In this edition of Town Talk, publisher Mike McCool speaks with Fern Vazquez of the CHEO Community Garden, along with fellow gardeners Carol Olsen, Rick Hewitt, and Michael Graham.
Now in its 4th year, the CHEO (Citizens Helping Each Other) garden season in Front Royal is calling for volunteers to assist with planting at each site on Saturday, May 13th. CHEO is a collective of individuals working together to assist neighbors in need and foster unity within the community.
C-CAP, an organization affiliated with the CHEO garden, accepts monetary donations to support the project. If you wish to contribute, make checks payable to C-CAP and include a note specifying that the funds are for the CHEO garden. Send your donations to C-CAP at 316 N Royal Ave # L1, Front Royal, VA 22630.
For further details, check out their Facebook page. If you’re eager to join the gardening effort, get in touch with Fern by calling 757-630-2362 or emailing email@example.com.
Volunteering in the community garden not only helps those in need but also promotes a sense of togetherness and shared purpose among residents.
Town Talk is a series on the Royal Examiner where we will introduce you to local entrepreneurs, businesses, non-profit leaders, and political figures who influence Warren County. Topics will be varied but hopefully interesting. Let us know if you have an idea or topic or want to hear from someone in our community. Send your request to news@RoyalExaminer.com
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.
Phoenix Project: A Community’s Beacon Against Domestic Violence
Eighth Annual Fundraiser Builds Momentum.
In this Town Talk on the Royal Examiner, our publisher, Mike McCool, hosted representatives from the Phoenix Project, a dedicated organization shining a light on the issues of domestic abuse and violence. President Tana Hoffman and Fundraising Committee Co-Chair Kim Lynch provide a deep dive into the Phoenix Project’s mission and their upcoming annual event.
As autumn leaves begin to fall, the Phoenix Project isn’t just an organization preparing for the cold days ahead but a beacon of hope warming the hearts of those escaping domestic and sexual violence. On October 12, they’re inviting the community to come together for their biggest fundraiser of the year: the Wine Pull. Not only is it an opportunity to support their vital mission, but it’s also a testament to the strength and unity of a community determined to bring about change.
The heart of the Phoenix Project beats with the rhythm of empowerment, education, and community involvement. The Wine Pull event encapsulates these values, offering an evening of camaraderie, exquisite wine selections, and the collective spirit of making a difference.
Behind the delightful glasses of wine and the vibrant atmosphere, the foundation of the Phoenix Project’s Wine Pull remains its core values. Ensuring an environment where honesty, trust, and safety reigns, the event is more than just a fundraiser—it’s a celebration of the community’s commitment to eradicating domestic and sexual violence.
As attendees uncork bottles and share stories, they’re not just participating in a festive evening but cementing the promise of hope and new beginnings. Every bottle pulled, every toast made, signifies a step closer to a community free from abuse.
Join us on October 12. Let’s raise our glasses, not just to the fine wine but to the unwavering spirit of the Phoenix Project. Together, we’ll be ensuring fewer victims tomorrow, one glass at a time.
Strengthening Community Bonds: Warren County Sheriff’s Office Uplifts Outreach Efforts
Law enforcement and ARC collaborate to champion community well-being.
In a recent Town Talk at the Royal Examiner studio, Mike McCool led a conversation with Lieutenant Terry Fritts and Sergeant Robbie Seal about the intensifying community engagement efforts of the Warren County Sheriff’s Office. With autumn upon us and various community events on the horizon, the discussion underlined the profound importance of community policing and its pivotal role in bridging the gap between law enforcement and the public.
Central to the dialogue was the ARC of Warren, a cornerstone community organization dedicated to elevating the lives of individuals with intellectual and physical disabilities. The long-standing presence of ARC, under the managerial supervision of Lynn Down, is gearing up for an upcoming event to further its noble mission.
The ARC’s initiative to involve local law enforcement, especially during their bowling nights, showcased the positive impact of a uniformed presence. This partnership is but a snapshot of the Sheriff’s Office’s broader strategy to actively immerse themselves within the community.
Among the varied community programs are a monthly reading initiative at Samuels Library, the Triad Meetings held at the Senior Center, the crucial Car Seat Check Day, and the ‘Celebrate Kids Day’ event by the Warren Coalition.
But it’s not just about present engagements; remembrance plays a crucial role in community bonding. The town’s forthcoming bridge dedication to honor the service of Front Royal Police Sergeant Smedley 40 years after his tragic demise stands as a testament to this commitment.
With a keen interest in cold cases among the public, the conversation took a turn to stress the importance of finding closure in these long-unsolved mysteries.
Enter the Citizens Academy – an innovative program aiming to offer the community a deep dive into the workings of the Sheriff’s Office. This eight-week course, replete with a comprehensive curriculum ranging from community policing to firearms training, hopes to offer a transparent view of the department’s operations, fostering trust and understanding.
While the Warren County Sheriff’s Office’s duties span from regular law enforcement to court security and school resources, their relentless drive to involve, educate, and collaborate with the community is commendable. Initiatives such as these reflect not just the commitment to duty but a broader vision to serve and uplift the community. In a world where law enforcement agencies sometimes grapple with public perception, Warren County’s efforts echo a blueprint for change and connection.
Warren County Department of Social Services Ups the Ante on Employment Services
New Job Developer Megan Bowers Looks to Bridge Gap Between Employers and Job Seekers.
In a recent Town Talk with Mike McCool at the Royal Examiner, Michelle Smeltzer and the newly hired Job Developer Meghan Bowers delved into the future of Warren County’s employment landscape. With unemployment rates fluctuating and a considerable part of the community in need, the Department of Social Services (DSS) in Warren County is making waves with an expanded focus on employment services.
Megan Bowers, who officially began her role as a job developer last week, aims to serve as a bridge between job seekers and local businesses. With an impressive background in human resources, Bowers brings valuable experience to the table. She envisions a multi-faceted approach to aiding job seekers, providing everything from resume building and interview preparation to soft skills like “how to shake a hand” and “how to tie a tie.”
It’s worth noting that these services aren’t restricted to Warren County residents or those who are already clients of the DSS. Bowers is clear on this point: “It’s open to anybody. We’re prepared to help them get a job and help the local employers to find great people.”
The DSS’s strategy doesn’t stop at resume crafting or interview tips. Michelle Smeltzer, widely recognized in the community, highlighted that the department also assists job seekers with essentials like identification and Social Security cards. Smeltzer added, “If you need a phone and you’re on Medicaid or SNAP, we can help you do that.”
It appears that the DSS has evolved into a comprehensive one-stop resource, collaborating with multiple agencies like Northwestern, Warren Coalition, and the Phoenix Project, among others. They’re in the process of organizing a job fair scheduled for November 2nd, which will feature local businesses looking to hire.
One reason why the role of a job developer is increasingly critical is that technology and the avenues for job searching are continuously evolving. Bowers stated, “Technology is always changing; where to even look for a job is always changing.”
Aside from employment, the DSS is orchestrating multiple events to serve the community better. These include the annual “Jack O’Lantern Jubilee” set for October 26th and a poignant event dubbed “One Night Without a Home” on October 21st, aimed at raising awareness about homelessness.
Michelle Smeltzer expressed her excitement over two long-term homeless individuals finally securing housing. She said, “That’s what we strive for. We work with them. The thermal shelter works with them. Social services work with them.”
The Department of Social Services in Warren County is pushing boundaries, establishing itself as an essential player in not just providing emergency relief but also empowering residents for sustainable futures. With the addition of Megan Bowers as a Job Developer, the department seems geared for impact, ensuring that both job seekers and employers can find the ideal match in a challenging landscape.
Town Talk is a series on the Royal Examiner where we will introduce you to local entrepreneurs, businesses, non-profit leaders, and political figures who influence Warren County. Topics will be varied but hopefully interesting. If you have an idea topic or want to hear from someone in our community, let us know. Send your request to news@RoyalExaminer.com
A reminder that the One Stop Resource Fair is tomorrow, September 6, 2023
Front Royal Council Highlights: Acknowledging Achievements and Pursuing Community Development
The council engages with its community, celebrates successes, and considers future initiatives.
In a recent Town Talk at the Royal Examiner’s studio, Mike McCool hosted Front Royal Mayor Lori Cockrell and Council Member Bruce Rappaport. As the duo shed light on ongoing Council affairs, a range of topics, from community development to finance department accolades, surfaced. The meeting highlighted the Council’s proactive approach to reaching out and keeping the public informed.
One significant acknowledgment was the finance department’s consecutive accolade under BJ Wilson’s leadership, achieving excellence in financing and reporting for 20 consecutive years. This consistency assures the public that the department is not just transparent but maintains an unparalleled standard of diligence.
Furthermore, in a heartwarming gesture, the Council is contemplating the dedication of the North Commerce Avenue Bridge in honor of Sergeant Dennis Smedley. This potential resolution serves as a testament to a community that remembers and mourns its heroes.
Another focal point was urban redevelopment. The rejuvenation of previously run-down areas into viable economic spaces, like the anticipated car wash, will contribute to the town’s aesthetics and economy.
On a different note, speed cameras in school zones became a subject of discussion. While they may enhance safety, the council is still considering public sentiment and possible alternatives before implementation.
Lastly, the Raymond E. Santmyers Youth Center, once a thriving hub for the youth, is under discussion. The collaboration with Reaching Out Now, led by Samantha Barber, is a promising initiative. The center’s revival may depend on public response and the town’s commitment to seed funding.
As Front Royal’s Council grapples with community matters, their engagement and commitment to transparency remain clear. From celebrating achievements to exploring development opportunities, the Council is firmly rooted in its goal of uplifting the community. As they move forward, community feedback remains pivotal in shaping the future landscape of Front Royal.
Town Talk is a series on the Royal Examiner where we will introduce you to local entrepreneurs, businesses, non-profit leaders, and political figures who influence Warren County. Topics will be varied but hopefully interesting. If you have an idea, or topic, or want to hear from someone in our community, let us know. Send your request to news@RoyalExaminer.com