Henrico County VA

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

Brews and bites done right

Urban Tavern’s big, bold themes impress

The Urban Tavern opened in August, replacing the former Shackelford’s space at 10498 Ridgefield Parkway in Short Pump. Because of local and longtime devotion to Shackleford’s, Urban Tavern has some big shoes to fill.

Without any background information, I headed to the restaurant for dinner on a Wednesday night, two months after its opening.

On a perfect fall evening, four out of eight outdoor tables were taken, giving the impression that the restaurant was busier than it was. On the inside, a couple tables were taken, and a few folks were seated at the bar. > Read more.

A terrible, horrible movie. . . that’s actually pretty good

‘Alexander’ provides uncomplicated family fun
It’s not surprising in the least that Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day doesn’t much resemble the book it’s based upon.

Judith Viorst’s 1972 picture book isn’t exactly overflowing with movie-worthy material. Boy has bad day. Boy is informed that everyone has bad days sometimes. Then, the back cover.

In the film, the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad-ness is blown up to more extreme size. Alexander Cooper (Ed Oxenbould) has a bum day every day, while the rest of his family (Steve Carell, Jennifer Garner, Dylan Minnette, Kerris Dorsey) exist in a constant bubble of perfection and cheery optimism – to the point that the family is so wrapped up in their own success that Alexander’s being ignored.

So on the eve of his 12th birthday, Alexander makes a wish: just once, he’d like his family to see things from his perspective; to experience the crushing disappointment of one of those no good, very bad days. Once he has blown out the candle on his pre-birthday ice cream sundae, his family’s fate is sealed: one full day of crippling disasters for all of them. > Read more.

Deep Run HS plans fall musical

Tickets for Deep Run High School’s fall musical production – Aida – will go on sale Nov. 3. The Elton John-Tim Rice pop opera, inspired by Verdi’s classic opera, tells the story of enslaved Nubian princess Aida, who falls for captain of the guard Radames, who is betrothed to the Egyptian princess.

Performances will be held Nov. 13-15 at 7 p.m. each day. > Read more.

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North Park Library, 8508 Franconia Rd., will host Scare-O-Thon: Escape from Undead Island at 6:30 p.m. Enjoy an evening of interactive games, terrifying treats and prizes. For middle and high… Full text

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