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GuidebookStaff has written 11 articles so far, you can find them below.

Correcting the MYTH About Your Kids and Your Family History

Time Sorters | pocketwatch
Learn about correcting the MYTH About Your Kids and Your Family History. It has been a loud and extended cry over the past 2-3 years that “Your Kids Don’t Want Your History!”. This prolonged warning, which verges on the edge of a doomsday style prediction, is, frankly, wrong.

I, too, have heard the many stories of rejections of the beloved family items by the next generation from friends, colleagues, and of course my own clients. It’s something that cuts across all social levels and is shored up by nearly 20 articles over the last five years from revered sources such as the New York Times. The latest trends of younger generations sorting through material items to determine true worth for the space they occupy and embracing the joys of minimalism, also seems to support the issue.

And yet, I want to let you know that what is being said/shared/propagated isn’t an accurate assessment of the situation. While it is true that thoughts and feelings about family heirlooms – in whatever form have changed as the population has shifted from the Baby Boomers to subsequent generations, those changes aren‘t: a) always a bad thing; b) as “cut and dried” as we are being led to believe; c) set in stone or irreversible.

Nothing hits home to more people than a crisis. Manufactured or real, it gets our attention and sets us on a task to determine what must be done to make it stop. But let’s look at what is really happening before we follow the growing lament of this supposed catastrophe.

Currently, we are at an historic point of having two generations alive and retired at the same time. In times past, one generation retired, passed along their worldly possessions and died while the next was still in their prime of life. This life-cycle worked okay up to and including the Greatest Generation. At the time, there wasn’t that much to pass along and there was a practical reuse aspect that was appealing. The Post-WWII period, with its rampant consumerism, national optimism, innovations, and the advent of the suburban home, fostered the accumulation of things in quantities never before seen and we had larger
places to store it all. However, the fact that the next generations are realizing that there isn’t an
actual purpose or need to having all of these things, and that a good life is more than the gathering of stuff, might be seen as a necessary reversal of a bad trend that really has not served us well on many levels. It may, in fact, be more of a natural correction to excess than a blatant disregard for family history.

However, besides the fact that it isn’t an all bad situation, saying the next generation doesn’t want your stuff is itself a misleading idea. It also hits a strong emotional trigger for most of us. As humans we like the idea of being remembered. We see the items we collect as points on a timeline that demonstrate our existence and, we hope, helps later generations recall this fact. The error we make is in determining what items will tell that story. Everyone imbues items with memories – but seldom do we select the same items to hold those recollections. I may get misty-eyed when I see a particular dish, or memories of grandma may reside in a wooden spoon or apron. Others who were present in the same time and space might place their memories into different items. As older adults, we mistakenly assume we know – from all we have amassed – what things will tell the next generation about our place in history. The better route is to talk about family history with younger generations and understand what items mean the most to them, then, help ensure they obtain those items – if indeed they want them. The stories on their own just may be enough.

Learning more about correcting the MYTH About Your Kids and Your Family History. Finally, if you want to successfully give, or leave, something for someone, it is imperative that you share the story associated with a particular item. A piece of jewelry, a painting, or that HUGE armoire that hasn’t moved from its spot in 30 years, all have a story embedded into it, which is why you want to pass it on. Don’t expect others to have that same deep feeling for that item if you don’t bother telling them why it matters to you – you are part of its story.

As mentioned above, just taking things because your family has left them for you is no longer practical – and perhaps never was. Why not help your family make decisions they won’t regret later and tell them why things are important to you? While it won’t guarantee they’ll take it, you may discover that the item isn’t as important as the memory and can agree to let it go. Regardless of what happens to that 24-piece formal china set with accompanying cut-glass goblets, you will have captured your family history and successfully marked your place in it for generations to come.

Dealing with family history items can be confusing and stressful. We are here to help. Reach out to us if you need assistance or have questions.
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Time Sorters

A Stately Mansion Turned Hospital During the Civil War

A Stately Mansion Turned Hospital During the Civil War
By John F. Cummings III

Brompton, the former Mayre Mansion is a stately mansion turned hospital during the Civil War. It stands atop the western heights that overlook the old city of Fredericksburg. Along these heights, extending into a five-mile front, Confederate force dominated the scene, despite going against a Union force nearly twice its size on December 13, 1862. Roughly 17,000 casualties would come out of this battle. In the aftermath, facilities to treat the wounded of both sides was badly needed. Brompton became a hospital for the Confederates who would continue to hold this ground. In May 1863, Confederates once again held the heights temporarily, during the Chancellorsville Campaign. One year later, Union forces would occupy and utilize Fredericksburg as a vast hospital center during the first weeks of the Overland Campaign. The wounded were transported some fifteen miles from the Wilderness battlefield, west of town, and ten miles from Spotsylvania’s fighting ground to the southwest. The following images illustrate Brompton’s use as a Union hospital in May 1864.

The Mayre mansion survives today as a stately mansion turned hospital during the Civil War. Although bearing visible scars of battle on its walls, it serves as the private residence of the president of the University of Mary Washington, which shares the heights as its campus. Not open to the general public, the house and grounds are occasionally made available for tours and academic study. The University of Mary Washington has one of the finest Historic Preservation departments in the United States, and many of its graduates have gone on to exceptional careers with the National Park Service, and other fine institutions.

A Stately Mansion Turned Hospital During the Civil War
Wounded Union soldiers recuperate under a giant oak near the house. This remarkable tree has survived over a century and a half since the taking of this image credited to Mathew Brady and Company. These soldiers were injured during the fighting around Spotsylvania in May 1864.

A Stately Mansion Turned Hospital During the Civil War
Photographer James Gardner’s view of the home’s front porch shows treated soldiers recovering from their wounds. Former Confederate rifle pits cut across the lawn in the foreground, a reminder of the battles fought on this ground December 1862, and May 1863. A large pediment was added to the façade of the home in postwar years, but a precise date is unknown.

A Stately Mansion Turned Hospital During the Civil War
In April 1866, a Union surgeon, Dr. Reed Brockway Bontecou, brought a photographic entourage with him a year after the war’s end, to tour and document the battlefields around Fredericksburg. Bontecou was the chief surgeon at Harewood Hospital near Washington, D.C. This view shows the many pockmarks left by bullets and artillery shell fragments in the December 1862 battle.

A Stately Mansion Turned Hospital During the Civil War
Another James Gardner photograph shows soldiers seeking shade as they recover on the north lawn of the Maryre property. Rooms on either end of the main entrance hall served as operating theaters where men with wounded limbs often faced amputation. Removed limbs were often put out an open window where they collected in a pile for later removal. The open window, at left of center, is in one of the rooms used for surgery. In recent years, it has been used as a music room for the University president’s family.

John Cummings is a visual historian and the author of three books on the Fredericksburg/Spotsylvania region. He provides battlefield guide services, and research assistance to visitors. He has also written for several national and local magazines and newspapers, and provided historical research and commentary for four documentary films. He served on the former Spotsylvania Courthouse Tourism and Special Events Commission, and as chairperson for the former Friends of the Fredericksburg Area Battlefields, (FoFAB).

Contact information is available on his blog at: http://spotsylvaniacw.blogspot.com/

National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month

National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month

National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month is June. Alzheimer’s disease is devastating – not only for the more than 5.7 million Americans living with the disease, but also for the more than 16 million family and friends serving as caregivers. The caregiving needs for someone living with Alzheimer’s are extensive and increase over time – on average four-eight years following a diagnosis. Many family caregivers juggle competing priorities including work and other family responsibilities. These caregivers are stretched thin. Many are overwhelmed. Most
could use help.

Here in Virginia, there are 465,000 family caregivers. During November – National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month and National Family Caregivers Month – the Alzheimer’s Association recognizes and honors Alzheimer’s caregivers and asks all greater Fredericksburg residents to reach out and lend a hand.

Take time to support a caregiver you know. Run errands, help with a household chore, give caregivers a break by spending time with the person with dementia, and educate yourself about the disease – the more you know, the easier it will be to help. Reach out to the Alzheimer’s Association to learn more and how to get involved. These small gestures can make a big difference and offer well-deserved support to those who give so much.

Free 24/7 Helpline: 800-272-3900 | alzorg/care

National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month

Know the Ten Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease

Know the Ten Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease
Know the Ten Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease. One of the most common myths surrounding Alzheimer’s disease today is the belief that it is a normal part of aging. But Alzheimer’s is more than memory loss — it’s a progressive and fatal disease that kills nerve cells and tissue in the brain, affecting an individual’s ability to remember, think, plan and, ultimately, function. “Dementia” is an umbrella term used to describe changes in a person’s memory, thinking and behavior. There are many possible causes of dementia, but 60 to 80 percent of all dementia cases are caused by Alzheimer’s disease.

The Alzheimer’s Association has developed a list of 10 warning signs to help people understand the difference between normal aging and common signs of possible dementia. These signs are:

  1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life, such as forgetting recently learned information.
  2. Challenges in planning or solving problems, e.g., trouble keeping track of monthly bills.
  3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks, such as driving to a familiar location or organizing a grocery list.
  4. Confusion with time or place. A person living with dementia may sometimes forget where they are and how they got there.
  5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships. The person may have problems judging distance and determining color or contrast, causing issues with driving.
  6. New problems with words in speaking or writing; forgetting names or calling everyday objects by the wrong name.
  7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps. Most people misplace things now and then, but someone living with Alzheimer’s may put their keys in unusual places and, even after finding them, have no idea how they got there.
  8. Decreased or poor judgment, such as when dealing with money.
  9. Withdrawal from work or social activities, even hobbies that used to bring joy.
  10. Changes in mood and personality. A person may become easily upset when out of their comfort zone.

This list is intended to be a tool to help identify unusual changes in a person’s memory, thinking or behavior — it’s important to note that this list does not constitutes a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or dementia. If you have questions or need more information, contact 1-800-272-3900 or visit www.alz.org.

The Alzheimer’s Association Greater Richmond Chapter was established in 1981. Its mission is to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and other dementias through the promotion of brain health. In Virginia, 140,000 individuals live with Alzheimer’s, including 26,000 in the 24 counties and 5 cities served by the Greater Richmond Chapter. The chapter serves persons with any dementia disease, not just individuals with Alzheimer’s, and one hundred percent of our programs and services are offered free of charge. Last year, the Greater Richmond Chapter assisted more than 6,000 neighbors and answered over 2,100 Helpline calls from individuals seeking information and resources, wanting tips for caregiving, or those just needing someone to listen.

Blessings & Burdens

Blessings & Burdens
Blessings & Burdens. We have so many wonderful blessings. God gives us air to fill our lungs, relationships to fill our souls, homes to shelter our bodies. He gives us the beauty of His creation. He gives us the ability to think and create and invent. And we thank God for our blessings, and pray that we always have eyes to see them and never take them for granted.

I think, though, that each blessing comes with a burden. God blesses us with finances that allow us to buy a bigger house, but now we spend more time cleaning and pay more in utilities. We have a new baby but now have sleepless nights. We build up savings but now feel the weight of responsibility for charity. We get accepted on a sports team but now miss time with our friends. We get a fantastic new job but now must put the kids in daycare. We quit our job so we can stay home with the kids but now we don’t have the finances to take a summer vacation.

Many of us would agree that the burdens that come along with our blessings are worth it because we love the blessings. We wouldn’t trade our newborns for anything in the world, so we deal with sleepless nights. We build up savings but discover how rewarding it is when we give cheerfully to those in need. We acknowledge burdens exist and might even complain or feel discouraged, overwhelmed, or frustrated, but the blessings are greater.

If blessings come with burdens, then I propose that burdens come with blessings. It’s harder to see these blessings because we don’t often realize them until we’ve walked through the burdens. We fail a test but stay after school for tutoring and discover a more effective way to study that helps us for the rest of our schooling. Someone backs up into our car, but because of our grace-filled response someone who doesn’t know Jesus attends church with you that Sunday. We go through a difficult divorce, but discover new strengths about ourselves and some weaknesses that need strengthening, and go on to coach others going through divorce. We lose a child to disease, but then go on to raise awareness and funds to bless other families going through a similar experience. A tornado wipes out a community, but then the helpers pour in and demonstrate the love of Jesus.

If every blessing has a burden, let’s have faith that God also provides blessings in the burdens we face. We might not see the blessings yet, but trust that they will come. God is love. God is faithful. He wants the best for His children. He wants to bless us, but also wants us to grow through the burdens. He wants us to rely on Him through the burdens. He wants to be our solid rock. He wants us to know Him so well that we are confident He works all things for our good, through blessings and burdens.

By: Nancy DeJesus

Blessings & Burdens

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, “thoughts of peace, and not of
evil, to give you hope and a future.
Jeremiah 29:11 (WMB)

The LORD is my shepherd: I shall lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He guides me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.
Psalm 23:1-4 (WMB)

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, that you, always having all sufficiency in
everything, may abound to every good work.
2 Corinthians 9:8 (WEB)

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and
your thoughts in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:7 (WEB)

We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, for those
who are called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28 (WEB)

A View of Fredericksburg’s William Street 155 Years Ago

WIlliam Street
A View of Fredericksburg’s William Street 155 Years Ago. In May 1864, Fredericksburg was to become, for a third time, the center of operations for an occupying army. The vast majority of the future city’s citizens had fled their homes and businesses as refugees just prior to the Battle of Fredericksburg in December 1862. In the spring of 1864, most had not yet returned, and the region had already seen another battle rage over it in May 1863, as part of the Chancellorsville Campaign.

With the opening salvos of the Overland Campaign erupting in the Wilderness region of Orange and Spotsylvania Counties, 18 miles west of Fredericksburg, the need for a logistical hub brought thousands of Union army personnel again to its streets and buildings. Warehouses and churches once more became hospitals as close to 30,000 wounded soldiers were transported from the battlefields for treatment, and should they survive their wounds, eventual transportation to larger facilities in the north. Daily wagon trains carried supplies to the army over rutted dirt roads leading to the ravaged countryside.

This photograph, A View of Fredericksburg’s William Street 155 Years Ago, by James Gardner, shows the north side of the 300 block of Williams Street. At center we see a gathering of soldiers in front of the United States Sanitary Commission supply depot. The USSC was a civilian-run relief organization sanctioned by the federal government, established to aid the comfort and clean conditions of soldiers in camp and hospital. This depot in Fredericksburg occupied what is now
315 William Street. For many years William Street was also known as Commerce Street. Note the banner hanging across the face of the structure, obscuring the name of the commercial establishment it occupied,
“E.L. Heinichen, Agent for B. Heinichen”, one of several confectionary establishments in town.

Our second photo shows this same section of the street as it appears today. Some of the buildings retain their 19th century appearance, and others have been severely modified for adaptive reuse.

By: John F Cummings III

John Cummings is a visual historian and the author of three books on the Fredericksburg/Spotsylvania region. He provides battlefield guide services, and research assistance to visitors. He has also written for several national and local magazines and newspapers, and provided historical research and commentary for four documentary films. He served on the former Spotsylvania Courthouse Tourism and Special Events Commission, and as chairperson of the former Friends of the Fredericksburg Area Battlefields, (FoFAB). Contact information is available on his blog at: http://spotsylvaniacw.blogspot.com/

William Street

516 Project

516 Project

Passion into Action

516 Project Ministry started with passion–a passion to help those in need, to put boots on the ground, skilled hands on projects in homes for families that need help. Most importantly, to share the love and hope of Jesus. 516 Project is passion evolved into action.

In November of 2015 the first work day was scheduled. 30 volunteers worked on 10 houses doing winterization projects, repairing drywall, cleaning up yards, patching leaky roofs, fixing leaking bathroom fixtures and painting. The day was so successful, we started praying about permanently establishing a year-round volunteer construction ministry based in Fredericksburg.

“All the pieces just seemed to fall into place. I talked with my wife and said that if this is not what God wants me to do then I don’t know what is,” Roberson said. “I have been involved in Christian-based ministries before, so I wanted to continue doing that. I wanted to bring the church to the community.”

516 Project is Born

After some research, planning, and help from a few local businesses, Roberson founded the non-profit construction ministry 516 Project, Inc. in February of 2016. The Bible verse Matthew 5:16 says, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father in heaven.” 516 Project assists local homeowners with home repairs that they either are not able to afford themselves or are not physically able to accomplish. The projects are funded through fundraisers as well as donations to the organization from churches, individuals and businesses.

“Everything that has happened has all been God’s work. When we come together and build a wheelchair ramp for someone that hasn’t had safe access to their home or replace a roof that’s been leaking, you can just watch the burden lift off their shoulders. You can literally see the joy and hope returning. I know this is something God wants us to do and keep doing,” Roberson said.

Ready to Help?

Now, in it’s 4th year, 516 Project is growing and filling many needs in the Fredericksburg region. 516 Project is volunteer operated. While much of the work is focused on home repair and construction type projects, there are opportunities for all skill levels and talents.

By serving you can be part of making a difference in the life of someone in need. 516 Project also relies on donations to purchase materials and tools needed to complete projects. You can sign up to volunteer or donate at www.516project.org or you can mail a check to 10908 Courthouse Rd. Suite 102148 Fredericksburg, VA 22408.

516 Project is a 501(c)3 non-profit so your donation is tax deductible.
Follow 516 Project on Facebook and Instagram @the516project

Spotsylvania Dog Park

Spotsylvania Dog Park- an early beginning

Spotsylvania Dog Park. In 2011, a small group of Spotsylvania dog lovers banded together with the goal of building a public dog park for Spotsylvania County. The group realized that with approximately 28,600 dogs in Spotsylvania County the need for a dog park is great. Fundraising began with the hope to obtain land in a suitable location. The dog park volunteer group approached Spotsylvania county government, proposing building a dog park in Patriot Park. However, when cost estimates exceeded $200,000, the county government’s decision was to use the money for other recreational purposes. The very determined Spotsy Dog Park volunteer group was not deterred. They incorporated as a non-profit charitable group and the Spotsy Dog Park Committee was born


June 2015, Dollar General Stores generously donated 2.9 acres of beautiful land at 10601 Gordon Road ,designated specifically for the construction of a public dog park. Funds on hand were used for surveying, preparing a site plan, and clearing the property. The site plan was approved in 2017 and the Virginia Department of Transportation entrance permit was obtained in April 2018. Luck Stone, generously donated gravel for the dog park driveway and parking lot.


Fencing is the largest expense of building a dog park and will cost close to $23,000. There will be two, almost half acre, large play areas with separate off-leash entrances. The perimeter fence will be five feet high, and have large gates for maintenance access. Spotsylvania Dog Park County water connection will be made once the $6,600 county tap-in fee is donated. The parking area will have 20 spaces, including a paved handicapped space. Approximately 25 percent of the fence cost has been raised. Nearly thirty thousand dogs living in Spotsylvania need a safe, well-supervised park where they can exercise and play. Not all dogs have access to a fenced yard. For those dogs, the Spotsy Dog Park is urgently needed.


Your donation will mean the world to Spotsy dogs who need a place to exercise. Donations can be made on Facebook to our “GoFundMe” page, or by mail to P. O. Box 42236, Fredericksburg, VA 22404. Donations are tax deductible. Spotsy Dog Park will be open to everyone. We would love to welcome you into our dog-loving volunteer group. Monthly meetings are posted in the Free-Lance Star and on Facebook. We meet the second Wednesday of each month at Salem Church Library from 7-9 pm, rooms 3 and 4.

Join us! If you have ever seen the wild joy of dogs in motion, leaping and galloping, you know why a Spotsy Dog Park will make this area a better place.

A Fredericksburg Family Caught in the Ravages of War

John Henry Myer before the Civil War, as a young entrepreneur.

A Fredericksburg Family Caught in the Ravages of War, John Henry Myer before the Civil War, as a young entrepreneur.

A Fredericksburg Family Caught in the Ravages of War. John Henry Myer came to America to escape the turmoil of mid nineteenth century Germany. He would settle in Fredericksburg, Virginia in 1846. He began his professional life as a saddler. Interestingly, in 1852, he changed vocations, becoming a baker and confectioner, a switch that proved highly successful. He operated his business at 212 William Street which backed onto Market Square. The operation had an expanded kitchen attached to the rear of the building, and the Myer family residence were on the upper two floors. By the time of the Civil War he had three young children. Mary Elizabeth, John Jr., and Annie.

The approaching battle of Fredericksburg forced the Myer family to become refugees out in the Spotsylvania County countryside, west of town. The Union bombardment of Fredericksburg on December 11, 1862 left much of the downtown commercial area severely damaged or destroyed, but the Myer home amazingly survived. The overall devastation however, would no longer be suitable for his young family and by late April 1863, just days before the Battle of Chancellorsville, and yet another battle in the heart of town, Myer had finished negotiating the purchase of a sizeable farm near Spotsylvania Courthouse. It was an idyllic location, on a hill overlooking the Ni River.

As the spring of 1864 approached, two warring armies prepared to leave their winter camps, and John Henry Myer was conscripted into the 40th Virginia Infantry. His first taste of battle would be in the horrors of the Wilderness, and from there the fighting moved on toward Spotsylvania Courthouse, erupting just north of the village, along the Brock Road where it intersects Block House Road. As both sides shifted into position the 40th Virginia settled into a section of entrenchments now referred to as Heth’s Salient, a leg of works that dangled south of the larger, and more infamous, Muleshoe Salient.

By early morning of May 14, 1864, the Union army shifted men from its right flank to extend its left, in a plan to strike at the Confederate’s weakly held right flank just past the Courthouse. The weather however, conspired against this stealth maneuver, and the troops were slowed by mud they churned up as several days of rain had preceded the move.

Confederates occupying the Myer property were able to observe this slow, but steady stream of Union Blue heading up the Courthouse Road. The attack failed to materialize, and General Lee expressed little concern about the Union’s maneuvering. Union Army of the Potomac commander George Gordon Meade however was intent on having the observers driven from the hill top.

After a sweeping assault by a small contingent of Union infantry, the Confederates removed themselves.
Sadly, the Myer family were once again forced to leave their home as refugees. Tragically, the next day Union troops burned the home and outbuildings after the Myer caretaker had recklessly fired on retreating Union soldiers during a second, late day scuffle on the 14th. Undoubtably, Myer, entrenched still with his regiment less than two miles away, could observe the pillar of black smoke emitting from his home site. He was captured a week later near the North Anna River. He served as a POW until that December when he took the Oath of Allegiance to the United States and returned home. His postwar years are noted by renewed commercial success and civic duty as a member of the Fredericksburg Common Council. He passed away on December 5, 1909, a well-respected man in the community.

By John F. Cummings III

John Cummings is a visual historian and the author of three books on the Fredericksburg/Spotsylvania region. He provides battlefield guide services, and research assistance to visitors. He has also written for several national and local magazines and newspapers and provided historical research and commentary for five documentary films. He served on the former Spotsylvania Courthouse Tourism and Special Events Commission, and Friends of the Fredericksburg Area Battlefields, (FoFAB).

Contact information is available on his blog at: http://spotsylvaniacw.blogspot.com/

A Year of Yuletide

Pamela Coopwood

A Year of Yuletide. Long after the holiday season is over, the gifts and givers are forgotten, the tree stored for another year; long after the last shred of tinsel is brushed away and the candles are relieved from their window sill vigils and the goodwill bell ringers have counted their stash, there remains on our sidewalks those whose needs remain. They still have their little cups and card board signs in hope that shards of goodwill remain even if accompanied by catty remarks and woeful glances. The homeless and disenfranchised of our community exist on the fringe of our society and every day, we have a choice to either turn our heads with closed hearts or extend a hand of compassion, realizing that life could have dealt us a similar fate if circumstances were different.

However, there are those in our community who dare to make a difference. They take time to extend not just a handout, but a warm welcome; to drop more than a coin but offer a haircut and a cup of hot soup; to give more than a drink, but a daily dose of compassion and care that extends beyond the seasons. They touch lives every day in whatever measures necessary, digging deep into their own resources, soliciting funds on behalf of their chosen charges and showing up on the coldest, wettest, hottest or darkest days. They are our communities’ unsung heroes that bring the spirit of holidays to the homeless and disenfranchised all year long. While there are others, I want to say thank you to a few on behalf of the many.

UnMasked has been a community resource since 2013. Its mission started in the heart of Crystal Vessel, owner of Xclusive Reflections beauty salon on Lafayette Boulevard. She saw an untouched need to reach out and help those exposed to hardships related to violence, displacement, physical or social abuses and other basic life depriving needs. She began by simply offering free salon services to the homeless and women effected by domestic abuse. Her outreach soon extended to the children affected by life’s circumstances and then, engaging her network of friends and family, she began sponsoring vision screening, feeding programs, loading backpacks filled with school supplies and cold weather clothing as well as gifts of personal hygiene products. Today, UnMasked is a 501c3 organization who regularly reaches over 200 members of these communities and on a case by case basis helps individual students and families recommended by schools, churches and other larger organizations. Thank you, Crystal, for seeking to reveal the true beauty of the person on the inside and elevate them to a higher level of self-confidence. Your demonstration of love in action, of being the hands and feet of compassion gives all of us a little hope of a brighter tomorrow.
Transitions4You is a small faith-based community program with operations which focus on communities that reside in hotels within Spotsylvania County. Envisioned in the hearts of Neal and Lisa Harris, their mission is to encourage and support displaced families and to assist them to gain stability in four main areas: Housing, Employment, Financial and Spiritual. Their motto: Empower. Equip. Reclaim. The Harris’ recognize that displaced families are not simply at risk but face a multitude of risk-factors which threaten their core identity and self-worth. They offer programs which empower families to reclaim their lives and move forward to a better tomorrow. Thank you, Lisa and Neal for seeing and being the eyes that really see and the ears that really hear the cry of the hopeless and then doing something so fearless and beautiful!

Both organizations reach deep into their own resources to care for their chosen populations. Each depends on the benevolence of those who say they would help if they knew how. Now that we know, we can! Let’s support their efforts. Let’s give generously so that they can continue as our hands and heart to these communities. Together, let’s make 2019 a year of Yuletide!

Pamela Coopwood, owner of The Planned Event/Speaking of Protocol, is an Ordained Minister who believes life is better we when we chose to see what God is doing and joins Him in that! She is always available to plan your next event, a cruise vacation and of course, to speak about Protocol!