Melvin Brown, of VideoMann Productions, has that kind of infectious, enthusiastic personality that recently had 250 happy Fredericksburg townspeople dancing in the streets and shop owners such as Brian Lam of Skin+Touch Therapydancing in their shop windows. Melvin collaborated with other local videographers, the Fredericksburg Museum, The Griffin Bookshop and Coffee Bar, Dance Trance and lots of other locals to produce the video that has Fredericksburg looking Happy to over 64,000 YouTube viewers. “My idea started with wanting to show what is real Fredericksburg. How do we bring that and let other people see and experience that. I started brainstorming places that really meant something special to me. A friend of mine, Rob Grogan, passed away recently and I have a handwritten letter from him about his favorite places. I carried him in the spirit of it all.”
"Why do you think people relate so much to this video?"
"They see themselves in this video. People really want to be happy. We strive for happiness but I think that is part of the problem because we strive instead of just being happy. When you can relate and see yourself, your hometown and you can connect and identify with it, it makes you smile inside because you say, that’s a part of you. I’m proud that this is where I am from."
If you haven’t seen it yet or just want to get Happy again, check out Melvin’s FXBG Happy video here:http://youtu.be/DzUjmIuvtk4
Kathy Craddock, former Marine and Brandi Fishback, former law enforcement officer, are bringing Kickshaws Downtown Market to 101 William St, a location that hasn’t housed a downtown grocer since the 1890’s. The new downtown market will offer locally grown natural and organic products and will also partner with the community to offer workshops, classes and farm tours. These entrepreneurs plan to expand beyond the market to make an even deeper impact in the community. Brandi says, “The thing that we would like to do in the future is to create numerous community gardens by partnering with local churches. We would like to supplement the local food pantries with fresh vegetables from the community gardens. It’s something that is really missing from the food pantries because all of the food there is really processed. We want to be able to help those families, not just to provide food but to give them healthy options for feeding their families.”
Kathy is thrilled about the opportunity to educate the community about the benefits of eating healthy and eating local, “I think that often people think of eating naturally and eating organically as a high scale thing that only elite people can afford. We want to be able to tell people that you can do this and we can show you how. How to garden yourself and how to support local farmers and also that you can feed your family this way.”
A moment with Dennis Sacrey, VP of the Fredericksburg Cemetery Company, a non-profit organization charged with the upkeep and care of the Fredericksburg City Cemetery:
"I am a native of Fredericksburg; born here, grew up here, never left and I have an affinity for history. I have relatives buried here but my interest goes beyond that. This cemetery really is an important part of the heritage and fabric of Fredericksburg. You can trace how Fredericksburg has evolved over the last 150 years by the people that are buried here and by reading their tombstones. I love its character and the individuality of the stones. It really is a treasure for Fredericksburg. My interest stems from the desire to preserve the historic features that make Fredericksburg a special place.
Since I belong to the local Baptist church, I have spent some time investigating their plot, which is indicative of the kinds of stories you can find here. For example, William Broaddus, buried here, was the pastor of the Baptist Church during the Civil War and this was his wife. This was his daughter, Lucy, and she was 7 years old when she died in 1861. The key there is that right at the beginning of the Civil War, Fredericksburg became a destination for soldiers from all over the South who congregated here to begin their training. When they came here, they brought with them measles and there was a huge measles epidemic here in 1861. There were over 300 citizens who died in Fredericksburg from the measles epidemic, most of them children.
Another interesting tombstone is that of Andrew Bowering. He had an orchestra that was in huge demand locally for concerts. He was most proud of being the leader of a band in the Confederate Army and his band led the funeral dirge at Stonewall Jackson’s funeral. To me, that is what makes this a special place; because it is filled with a lot of special people. People who have really made a difference in Fredericksburg and beyond.”
The Cemetery Company has several projects planned including restoration work on the original William St gate, on-going maintenance of markers, and establishing a scatter garden area. Join them for their annual cleanup on April 12th and May 3rd.
Nimali Fernando, MD, MPH is so committed to teaching her patients about healthy eating that part of her office space is devoted to a huge, kid-friendly working kitchen.
"I’ve been a pediatrician for 12 years now and I was seeing so much of my day being spent on fixing diet. 30% of the patients that I saw were overweight or obese but that was just the tip of the iceberg."
Dr. Fernando was treating so many other kids who were normal weight but were experiencing similar issues like acid reflux, constipation, bedwetting, anxiety and ADHD.
"A lot of parents didn’t realize that their kids could be healthier if they ate a better diet. We are in this fast-paced culture where we are just feeding kids whatever they will eat. I felt like there needed to be a lot more of a mindfulness about what we ate and some instruction, too, since that culture of cooking has kind of gone away. So many of the young moms never grew up cooking with their family and don’t know how to do it for their own kids."
"In 2011, I started DrYum.com. I thought that I would teach some of these young moms what to have in their pantry and how they can make simple food that was grown up and nutritious and a lot more heavy on the fruits and vegetables. It started out as a recipe and parenting site and it kind of grew."
Dr. Fernando currently holds cooking classes for all ages of kids at her Dr Yum office kitchen, including one recent, very popular Pajama Breakfast where kids learned to cook nutritious breakfasts for themselves.
"The approach is really important. Parents really know to know that their kids will like the food but it doesn’t happen overnight. Also, just have fun. Food should be joyful and it should be exciting to show your kids new food and it shouldn’t be something that you dread. Food doesn’t have to be accepted right away. It can take 10-15 tries so you have to be patient, and you have to have fun and you have to have a relaxed attitude and also try different ways of preparing the food."
Summer cooking camps are filling up quickly. Also, mark your calendar for the 2nd annual Run for a Healthy Glow, May 16th, 7 pm at Fredericksburg Academy. Glowsticks and healthy treats will be provided:https://www.facebook.com/doctoryum
A Moment with Jim Bolger, Master Gardener, Stafford branch of the Virginia Cooperative Extension Service: “To become a Master Gardener, you attend a 50 hour course which is held once a year at the Extension office. After you pass the test, you become a Master Gardener intern and you give the county 50 hours . I worked at an elementary school building gardens and helping the kids learn about plants. It was a learning experience for me and I got to impart information to them. The whole object of becoming a Master Gardener is to learn how to keep our water clean and teach others ways to use natural pesticides and natural predator insects on their lawns and gardens. We want to reduce the amount of pesticides, insecticides and fertilizers used in our community because all of our runoff water goes into the Rappahannock River and then into the Bay.”
"What is the most important thing to do now to prepare your lawn and garden for Spring?"
"Get your soil tested. That is the most important thing to do because the test results will tell you what to do."
Get your free soil test kit at the VCE, Stafford Office:http://offices.ext.vt.edu/stafford/
A moment with Andie McConnell, Director of the Fairy Godmother Project, an organization providing support for local families dealing with pediatric cancer: “One of the biggest challenges for our local families is traveling for treatment which leads to lost work and school days, additional costs and stress. We are trying to focus on alleviated the daily stressers; so we make meals, we clean the house, we do lawn care, and try to supply emotional support. When I started FGP, I surveyed families facing pediatric cancer and they all said the same thing, that they felt alone. Our goal are an organization is to stick it out and be there all the way through. Each family is assigned a Lead Volunteer and that person is their contact for the duration of treatment. The average length of time that we work with families is usually about 18 months and we work with about 9 families at a time. Studies show that emotional support during the treatment of pediatric cancer helps the family as a unit over the long term.”
"Can you tell me about a moment when you knew that you were making a difference?"
"I can’t without crying but 2 years ago, one of the boys in a family that we were supporting had received some bad news. The stepmom asked me if I could come to the house and just sit with her. I remember just sitting there holding her hand and listening and thinking that I am supposed to be doing this. When the boy went into hospice, I contacted all of our volunteers and I said that we need to step it up and help the family more. Within 24 hours, my entire outdoor freezer was full of meals, we had tons of donations and there was an unbelievable outpouring of support. When he passed away, I went to the funeral, and the dad said to me, ‘No one else could have taught me how to take help’. The whole experience with that family made me realize the value of FGP."
A moment with Jessica Trementozzi, lead in the Christian Youth Theater’s production of Peter Pan:
"How does it feel to have earned your first lead role?"
"I’ve been doing this since I was 9 years old. It’s been show after show, training, voice lessons, dance classes. I always thought of myself as a supporting cast member and there has never really been a part that fit my skill set. I just triedout on a whim for this show and everything just worked out perfectly because of my gymnastics background, and my dancing and singing.”
"What does it feel like to fly above the stage?"
"We get really fast during some parts and it’s like a roller coaster and so much fun. On one of my tracks, I have 3 people running me on ropes, one person to travel with me and 2 people to lift up and down."
"How do you handle the stress of such a busy schedule?"
"It was really rough for a while but all of my CYT family was there for me, praying for me and lifting me up in scripture and it really did help. Without being surrounded by all of that encouragement, I would not be as confident as I am."
"Who have been the biggest influences in your life?"
"There have a been a lot. Obviously my family because they have always supported me. Mrs King, the Artistic Director of CYT, who I’ve known since I was 9 years old. She has always pushed me and told me that I can do whatever if I train hard enough and put forth the effort to see the results. Also, Angela Donadio, the Worship Pastor at my church. She has just always been so encouraging and she has always had so much faith in me."
Purchase tickets for this weekend’s production of Peter Pan here: http://www.cytfredericksburg.org/
Lisa Biever and her amazing team at the Community Foundation of the Rappahannock River Region are coordinating Community Give, a 24 hour on-line fundraising event for local non-profits taking place on May 6. “It’s such an opportunity for small, grass-roots non-profits with a local focus. These often lose charitable revenue to the large national organizations that are set up to operate on-line. A 24 hour on-line event like this allows local non-profits to get their name out there and to generate a lot of community excitement about giving locally. Everything that we are doing with Community Give is meant to maximize that opportunity.”
"What does giving back to the community mean to you personally?"
"I’m so glad you asked me that. Every time that we have these Community Give training sessions, we get 60-70 local non-profit workers that want to get trained up on how to do this event. When I get in front of that room full of people, I get really emotional because it’s really at the core of who I am and at the core of what the Community Foundation does. I just believe that we live in a really generous community and I think that people in general are looking for ways to focus on positive things, find solutions instead of problems and put their money to use in charitable ways that will make a difference. At the Community Foundation, we are trying to pool leadership and resources, so that we can be really efficient, really effective, and do big things."
A Moment with Suzanna Erlichman, Family Support Specialist, Virginia Wounded Warrior Program: “I am the granddaughter, daughter, sister, niece and spouse of veterans. I’ve been surrounded by the veteran lifestyle my entire life. I got married when I was 19 and my husband was active duty Air Force. We moved from Fredericksburg cross country to Arizona and 6 months after we got married, he deployed. I relied heavily on the base for different resources and support groups. That inspired me to change my college major and I went on to get my degree in Family Studies and Human Development from the University of Arizona with a minor in Military Families.”
"How does it feel to be making a difference here in your hometown?"
"Virginia is really the place to be if you want to work with veterans because 1 in 10 Virginians are veterans themselves and 1 in 3 people are related to a veteran. I provide peer support services and run a Family Support Group on the 2nd Wednesday of each month where I relate to veteran families on a personal level and also connect them to resources. A common challenge for military families in this area is that they are not connected to each other. The support groups help families know that they are not alone and that there are other families going through the same issues."
"What is the most rewarding thing about your job?"
The initial contact that I have with people because they come in so stressed out and not knowing what to do and they have problems even sorting their thoughts. After I talk to them and tell them about the resources available to them, they are so relieved. I really love that aspect of my job, seeing the relief on their faces when they realize that finally someone really gets it.”
A Moment with Alea Bryar, President-elect of the Fredericksburg Area Service League: ”We are an organization of women, all volunteers, and we are dedicated to helping Fredericksburg area children. This is our 20th year and to date we have given over $600,000 to the community. Our biggest fundraisers are the Merry Market, Bids Helping Kids and the Junior Cotillion. In addition to supporting organizations financially, we have also given thousands of hours of service. I personally most enjoy working directly with the children. We have a Books in Hand and read aloud program at area schools and also provide support to many beneficiaries including Head Start, Rappahannock Big Brothers Big Sisters, and Hope House. Also, this year we are working with the Children’s Museum of Richmond to open a new satellite location here in Fredericksburg. Ever since I was a little girl, I have just always wanted reach out and help people. I have always felt compassion for those who don’t have a lot of opportunities.” For more information about the many ways the Fredericksburg Area Service League is contributing to our community, visit their newly updated website here: http://www.faserviceleague.com
A Moment with Sean Maroney, Executive Director of the Historic Fredericksburg Foundation: ”We are all about preserving history in all its forms. We’ve been around since 1955 and we are first and foremost a preservation advocacy group, so we lobby for preservation policies and also promote awareness in local preservation. Often, the complaint is that preservation is about freezing a place in time and not allowing any changes but that is entirely not what we are about. Preservation is more of a reasonable approach to change. Change is going to happen but we just want to make sure that we maintain those aspects that make this place unique. If you get rid of the things that define a town and make it unique, then you’ve lost an economic and cultural resource.” HFFI acquired its first preservation easement in 1965 and today, holds protective covenants on over 40 historic Fredericksburg properties.
A Moment with Dianna Flett of Girl Smarts, a series of workshops designed to promote self-esteem in 4th and 5th grade girls. Dianna, a retired Army officer and mother of 4 boys, taught leadership workshops for the FBI: ”At about that time, I was hearing from my middle school sons about all of the difficulties that young ladies were experiencing in their school. I noticed that the programs that I was presenting to the FBI were the same things that I thought needed to be discussed with the girls; things like goal setting, communication, motivation, values. I reached out to Laura Hooper, our middle school counselor and talked with her about designing workshops for the girls. As I did more research, I read a study that pinpointed 9 years old as the age at which young girls self-esteem peaks. My goal is to strengthen their sense of self at that age before they enter middle school. That’s how the program started.”
"Can you tell me about one of your most fulfilling moments with GirlSmarts?"
"Yes and I’m going to cry! One of the young ladies at a workshop years ago was a selective mute. We were doing one of the workshop designed to teach empathy within a group. We make a life size paper doll and give it likes and dislikes and traits and then at the end of the workshop, I bully the doll and we rip it. There is a portion of the workshop when the team comes up and introduces their doll and tells about their likes and dislikes. This young lady who was a selective mute talked. That’s all she did. But it just made me feel like we helped her find her voice. Since then part of my teaching for the Girl Smarts girls is to learn to live out loud and develop a sense of voice and let them know that it is perfect for them to have an opinion and that they need to speak it.
We also do something called a Values Jar. We teach the girls about what values are and help them identify 4 or 5 values that are most important to them, such as honesty, integrity, education, and family. We equate the girls values to jewels and let them know that these are the most valuable things in their lives. We teach them about making values-based decisions and that you will always have a comfort level if you make a decision based on your values.”
For more information about Dianna’s amazing workshops, check out http://www.girlsmarts.net
A moment with Michelle LeDrew who just opened her new shop, Glam at Ava Laurenne Bride on Caroline St. Michelle will be keeping her luscious “Accessory Bar” stocked with exclusive finds from around the world. ”My philosophy is that we all have basic pieces that can be turned into fabulous outfits by the way we pull it together and the way we accessorize it. The Glam jewelry line is the perfect fit for me. It’s all about paying attention to the details. Details make the statement.” Michelle is also partnering with Ava Laurenne Bride to bring special occasion, bridesmaids, Mother-of-the Bride and prom dresses to downtown. For the groomsmen, there will even be a masculine space in the back of the shop complete with pool table, bar, and flat screen TV. Grand Opening Gala red carpet event and fashion show will be taking place on Feb 8, 2014. Also, look out for Michelle’s monthly fashion workshops!