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Local nonprofit in “urgent need” of foster parents in Richmond area

UMFS is seeking loving families willing to take in one or more kids in order to give them stability, security, and set them up for success later in life.

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There’s a desperate need for families in the Richmond area to take in teenagers currently in Virginia’s foster care system. This according to UMFS, a nonprofit which serves the needs of kids in need of foster care and other high risk populations.

In recent years across Virginia, the number of children entering the foster care system has grown, the organization says. A majority of children are removed from their homes due to physical abuse or neglect, according to data from the Virginia Department of Social Services. In 2016, 386 teenagers in central Virginia needed foster families. Today, there are 414 teenagers in central Virginia that need a place to call home and the support and security of family.

“We know that there are simply not enough homes available to support all the teenagers in central Virginia who are entering the foster care system,” said Adalay Wilson, vice president of community-based services at UMFS. “We are calling on the community to help in this time of need. Parents who will support the teenagers in our community by standing up and taking action, are the ones we are looking for.”

When there are not enough foster homes available to care for children entering the system, they are typically placed in emergency shelters or group homes. Studies have shown that when a teenager is transitioned from these settings and placed in a family setting, the result is often long-term stability, success in school, and mastery of basic life skills.

“All of the children need families that can give them stability,” Wilson added. “A lot of the children are coming from environments where they didn’t have a lot of consistency or security or boundaries. They need a lot of those.”

“Our highest need is homes for teens and sibling groups,” she said. “The best gift we can give children who enter the foster care system is to preserve their connections with their brothers and sisters. We are passionate about recruiting homes that can accept sibling groups.”

Those interested in supporting children who need a home can contact Adalay Wilson at 804.353.4461 ext. 1105, or by email.

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Trevor Dickerson is the co-founder and editor of RVAhub.com, lover of all things Richmond, and a master of karate and friendship for everyone.

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Arts & Entertainment

Explore Virginia’s natural beauty with new exhibition at Virginia Museum of History & Culture

Celebrate the efforts in preservation and horticulture made by the Garden Club of Virginia (GCV) during its 100-year history with a new exhibition at the Virginia Museum of History & Culture, “A Landscape Saved: The Garden Club of Virginia at 100.”

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Celebrate the efforts in preservation and horticulture made by the Garden Club of Virginia (GCV) during its 100-year history with a new exhibition at the Virginia Museum of History & Culture, “A Landscape Saved: The Garden Club of Virginia at 100.”

Featuring photographs and objects from the past century of the organization’s history, this exhibition highlights the work of the GCV and its dedicated members in advancing the appreciation of horticulture and the advocacy for land preservation, particularly regarding the formation of the state parks system.

“As the first conservation organization in Virginia, the achievements of GCV have bettered the lives of all who live in or travel through the Commonwealth,” the VMHC said in a release.

The Garden Club of Virginia is now a partnership of 3,400 community and civic leaders active in 48 garden clubs across the state.

Learn more about the exhibition here.

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Arts & Entertainment

The Byrd Theatre hires first ever Executive Director amid COVID-19 pandemic

Stacy Shaw, the new Executive Director, as of July 1, 2020, comes to the Byrd Theatre with 30 years experience as an arts administrator having worked for 2 other historic theaters in her past, The Wells Theatre in Norfolk, VA and The National Theatre in DC.

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Closure due to COVID-19 isn’t stopping the Byrd Theatre from continuing to focus on the strategic plan and its long-term future. When closure happened in Mid-March, the Byrd Theatre Foundation was already well into a national search for the first Executive Director to lead the non-profit theatre as part of the Phase 2 Strategic Plan. Thanks to the more than $1,100,000 raised in early lead gifts toward a second phase of the Strategic Plan, funds have been earmarked for both capital improvements and restorations as well as opportunity funds to finance this leadership position at the theatre.

Stacy Shaw, the new Executive Director, as of July 1, 2020, comes to the Byrd Theatre with 30 years experience as an arts administrator having worked for 2 other historic theaters in her past, The Wells Theatre in Norfolk, VA and The National Theatre in DC. She spent the last 6 years at The National Theatre as the Director of Institutional Advancement establishing corporate, capital, endowment, and major donor campaigns while expanding foundation and government support. She lives in Petersburg, VA with her wife who teaches at Virginia State University.

“We are so thrilled to have someone with Stacy’s experience and expertise join the Byrd. We are confident in her ability to lead the organization through the current times and into a successful future.” Said, Ted Haynes, Byrd Theatre Foundation President.

“In my experience, Stacy Shaw is a talented arts administrator who brings an amazing amount of knowledge, passion, and heart to everything she undertakes.  I have no doubt that she will bring that same energy to the Byrd Theatre and its mission.“ Sarah Chaplin, former Executive Director of The National Theatre and current President and CEO of The State Theatre of New Jersey.

While the Governor’s Phase 3 opening date is July 1st, the Byrd Theatre will remain closed for now. Shaw has worked with the Board of Directors to make the decision to remain closed and focus internally on updating cleaning and seating protocols to meet COVID-19 standards. This is a difficult financial decision, continued closure means operating funds are slim, but the increased cost to open and operate the theatre under the COVID-19 standards make the margins challenging. The Theatre was fortunate to get a PPP loan early on that allowed the Theatre to continue paying the primarily part-time staff until mid-June when the funds ran out.

Stacy Shaw said, “We have already reached out to our wonderful patrons for their input to make sure they feel confident about their attendance at the Byrd as well as following updates on cleaning protocols. We are particularly fortunate that the Byrd has a large seating area that social distancing is easily accomplished when compared to the movie theatres of today. Meanwhile, we are utilizing this time to do as much cleaning, updating, and capital improvements as possible. One of the most exciting projects has been the completion of a total renovation of the Wurlitzer Piano in the upper left balcony!”

There are capital funds earmarked for Phase Two capital improvements that will begin to happen late summer and into 2021.

Planned Phase Two Capital Improvements include, but are not limited to:

  • Renovation of the women’s restroom
  • Concession area improvements
  • Replacement of the carpet and expansion of the seat replacements
  • A range of replacements of various systems: lighting, mechanicals, PA system
  • Replacement of rear doors
  • A range of front of stage improvements
  • Further care of the Mighty Wurlitzer Organ and Wurlitizer Piano

Stacy Shaw said, “I am excited to be part of the organization and to be joining at such a pivotal moment in time.” With Phase Two fundraising underway, Shaw also said, “We looking forward to the next multi-year phase of restoration and growth. The Foundation will be expanding its philanthropic efforts to meet the estimated goal of $2.4 million and to offer donors a range of unique naming and commemorative options.”

Phase One projects replaced the roof as well as heating and cooling systems; installed a digital server and state-of-the-art 4K projector; organ repairs; restored historic plasterwork and center seats; and created a wheelchair accessible seating area and ADA family restroom.

While closed, the Byrd Theatre is not bringing in operating funds, therefore, the theatre is actively looking for creative ways to bring film out into the community. Look for the Byrd Theatre to partner with different organizations and spaces for drive-in and other movie night type events throughout the summer and fall. The Virtual Screening Room will remain up and active as well, bringing new films not able to be seen on the big screen to your living room. Renting a film from the Byrd Theatre Virtual Screening Room supports the theatre while you enjoy a film!

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Community

Carytown Watermelon Festival Officially Canceled for this Year

The yearly event that brought crowds and piles of watermelon to Carytown is canceled this year due to Covid-19.

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From Carytown Facebook:

Hello Watermelon Lovers! It is with tremendous sadness that we are writing today that the 37th Carytown Watermelon Festival is being postponed. Local and State Covid-19 regulations in our current Phase of re-opening are limiting any open-air events to a maximum of 250 people. Obviously, this event is much larger than that. In addition, it will always be our first priority to ensure the safety of our guests, vendors, sponsors and Carytown merchants. Although this decision is a difficult one, it is in all our best interest to remain healthy, safe and cognizant of those around us who may be affected by having such a festival. If a fall option becomes available to us, we will post accordingly. Thanks for your 37 years of support and we truly look forward to the next Carytown event.

**Please note that pages and events titled Carytown Watermelon Festival 2020 (that 2020 is the key word) keep popping up. We have tried to get this removed, these are SCAM pages and events, please do not share or add yourself as a co-host**

 

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