Henrico County VA
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Perseverance pays off

Henrico student, mom earns fellowship
Daphne Jones
A Henrico woman is one of 10 outstanding students recently selected by The Virginia Foundation for Community College Education (VFCCE) as part of its second class of Valley Proteins Fellows.

J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College student Daphne Jones was a perfect candidate for the program, which was created to celebrate and enhance leadership capacity of students who have demonstrated great potential in the community college system. Jones leads a busy life as a single mother of four who also has custody of her 17-year-old
special needs brother, who is the driving force behind her perseverance to become a nurse practitioner.

“I hit a point in my life where I made a decision to help understand my brother and educate people about taking care of others,” said Jones, who describes her life as layers upon layers of lessons.

“I can say to people, ‘I know the pain you’re going through,’ because I’ve been in their position. I know how it feels to wonder what the next step is, and I know how to help them through it; there’s a brighter side to everything.”

As a recipient of The Valley Proteins scholarship, Jones’ full tuition and fees will be covered at JSRCC. The Fellows also participate in a unique leadership curriculum through community service and receive individualized assistance in obtaining financial aid and transferring to four-year institutions. This added bonus will help Jones on her long path of continued education.

Valley Proteins is a 50-year old family-owned business based in Winchester that operates 12 plants in 7 states.

“I was nervous to go to school but I went in with the idea that once I start this, no matter how hard and frustrating it will be I’m going to do it,” Jones said. “I was scared but then excitement took over, then the excitement went away and I was filled with love. I’m in love with school and I’m learning to love what I’m doing; it gives me confidence.”

Jones is fully dedicated to her family despite her busy schedule, as she manages to communicate and get reports from her children’s teachers weekly to make sure they are on the right track. She hopes that her devotion to education will set an example for her children as she stresses that they should do what she’s doing but “100 times better,” while striving to go above and beyond normal expectations.

During her first year at JSRCC Jones did just that, as she earned a perfect 4.0 GPA.

JSRCC English professor Barbara Walsh remembered when she first met Jones on campus in the cafeteria and could sense that she was a hard-working student with a kind heart.

“She struck me as being a really good student, so I said, ‘Why don’t you sign up for my English class’ and she did,” Walsh recalled.

After a short time, Walsh became thoroughly impressed with Jones’ dedication and unusual habits. Jones would come into class a few minutes early with a vocabulary word of the day for the class and would teach the students around her, willing to share knowledge and help other students.

Walsh has been at JSRCC for six years and had never nominated a student for the Fellows program.

“When I got the email for nominating, I knew I should nominate her,” said Walsh. “I have never seen someone totally dedicated, and I have a lot of students that work hard but they don’t go above and beyond. I really have never met anyone like her before.”

Jones manages to balance her school and home life, involving her children in the studying process as she studies on average six to eight hours a day.

“My kids tell me I’m going to get a brain cramp,” said Jones with a chuckle. “If I’m studying science I’ll bring in Jayson, my 10-year-old, and I’ll go on Google and watch videos, make flashcards and a Powerpoint, and then I’ll have him test me on everything we just went through.

“Not only does he know about it and we both learn, but it is a bonding experience, it’s how I keep them involved, and I don’t have to leave the house for hours to study.”

Jones will begin her second year at JSRCC this fall with the goal of earning an associate degree in nursing. She hopes to transfer to Virginia Commonwealth University to pursue a bachelor of science in nursing degree and a minor in education.

She also wants to earn a master’s in nursing and then become a nurse practitioner. The schooling will be costly and timely, but Jones is dedicated and knows what she wants and intends to get it.

“I need to work even harder because so many people believe in me and think extremely highly of me,” said Jones. “Eventually one day I know I’ll be finished with this. Until then, I won’t stop.”
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

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.

Lakeside microbrewery beginning to take shape

Original Gravity gets the green light to move forward with relocation, expansion into larger space

A Lakeside home-brewing shop has felt the gravitational pull toward the booming craft beer scene.

Original Gravity, a shop that sells beer and wine kits for homebrewers, has just been given the green light to start work on a microbrewery.

Owner Tony Ammendolia is expanding his 1,000-square-foot shop in Lakeside Town Center to 5,000-square-foot digs a few doors down to add a brewery and expand his supplies.

Ammendolia opened the home-brew supply store in November 2011 and since then he said business has taken off.

“I think I outgrew this place in the first year,” Ammendolia said. “We’ve seen steady growth and I’ve been looking for a place to expand to move the shop to get more square footage.” > Read more.

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