Tag Archives: giving back

Giving Back: Matthew’s Child

Matthew’s Child opened their doors in 2013 with the goal to help create happy kids and foster healthy relationships in the foster and adoptive community. Husband and wife team, Jesse and Melanie Couch, saw a need for support for foster families in the area. Their first-hand experience as foster parents and their relationship with the community helped them create programs that tailor to specific areas like first night meals, survival kits to meet basic needs, hygiene kits, car seats, clothing, and more.

“There is this false stereotype that the government pays you to be a foster parent and takes care of you. While there is a small monthly stipend, it doesn’t cover the full physical needs of the child,” Melanie says. “It’s definitely something that, when you choose to be a foster parent, you are expected to be able to provide for that child. We’re not talking about just the physical things, we’re talking about meeting their emotional needs and the support needs of the families so they don’t get burned out. [They need to be] able to find the resources they need so they are able to take care of that child. It takes a lot, so these families need a lot of support. Foster care can be on the fringe of society, so sometimes you don’t think about that need being here in your own backyard.”

To help foster families meet their needs, Matthew’s Child partners with psychologists and different local specialists to set up training for foster families and parents. Available trainings include, but are not limited to, ethnic hair care, biological family engagement, and independent living for teens. For those interested in becoming a member of a foster child’s team, they offer a course on working as a team member that includes information on the role of the foster parent, biological family engagement, the role of a caseworker, the role of the community, and the court process.

“It takes a village to raise a child, whether it’s teachers, volunteers, Big Brothers Big Sisters, CASA volunteers, special advocates, down to the Grandin Theatre across the street hiring teenagers who need experience,” Melanie explains. “Not everyone can be a parent, but everyone can offer support.”

With the holidays right around the corner, it is important to remember to help those out who might be experiencing a difficult year. If you can’t foster a child, consider donating gently used clothing and toys, or travel-sized hygiene products for the first night in foster care. Matthew’s Child is also accepting volunteers in any capacity.

If you are interested in helping out with foster care, or if you’d like to learn more about how Matthew’s Child can help your family, visit www.matthewschild.com or call 540-523-1580.

Giving Back: Craftsmen’s Classic

The Craftsmen’s Classic Show at the Berglund Center is the second largest food drive all year for Feeding America Southwest Virginia. The event will take place October 13-15, and offers free admission with a food donation. In years past, the event has brought in thousands of pounds of food for the area. Food banks like Feeding America Southwest Virginia are essential to our community. According to www.faswva.org, “The USDA estimates that 42.2 Americans lived in food insecure households, including 29.1 million adults and 13.1 million children.”

Without that knowledge, it is difficult to imagine that so many of your neighbors could be going hungry. This makes holding donations for admission to events like the Craftsmen’s Classic Show an integral part of helping meet the nutritional needs of families in Southwest Virginia.

In addition to helping out local families, this is a great opportunity to get a head start on your holiday shopping and support artisans at a time of year when every penny counts for small businesses. Nine Craftsmen’s Classics are held annually and throughout the year in Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Gilmore Enterprises, Inc. takes producing each event seriously. Every show contains a careful balance of traditional and contemporary works. Ultimately, hundreds of artists and craftsmen from over 20 states are featured. They are juried and selected for originality and creative excellence.

Because these qualities are so important, there is something for everyone at this event. Enjoy new exhibitors and familiar favorites as you browse pottery, fine art, glass, jewelry, baskets, weaving, clothing, furniture, sculpture, photography, wood, and more! The event will also include specialty foods. All items are made by the participating artists and craftsmen. You won’t find any of these items in the “big box” retail stores. Many exhibitors even welcome requests for custom work, allowing them to explore their creativity to create a personalized gift for you or your loved one. Between collectibles, home accessories, and personal treasures for all ages, you have an opportunity to find something for everyone on your list!

Visit www.craftshow.com for more information on this event! We look forward to seeing you there!

Virginia Western Community Arboretum

The Virginia Western Community Arboretum began 24 years ago when the state college allowed use of the property with the understanding that it would be developed and maintained using private donated funds. The grounds have one full-time and one part-time staff member, and they rely on volunteer assistance to accomplish the many tasks that face them throughout the growing season.
“Our volunteer program is vital to us because of our limited budget,” explains Clark BeCraft. “Right now we have twelve regular volunteers who come out weekly and help us in the gardens. We have six tour guide volunteers that help us with groups that come into the Arboretum.”
Tour guide volunteers also help out with children’s tours, and will often provide assistance with activities like a scavenger hunt or a learning activity with the children that is related to nature or gardening. Additionally, the Arboretum hosts horticulture students though a program that allows them to complete a one semester internship there.
The garden helper is one of their most popular volunteer opportunities. Garden helpers visit the Arboretum twice a week during growing season, and work closely with an Arboretum tech, Sarah Isley, to care for the plants.
“There is no specific skill set needed,” adds Clark. “We help you identify weeds and instruct you on how to plant things if that is part of the task for the day. Sarah and I work with [volunteers] to answer any questions they have.”
A majority of the current volunteers are retirement age, but the Arboretum is open to all volunteers ages 16 and up. Although they have a need for volunteers who can work during the week, they are open to setting up times for those who work on weekdays to volunteer on occasional Saturdays or evenings if there is enough interest. Every volunteer is required to complete a background check as they are acting as an agent of the college.
“Our volunteers look forward to coming to the Arboretum to work. For many, it is the highlight of their week. They enjoy working in the gardens because it is for the community, but also an opportunity to come out and fellowship with one another. We look at it as getting work done, but it is also a nice way for our volunteers to spend time together and work in the gardens,” says Clark.
If you’ve ever visited any of their gardens, you know that the community effort results in an unforgettable experience. That effort includes a partnership with the Roanoke Master Gardeners, who have worked with the Virginia Western Community Arboretum since 2008. In 2016, the Arboretum logged over 700 volunteer hours, showing that the volunteer program is an essential part of their success in serving the community. Many of the volunteers are Friends of the Arboretum as well, contributing both time and money to maintaining the location.
You can also support the Arboretum by attending one of their events. They will offer a Garden Tour to the Gardens of Pennsylvania and Delaware featuring Longwood Gardens September 7-9, and host a Fall Accent Plant Sale on September 23 from 10am-1pm.
To learn more about the Virginia Western Community Arboretum, and volunteer opportunities, please visit www.virginiawester.edu/arboretum

Spoonie Essentials Box

(featured photo credit: Momma Without a Clue)

Spoonie Essentials Box is not like other subscription boxes you’ve seen before. Behind every box is a community for chronic illness warriors around the world to turn to for support and validation. This amazing group of people seek to make sure every chronic illness warrior knows that they are seen, heard, and loved. The core mission of Spoonie Essentials Box is a personal one to the entire staff, who all volunteer. Each of them has been inspired to do so by their own battles with chronic illness. CEO Brittani Daniels has battled DRESS Syndrome, Lupus, severe Crohn’s disease, and colon cancer all while running Spoonie Essentials Box.

“I realized there was a need for something tangible for people to feel like they were not invisible,” she explains. “This was greater because it doesn’t just give you a box. It gives you a community to belong to.”

We are giving away one Spoonie Essentials Box to a chronic illness warrior in southwest Virginia on our Facebook page on Monday, August 7. You can also purchase a box for the chronic illness warrior in your life by visiting www.spoonieessentialsbox.com. Pay close attention to what comes in those boxes, whether you are personally impacted by a chronic illness or not. You may learn something.

“Once you become educated on chronic illness you will become an advocate with us. You don’t just stand idly by while people are being mistreated and looked down upon,” Brittani says. “When you teach someone about what you’re going through, they can better understand you and help other people.”

Giving Back

We are currently compiling our list of ways to give back in the coming months. Beginning in February, we will replace “Giving Back” with an active volunteering article. The goal is to promote a general understanding of the commitment many nonprofits need to survive and help those in need right here in Southwest and Central Virginia.

To begin this series, we want to tell you about smaller efforts we are making as a staff to brighten up the world around us. We hope that they will inspire you to complete random acts of kindness in your own life so we can all work together to make our community a better place.

We adore the girls over at Project Goodness (www.withgoodness.com). They are “a community dedicated to noticing and adding to the goodness in and around us.” Their interactive signs are popping up all over the country, and encourage passersby to take a random act of goodness to complete during their day. They send PDFS out for free, and you are welcome to contact them or us (editorial@beckmediagroup.com) for copies of your own! (Just make sure to ask permission before you hang them!)

We are also captivated by the Craftivist Collective community. Created by activist Sarah Corbett, it allows artists to approach activism in a gentle, respectful, yet target manner. Sarah’s goal is to explore global issues “using craft for critical thinking.” Check out some of their awesome projects like “Stitchable Change-makers” at www.craftivist-collective.com.

It is easy to be overwhelmed by the information and resources available for the cause you want to support most, but don’t let it distract you from your purpose. A simple, random act of kindness or a moment spent learning and reflecting on the lives of others can help you achieve the personal growth you seek on a daily basis. Give one (or both!) of these a try and stay tuned for our volunteer adventures in 2017!

Giving Back: Ronald McDonald House

The local Ronald McDonald House opened in May of 1984, just ten years after the national charity began. There are currently more than 360 Ronald McDonald houses around the world. Most of them are in the United States, Canada, and Australia. Although McDonald’s is a corporate sponsor, the houses are not solely supported by the fast food franchise. In fact, most of their funding comes from the community through private donations and contributions from individuals, corporations, and foundations.

2007-10-10-00-00-31The Roanoke location is an 18 bedroom home for families whose children are patients at Carilion Clinic or being treated by a doctor in Roanoke. Over their lifetime, this location has served more than 25,000 families. In addition to the house itself, they also maintain a room on the 14th floor of the Carilion Clinic Children’s Hospital. The Ronald McDonald Family Room serves as a respite area for adult family members and guests of hospitalized children.

“It is a quiet space,” says Jeanne Bollendorf, Director of Community Development. “We have snacks, coffee, and phones. We have computers and Wi-Fi there. It is a comfortable place for people to regroup while still at the hospital. That way they aren’t too far away from their child’s bedside.”

As for the house itself, guests are chosen through a direct referral system. Nurses, social workers, or medical staff at doctor’s offices send families in need to each independently-operated Ronald McDonald House. In our area, many of those families live in Southwest Virginia. Some, however, would have a much longer drive if they had to go home every night.

“Families that stay at the house have to live at least 25 miles outside of Roanoke,” explains Jeanne. “A lot of families come from two or three hours away. They would spend more time on the road than they did with their child if they didn’t stay here.”

Regardless of where the family is from, the time and services they receive from the Ronald McDonald House are priceless.

“One of the things we’ve always done is give out baby blankets to families with a new baby. So many people that I meet out in the community will say, ‘We stayed at the house, and our son is 18. He still has his quilt from the Ronald McDonald House.’ I really love to hear those stories,” says Jeanne.

If you want to help with the needs of the Ronald McDonald House, you can donate in-kind donations like pantry items for the home and the hospital respite room, paper products, toiletries, and cleaning supplies. Of course, monetary donations are welcome and greatly appreciated.

You can also donate your time. Families staying at the Ronald McDonald House receive a cooked meal every night from a group of volunteers. Additionally, the Family Room at Carilion Clinic Children’s Hospital is managed by volunteers and would be a great place to help out families that truly need it this holiday season.

For more information on Roanoke’s Ronald McDonald House and how you can help out, visit www.rmhc-swva.org.

Fashion with a Purpose

Fall 2016 style is about discovering your identity, and projecting that outward through clothing, shoes, and other accessories. The choices can be overwhelming, and it is important you invest wisely. Fortunately, Urban Gypsy on Grandin Road makes it easy with a beautiful selection and a savvy staff who can help you find the look that best reflects your personality. Here are a few things we learned from owner, Ashley Shaffner, during our trip to stock up our wardrobes for cooler weather:

Ladies, the flare leg is coming back!!! (If you wait long enough, the best things always do.) Be ready to rock that flare cut with heels, boots, and wedges. Bold patterns and screen prints are also filling the shelves. There really is something for everyone out there. Find what works best for you, and OWN it!

Style shouldn’t be a drag. We all know we are our own worst critics. It’s easier to give yourself a break (and maybe even LOVE your look) when you are excited about it. Fill your wardrobe with practical items that make you confident, not necessarily things off the sale rack. You’ll get much more out of your purchase, and the confidence alone is worth paying a little extra.

photo-sep-30
Devon Steiner wearing clothing and accessories from Urban Gypsy

Make one bold statement. Too many patterns and bold colors can be a little intimidating. Having several neutral staples in your wardrobe will allow you to alternate and play with bold pieces. Pairing black leggings with a dark blue poncho, light blue scarf, and black boots can help you stand out in a sea of oranges, reds, and greens.

Subtly can also make all the difference with accessories. For example, jewelry from The Artful Sojourn makes a statement by reflecting your personality with minimal effort. With beautiful stones, keys, and silhouettes of the beautiful state of Virginia, you can’t go wrong!

Above all, be comfortable in what you wear. Find those pieces that work for your day to day activities, but also allow you to be the best version of you. The Nomad Hempwear collection features several pieces that transition very well from business casual at the office to active weekend wear.

Finally, shop where your money is making a difference. During the month of November, Urban Gypsy will be donating proceeds of their sales to our local Ronald McDonald House. “Our donations will be in honor of my son, Lucas, and in memory of his brother, Elijah,” says Ashley. “Their Family Room in the NICU of Carilion Children’s Hospital fed me for four months. As a parent you need that room for your sanity.”

Join us as we shop at Urban Gypsy during the month of November! Go to www.urbangypsyva.com for more information and to check out their gorgeous photo gallery.

Giving Back: Creative Therapy Care

Creative Therapy Care is a local nonprofit organization that supports children and adults with special needs through the use of occupational, physical, and speech therapies by incorporating animals. They also provide music therapy onsite through Anderson Music Therapy Services.

The newly-expanded campus includes a gym for sensory integrative activities, a woodworking station, and a shop where items made by clients are sold. It will soon include a room renovated for expressive art.

photo-aug-26-4Occupational therapist Mona Sams owns and cares for all of the animals used at Creative Therapy Care. Dogs, rabbits, and llamas comfort and bond with clients on the grounds. This unique form of treatment is not only soothing, but also helps in the development of key life skills. “Animals help because they don’t pass judgement,” explains Mona. “They give unconditional acceptance. They also help in that they create an awareness that beings other than just yourself need to be cared for. It helps develop a nurturing aspect and social skills. They each pick a llama to care for and they share.”

In addition to occupational therapy, clients can participate in music therapy with Noel Anderson and Cassie Smith from Anderson Music Therapy. Music is used therapeutically to address physical, psychological, communicative, cognitive, behavioral, and/or social functioning. Often clients are co-treated with the two therapies since they are at the same site. This allows parents and caregivers to take advantage of both in the same trip.

“Sometimes a client has been in a session with me and Cassie will come down and I can let her know what we’ve done during the day,” says Mona. “They can then make up a song about something that happened with a llama. If the client gets restless we can walk around the building again with the llama.”

Through a door in the music room awaits a gym. Once a garage, it is now a room of discovery and growth. There, nonverbal children learn to communicate with the animals without speaking by making motions with their hands or indicating direction with their bodies. In the last few months, clients have been using the gym to practice with the llamas for Llama Fest, which will take place on Saturday, October 8 from 10 am to 4 pm (with a rain date of Saturday, October 15). The event will take place at their location, 8209 Williamson Road, Roanoke. Clients will lead their llamas through obstacles and it will be categorized according to skill. There will be judges present for the event, which helps teach sportsmanship and self awareness.

If you are interested in learning more about Creative Therapy Care and Anderson Music Therapy, their websites are www.monasark.org and www.amusictheraphy.com, respectively. Don’t forget to check out Llama Fest on October 8! We’ll see you there!