have been proven to help prevent, and in some cases, reverse the well-known effects of aging, cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes, hypertension, and certain cancers.

SuperFoods also has a program focused on educating the next generation called SuperKids for SuperFoods. It provides two options: a quick and fun educational engagement called SuperKids OlympiKs or, for a more in-depth approach, a six-week service-learning program that combines nutrition education with community service to engage youth, ages 11-18, as community leaders and food equity advocates. In addition, SuperFood Drive provides resources for the community on how to host their own SuperFood Drives.

To find out more about SuperFood Drive or to find out how to host your own SuperFood Drive please visit www.superfooddrive.org.