Henrico County VA
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Volunteers enjoy giving back

Trey Harrison, a Varina High School senior, (center) volunteers at the mobile food pantry at Chimborazo Elementary School.
Gloria Nolan sent a text message on a recent Saturday morning canceling an interview appointment. A friend’s wife had died and she wanted to spend time with him instead.

What started as one of Nolan’s volunteer assignments for Hospice of Virginia had grown into a friendship.

Nolan’s primary duties as a hospice volunteer include making regular visits and helping relieve caregivers so that they can run errands or take a needed break. She has volunteered for about four years for the hospice.

“Some patients request that I read Scriptures, or just sit quietly and keep them company,” Nolan said. “Others enjoy having someone listen to them tell life stories or help with needlework. At times, I may simply keep the caregiver company while the patient rests. While not required by [Hospice of Virginia], I enjoy remembering special
days like birthdays and anniversaries.”

Nolan, a western Henrico resident, joins millions of Americans who volunteer each year. She was part of an upward trend in volunteerism among African-Americans last year despite the down economy, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“I volunteer because I am a compassionate person by nature. Because I … have been so well blessed in my life,” she said. “I believe that being Christ’s disciple requires that I give back by serving others.”

Women age 35 to 54 volunteer more than any other group. However, plenty of younger men, women and a few children volunteered this month at the Chimborazo Family Mobile Food Pantry.

Trey Harrison, a Varina High School senior, stood in Richmond’s Chimborazo Elementary School parking lot between a large food pantry truck and a folding table as he packed items into brown paper bags. Harrison said his mother encouraged him to volunteer.

“I figured that it helps people and it gives me community service hours [to include on my college applications]. So it helps me out more,” Harrison said.

On the other side of the truck, Angelina Patrick, an eastern Henrico resident and Virginia Commonwealth University student, added bunches of bananas to bags. She then moved the bags to a nearby table for families to pick up later.

Patrick said she got involved with the food project through HandsOn Greater Richmond, a local group that connects people with organizations who need volunteers. Patrick said a school friend told her about the group and how easy it was to go online to sign up to volunteer.

The mobile pantry is organized by Richmond’s Communities in Schools (CIS) with funding from Feed More Impact 100. The pantry has provided food to hundreds of children and their families since starting in September 2011.

The pantry is held the same night as the school’s PTA meeting. While parents and teachers are meeting, volunteers sort and pack produce, dry goods, and sometimes fresh meat, according to Caitlin Roberts, CIS site coordinator. After the PTA meeting, families pick up their groceries and head home.

The pantry and dozens of other community groups rely on HandsOn to help link them with needed volunteers. Opportunities are listed on the HandsOn website with new ones added as the need arises.

Others like Nolan find their own volunteer opportunities. However the connection is made, Nolan said volunteering is all about focusing on other people and their needs.

“The volunteer experience is always about the other person not one’s self. Putting self aside and cheerfully serving others is the only way to have a rewarding volunteer experience,” she said.

This story is part of the series Virginia Tapestry: Reflecting Our Rich Diversity. It was produced by In Your Shoes Media.
Community

Lions Club donates backpacks to elementary school

The Richmond West Breakfast Lions Club (based in western Henrico) recently donated 59 backpacks to the Westover Hills Elementary School on Jahnke Road.

Above, club members display some of the backpacks prior to their distribution. > Read more.

Glen Allen student to perform at Carnegie Hall

Thanks to a first-place win in The American Protege International Vocal Competition 2014, Glen Allen High School student Matija Tomas will travel to New York City to perform at Carnegie Hall in December.

At the first-place winners recital in Weill Hall, Matija will perform Giacomo Puccini’s opera aria, “Chi il bel sogna di doretta.” She will perform with other vocalists from around the world and have the opportunity to win other awards and scholarships.

Locally, Thomas has performed with Richmond’s renowned Glorious Christmas Nights, Christian Youth Theatre, and WEAG’s Urban Gospel Youth Choir. > Read more.

Gayton Baptist Church dedicates new outreach center


The John Rolfe YMCA and Gayton Baptist Church have partnered in an effort to bring greater health and wellness opportunities to the community.

Through this partnership, the John Rolfe Y will run Youth Winter Sports programs, including basketball and indoor soccer, in Gayton’s newly renovated $5.5 million outreach center that features a new gymnasium, youth and teen space, social space with café, meeting space and full service commercial kitchen. > Read more.

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Entertainment

Film industry training program planned for this weekend

The Community College Workforce Alliance (CCWA), in partnership with the Virginia Film Office, will offer "Get Your Start in the Film Industry," a two-day seminar designed to prepare workers for film, television and commercial projects in Virginia. The course will be held Oct. 4-5 at the Workforce Development and Conference Center, 1651 Parham Road in Henrico, on the campus of J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College.

The training will be taught by Gary Romolo Fiorelli, an accomplished assistant director for film and television projects, which include the television series Sons of Anarchy and ABC’s current drama Mistresses. > Read more.

The Boathouse to open at Short Pump Town Center

The Boathouse restaurant will open at Short Pump Town Center in the spring, its third location in the region.

“People have asked us to come to the West End for years,” said owner Kevin Healy. “When the opportunity arose, we knew had to jump on it.”

The new restaurant will be located in a 5,800-square-foot space under the Hyatt House Hotel at the town center and will include a large outdoor patio. > Read more.

Getting a ‘mouf’-ful

Boka Kantina exceeds its strong food truck reputation
Already a fan of Boka fare from outdoor events with the Tako Truck, I was delighted to learn of the new restaurant, and eager to see if its reputation held up after putting down brick-and-mortar roots.

Would the food lose its zest if I wasn’t enjoying it in the great outdoors? Would it seem pedestrian served from an ordinary kitchen instead of a truck?

Would the tacos be less satisfying as an antidote to normal lunch hunger – instead of being ingested to stave off desperate hunger after a long afternoon of crowds, sun, and tedious lines? > Read more.

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