Tag Archives: giving back

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

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.

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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!

Helping Victims of Domestic Violence

Until we live in a world where domestic violence no longer exists, it is important that we remember the victims include all ethnicities, income levels, and age groups. The bravest thing a victim can do is seek help, and it is important for everyone in a community to know where to send someone who needs those services.

Family Services of Roanoke Valley, TAP Domestic Violence Services, and the Salvation Army’s Turning Point are working together to offer a “Star City Survivors Support Group.” This group offers comprehensive support for survivors of domestic violence and meets twice each week—once in the morning and once in the evening. The collaboration also includes a weekly support group offered by Family Service staff at Turning Point. Their goal is to empower survivors through trauma awareness and skill-building.

The best part about this partnership is that it creates an opportunity for each organization to offer their best services to those in need. Family Services of Roanoke Valley is a mental health counseling agency that provides individual and group counseling for people regardless of age or ability to pay. This includes children, adults, families, elderly, and group counseling. Some children who receive their services will continue to do so as adults.

Turning Point is a secure and accredited shelter for women survivors of domestic violence and their children. Family Services has a group at their location and they provide referrals into private counseling as needed. They also offer therapy for children staying in the shelter with their mothers.

Finally, TAP’s domestic violence services program focuses on crisis intervention and has a hotline for people who need immediate resources. They have several different programs to meet the needs of various situations including one that facilitates an environment for parents who are no longer together but are granted supervised visitation.

The Star City Survivors Support Group is made up of a group of women who start the ten-week course together after being referred into the group. Going through the course together allows them to build a community of people who can lift one another up.

There are ways that we can help as a community. Turning Point has a list of items they will take for donations including feminine hygiene products, food, and clothes. You can also provide information on Family Service of Roanoke Valley to someone in need of counseling services. Visit their website, www.fsrv.org, for more details.

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.

Giving Back: REBBL Beverages

REBBL Elixirs & Tonics are making waves in the nutrition community, having recently earned the title of 2015’s Best Functional Beverage. Even the name itself, REBBL, stands for plant­based nutrition; Roots, Extracts, Berries, Bark, and Leaves. All of their beverages are Certified Organic Products (meaning no GMOs or pesticides). However, that’s not the only reason why the name is so fitting. The company stands for many economic and environmental issues globally, and isn’t afraid to ‘rebel’ by putting their money ­ and efforts ­ where their mouth is, so to speak.
s6Many global resources derive from people who live on the impoverished side of the economy, and REBBL provides such people with medical care, housing, and clean water products. Furthermore, the organization sources their organic, ‘super­herbs’ and ingredients from these communities. Also, REBBL proudly believes in efficiency, as to not waste any of “nature’s invaluable, treasured ingredients.”
The REBBL website lists the variety of flavors for their ‘elixirs and tonics’, like the Maca Mocha (made with the maca root) or Hibiscus Mint (which is made with Cat’s Claw, a plant that boosts immunity). Rather than simply listing complicated­ ingredients like many other companies, REBBL also provides explanations for the unique ‘super­herb’ in each drink ­ along with any other ingredients ­ and the community from which it is derived.

Written by Madison Correiro