Henrico County VA
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Villa celebrates expansion

Five years of various construction projects have transformed and enhanced the 178-year-old campus of St. Joseph’s Villa into a modern, vibrant facility that serves as a safe and efficient community resource for families.

Earlier this month, Villa officials gathered with clients, volunteers, students, Henrico County Manager Virgil Hazelett and Fairfield Supervisor Frank Thornton to celebrate the campus’ transformation.

There was a strong sense of excitement and accomplishment in the air during the June 6 event at the Villa, where the changes will ensure that it remains a vital resource for needy families – 82 percent of them from Henrico. The improvements have helped the Villa build new partnerships, increase capacity, improve efficiency and expand the scope of its services.

“Before this project, we were serving 800 [people] – now we are serving about 2,000,” said Board of Trustees member JoAnne K. Henry.

The renovation is the first major construction of infrastructure and roadways on the 82 acre campus since 1931. A major investment is the new perimeter road that makes it safer for the 450 vehicles that access the campus each day, while removing them from the pedestrian walkways and safeguarding clients, staff, visitors and children.

“My son has attended the Villa for four years and will be graduating this year. I think it’s wonderful and it gives the children time to walk through the school without cars going by,” said parent Jaralyn McIntosh. “It’s the best idea they could’ve come up with.”

Other significant features include a new culinary arts center for dining and career training, a pedestrian avenue and walkways to connect buildings and campus resources, renovation of the gym and underground infrastructures including utilities and technology and restoration of the central garden and green spaces to promote outdoor learning and therapy.

The transformation began five years ago when architects, board members, engineers and staff devised a master plan for the future of St. Joseph’s Villa with safety and transportation as the main goals.

The building committee, led by Villa Chairman John Gentry, held monthly meetings for 26 months to create budgets plans and implement work. The Villa launched its first ever capital campaign, “Believing is Seeing,” with a goal of $10 million. Despite launching the campaign during one of the worst economic recessions in recent history, the Villa reached 99 percent of its goal. The money raised came from various donations from businesses, grants, staff, board members and friends.

The transformation is one that not only has helped expand the reach and scope of services the Villa can offer but has also been an example for the students.

“The number one reason to love the new campus is because of inspiration for transformation. Seeing what the campus has become inspires a sense of possibility in the individuals that they serve here,” said Villa senior Ellen Trebour during the grand reopening.

Said Villa CEO Kathleen Barrett: “They have been thrilled; we asked the students for their input and how they felt about everything. They were involved every step of the way, and everyone loves the finished project.”

Established in 1834 by the Daughters of Charity to serve as an orphanage and school, the Villa has now evolved as the oldest and largest continuously operating children’s nonprofit organization in the metro region. It is a non-religious affiliated, non-profit organization that works to serve children and families by providing children with special needs the opportunity to succeed through innovative educational and day programs. Many of those served are dealing with autism, homelessness, or physical and mental disabilities that would classify the children as “at risk.”

The project was recently awarded the Greater Richmond Association Commercial Real Estate Award for the best site improvements in 2011. The project finished under budget and before the targeted completion date.


Community

Varina Ruritans honor students

The Varina Ruritan Club hosted the winners of its 2014 Environmental Essay contest at its monthly meeting March 11 in Varina.

The contest, in its eighth year, was for the first time open to students in grades 3-5 at Varina Elementary School. (It previously was open to Sandston Elementary School students.)

The meeting included the winners, parents of the winners, Varina Elementary principal Mark Tyler and several teachers who were in charge of the contest at the school. > Read more.

Baseball game to benefit Glen Allen Buddy Ball


For the fifth consecutive year, St. Christopher’s and Benedictine will play a varsity baseball game at Glen Allen's RF&P Park as part of a fundraising effort for the River City Buddy Ball program.

The game will take place Saturday, April 12, at 7 p.m., and the teams hope to raise $3,000 through donations, raffles and other efforts. Admission to the game is free, but fans who attend are asked to donate funds for the Glen Allen Youth Athletic Association's Buddy Ball program, which enables disabled children and teens to play baseball. > Read more.

Highland Springs field to be dedicated in honor of longtime coach Spears

The Henrico Division of Recreation and Parks will dedicate the Highland Springs Little League Majors Field in memory and honor of Rev. Robert “Bob” L. Spears, Jr., on April 12 with a ceremony at the field at 8 a.m.

Spears served the league as a coach and volunteer for 30 years and was praised as a pioneer for equality. His “Finish strong” motto embodied ethical perseverance on the field and in life. > Read more.

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Entertainment

Weekend Top 10


Do the Bunny Hop over to Meadow Farm on Saturday for an introduction to all the farm animals there! An introduction to “Global Sounds” – featuring Japanese, Indonesian, West African, Indian, and Brazilian music and dance performances – can be found at the University of Richmond. The University of Richmond will also host the annual Spider spring game, as well as the inaugural Spiders Easter Egg Hunt. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

Restaurant watch

Find out how your favorite dining establishments fared during their most recent inspections by the Virginia Department of Health. > Read more.

A fun, fuzzy ride

‘Muppets Most Wanted’ worthy of its franchise

Do Muppets sleep? It’s hard to say.

They don’t really eat (or breathe, as far as anyone can tell). And only occasionally do they have visible, functioning legs.

As far as anyone knows, sleeping might be off the table. And that makes it very hard to accuse the Muppets of sleepwalking through their latest feature, Muppets Most Wanted – even if that’s exactly what’s going on.

Jim Henson’s beloved creations were back in a big way after 2011’s The Muppets, with fame and fortune and even an Oscar, a first for the group (“Rainbow Connection” was nominated, yet somehow failed to collect at the ’79 ceremony). > Read more.

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