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06

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Sep
21

By Holly Henry

Planning for college: for students, it’s hard enough trying to choose a school that suits their career goals — but what about actually paying for it?

Now that’s a little daunting.

Lorraine SantaLucia thought the same thing, back in 2010 graduating from Landstown High School. Now, she has graduated debt free and is the president of Scholarship Sharing — a free nonprofit group dedicated to helping students find resources for paying for college.

“We are a student run organization working to decrease loan debt,” says SantaLucia.

RELATED: Scholarship Sharing Helps Students Avoid College Debt

The group is hosting an upcoming Scholarship Fair in Richmond. Last year, the event brought in more than 1,000 students. This year, they expect 5,000. The organization – which originated in a tiny Facebook group – has humble beginnings, despite the now thousands of people they are currently working with. It all started when SantaLucia began researching how she could attend Hollins University, a private women’s college. She started researching ways to pay her tuition — scholarships, grants, military funding, and work-study programs that were often overlooked by the public. She found them — enough of them to pay a nearly $40,000 tuition bill. Her sophomore year she transferred to Virginia Commonwealth University and also paid for her full tuition bill in outside aid!

Her savvy researching skills soon became noticed; parents in the community were contacting her, asking her to help their child do the same thing. She started a Facebook group to communicate with students — which she accidentally left open to the public! After the group gained more than 300 followers in under a week, SantaLucia decided to start her own nonprofit organization that thrives today: Scholarship Sharing.

SantaLucia’s passion is helping students, particularly young adults, realize that you don’t need perfect grades or lots of money to go to the school of your dreams.

“This is personal for me, because loan debt isn’t only a problem for those who I was working with, it is also something that could have also affected me as a student. I work to inform students about opportunities to avoid debt, because of how hard it was for me to find aid when I first got started.”

Lorraine graduated debt free in May 2014 from VCU after winning more than $33,000 in scholarships and $20,000 in grants with her Bachelor’s Degree in Mass Communications and minors in Spanish and Business.

Right now, SantaLucia is currently a graduate student at VCU finishing her Certification in Nonprofit Management on a $4,600 SunTrust Scholarship. In the spring she will be pursuing her Master’s in Public Administration.

“I’ll be graduating from my Master’s program debt free as well, thanks to the Virginia Military Survivors and Dependent Education Program. I owe so much to the military. Being a Navy dependent has given me perspective on putting others before yourself,” she says.

Lorraine has been charitable in more ways than one, and encourages students to do the same —  because scholarships can be an added benefit to giving back. The Hispanic College Fund is one of the scholarships she utilized. She received the $5,000 scholarship for two consecutive years. As a member of Operation Smile, UNICEF, the PRSSA, and hosting community service projects with Scholarship Sharing, SantaLucia was able to obtain the scholarship by showing how she was giving back to the community.

“I continue to give back to the community because it keeps me grounded. My friends and family make fun that I’m always trying to save the world,” says SantaLucia.

SantaLucia and her team are now gearing up for the Scholarship Fair in Richmond on October 11 through October 12. The event will be open to the public. Scholarship opportunities from more than 50 foundations will be present, and students can use the funds available to attend the university or community college of their choice.

“We will be hosting our Second Annual Scholarship Fair this year to connect students to college funding opportunities. We want to create awareness about outside aid to students, to increase networking and interviewing skills, and start the conversation about college financial planning,” she explains.

SantaLucia says it’s important to know that it’s never too early to start planning, and never too late to go to college.

“People assume the only time you can earn scholarships is when you’re in high school. This is not the case. Scholarships are available, in fact, when you are as young as six years old, or a senior citizen. We’ll have info on those types of programs at the event.”

Her advice? Be thorough and think things through.

“Students should be looking at their financial aid packages and questioning everything. Can you keep the aid listed only if you keep a certain GPA? Will the scholarships awarded be available for all four years? Is it automatically renewed? Or do you have to reapply each year? Do you need to prove you are still in your major field at the school? Or show logged community service hours? Financial aid can be tricky to maneuver if you don’t ask the right questions!”

Those who attend the upcoming Scholarship Fair will not only learn valuable advice such as this, straight from the experts, but they will have the shot at earning one of several $500 scholarships to use at the school of their choice.

“Scholarships will be awarded at random throughout the event for those with tickets. So Mom and Dad, you should get tickets, too! Oh, and winners of the scholarships don’t need to be present to claim an award. We’ll email all recipients.”

The event is open to high school, college, and community college students, as well as parents and teachers.

“This event has something for everyone. Even after graduation there’s still loans you need to deal with. There will be organizations on site that can also help with debt management and programs for loan forgiveness.”

Each person who attends the fair will be asked to make a monetary donation by Paypal or credit card. Scholarship Sharing then puts 100 percent of those proceeds towards the $500 scholarships they are distributing. So the more donations they receive, the more scholarship money they can give away. Tickets will be available at the door, but those who want to avoid the lines can pre-register on their website now, HERE.

Event Information:

Scholarship Fair

Location: Virginia Commonwealth University Student Commons

Commonwealth Ballrooms

907 Floyd Ave., Richmond, VA

Directions to the venue can be found here: http://www.maps.vcu.edu/monroepark/univcommons/

Dates:

Oct 11, 6-9 p.m.

Oct 12, 3-6 p.m.

Get involved with Scholarship Sharing:

Scholarship Sharing Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/scholarshipsharing

Scholarship Sharing on Twitter: @ScholarshipCrew

Join the free email list-serve and get more information on the groups’ events on their website: http://www.scholarshipsharing.org/

Read more from Coastal Virginia Magazine, HERE

Aug
23

Virginia Beach, Va. – Empowerment. Healing. Camaraderie.

It’s what Life Rolls On is all about – and surfers from all walks of life and all ability levels came together in Virginia Beach August 9th to share the stoke of riding a wave.

Life Rolls On is a national organization – a non-profit that inspires others to see the boundless possibilities beyond paralysis.

They Will Surf Again is the signature program of Life Rolls On. The event has been held at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront since 2008, but the organization as a whole has roots dating back to 1996.

Established in 2002, LRO’s signature adaptive surfing program, They Will Surf Again, has grown into a catalyst of hope for thousands of individuals throughout the world, according to the LRO website.

They Will Surf Again empowers paraplegics and quadriplegics to demonstrate that anything is possible despite paralysis.

The Life Rolls On organization also promotes spinal cord injury awareness, and offers outreach to individuals and their families at the onset of injury.

They Will Surf Again is a highly anticipated event for locals here in Virginia Beach. 

I spoke with Jeremy Alan Phelps, organizer/surfer for Life Rolls On: They Will Surf Again. The event holds a special place in his heart.

“It changed my life because I was a surfer growing up ever since I was 15. I was paralyzed in a surfing accident in July of 1999. All I wanted to do was get back in the water and I was trying to figure out how to do that before I even left the hospital.”

Years later in 2008, Phelps was approached to help organize and put on the very first “They Will Surf Again” event for the Hampton Roads area.

“Finally I was going to have a chance to get back into the water and do what I loved so much,” Phelps says. “The one passion that had been taken away from me when I was 24.”

The people involved in They Will Surf Again are mostly part of the Virginia Beach surf community, Phelps says.

“Some of them are friends, some are therapists, and then there’s those that just want to help.”

The Virginia Beach community has banded together not only to take part in the activity they love – surfing – but to help others experience the joy of catching waves.

Brian Stokes, Deep Water Team Captain for They Will Surf Again in Virginia Beach, has been volunteering for Life Rolls On for the past four years. 

“I enjoy acting as a Team Captain with Life Rolls On: They Will Surf Again, because I get to help people who normally can’t get to the beach and surf by themselves. Some of these people travel long distances, they wait all year – this is their single peak time to go surfing out of the year. This is their only chance,” Stokes says.

Stokes, a longtime surfer and award winning tandem surfer along with his wife, Cindy Stokes, says it’s all about giving back to those who want to enjoy their time out in the water.

“I feel like I have a good opportunity to share my talents and my knowledge with those who could really use it.”

It wouldn’t be the same without the volunteers, who come out and share their passion for surfing with those who may only have the opportunity that one time of year.

“Without them volunteering, it would be impossible for any of us that are disabled to get out in the water and surf. They are the ones that help us in the water, that push us into the waves, and make it possible for so many to either get back in the water and surf again or experience it for the first time,” Phelps added.

The event is always held the second weekend of August. 

Next year’s event is scheduled for August 8, 2015.

For information on how you can get involved, Click Here.

Related Content:

Life Rolls On photos, Wright Coast Photography

Life Rolls On

Wahine Surf Club Facebook Page

Getting Involved: Life Rolls On 

 

Jul
27

By Holly Henry

Virginia Beach, Va. – LIFT up, Virginia Beach!

And by LIFT — I mean, change lives, one day at a time — through fitness and nutrition education. It’s a holistic approach to improving lives.

If you haven’t heard already, LIFT is a new program that aims to touch the lives of the homeless and those in need by lifting their confidence and spirits, inspiring them to do better — and to live better, overall.

The LIFT program began in March of 2014, according to Krista White, the program’s lead coordinator. It’s part of the Jim White Community Fitness Foundation.

“I feel like with fitness and nutrition, it’s so much a passion of mine — but when you can extend it to people who are in need, just seeing the positive impact on them in so many ways — that’s what makes me want to continue doing it,” White says.

So far, the organization has held three rounds of programs: March, May, and June. The next program will begin in the fall, around September.

LIFT has been working with the Judeo-Christian Outreach Center, but starting in October, they will extend their program to the Beach House, working with those who are mentally disabled.

“It’s a 30-day program, and we basically use fitness and nutrition to motivate people,” White explains.

White says it’s not necessarily about getting people fit, but more about giving them motivation and courage to go through life, becoming better equipped to find jobs, or even just to have the confidence to go apply for a position they want.

Already, White has seen some amazing success stories. It’s something very close to her heart.

“We had one individual in our March session; he is 62 years old, and he never knew how to read or write. Because he was able to push himself through the LIFT program, he decided, okay, if I can push myself through this program, I’m now going to start teaching myself to read and write. And now he is able to read and write because of the confidence and motivation that he gained through the LIFT program.”

Krista has teamed up with The Fit Petite’s Jess Horton, who shares her passion for helping the Virginia Beach community.

The Fit Petite has helped LIFT with some of the boot camps they have done, as well as cooking classes. The women provide healthy groceries and nutrition classes to the folks in the program, and then teach them how to prepare meals and maintain a fitness routine.

“This program holds a special place in my heart,” Horton says. “Since March, LIFT volunteers like myself have been working with the homeless in Virginia Beach and helping them better their life through fitness. The LIFT program was designed to motivate individuals to become stronger physically and spiritually through fitness. Individuals participate in two group workouts per week over a month long period. LIFT participants graduate the program with tools they can use to become healthier and more successful, leading them towards the life they truly deserve to live.”

Jess Horton, owner of The Fit Petite LLC, has a love and passion for all things health and fitness. Her business has taken both of those to create an “Urban Spoon” style review process of local Virginia Beach fitness facilities. Through the LIFT program, she is able to help the community she cares so deeply about.

In fact, The Fit Petite, along with the folks at lululemon athletica Virginia Beach, recently held a fundraiser, in which a portion of the proceeds went to benefit LIFT.

“We’re going to use that money to continue with our program this year,” White says.

For more information on LIFT, click here: http://www.jwfitnessfoundation.com/

For more information on The Fit Petite, click here: http://thefitpetite.com/home/

For more information on the Judeo-Christian Outreach Center, click here: http://www.jcoc.org/

Jul
21
"Each day is a special gift from God."

“Each day is a special gift from God.”

Monday, July 21, 2014

Monday Inspiration: Here’s something to think about if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed or exhausted, even frustrated at the world.

Over the weekend, I had a remarkable experience that may seem somewhat small, but to me, it meant something.

I was passing through on my way to vacuum out my car at the place next to my house. On the way there, I saw kids and moms holding up signs for a car wash. The money would go to support their baseball team. I slowed down and stopped my car, pulled up next to the lady holding up the sign. I reached over and grabbed my last dollar bill out of my wallet. I gave it to her, telling her I don’t need a car wash today, but I just wanted to donate something. She gave me a warm smile, and I slowly drove away, on to the car place. I felt good about doing something nice, even though it was small.

I pull up to the car place. The sign says, quarters only. I go through my wallet, thinking I had enough quarters. I don’t – I am two short, but I have a handful of dimes. I don’t have any more dollar bills on me, so I walk up to see if there was some way I could get change; there were a few machines lined up. As I’m standing there trying to figure out the machine, a man walked up and asked me if I needed help. I said, well I was looking for quarters in exchange for the dimes I had. If I can’t get it, no big deal, you know. So what happens? The nice man just smiled and gave me four quarters, double what I needed. Double! Again, although it is small, I was very grateful, and amazed at this kindness. I said thank you, very much, to the man. Have a nice day! He said no problem.

So within ten minutes, I had given up something to the universe — to the kids — then what happened? The universe turned around and gave me DOUBLE of what I needed, in an instant. How about that? So, this is what I would call a small miracle. Small, but nevertheless, a little miracle.

Sometimes all you need is just a little miracle to let you know God has his eyes on you.

“Give, and it will be given to you; a good measure–pressed down, shaken together, and running over–will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” — Luke 6:38

Jun
20

By Holly Henry, WTKR Online Producer

The Adventure Park at Virginia Aquarium celebrated its grand opening in Virginia Beach on May 31, 2014.

The Adventure Park is an aerial ropes course, consisting of 13 different trails through the trees, of varying challenge levels, from introductory to advanced.

The park is open until 11 p.m.

NewsChannel 3 Web Producer Holly Henry went behind the scenes – up in the trees – to grab some GoPro video of the zipline. For the full story and video, Click Here.

Related Content:

The Adventure Park at Virginia Aquarium on Facebook

Zipline, climb, fly: The Adventure Park at Virginia Aquarium

Photo Gallery: Holly Henry takes a tour-in-the-trees at The Adventure Park

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Feb
11
App-A-Cab App - Find a taxi in Hampton Roads.

App-A-Cab App – Find a taxi in Hampton Roads.

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Holly Henry, WTKR/WGNT Online Producer

A Norfolk company launched a new app on February 3 that makes it easier to get taxi cabs in Hampton Roads.

“The market demanded it, that’s why we introduced it to the Hampton Roads market,” says Frank Azzalina, Director of Business Development at Hampton Roads Transportation, Inc.

The App-A-Cab app runs on your smartphone – and uses GPS to find where you are – then it sends the closest cab to you.

You get an email confirming it’s on the way, and it even tells you when the cab will get there. You can track the cab’s progress in real time on your phone.

You can also choose if you need a taxi that is wheelchair accessible, or one that can get on a military base.

“You are never more than two taps away from a cab,” Azzalina says.

The app is free, and you can download it on Google Play or in the Apple App Store.

Find App-A-Cab on Facebook

App-A-Cab

Feb
11

By Holly Henry, WTKR Online Producer

Do you have a smart phone? There’s a new app that can help you keep your pets safe.

The American Red Cross has created an app that helps dog and cat owners provide emergency care until veterinary assistance is available.

Pets are an important part of many families, and a new Red Cross Pet First Aid App puts lifesaving information right in the hands of dog and cat owners so they can provide emergency care until veterinary assistance is available.

The app, which costs 99 cents, gives iPhone and Android smart phone users instant access to expert information so they learn how to maintain their pet’s health and what to do during emergencies.

With this new app, pet owners learn how to recognize health problems and when to contact their veterinarian.

The Pet First Aid App provides step-by-step instructions, videos and images for more than 25 common first aid and emergency situations – including how to treat wounds, control bleeding, and care for breathing and cardiac emergencies.

Additional topics include burns, car accidents, falls and what to do for cold and heat-related emergencies.

Other features in the app allow pet owners to:

• Create a pet profile including tag identification number, photos, list of medications and instructions.

• Use the list of early warning signs to learn when to call their veterinarian.

• Use “click-to-call” to contact their veterinarian.

• Find emergency pet care facilities or alternate veterinarians with the “animal hospital locator.”

• Locate pet-friendly hotels.

• Test their knowledge with interactive quizzes and earn badges that they can share on their social networks along with their favorite picture of their pet.

History shows that people have not evacuated during disasters because they did not want to leave their pets behind. The Red Cross app contains resources to help owners include pets in their emergency action plans. Pet owners may also take a Red Cross Pet First Aid course so they can practice the skills and receive feedback. People can go to Redcross.org/takeaclassfor information and to register.

The Pet First Aid App and other Red Cross apps can be found in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross or by going to redcross.org/mobileapps.

Download apps, HERE. (iPhone and Android)

Nov
07
Photo: Portsmouth Art and Cultural Center

Photo: Portsmouth Art and Cultural Center

Holiday Giving: Winter Wonderland in Portsmouth

By Holly Henry

Portsmouth, Va. – It’s become a family tradition for folks across Hampton Roads for the past 10 years.

If you are looking for something new for your family at the holidays – Winter Wonderland is the place to be.

The Portsmouth Art & Cultural Center and Children’s Museum of Virginia are celebrating the tenth anniversary of “Winter Wonderland: Coleman Nursery Collection and Snow Wonders”.

Opening weekend festivities extend from November 29 through December 1, 2013, according to curator Gayle Paul. The entire exhibit and related festivities take place from November 29 through December 31, 2013.

Winter Wonderland features the Coleman Nursery Yuletide displays – a tradition that has roots dating back to 1966.

A PIECE OF HISTORY – THE COLEMAN NURSERY COLLECTION:

After 38 years of holiday wonderland, Coleman’s Nursery closed in 2003, according to Martha Fortson, Executive Director of the Portsmouth Museums Foundation. So, the question came up: “Where would all of the little people go?”

The “little people”, Fortson says, are the animated figures that Coleman’s has displayed for many years.

Victorian Elves

Victorian Elves

When presented with the idea of purchasing the Coleman display, the Portsmouth Museums Foundation “jumped at the chance,” Fortson says.  The non-profit (501©3) foundation raises funding for all four Portsmouth Museums – most recently the exhibits in the new Children’s Museum of Virginia.

The Coleman Nursery Collection was purchased in January of 2004 with the vision of Santa’s workshop on display, as well as the Victorian exhibit in the 1846 Courthouse in downtown Portsmouth on the corner of Court and High Streets, now known as the Portsmouth Art and Cultural Center.

Fortson says many Hampton Roads residents rejoiced that Winter Wonderland, the Coleman Legacy, would be preserved for future generations.

Ten years later, the exhibit remains on display with much restoration to the Coleman figures, and in a more traditional setting rather than a rustic outdoor nursery setting, says Fortson.

A partnership between the City of Portsmouth Museums and the Portsmouth Museums Foundation was established in 2004. That same year, Winter Wonderland opened in the historic courthouse. More than 24,000 people visited during that opening six weeks.  The sets, such as the Candy Shop, the Bakery, and the Victorian figures were gentle reminders of Coleman Nursery.

Martha Fortson and the Foundation are proud to give back to the community, and add to its holiday spirit.

“It has been a real joy for me to play a role in giving this legacy back to the children and families of Hampton Roads,” she says. “It has been a labor of love and that all of us can be proud to call our very own Winter Wonderland.”

Winter Wonderland: Coleman Collection -  The Baker Elves

Winter Wonderland: Coleman Collection -
The Baker Elves

KEEPING TRADITION:

Each year, Santa and his elves have transformed the historic 1846 Courthouse building and courtyard into a Wonderland of traditional displays, lights, and holiday trim, says Gayle Paul, Portsmouth Art & Cultural Center Curator.

The original Coleman Collection dates back to the mid-1960s, when nursery owners John Coleman and Junie Lancaster were inspired after a visit to the New York World’s Fair. An animated Sleeping Santa was their first purchase. From there, the collection grew to more than 100 figures.  In addition to holiday favorites of Sleeping Santa, Victorian skaters, carolers, woodland animals and penguins, Santa’s toy shops, bakery and candy factory add to the displays, Paul says. Trains are always a family favorite – so Santa has added something new to his train shop!

After years of moving from display to rest during the off season, Gayle Paul says a new Chalet building arrives this year to take center stage. It’s nestled into a woodland scene where activities anticipate the arrival of Santa.  Snow babies are ready to join in the anniversary celebration, alongside of penguins from the South Pole!

WHAT TO EXPECT:

From November 29 through December 31, the weekends will be filled with music and holiday fun for the entire family – including face painting, balloons, magic, crafts, and pony rides.

Scheduled events include the Winter Wonderland Opening Weekend; followed by Snow Wonders, an Ornament and Tile Workshop, The Night Before Christmas Puppet Show, Sights and Sounds of a Winter Wonderland Planetarium Show, and Virginia’s Legendary Santa Trains Booksigning – something for everyone! You can even “take a holiday dip in chocolate” on December 28. Maryann Boho of the Williamsburg Chocolatier will be a special guest.

The sleigh carolers

Sleigh Carolers

Portsmouth Art & Cultural Center & Children’s Museum of Virginia

Hours of operation:

Monday CLOSED

Tuesday – Thursday: 9am – 5pm

Friday – Saturday: 9am – 8pm

Sunday: 11am – 5pm

Special Dates and Times:

Open Tuesday, December 24th 9am – 5pm

Closed Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Open Tuesday, December 31st 9am – 5pm

Additional Information:

Children’s Museum of Virginia, 221 High Street, Portsmouth, VA 23704, 757-393-5397, http://www.childrensmuseumva.com/

Portsmouth Art & Cultural Center, 400 High Street, Portsmouth, VA 23704, 757-393-8543, http://www.portsmouthartcenter.com.

Jul
26

By Holly Henry, WTKR/WGNT Online Producer

Norfolk, Va. – What is going on with Downtown Norfolk construction?

Click here to view this article on WTKR.com. 

The gaping holes, large sewage pipes, and bulldozers may not be around much longer – some of the construction is coming to an end.

The Ghent Area Sanitary Sewer Pipeline Replacement Project will be complete in early September of this year.

It’s the project that has had crews at Boush Street and Olney Road, as well has Voss Street – digging, drilling, milling and paving since February of 2012.

“HRSD is nearing completion of a major project to replace and relocate three miles of sanitary sewer pipeline located in the Young Terrace, Ghent and West Ghent areas of Norfolk. The old pipeline, which was built in the 1940′s, had reached the end of its useful life. Construction started in February 2012. All of the required tie-ins should be completed in a month, and we estimate that final paving will be finished in early September,” says Nancy L. Munnikhuysen, HRSD Chief of Communications.

Tracy Bogan of TA Sheets, a contractor for HRSD, says his team has been out doing the work for over a year, and now it is almost finished.

Click here to find the project timeline, project cost, and list of roads affected

Boush Street and Voss Street were torn up twice – the reason being, the city of Norfolk does not allow extended closures. So they build the road back up to give drivers relief – and then, they dig it up again, to continue working.

“Believe me, I’d love to have the work finished. But that’s just the way it goes,” Bogan says.

What are they doing?

Crews are dropping in new sewage pipes, to replace the old ones. Some of the old ones are 60 years old. They are dropping in the new pipes and having to “tie them in” to some of the existing ones.

VIDEO: Crews lift pipe out of huge sewer hole on Boush Street

The sewage pipes they are working on run all through Ghent – to businesses and homes.

This is raw sewage – it runs through the main treatment plant, Bogan says.

It may seem like the roads have been “torn up forever” – but some Norfolk residents say they don’t mind it, and they have learned to adjust.

Elisa Mangubat, who lives in Ghent, says she has learned to navigate around the road work.

“I’m used to it because I live in Ghent,” she says.

The next step before it’s all over?

Virginia Paving Company crews will soon head to Voss Street – where the sewage construction has been completed. Milling and paving are expected to last for “a couple days”, says Bogan. The same will happen for Boush Street, at the end of the summer.

HRSD officials say the entire project will be finished in September of 2013.

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