The saying is that “no news is good news”, but for at least one volunteer organization in Warren County, the good news now flows forth on cue from the Humane Society of Warren County at each year’s Annual Meeting, beating national rescue averages at its animal shelter and setting achievable goals for the years ahead.
This is a far cry from when, for example, I joined the HSWC ranks more than a decade ago when a mass meeting of members — more than 100 — voted unanimously to start over by replacing an entire board of directors with a small group of volunteers, including me, to carry on what some call “God’s work” and many others call the “hard work” of caring for the county’s forgotten or otherwise lost and sick animals that live among us.
Apart from perhaps one or two humanitarians who came before her, no one, except perhaps Julia Wagner, founder of Front Royal’s animal shelter back in the 1940s, has brought about the recent progress at the shelter more than its current executive director, Meghan Bowers, as indicated in each of the annual meetings she’s reported to this past four years.
At this year’s meeting at The Apple House on April 11 for example, records were set in adoptions, mainly dogs and cats, but this year including a feisty black pig, bringing the total adoptions to 674. According to ASPCA’s national figures, only 6% of lost dogs nationwide are found and reunited from an animal shelter. To a round of applause, Bowers announced that in Warren County, her shelter reunited 88% of its stray dogs with their owners. She said the pig was signed over to the shelter (does anyone out there have a home for a rather larger pig?).
Bowers is always ready to shower praise upon her staff of 17, including nine team leaders, and did so at this week’s meeting, singling out Julia Wagner Shelter Director Kayla Wines for an award recognizing her total of nine years service to the shelter, and also recognizing recent volunteers Jess and Shawn Cox for the 2022 Service Award “who have dedicated their lives to caring for the most vulnerable animals in the shelter.”
Over the past two years, on behalf of the HSWC, Bowers has opened two downtown satellite premises, a spay/neuter clinic which so far has completed more than 5,000 surgeries, including several “freebies” thanks to a new “Spay It Forward” program; and a “Pick of the Litter” thrift store that opened to a brisk business last November.
Treasurer Katrina Meade reported a total net profit of $89,601 from five fundraising events, along with a net shelter income of $865,821 less $782,307 shelter expenses, and a clinic income of $376,458 during its first full year of operation, minus expenses totaling $341,300, for a $35,158 net profit.
Twenty-eight foster families helped 115 dogs and cats during the year; 119 volunteers provided 1,389 hours of service.
Bowers was most proud of the live release rate for her “no kill” shelter – the rate for 2022 was 93.1%. Among the shelter goals she announced for 2023 were reduction of the longest residents’ length of stay; daily dog play groups and more enrichment for cats. Opened last year, a memorial garden dedicated to the “dogs of war” and law enforcement K-9s, will again schedule a ceremony at the shelter the Saturday (noon) of Memorial Day weekend May 27-29.
Culminating the 90-minute long meeting was the election or reelection of four board members, President Amanda Kindall, Krista Beahm, Kathy Dodge, and Renee Baker.
(Malcolm Barr Sr., Rockland resident and retired journalist, is a former HSWC president and, at age 90, remains active in animal welfare)
Bridge of Hope: Providing More Than Just a Roof Overhead
Supporting homeless families through housing, life skills, and community.
While many may be familiar with the numerous charitable organizations across Warren County, one standout organization, “Bridge of Hope Greater Warren,” is taking a unique approach to addressing family homelessness in the region. Instead of just offering a temporary shelter, they provide a holistic support system.
In a recent talk with Mike McCool at the Royal Examiner studio, Mandy McCarthy, the chair of Bridge of Hope Greater Warren, outlined the multifaceted ways they are helping families in need. Bridge of Hope is a national Christian faith-based nonprofit. Rather than only providing shelter, they also offer case management services that assist families in budgeting, setting life goals, and finding resources like transportation and employment opportunities. Their strategy involves working directly with landlords to secure housing, guaranteeing rents, and working with families to ensure a transition from dependence to independence.
Beyond the board members and the active community involvement, there’s also a group of “neighboring volunteers” who act as a support system for the homeless families, helping to alleviate the isolation and stress often faced by those in such challenging circumstances.
Funding, of course, remains pivotal. The organization, though officially established in Warren County last April, has made significant strides in fundraising. The goal? To ensure they have sufficient funds to support a family for a year, inclusive of their housing and other wraparound services.
In a bid to raise more awareness and funds, the community is invited to a benefit concert hosted at the Front Royal Presbyterian Church on Sunday, September 24, 2023, at 3:00 p.m. The concert is by donation, so please give generously. A local ensemble, the Saturday Morning Brass Project, is slated to perform, with the event also featuring silent auctions. Local businesses, from bakeries to flower shops and even home design studios, have chipped in, offering a range of items and experiences to be auctioned off.
But the numbers don’t lie – homelessness remains a pressing issue in Warren County. A recent study by the local school system identified 95 homeless children in the area, underscoring the gravity of the situation and the urgent need for interventions.
At its heart, Bridge of Hope aims not just to provide a home but also to empower families, ensuring children grow up in stable environments without the looming threat of homelessness.
Bridge of Hope Greater Warren stands out not just because of its mission but because of its holistic approach to combating homelessness. As Mandy aptly put it, “We’re not doing for people, we’re giving them a helping hand.” By focusing on empowerment, community support, and skill development, the organization is ensuring that help is more than just temporary. It’s a bridge to a brighter future.
St. Luke Community Clinic’s 27th Annual Benefit: A Blend of Charity and Community Spirit
Where Health Meets Heart: The St. Luke Impact.
In the heart of Front Royal, a haven of hope and health resonates with the sounds of gratitude and commitment. St. Luke Community Clinic, under the thoughtful guidance of Vicki Davies, its Executive Director, and with the help of Nancy Rose, the Outreach Specialist, offers more than just free medical care; it offers a beacon of hope to the underserved in our community.
St. Luke extends its hand to those who find themselves in the precarious balance of working yet not earning enough to afford insurance. Termed the ‘ALICE People,’ these individuals have jobs that don’t provide insurance, and St. Luke fills in the gap. From providing dental care to Medicare patients without dental insurance to assisting those in insurance limbo, St. Luke’s mission radiates compassion and community engagement.
In terms of staffing, they have a dedicated PA, a physician’s assistant, available three days a week. As a testament to their dedication, the clinic stands ready to assist those in need any day of the week.
Their upcoming 27th Annual Benefit and Auction, set against the picturesque backdrop of the Shenandoah Valley Golf Club, is not just an event – it’s a celebration of community spirit. Beginning at 5:30 p.m., attendees will be treated to an upscale three-course meal featuring a choice of pork, salmon, or a vegetarian dish.
The auction promises to be a vibrant blend of the unique and the luxurious. From handcrafted pieces like the Pahler guitar, lovingly created by their own PA, John Nixon, valued at over $3,000, to more sumptuous treats like the coveted Melting Pot pizza, there’s something for everyone.
Local businesses such as Cracker Barrel, Skyline Caverns, and the Apple House, to name a few, have thrown in their lot with St. Luke, reflecting the deep-rooted bond the clinic has forged with its community.
One of the significant advancements at the clinic is the introduction of a state-of-the-art dental scanner, acquired through a grant from the United Way of Shenandoah Valley. This scanner is a game-changer. Creating 3D dentures that are durable, long-lasting, and more fitting it’s a giant leap towards enhancing dental care for their patients.
What is the cost of producing these dentures? A mere $380. An angel fund is in the works to help those who might struggle even with this amount, ensuring everyone has access to this new standard of care.
The Benefit and Auction event is on September 30th. Tickets are available for $75. Businesses and individuals can also explore sponsorship opportunities. Those interested can reach out to Nancy Rose for further details. It’s not just about the event; it’s about supporting a legacy of care and compassion.
Walking by Faith: A Gala Spotlighting Community Safety and Child Protection
Raising Awareness on Grooming and Its Impact on Our Communities.
On September 24, 2023, Living By His Grace Ministries opens its doors to the community for an enlightening afternoon at the DoubleTree Hilton in Blue Ridge Shadows. The “Walking by Faith” Gala, happening between 2:00 and 4:00 p.m., is designed to bring light to the pressing concern of child safety and grooming in our neighborhoods.
Penny Kaye Hoeflinger, an author and survivor, passionately discusses her book “Avoiding the Octopus.” This literary work sheds light on the signs of grooming in our families and communities, urging everyone to be aware and vigilant. Her compelling message emphasizes that knowledge is our best defense, and it is crucial for every caring individual to have a copy of her book.
Sherriff Butler of Warren County brings a law enforcement perspective to the table, sharing personal stories of rescue. His insights into the police’s role in these delicate situations provide a new layer of understanding to attendees. Simultaneously, April White from DSS of Warren County dives deep into the complexities of when and how to report suspected grooming or child endangerment and the subsequent effects on families.
Highlighting the post-rescue phase, Reset 180 of Northern Virginia presents avenues for communities to assist those rescued, showing solidarity and support. Young adult author Sydney Dunlap also graces the event with insights into her book, “It Happened on a Saturday.” Targeted towards tweens and teens, the work provides valuable insights for this vulnerable age group.
In addition to the vital discussions, guests will be treated to a light lunch, including tea, coffee, and delectable treats from “Evine’s Naturally.” A silent auction is also on the agenda, with proceeds directed towards the Healing Totes Ministry and Penny Kaye Hoeflinger’s nonprofit initiative, Coffee House Farms.
In a world where our children face unprecedented challenges and dangers, it’s more vital than ever to come together as a community armed with knowledge and compassion. The “Walking by Faith” Gala serves as a beacon of hope and a call to action for everyone who wishes to create safer spaces for our younger generations.
Front Royal Embraces Public Power Week with Community Festivities
Highlighting the Significance of Community-Owned Electricity and its Benefits.
The Town of Front Royal is set to join over 2,000 community-based, non-profit electric utilities in the grand celebration of Public Power Week, slated for October 1-7. This week-long festivity recognizes the community-owned electricity services, emphasizing their pivotal role in powering 49 million Americans across the nation.
Public Power Week isn’t merely a tribute to electricity; it embodies the spirit of community. Carey Saffelle, the Director of Energy Services, reflected on this essence, saying, “Public power puts the people of Front Royal first… Our service is reliable and safe, and we take pride in serving our friends and neighbors.”
This special week presents an opportunity for local residents to grasp the nuances of public power and its advantages. Front Royal’s Department of Energy Services has planned an exciting day for the community on October 5th, from 5 pm to 8 pm at the Downtown Commons. This complimentary event promises to be both informative and fun. Electric demonstrations will be paired with education sessions, enlightening attendees on the various facets of electricity. Children are in for a treat with a dedicated area featuring a bounce house, face-painting activities, and other entertaining endeavors. Attendees can also look forward to exclusive giveaways and much more, making this event a blend of learning and leisure.
The American Public Power Association (APPA), based in Washington, D.C., plays a vital role in orchestrating Public Power Week on a national scale. Representing the voice of non-profit, community-focused utilities, the APPA champions the cause of public power utilities across the country. Beyond just representing these utilities, the association also serves as an advocacy platform, lending its voice to the 49 million beneficiaries of public power and the 96,000 employees in the sector. The association’s commitment extends to advising on electricity policies, the latest trends, training, operations, and technology. Their dedication to enhancing communities through excellent service, citizen engagement, and fostering pride in community-owned power can be further explored on their official website, www.PublicPower.org.
Public Power Week is more than just an annual celebration; it stands as a testament to the role of community-driven, non-profit electric utilities in empowering towns and cities. As Front Royal gears up for its celebration, the message is clear: community-owned power is a vital pillar of local development, fostering a sense of unity and shared purpose among residents.
Front Royal’s Gift of Life: Rotary Club of Front Royal Blood Drive
A Step to Save Lives, a Gift for Donors.
A single hour can change the fate of up to three people. On Wednesday, September 27th, the Rotary Club of Front Royal invites residents to take a small chunk out of their day for a cause that holds immense value – donating blood. The event, taking place at the Fellowship Hall of the First Baptist Church, goes beyond the act of donating blood. It’s a testament to the strength of community and the innate human desire to help and heal.
Donating blood has always been about more than just the act itself. It’s a commitment to the well-being of others. The American Red Cross emphasizes that every pint of blood donated can potentially save up to three lives. That’s three families that won’t have to go through grief, three communities that don’t lose a cherished member, and countless memories and experiences preserved.
This drive, being held at the First Baptist Church located at 14 West First Street from 12:00 p.m. to 05:30 p.m., is more than just an event – it’s an opportunity for the Front Royal community to come together for a greater cause. You can reserve your slot at their online booking platform.
While the main benefit of donating blood is undoubtedly the life-saving potential, donors also receive a mini-health assessment courtesy of the trained Red Cross staff. Before any blood is drawn, donors undergo a health screening where their blood pressure, hemoglobin levels, and pulse are checked. These vitals are then recorded in an online profile, which donors can monitor at their leisure. It’s a wonderful way for donors to track their health and share vital information with their healthcare providers.
For many, high blood pressure, or “the silent killer,” remains undiagnosed due to its lack of noticeable symptoms. The same goes for irregular heart rhythms. The Red Cross’s pre-donation screening aids in identifying these concerns. Furthermore, checking hemoglobin ensures that donors are healthy and their body has enough iron to replace red blood cells lost during donations.
Blood donations are always subjected to rigorous tests. One significant test that follows is the Sickle Cell Trait Screening, ensuring the safety and health of both donors and recipients.
In a world full of challenges, the act of giving – especially something as essential as blood – is a beacon of hope and solidarity. The Front Royal Rotary Club’s blood drive is not just a medical event but a bonding of community for the greater good. Don’t miss the chance to be part of this noble endeavor.
This Week’s Showtimes at Royal Cinemas as of September 14th
Are you looking for the full movie-going experience without having to wait in the long lines that often accompany that experience? Then look no further because Royal Cinemas movie theatre is the answer. Get the whole gang together and enjoy a movie! Reserved seating in all auditoriums.
Here is a list of this week’s showtimes at Royal Cinemas as of Thursday, September 14:
Ticket prices are as follows:
- Adult: $10
- Child (under 12): $7
- Military: $8
- Student (college): $8
- Senior: $8
- Matinees, All Seating: $7
- “Paw Patrol: The Mighty Movie”
- “The Creator”
- “Ordinary Angels”
- “TAYLOR SWIFT | THE ERAS TOUR”