It was all good news and good fun at this year’s recent annual dinner meeting of the Human Society of Warren County compared to what some members termed “the 2018 fiasco.”
The board of directors was and is functioning well, there’s a new and promising animal shelter director on board, adoptions are mostly up, fund-raisers, including a couple of big ones, are back on track, and the accounts are in the black.
A mid-year membership meeting and a board retreat were held shortly after last year’s annual meeting leading to a revival of a then flagging organization.
The dinner at the Bowling Green Golf and Country Club was a small-ish affair for an organization with membership in the hundreds, but sufficient of a quorum to re-elect president Ellen Aders, Amy Thurman and Deb Myers, to the board.
Aders opened the meeting by crediting the vestiges of last year’s board – there were a couple of resignations announced after the 2018 annual meeting – coming together and correcting past mistakes while at the same time introducing new goals to benefit staff and the homeless animals they are charged with caring for.
The appointment of a new executive director, Meghan Bowers, effective last December, was considered a huge step forward. She was lauded by Aders for advancing a “legacy giving plan” allowing animal lovers to give shelter donations through their wills. Aders drew a few gasps in announcing among new objectives the revival of an old plan to build “our own spay and neuter clinic” and to purchase outright the Progress Drive shelter facility. For the shelter staff led by manager Kayla Wines, she promised to look into better pay and benefits for staffers that would include health insurance and a savings plan, similar to the national 401K savings program.
Unlike certain other organizations in the town and county, treasurer Michelle Kosiorek was able to report “a clean audit” for the year, and a net income over expenses of $7,969. It cost $610,768 to run the shelter last year; gross income was $618,737. While Warren County underwrites about half of the expenses, the shelter received some $36,000 in grants; and $109,000 through its “Save the Paws Alliance” program involving 22 major donors.
The animal banks one sees on store and office counters around town raised $3,458 last year. Fundraising events, which suffered last year when the Society dropped the ball on the popular “Waggin’ for Dragons” boat race on the Shenandoah River, nevertheless realized $41,600 from individual fundraisers supported by volunteers and the general membership. Sixteen corporate sponsors also contributed, thus helping HSWC to remain in the black at year’s end. HSWC hopes to emulate past years net receipts ($40,000 plus on average) with the re-emergence of the boat race in August of this year.
Significantly Aders singled out the scores of volunteers (staff volunteer coordinator is Sue Wagoner) who zeroed in on directly helping the homeless animals, principally dogs and cats, and her board members (Julie Covert, vice president; Michelle Kosiorek, treasurer; Amy Thurman, secretary; Katrina Meade, Amy Cavalier, Melania Catron, and appointee Debbie Myers). For additional praise, she singled out Thurman, a former HSWC president, who was invited to bring her experience to the board mid-year and remains this year as board secretary.
She said 22 foster families helped 113 cats and five dogs in 2018 and 123 volunteers provided 3,589 hours of service to the shelter. Caroline Craig topped the volunteer group by contributing 500-plus hours of service, the gold standard. Aders herself contributed 250-499 hours reaching the silver level. Other bronze medal (100-249 hours) recipients were: Ruth Lewis, Terry and Virginia McKinnon; Katrina Meade; Abbe Mulvena; Robin Whittington; and Michelle Kosiorek. “Sheer Elegance Pet Boutique” was honored with the Community Partnership Award.
Executive director Bowers reserved most of her podium time to recognize “our leadership team” whom she identified, and introduced as being responsible for maintaining a high – 95.7% “save” rate (dogs) and $94.4% “save” rate for cats, thus continuing the Julie Wagner shelter its “no kill” status for another year. Michael Kerns, feline team leader, received special recognition for his 15 years service at the shelter.
Bowers, on behalf of last year’s staff work before she arrived, advised 930 dogs and cats that were adopted out. “A big thank you to our adopters…we couldn’t do it without you,” she said. In addition, 270 “strays” were reclaimed by owners.
After the meeting, Bowers said a new animal transportation van purchased last year would be recognizable by its “wrap” – a new paint job prominently identifying HSWC – later this week – thanks to the late Pearl Zigler and the Rotary Club of Front Royal.
Nonprofit Alliance of the Northern Shenandoah Valley to hold an online forum
The Nonprofit Alliance of the Northern Shenandoah Valley will present a live, on-line Q and A forum for area non-profits impacted by the current COVID-19 crisis on Thursday, April 2, from 8:30-9:30 am. This dialogue will be hosted by Tom Morley of Snowflake, LLC., a noted consultant to nonprofit agencies both across our region and nationally. The forum will give area nonprofits a chance to ask questions and share how they’ve adapted in these unprecedented conditions.
The nonprofit community is understandably anxious as the current COVID-19 crisis is making life more difficult for area agencies. This free forum will allow nonprofit leaders to interact as they face critical decisions that will affect our non-profits’ futures.
All area nonprofits are welcome to participate in this forum, free of charge, zia Zoom video conference. Registration will be handled online at www.snowflakellc.com/forum.
Troop 53 Annual Mulch Sale – Apr 4, 2020
Spring is approaching, and Troop 53 is preparing for their annual mulch fundraiser. The funds raised will help support troop activities and send our Boy Scouts to summer camp, where they learn valuable skills in leadership, outdoors, and many more through the scouting program.
They will be accepting pre-orders through April 2, 2020, so please place your order to reserve the quantities needed before we sell out. All pick up orders will be available for pick up on Saturday, April 4, 2020, at the Front Royal Volunteer Fire and Rescue, and deliveries will be made the same day.
The mulch bags are the same 3 cubic feet (larger than standard 2CF bags at the retail stores) shredded hardwood in a dark brown color.
Pricing for this year:
- $4.05 per bag for pick up
- $4.55 per bag for delivery
Orders may be placed via:
- Email the completed order form to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Text 540-692-9110 with name, address, number, email, and quantity.
- Mail the completed order form to Troop 53 Mulch c/o Britton Bowman, 162 Ascalon Dr, Middletown, VA 22645
- Call 540-692-9110; If we are unable to answer right away, please leave a detailed message with name, number, address, and quantity and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
The Troop can accept payments via credit/debit cards with a 4% fee to cover the processing fees. Please let us know if you wish to pay via credit/debit card and a payable invoice will be emailed to you.
Please forward this message to family, friends, and neighbors to help us spread the word. Thank you for your continued support of Troop 53.
“Dare to Dream” awards made at a “breakfast/non-breakfast” by Front Royal women’s group
An annual breakfast recognizing nine “Dare to Dream” candidates sharing more than $8,000 to help make their dreams a reality became, due to the coronavirus, a “no breakfast/breakfast” on-line where this year’s presentations were made by the Front Royal Women’s Resource Center (FRWRC).
Despite the international tragedy of the virus playing out this year, FRWRC was determined to publicly honor its 2020 list of women, selected from many who dared to dream, breakfast or no breakfast, and did so March 26. The FRWRC, established in 1996, launched “Dare to Dream” in 1999, meanwhile raising more than $100,000 for the program.
In a statement issued on-line, the Front Royal women’s organization said, in part: “One of the things our breakfast does that is subtle but extremely powerful, is to tell each of the grantees that we believe in them. Each of them has a story that touches us deeply and in turn, connects us to them and to each other. So now, in this extremely challenging time…we need to find other ways to reach out to touch, and to inspire, each other.”
Reach out they did, naming Megan Vardiman this year’s winner of the top award, the Elaine Bromfield Memorial Scholarship, including a check for $1,500. Megan, mother of four young children and enrolled at Lord Fairfax Community College (LFCC), dreams of becoming a psychologist, specifically helping women heal from trauma. Currently, she volunteers at Blue Ridge Hospice, and with Young Lives, a program offering support to teen mothers.
Other “dreamers” include:
- Diana Cercy of Linden ($900) who brought her Healing HeARTS Toolboxes and workshops from Prince William and Fauquier Counties. She is expanding her non-profit to cover her new community and Warren County schools.
- Mary Cook of Browntown Road, an artist, whose dream is to offer free arts experiences to children and adults in need. She received a check for $900 to purchase materials for mobile art workshops.
- Taylor Fletcher was awarded $1,000 for her nursing studies at LFCC. Taylor’s dream is to become a Nurse Practitioner,
encouraged by her experience with caring for her ailing grandmother.
- Mia Coffman, a Front Royal native now in her junior year at the University of Lynchburg where she is working toward a degree in special education. Her dream is to teach children with special needs. She received $600 to cover tuition costs for a class next semester.
- Amanda Horn, a fine art major at the Art Institute of Chicago and George Mason University, mother of two, with a current focus on painting plants and wildlife. She has shown and sold her work at wineries, art shows, and festivals, also murals in and on buildings locally. Her dream is to further share her paintings in the area. She received $1,000 to purchase a portable art display system.
- Eka Kapiotis, who established Valley Health’s Reiki Training Program, is a Cranio-Sacral Therapist (CST) dreaming of becoming a certified CST therapist at the highest level – that of “Diplomate.” She was award $600 toward the cost of gaining this certification.
- Meghan LeCompte is a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) and a medical technician at the Senior Living Center in Front Royal. She also volunteers at Warren County Fire and Rescue while studying for her Registered Nurse (RN) degree next year. She was awarded $1,000 for school expenses.
- Laura Ruby received $600 toward her dream of better addressing the needs of underserved populations, a trend. she discovered after opening Ruby Yoga in Front Royal three years ago. Specifically, she seeks training in kids’ yoga and in traumatic-informed yoga.
At its first on-line breakfast, FRWC noted that the year 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of congressional ratification of the 19th Amendment in which “women’s right to vote was enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.”
Belle Grove Plantation to postpone opening for 2020 season, Of Ale and History Beer Fest canceled
Belle Grove Plantation will delay opening for the 2020 season until Friday, April 24. This is in response to the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Executive Order 53, that states “Closure of all public access to recreational and entertainment businesses, effective 11:59 p.m., Tuesday, March 24, 2020 until 11:59 p.m., Thursday, April 23, 2020…[including]…Theaters, performing arts centers, concert venues, museums, and other indoor entertainment centers…” We are closely monitoring news and guidance regarding COVID-19 from health and government officials; please check www.bellegrove.org for updates before planning your visit.
There is ongoing uncertainty of this public health crisis and likelihood that large gatherings of people will be discouraged, if not prohibited, by the time of the May 9, 2020 “Of Ale and History” Beer Festival at Belle Grove. We have, therefore, come to the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 Beer Fest and expect to resume this great tradition in 2021. “Of Ale and History” Beer Fest is the longest running beer festival in Virginia and would have celebrated its 25th anniversary this year. It is an annual highlight to welcome the community onto the Belle Grove property and to support the craft beer industry as well as local food and merchandise vendors. However, the safety of our guests and participants are of upmost importance.
We continue to plan for a robust and joyful Belle Grove Wine Fest on August 29, 2020. Events such as the Beer Fest and Wine Fest are crucial fundraisers for our non-profit museum, and we appreciate the longstanding support we have received from attendees and sponsors.
Belle Grove’s website will include updates on additional special events to take place in 2020. The Northern Shenandoah Valley Master Gardener Association GardenFest scheduled for June 6, 2020 has been canceled. Farm to Fork Shenandoah, a bicycle event planned by Wrenegade Sports for September 13, 2020 will be postponed until September 12, 2021.
Visit www.bellegrove.org for content about the historic site. Additional news will be also shared on Belle Grove’s social media streams at:
The Board of Directors and staff of Belle Grove Plantation thank the health care workers and essential businesses for their continued hard work during this challenging time. We send our well wishes to you all.
About Belle Grove—Belle Grove Plantation is located off Route 11 at 336 Belle Grove Road just south of Middletown, Virginia 22645 and is conveniently located to I-81 (use exit 302) and I-66. Belle Grove Plantation is a non-profit historic house museum that is a National Trust for Historic Preservation historic site (www.savingplaces.org). Belle Grove is also one of the partners in Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park (www.nps.gov/cebe).
Community Earth Day Celebration canceled but the support continues
Governor Northam has closed schools for the remainder of the school year. Thus, we will be cancelling our Community Earth Day Celebration. Thank you to those who have signed on to support the Community Earth Day Celebration! We will try again next year.
We had requested 50 Shortleaf Pine Trees from the Virginia Department of Forestry to plant in honor of the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day this year. Those trees have all been adopted and will now have a forever home. I will contact the tree adopters as soon as I hear from the Department of Forestry with a plan.
If you wanted a Shortleaf Pine or maybe another type of tree and you missed one of our 50, no worries… Here is another chance to help improve Warren County’s color on the map below. Check out the VA Department of Forestry’s Nursery Page.
More resourceful links:
May you all stay safe in the healing green glow of a pine tree!
Environmental Science, Ecology, Green Team
Social solidarity during physical distancing
An Invitation from Liz Gibbs of SPACE:
Our tagline has never felt more true… we’re in this together. While most of us are practicing physical distancing, we feel that it is more important than ever to also practice social solidarity.
Join us in a Virtual SPACE Gathering this Friday via Zoom from 6-7pm EST. Just like our in-person SPACE gatherings, we will be focused on connecting over our shared humanity and that which unites us.
Bring stories of hope, compassion, generosity, etc. to share with the group. Whether it’s a kind gesture you received from a neighbor, an uplifting story you read on social media, a philosophical insight on our shared experience or a change in perspective this crisis has revealed for you, all stories of hope and solidarity are welcome. Don’t feel like sharing? Just come and listen!
This virus sucks – there’s no doubt about that. And a lot of what’s happening is out of our control. As with every hardship we face in life that we don’t (consciously) choose – death, heartbreak, health problems, etc. – it’s so important to find perspective. To me, this means we control what we can.
- We can control our perspective, how we respond and what we pay attention to.
- We can choose to shift our attention from loneliness to connection.
- From fear to hope.
- From judgment to compassion.
- From scarcity to generosity.
Let us take this opportunity to connect and celebrate the innate kindness, compassion and generosity of our human family during these tough times.
Hope to see you there!
- Date: Friday, March 20, 2020
- Time: 6pm EST
- Location: Online – Click Here
- Cost: FREE