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Women’s History Month: Brenda Hale

March is Women’s History Month. Although women have come a long way since the 19th amendment was ratified in 1920 and the Voting Rights Act was signed into law in 1965, we still have a long way to go on the path to equality. This means equality that does not discriminate based on gender, race, sexual orientation, class, ethnicity, or religion. Locally, there are many amazing women who are working hard to eradicate the practices that lead to oppression in these areas. What they have in common is a shared desire to help individuals in a community come together, care for one another, and help each other succeed. This month, we’d like to focus on one of those women specifically: Roanoke NAACP President, Brenda Hale.

Hale has had a passion for helping others since she was nine years old. Raised by her great uncle and aunt in Bridgeport, Connecticut, she went everywhere with them as a child.

“They taught me everything. I like to help people, and she taught me how to take pride in my work. No matter what you do, no matter what you become, be the best you can be,” she recalls.

That is a lesson Hale has carried with her throughout her life. As a veteran and a nurse, she has always been a resource for the people around her. It is no surprise that her history of helping others led her to the critical roles she plays today. From sit-ins at Bob Goodlatte’s office calling for action to strengthen voter protections to an appearance at the first Women’s March in 2017, Hale illustrates that she truly cares about the people she meets and represents.

Around the Roanoke Valley, and the nation, we are all beginning to have difficult conversations involving the qualities that make us all unique human beings. We don’t always meet people who agree with us, but it is possible to work towards solutions with those people. Hale approaches those discussions like peeling back the layers of an onion.

“Once you peel back the first layer, there is something of substance underneath. You may start out with socioeconomic conditions, but you’re going to hit other layers. One of those layers will be racism. One will be education. There are so many layers to what is going on right now, and you constantly have to be peeling them back. I’m not afraid to peel back the layers and have the conversations we need to move forward,” she explains.

Although it may seem easier to avoid those conversations, that attitude can often cause more damage than the discomfort is worth. One of the dangers of complacency is that these issues continue to be swept under the rug until resentment reaches a boiling point. People often reference Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his “I Have a Dream” speech when they call for peace. Hale wants them to know that there are multiple facets to that dream.

“It may have started out with economic empowerment and the right to vote. The thing of the matter is each community needs to be the beloved community he talked about. Everyone needs to be working. It can’t take just one person. It takes all of us being willing to have talks and dialogue and to work on those multiple layers,” she adds.

Perhaps this is most eloquently represented in Dr. King’s own family, and with one of Hale’s role models, Coretta Scott King.

“[She] was the glue who held her family together. Women have always been that. She was a mother, wife; she had to be a doctor, nurse, and a psychologist. If you’re taking care of the whole family you have to wear a lot of hats. She was a civil rights icon. She stepped it up further, and she loved people,” Hale says.

Hale continues to exhibit many of those qualities in her own life. At 72 years old, she is not slowing down. She is still a caregiver, and well respected within the region for community service. Additionally, she is serving her seventh term as the President of the Roanoke NAACP, and she remains actively invested in each member, especially the young people.

“We work as a team, the the Youth Council is our shining baby. We have almost 85 now, and every year we graduate about 30-34 kids. We keep filling it back up,” she says.

The Roanoke youth who participate in this program hold offices, attend quarterly meetings, and go to state and national conventions. They are allowed to wear Kente cloth stoles when they graduate.

“It doesn’t matter what you do after high school. You can go to college, the military, into a trade; whatever you decide to do, you walk into it as a leader. All I do is sit back and keep smiling. That’s our babies, look what we’ve done for our babies,” she explains.

And they are doing a lot. The NAACP’s Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics (ACT-SO) program is popular among the kids in the Roanoke NAACP unit. The yearlong achievement program is designed to “recruit, stimulate, and encourage high academic and cultural achievement among African-American high school students.” It includes 32 competitions in STEM, humanities, business, and performing, visual, and culinary arts. The Roanoke NAACP (www.naacp.org) holds a local competition for ACT-SO every year, and members often go on to compete and win medals at the national level. A few years ago, one participant brought a tuxedo with him, because he knew he was going to win.

“When he walked up on stage to receive his medal, he was the only one in a tux,” Hale recalls, smiling. “His confidence was amazing!”

Her smile lights up the room when she talks about these teenagers, recalling many by more than their name. She can tell you their interests, accomplishments, and the last time she saw or hugged them.

Hale is a role model for women (and men!) of all ages. Her willingness and ability to work with individuals and groups of diverse cultural, religious, social, economic, and political identities helps address tough issues that many women face on a daily basis. We are proud that she is part of the Roanoke community, and look forward to seeing more of her in 2018!

There are plenty of opportunities to celebrate Women’s History Month, including International Women’s Day on March 8! Visit www.internationalwomensday.com for more information on how you can be involved in their call-to-action and the effort to progress gender parity. Within the movement, there is “a strong call to #PressforProgress motivating and uniting friends, colleagues and whole communities to think, act, and be gender inclusive.”

While you’re working towards gender parity, make sure you are also staying informed on factors that affect others on the struggle to equality such as race, socioeconomic conditions, religion, gender identity, and sexual orientation. Step outside your comfort zone and learn more about an issue that may not personally impact you. Doing so is a great way to honor those who came before us, and pave the way to a better future for every generation to come.

Written by Hayleigh Worgan

March Happenings

On Thursday, March 8 at 7:30pm, Dervish, a traditional Irish septet band, is performing in the Shaftman Performance Hall at the Jefferson Center. Dervish has been playing traditional Irish music for over 25 years, and are well known for their live performances. The lively music is their interpretation of traditional Irish songs; their music can be upbeat and fast or thoughtful and slow. Dervish has played all over the world, even from the Great Wall of China! If you’re looking for a new way to experience Irish culture this March check out Dervish. To learn more about this event and purchase tickets visit www.jeffcenter.org/dervish.

Look for some family friendly fun this March? Come out to Virginia Western Community College for movie screenings that will be shown at the Whitman Theater in the Business Science Building. On Friday, March 2, at 2pm and again at 6pm the movie Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle(PG-13) will be showing. Then on Friday, March 16, at 2pm and then later at 6pm the college will be showing Star Wars–The Last Jedi(PG-13). All showings are free and open to the public. You are welcome to bring your own snacks, but are asked not to leave a mess. For more information, go to www.virginiawestern.edu.

On March 17, get ready for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Shamrock Festival! The parade starts at 11am on Elm Ave then to Campbell Ave and finishes on Williamson Road. This is event is kid-friendly, from 12pm-5pm two free Kid Zones will be set up. In front of the Taubman Museum and in the Market Square children will be able to enjoy face painting, inflatables, games, and so much more!  The Shamrock Festival starts on noon that day at the Wells Fargo Plaza. Admission is free and this event will include live music and adult beverages. Check out www.downtownroanoke.org for more information.

Opera Roanoke presents Puccini’s La Boheme in the Shaftman Performance Hall at the Jefferson Center. On Friday, April 6 at 7:30pm, and Sunday, April 8 at 3pm, this Italian opera spread over four acts comes to Roanoke’s stage. Follow a group of struggling artists through love, laughs, and loss in 19th Century Paris. The iconic role of Mimi is to be performed by Chelsea Bonagura, who has won awards in Charlotte Opera Guild Competition and the Rosen-Schaffer Completion. For more information and to buy your tickets go to www.operaroanoke.org.

Written by Lilith Turman

Virginia Made: The Leather Lotus

Little green sprouts will soon begin to make their debut. The occasional hint of a warm day will bring smiles to faces and a little extra pep to everyone’s step. It may not feel like it quite yet but spring is on the horizon. With the start of each new season comes inspiration and new ideas. Her love of the outdoors is where Taylor Smith finds her own creative inspiration to create handmade jewelry. A reflection of leather and natural beauty, her business The Leather Lotus is taking everyday casual to the next level.

Inspired by the colors of the season, Taylor’s jewelry is designed around a carefully selected stone or piece of metal before various colored leather is chosen to complement the element. The textures and shapes used seem right at home in her favorite photo studio, the great outdoors, as she photographs each piece for her Etsy shop. Taylor still remembers fondly the day she heard “cha-ching!” the sound that has become music to an online seller’s ears. Having no idea what it meant, she looked at her phone and was ecstatic to find notification of her first sale, a leather wrap bracelet. To this day, the sound still evokes the same excitement as if it were the very first.  More than a few products later, the fringe earrings offered by The Leather Lotus are this maker’s must have wardrobe accessory. “Something about fringe just seems like so much fun to me. Pair them with a basic tee and jeans and suddenly I feel excited!”

The best of both worlds is how Taylor describes her life as a stay at home mom and entrepreneur. She takes pride in the two young boys, Grayson (4) and Finn (2) whom she and her husband are now raising in Roanoke. A native of the area and a Hokie for life, there’s no place Taylor would rather be than outside with her boys chasing chickens. Although, a vacation to the small island in Puerto Rico where she and her husband honeymooned or Spain would not be unwelcome. Nap times are for making jewelry and craft shows a welcome break in the routine of full-time wife and mother. It’s a way to connect with amazing customers as well as fellow makers who have become friends. Taylor’s advice to anyone contemplating starting a new business? “Go for it! I had so many hesitations when I started this. It has grown more than I ever thought it would and I love every minute of it.”

This month, we will hosting a giveaway on our Facebook page for The Leather Lotus! Taylor is giving away a $50 gift card to her Etsy page! Stay tuned!
Also, use the code BELLA during the month of March for 20% off in her shop!

Find The Leather Lotus:
theleatherlotus.etsy.com
FB: /theleatherlotus
IG: /theleatherlotus

 

Written by Faith Jones

Playful Fitness

Don’t just exercise.  PLAY!!!

So, whatever happened to recess? Is it really true that adults can’t enjoy fitness as much as kids do?  Not at all! Here are some suggestions to inspire you to think more like an open-minded child whose only job is to play:

  1. Imagination
    Be imaginative. Yes–exercise should be a routine, but not a bore. Create/design your own routine which centers around your own interests, passions, and childhood pastimes. Throw on your favorite YouTube videos and follow along with the choreography. Or, make it a family project! Involve your kids and do games and fitness competitions around the house. For example, “Monkey in the Middle” is a ball game which improves cardio and coordination, and you only need three people to play! Take ownership of your fitness routine by creating it yourself (instead of just copying what others do). You are bound to take more pride in your daily workouts, all while being more accountable to yourself.

 

  1. Interval

As a dancer, I can’t just dance at the studio. I have to do it whenever I feel like it! This might mean sliding around the kitchen floor in-between washing and drying the dishes, or busting out a set of pliés and push-ups on the living room carpet, instead of sitting watching television on the couch. Much like eating five to six small meals a day instead of two or three, it can be equally effective to exercise in short spurts. Everyone’s metabolism is different. Everyone’s motivation is different. Do not compare yourself to your co-worker or the person doing leg press next to you at the gym. Find what works best for you and go for it!  The worst thing that can happen (and the best thing that can happen) is that you will have a good time!  Play with intervals! Over time, your energy and resourcefulness will improve.

 

  1. Intentionality

First things first…OPEN your eyes UP to PLAY! Remember that movie Hitch with Will Smith? Will Smith’s character, Alex Hitchens, has a great line, “Begin each day, as if it were on purpose.” Practice this month waking up and immediately doing something off-the-wall FUN! Practice cartwheels on the front lawn or try belly-dancing in the bathroom mirror.  In my apartment building, there are a set of stairs leading to the basement garage. Early in the mornings, my neighbors often catch glimpses of me climbing the stairs and jumping rope, as if I am training for the Rocky films. The best part is watching the surprised looks on their faces. Be intentional! Even if you look silly doing it.

 

Last, but not least, when you exercise and play, do it in familiar spaces and places. Look for areas that are filled with acceptance, love, encouragement, and accountability. (Hint: that place is not always at your house or at the local gym). Put some nostalgia in your program! Imagine your own schoolyard recess field.
If you don’t find it immediately, keep looking!  You will find it. You are the most motivated in familiar places where you garner the most support. No matter where that spot is, remember to PLAY. Being a child is at the core of who we all are anyway.

 

Written by Bryan Christon

Transitioning from Double to Single-Income

Planned or unexpected, major life changes that result in less income like job loss, illness, or becoming a stay-at-home-parent, bring about many challenges. Not only can they throw you emotionally and even physically for a loop, they also have a big impact on your finances. We’re here to offer tips for handling your finances during this sometimes-inevitable life transition.

Review your household budget. Having an established budget while transitioning from a double- to single-income household is crucial. You need to be acutely aware of how much money is coming in and going out (and to where). This is the perfect time to find every way possible to cut down on extra expenses, like eating out or gym memberships, and truly focus on paying down debts or building up savings.

Consider the extras. If the loss of an income means losing benefits from a former employer, such as health or life insurance, you’ll have to consider the cost of taking on these expenses and add that to your household budget. On the other hand, you can also count on saving money on gas for your vehicle or a workplace wardrobe, for example, since you won’t be traveling to an office every day.

Reevaluate your savings strategy. If your former employer offered retirement savings, it’s in your best interest to figure out alternative ways to contribute to some kind of savings account or investment fund. Even contributing a small amount is better than nothing. And you’ll still want to ensure you have money put away in an emergency fund for unexpected expenses like home repairs or medical emergencies.

Forget about the Joneses. Keeping up with the latest fashion, home décor, and lifestyle trends is expensive! Reducing your household income means making sacrifices, which could include driving older cars, taking cheaper vacations, and searching for free entertainment. If you focus on putting your needs before your wants, you’ll be in much better shape financially.

Supplement your income. If you find that you still can’t make ends meet after cutting every expense possible, consider picking up a side job like tutoring or pet and/or house sitting. You could sell unwanted items at a yard sale or on Ebay, sell crafts on Etsy, or teach online courses. Every bit helps, and it could result in just enough extra funds to make transitioning from a double- to single-income household a little more affordable.

Presented by Member One Federal Credit Union

Heart Health Awareness Month

February is American Heart Month. According to the CDC, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. One in every three deaths is from heart disease and stroke, equal to 2,200 deaths per day. Fortunately, there are ways to help prevent fatal complications from heart disease and stroke. The American Heart Association lists several of these on their website, including:

Eat Smart: You can’t eat perfect foods all the time, but you can make healthier choices more often. Did you know that some single-serving fruits and veggies can actually be cheaper than vending machine snacks? Buy in bulk, freeze excess servings, and watch videos on how to prepare healthy snacks using a variety of produce. Check out healthyforgood.heart.org for several heart-healthy recipes that you and your family will enjoy!

Move More: You’ve probably heard that the ideal goal is to move at least 150 minutes each week. However, if that seems to daunting, try smaller time frames first. Look for ways in your day to move more. Sometimes it means taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or incorporating 10-minute arm workouts at your desk with small weights. Every small decision you make to move adds up fast.

Be Well: Occasionally, we forget the combatting stress is a battle we must fight daily to keep our bodies healthy. Talk to your doctor and make sure you are getting enough sleep. Set aside moments in the day that you will not give into the urge to check social media. This would also be a great time to research the free yoga classes around Roanoke and learn to practice mindfulness. Make it a priority to take care of yourself.

The American Heart Association works year-round to reduce fatalities related to heart disease and stroke by providing preventative education, support, and funding for research. Generous volunteers and donors in the community help make that happen. Consider making a donation of time or money to help support their mission of building healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke. Visit www.heart.org for more information.

Warm Up to Veggie-Packed Soup

When the weather outside is frightful, we could all use a cozy soup for supper. A steaming bowl of Rustic Vegetable-Beet Soup provides instant comfort.

The ease and convenience of Aunt Nellie’s pickled beets can’t be “beet”- no need to spend time peeling or pickling. This colorful mix of antioxidant-rich beets, sweet potato, and carrots joins tender zucchini to create a soup that tastes like it simmered all afternoon; but in fact, comes together in under an hour. The sweet-tangy beets add an unexpected but welcome layer of flavor to this hearty soup.

For the finishing touch, a garnish of vibrant green, lemony gremolata brightens the soup’s flavor. Garlic, lemon and parsley may seem ordinary, but they come alive when combined. Crisp flatbread makes a perfect accompaniment to this meal-in-a-bowl.

For more recipes, or to learn more about Aunt Nellie’s beets and other products, visit www.AuntNellies.com.

 

Rustic Vegetable-Beet Soup
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Servings: 6

1          jar (16 ounces) Aunt Nellie’s Whole Pickled Beets, well drained
2          tablespoons olive oil
2          medium onions, coarsely chopped
2          medium carrots, coarsely chopped
1          medium sweet potato, peeled and chopped
2          large cloves garlic, minced
2          zucchini (about 5 ounces each), coarsely chopped
2          cans (about 14 ounces each) vegetable broth
1          teaspoon seasoned salt, optional
1          can (15.5 ounces) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
Salt and pepper
2          tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
2          tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill

 

Gremolata:

1          tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1          tablespoon minced fresh dill
2          cloves garlic, minced
1          teaspoon grated lemon peel

Coarsely chop beets; set aside.

In large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions; saute about 5 minutes or until softened. Add carrots, sweet potato and garlic. Saute 3-5 minutes or until vegetables begin to soften, stirring occasionally.

Add zucchini, broth and seasoned salt, if desired. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, about 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add chickpeas; heat through. Season to taste with salt and pepper, as desired. Stir in parsley and dill. Stir in beets. Serve immediately topped with gremolata, if desired.
To make gremolata, combine all ingredients.

Nutrition information per serving (1/6 of recipe): 210 calories; 6 g fat; 6 g protein; 33 g carbohydrate; 6 g dietary fiber; 0 mg cholesterol; 2 mg iron; 727 mg sodium; 0.13 mg thiamin; 6981 IU vitamin A;  8 mg vitamin C.

 

Source: Seneca Foods

 

Winter Skin Care on a Budget

It’s no secret that winter weather can be hard on your skin. One of the reasons is that we often forget to change up our routines to accommodate the change in temperatures. Harsh chemicals used to reduce natural oils in the summer can cause more damage in the winter. Our diets can also greatly impact our skin. With many of the winter holidays behind us, it is time to refocus on what we are putting into and on our bodies, and how those things are adding up to create the perfect storm. Here are a few of our favorite products for correcting and preventing dry skin damage:

Coconut Oil
Cold weather can be very hard on your hair, specifically on your scalp. Sometimes over-the-counter dandruff shampoos don’t help with dandruff, and occasionally they can even make it worse. Dr. Axe (www.draxe.com) says that adding five drops of essential oils like lavender, wintergreen, thyme, or tea tree to two teaspoons of coconut oil and massaging it into your scalp after washing your hair can be a great intensive dandruff treatment! Do this 2-3 times per week to keep your scalp moisturized and your hair feeling soft!
You can also apply coconut oil to your skin at night before going to bed. Be aware, however, that the oil may transfer to your sheets. So you may want to cover the affected area before calling it a night.

Eat Right
By now, you probably know that staying hydrated in the winter is important. You know that you should be drinking water like it’s your second job, and maybe even that a humidifier in your bedroom can help keep your skin hydrated. But did you know that what you eat matters too? That New Years resolution to eat right (and maybe add a few juices into your diet) can help in more ways than one. Fruits like watermelon and apples and vegetables like cucumbers and carrots contain a lot of water. Let them help you get the moisture your body needs to be healthy and comfortable.

Don’t Forget Sunscreen
Just because it’s cold doesn’t mean that your skin can’t be damaged by UVA and UVB rays. Even if the sun doesn’t seem as bright, rays penetrating the clouds can reach your skin. Obagi Medical Skin care products are a great way to protect your skin against the harmful effects of sun exposure. We especially love their Tinted Sun Shield SPF 50 line, available in cool and warm shades for different skin tones. For harsh winter weather, you may also enjoy their HydraFactor Broad Spectrum SPF 30. This sunscreen is a dual-function moisturizer with soothing ingredients. Regardless of which sunscreen you choose, make sure to reapply it every two hours of exposure throughout the day. Check out Obagi’s website (www.obagi.com) for more information on where to find their impressive line of skin care products locally.

Choose Wisely
Some face cleansers have ingredients that strip your skin of moisture. Read the labels, and make sure that what you are putting on your skin (aka the largest organ in your body) will not damage it even further. Look for all natural products and those with soothing ingredients, like oatmeal. We love Briar Mountain Farms (www.briarmtnfarm.com). Their goat’s milk soap is great for sensitive skin (and they are local!). Their soap contains high amounts of proteins, vitamins, and minerals. With plenty of scents to choose from, you can’t go wrong!

Treat Yourself!
Schedule a facial with a skin care professional. If you can’t do that, treat yourself to a facial mask twice a week at home. Our editor uses Innisfree It’s Real Squeeze mask sheets (found on Amazon) and loves them! Choose from trouble care, moisturizing, brightening, and nutritious options. Infused with a blend of herb complex water and ingredients from nature, this real mask adds vitality and energy to your skin.