Columns & Blogs

Call to Action: Teens needed for Tiger Woods Quicken Loans National

· Good morning Prince William –Hey teens age 12-18 yrs. old! The Tiger Woods Foundation is hosting the Quicken Loans National Golf Tournament at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club July 27th-August 2nd. They need lots of teen volunteers throughout the week for their Standard Bearer Committee.

This super fun job entails walking with a group of golfers as they play 18 holes of golf and hold up their score sign. You’ll be right in the middle of the action all day! You must commit to work any three days during the tournament in in exchange you will receive the uniform page for free- this volunteer package includes official Nike shirt and hat, 1 volunteer badge for the week and a weekly guest pass, parking pass and complimentary food and beverages on the days you work.

This is a super volunteer job and resume builder. Sign up at: qlnational.com or you can call Katie at (301) 365-6946 or email her at: qlntournament@tigerwoodsfoundation.org.

Hey mom and Dad there are also volunteer positions for you too. They need marshals at individual holes, helping at admissions or the hospitality tents. But you need to purchase your volunteer uniform package for $75- it’s still a fabulous deal. And lastly, all volunteers receive training and orientation.

· SERVE is looking for a volunteer group to prepare and serve meals to the families in their Family Care Shelter over the July 3 thru 5 holiday weekend. Look up your famous potato salad recipe and all the other fun things your family enjoys over the holiday weekend and share it with the families in the 92 bed shelter. Please email Jan at: jhawkins@nvfs.org for more info. Your Independence Day Holiday will be very special this year.

· No Kid Hungry and OAFF need volunteers age 16+ for their annual Woodbridge Food Truck Festival on Saturday July 11th and PW Fairgrounds. There are lots of ways to help in ticketing, security, parking and customer information desk. Shifts are 7am-noon for set-up, early shift is 11:30-4:30 or late shift of 4-9pm. Please check out their website to register: wftfest.com

· SERVE has an immediate need for adult volunteers at several fun-paced positions during traditional business hours. Admin and shelter tasks include answering phones and assist walk-in clients and donors. Food intake screeners will help food assistance clients, update database records, schedule appointments and do follow-up calls. All positions require complete background checks and any Spanish speaking skills would be most appreciated. Please email Jan at: jhawkins@nvfs.org for more info.

· BEACON Adult Literacy is looking for volunteers this summer for their conversation classes as well as their fall program. You do not need to speak a second language as they will give you all the skills needed to make a significant improvement in another’s life. Classes are held in Manassas both morning and evenings . Please call Caroline at (703) 368-7491 to learn more. 

· Literacy Volunteers of America is also looking for volunteer tutors. No prior experience needed as their next volunteer training begins July 11th with a follow-up on July 25th. Please register today to make a significant impact for an adult learner. Visit: www.lvapw.org for more info.

· Brain Injury Services is looking for volunteers to help with programming efforts with the volunteer programs. Please call Michelle at (703) 451-8881 ext.232 to learn more.

· If you are looking for other opportunities, please don’t forget to call my wonderful team at Volunteer Prince William. Coleen can help you with the Retired and Senior Volunteer (RSVP) opportunities at (703) 369-5292 ext. 1, Shelley can help with any individual or group project and send you weekly updates if you’d like. Shelley is at (703) 369-5292 ext. 0, and Bonnie can help you with opportunities available in Disaster Preparedness at (703) 369-5292 ext. 3.

Please visit our newly re-vamped website at www.volunteerprincewilliam.org. Thanks so much for all you do in our community.

 

Call to Action is a column written by Volunteer Prince William Director Mary Foley.

Call to Action: Agency on Aging seeks Ombudsman

Good morning  – Our older Americans need advocates.  The Prince William Agency on Aging is looking for volunteers who are empathetic, diplomatic and assertive;  to volunteer as an Ombudsman.  As an Ombudsman you will be assigned to visit a local nursing home or assisted living, 4 hrs/week, to ensure that the residents rights are being protected.  Call Daphne Van Tiem at 703-792-7662 to volunteer for this wonderful program.  This is truly an unmet need in our community!  The Agency is also looking for summer volunteers to work on updating their Resources guide – might be a great job for the college student thinking about a future internship program.  Call Melodee at 703-792-4583

SERVE has an urgent need for volunteers for two special events. First is their annual inventory of the food pantry on Thursday June 25th – you can pick either the morning shift of 9am-1pm or the afternoon shift 1-4pm. Volunteers must be at least 16yrs old. The second event is inventory at the Save N Serve Thrift Store on Friday June 26th from 8am-12 noon. Volunteers age 16+ are very welcome!! Please email Jan at jhawkins@nvfs.org to learn more and sign up for these two important activities at SERVE. They also have an urgent need for new bed pillows – drop off M-F, 9-5, at the Administration Bldg. at the main campus, 10056 Dean Drive, Manassas.

BEACON Adult Literacy is looking for volunteers this summer for their conversation classes. You do not need to speak a second language as they will give you all the skills needed to make a significant improvement in another’s life. Classes are held in Manassas both morning and evening starting June 22nd and ending July 30th. Please call Caroline at (703) 368-7491 to learn more.

Brain Injury Services is looking for volunteers to help with programming efforts with the volunteer programs. Please call Michelle at (703) 451-8881 ext.232 to learn more.

Division of Historic Preservation is gearing up for spring projects at the Julie Metz Wetlands Preservein Woodbridge. Volunteers are needed to help with trail and stream clean-up, development of interpretive materials and education programs. These volunteer opportunities continue through the fall. Please call Rebecca at (703) 499-9812 to learn more about this county treasure.

Habitat for Humanity needs volunteers in their ReStore in Manassas. This is a super fun place full of donors and customers. It’s a great place to volunteer for either a morning or afternoon shift. Please visit: habitatpwc.org to sign up and view their volunteer calendar.
The 150th Anniversary of the Juneteenth Celebration is Saturday June 20th from 11am-4pm. Volunteers are needed for helping with games for the kids, set-up, greeters and other fun jobs. Please call Katie at (703) 792-4620 to learn more this event.

If you are looking for other opportunities, please don’t forget to call my wonderful team at Volunteer Prince William. Coleen can help you with the Retired and Senior Volunteer (RSVP) opportunities at (703) 369-5292 ext. 1, Shelley can help with any individual or group project and send you weekly updates if you’d like. Shelley is at (703) 369-5292 ext. 0, and Bonnie can help you with opportunities available in Disaster Preparedness at (703) 369-5292 ext. 3. Please visit our newly re-vamped website at volunteerprincewilliam.org. Thanks so much for all you do in our community.

Call to Action: Police Walkathon, BARN yard sale needs volunteers

Good morning – Put your walking shoes on to support the Manassas Police Association at their Annual Walkathon on Saturday June 13th.  This fun event is sponsored by the BAPS Charities and begins with a kick-off at 8am and the walk at 9am.  Please visit their website to register for this fun event at: bapscharities.org/walk2015manassas.  This promises to be great fun and for a great cause.

Transitional Housing BARN needs volunteers for their next Yard Sale on Saturday June 13th.  8am-12noon. This event is always fun.  Great activity for all.  Please call Tammy at (703) 369-1325 for more info

SERVE has an urgent need for volunteers for two special events.  First is their annual inventory of the food pantry on Thursday June 25th – you can pick either the morning shift of 9am-1pm or the afternoon shift 1-4pm.  Volunteers must be at least 16yrs old.  The second event is inventory at the Save N Serve Thrift Store on Friday June 26th from 8am-12 noon.  Volunteers age 16+ are very welcome!!  Please email Jan at jhawkins@nvfs.org to learn more and sign up for these two important activities at SERVE.

BEACON Adult Literacy is looking for volunteers this summer for their conversation classes.  You do not need to speak a second language as they will give you all the skills needed to make a significant improvement in another’s life.  Classes are held in Manassas both morning and evening starting June 22nd and ending July 30th. Please call Caroline at (703) 368-7491 to learn more.

Brain Injury Services is looking for volunteers to help with programming efforts with the volunteer programs.  Please call Michelle at (703) 451-8881 ext.232 to learn more.

Division of Historic Preservation is gearing up for spring projects at the Julie Metz Wetlands Preserve in Woodbridge. Volunteers are needed to help with trail and stream clean-up, development of interpretive materials and education programs. These volunteer opportunities continue through the fall.  Please call Rebecca at (703) 499-9812 to learn more about this county treasure.

Habitat for Humanity needs volunteers in their ReStore in Manassas.  This is a super fun place full of donors and customers.  It’s a great place to volunteer for either a morning or afternoon shift.  Please visit: habitatpwc.org to sign up and view their volunteer calendar.

The 150th Anniversary of the Juneteenth Celebration is Saturday June 20th from 11am-4pm.  Volunteers are needed for helping with games for the kids, set-up, greeters and other fun jobs.  Please call Katie at (703) 792-4620 to learn more this event.

If you are looking for other opportunities, please don’t forget to call my wonderful team at Volunteer Prince William.  Coleen can help you with the Retired and Senior Volunteer (RSVP) opportunities at (703) 369-5292 ext. 1, Shelley can help with any individual or group project and send you weekly updates if you’d like.  Shelley is at (703) 369-5292 ext. 0, and Bonnie can help you with opportunities available in Disaster Preparedness at (703) 369-5292 ext. 3.  Please visit our newly re-vamped website at www.volunteerprincewilliam.org.  Thanks so much for all you do in our community.

Call to Action is a column written by Volunteer Prince William Director Mary Foley.

Are teachers leaving Prince William for better workloads, salaries?

NewsChat

Jim Livingston is the president of the Prince William Education Association. There has been much talk in Prince William County in recent years about overcrowded classrooms and teacher pay. We wanted to find out exactly how teacher pay in Prince William affects the educators and children in the classroom, so we asked Livingston who has served in his current role for three years.

PL: What is the average teacher salary in Prince William County? How does it compare to salaries in neighboring counties like Fairfax and Loudoun?

JL: According to the Washington Area Boards of Education (WABE) Report, the FY 15 average teacher salary in Prince William County was $61,525. The average in Fairfax was $66,782 and in Loudoun it was $63,013.  

Prince William County has the lowest average teacher salary in the Northern Virginia region with the exception of Manassas Park.  It is also important to note that the beginning teacher salary is next to the lowest according to the report.  This data is collected from each school division on an annual basis and reported in November of each year.

 

PL: When was the last time teachers received a full cost of living raise (COLA)?

JL: The last time employees in Prince William County received a full Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) was in FY 2009.  Employees received a Step Increase in FY 2013.

In all other years since 2009 employees received a Pay Plan Adjustment except for FY 2011 in which employees received no salary increase.  Pay Plan Adjustments are a percentage increase across all pay grades and have been no more than 2% except in FY 2010.  

 

Also on NewsChat

 

PL:  What’s the difference between a COLA and a step increase, and which is more preferable, and why ?

JL: Employees usually prefer a Step Increase as progression on the Salary Schedule is measured in “steps.” The higher the employee on the schedule, or the higher the “step,” the higher the salary and the more positive the impact on retirement benefits.  Retirement within the Virginia Retirement System is based on the average of the 36 consecutive months of highest compensation. 

 

PL: If good pay attracts competent employees, are local leaders taking the issue of teacher pay seriously? Why or why not?

JL: Prince William County has managed to provide some enhancements to salaries. While some improvements were made during “The Great Recession” those improvements came at a cost primarily in a loss or reduction in employee benefits and larger workloads. 

Officials tend to brag on the number of applicants for new teaching positions each year and although the number of applications is high what they don’t talk about is that most of those applicants are also applying to surrounding school divisions.  This raises the question, “How many talented applicants are lost to surrounding school divisions because they provide better salaries with smaller workloads?”

 

PL: The large number of students per teacher continues to be an issue in Prince William County. How does this issue correlate with the issue of teacher pay?

JL: Teacher pay is in direct competition with a growing student population. Student enrollment growth in Prince William County has outpaced surrounding school divisions for some time. 

It has also outpaced revenues from both the county and the commonwealth.   The need to hire additional staff and provide space and support for those staff and students puts direct pressure on the ability to enhance compensation. 

All employees feel the impact of student growth in increased workloads.  Employees cannot be expected to wait until growth rates slow in order to see improved compensation. 

PL: Finally, will our public schools improve if teachers are simply paid more? Why or why not?

JL: Many factors contribute to school improvement.  Schools improve when teachers and students have the resources they need that foster success.  Schools improve when there are collaborative family-school-community partnerships.  Schools improve when teachers/employees are well trained, well supported and well compensated.

Call to Action: Volunteers needed 150th Juneteenth Celebration

Good morning Prince William – SERVE has an urgent need for volunteers to help screen clients for food assistance on weekdays. Duties include client intake using the database, verify documentation, register clients for special seasonal programs and answer questions about other services. Come be part of their super team by helping with important services provided to families. You must be at least 18yrs old and complete a background check. Bilingual Spanish speakers are most helpful but not required. Please email Jan at jhawkins@nvfs.org to learn more.

· BEACON Adult Literacy is looking for volunteers this summer for their conversation classes. You do not need to speak a second language as they will give you all the skills needed to make a significant improvement in another’s life. Classes are held in Manassas both morning and evening starting June 22nd and ending July 30th. Please call Caroline at (703) 368-7491 to learn more.

· Celebrate National Trails Day and Clean the Bay Day on Saturday June 6th at Leesylvania State Park from 10am-5pm. The morning activity includes removing trash from the streams. Be sure to wear bug spray, sunscreen and closed toed shoes that you don’t mind getting a little muddy. The afternoon activity includes clearing of trails. This is the ultimate see your hard work’s accomplishment. Please call the park at (703) 583-6904 for more info.

· Brain Injury Services is looking for volunteers to help with programming efforts with the volunteer programs. Please call Michelle at (703) 451-8881 ext.232 to learn more.

· Division of Historic Preservation is gearing up for spring projects at the Julie Metz Wetlands Preserve in Woodbridge. Volunteers are needed to help with trail and stream clean-up, development of interpretive materials and education programs. These volunteer opportunities continue through the fall. Please call Rebecca at (703) 499-9812 to learn more about this county treasure.

· Historic Manassas is looking for volunteers to help with the 21st Annual Railway Festival on Saturday June 6th in Old Town Manassas. Duties include line control, directional, helping with games and activities. This is a super fun event. Please email Erin at: erin@historicmanassasinc.org to learn more.

· Habitat for Humanity needs volunteers in their ReStore in Manassas. This is a super fun place full of donors and customers. It’s a great place to volunteer for either a morning or afternoon shift. Please visit: habitatpwc.org to sign up and view their volunteer calendar.

· The 150th Anniversary of the Juneteenth Celebration is Saturday June 20th from 11am-4pm. Volunteers are needed for helping with games for the kids, set-up, greeters and other fun jobs. Please call Katie at (703) 792-4620 to learn more this event.

· If you are looking for other opportunities, please don’t forget to call my wonderful team at Volunteer Prince William. Coleen can help you with the Retired and Senior Volunteer (RSVP) opportunities at (703) 369-5292 ext. 1, Shelley can help with any individual or group project and send you weekly updates if you’d like. Shelley is at (703) 369-5292 ext. 0, and Bonnie can help you with opportunities available in Disaster Preparedness at (703) 369-5292 ext. 3. Please visit our newly re-vamped website at www.volunteerprincewilliam.org. Thanks so much for all you do in our community.

Call to Action is a column written by Volunteer Prince William Director Mary Foley.

My day with the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office

A ride along with the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office.
A ride along with the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office.
A ride along with the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office.
A ride along with the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office.

Our regional editor Stephanie Tipple spent the day with Sgt. Chris Truslow of the Stafford sheriff’s office to learn more about the work law enforcement does each day.

Roll call

My day with members of the Stafford sheriff’s office began bright and early, at their 5:30 a.m. roll call meeting.

I was greeted by a room full of officers and deputies, who watched me shuffle into the room with my bulletproof vest.

During roll call, the officers watched footage of an incident where force was used, and had a serious discussion about the most appropriate and respectful ways to handle the situation.

Ride along

After roll call, I got into Truslow’s patrol car, and we began to patrol his area. During that time, I got to speak with him about his job and his life.

“My main job is to monitor what’s going on – to make sure people are doing what they’re supposed to be doing, to see what calls are going on and monitoring the calls to make sure they’re doing their jobs…I do a little bit of everything,” said Truslow.

Truslow has been in law enforcement for 10 years – 5 of which have been in Stafford. He lives in Spotsylvania with his wife and two children.

Our first stop of the day

When going through a residential 25 mph zone, we had our first stop of the day. A man, on the way to his first day of a new job, was going 40 mph in the 25 mph zone.

Truslow stated that he always tries to consider the residents during stops, and if he can give them a lesser fine, or offer advice, he does so.

The flat tire incident

Our first call of the day was for a disabled vehicle on Inez Way, near the intersection of Andrew Chapel Drive. The driver’s rear tire had loose lugnuts and couldn’t move down the two-lane road.

Truslow was able to redirect traffic, so drivers could safely surpass the blocked lane.

The driver of the vehicle immediately got to work, as his wife handed him what appeared to be professional car tools, and he had his tire fixed in less than three minutes. It reminded us of a NASCAR pit station.

After this incident, Truslow and I got back on the road, and I continued to talk with him about why he wanted to work in law enforcement.

“I just always wanted to be a cop, since I was four or five years old. My dad was a special deputy [as a volunteer]…so since I was a little kid, he’s been [involved]. I always wanted to do it, always had an interest in it and I went to college and got a criminal justice degree. I interned my last semester with Christiansburg Police,” Truslow said.

Truslow recalled stories over his years with the Stafford sheriff’s office, and spoke about how difficult it is to use force against an individual.

“It’s very difficult, because you know you need to quell the situation, but you also know that the backlash that’s going to come from [using force],” said Truslow.

He specifically recalled a situation where a man was being uncooperative, after being caught shoplifting.

“He starts screaming that I’m using excessive force, and I’m not even touching him. So I can’t get him under control – so I’ve got this guy in handcuffs, and I don’t know if he has a weapon on him, and I don’t know if his friend’s going to come in and assault me. There’s a whole lot going on – I’m by myself…so [using force] is a very difficult situation,” said Truslow.

Truslow went on to talk about how being in law enforcement and using force in situations has been made more difficult by unrealistic depictions of shootings in entertainment.

“There’s a decent amount of people that think that we should be like the police in the movies – that we should be shot at first, before we shoot back. That even a guy with a gun pointed at us isn’t enough for us to shoot somebody…when you watch a movie and somebody get’s shot, there’s always this dramatic falling over and people are flying through glass…and it’s just not like that at all. It’s not every day that you see a real person get shot, but people watch movies where people get shot all the time, so that becomes the reality for people,” Truslow said.

Accidents and moped chases

Toward the end of my time with Sgt. Truslow, we were on the scene of a car accident on Garrisonville Road and Onville Road, where K-9 and traffic officers were also on the scene. A person had run a red light and struck another car, which then hit an electrical box. 

One of the most exhilarating moments was when we rushed to the scene of a moped theft which was done by a teenager. We were able to call a “code one” and put the lights on in the vehicle to quickly arrive. I bruised my knee in the process, but the excitement was well worth it.

On our way back to the station, Truslow and I talked some more about national events with the police in recent months – like Ferguson and the Baltimore riots.

Truslow stated that he feels that residents in the community appreciate the work that the officers and deputies do now more than ever, and it put a positive spin on a negative situation.

My takeaways

Prior to this experience, I had never had close interaction with law enforcement. It really opened my eyes to see the work that they do isn’t glamorous, and they have tough decisions they have to make at a moment’s notice – including life or death situations. The care that I saw exhibited by Truslow was one I didn’t expect, but I am happy to know that individuals like him are helping to protect our community.

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Call to Action: Tax holiday for disaster supplies

Good morning  – Come celebrate National Trails Day and Clean the Bay Day on Saturday June 6th at Leesylvania State Park from 10am-5pm. The morning activity includes removing trash from the streams. Be sure to wear bug spray, sunscreen and closed toed shoes that you don’t mind getting a little muddy. The afternoon activity includes clearing of trails. This is the ultimate see your hard work’s accomplishment. Please call the park at (703) 583-6904 for more info.

· Brain Injury Services is looking for volunteers to help with programming efforts with the volunteer programs. Please call Michelle at (703) 451-8881 ext.232 to learn more.

· Division of Historic Preservation is gearing up for spring projects at the Julie Metz Wetlands Preserve in Woodbridge. Volunteers are needed to help with trail and stream clean-up, development of interpretive materials and education programs. These volunteer opportunities continue through the fall. Please call Rebecca at (703) 499-9812 to learn more about this county treasure.

· Tax Holiday time! May 25th-31st is set aside this year as our state tax holiday for you to stock up on disaster supplies for you and your family. Please visit: vaemergency.gov full the full list.

· Historic Manassas is looking for volunteers to help with the 21st Annual Railway Festival on Saturday June 6th in Old Town Manassas. Duties include line control, directional, helping with games and activities. This is a super fun event. Please email Erin at: erin@historicmanassasinc.org to learn more.

· Virginia Dept. of Health needs volunteer actors at their next exercise on Thursday June 4th first thing in the morning. Please stop by the Costco at Potomac Mills for a few minutes to help in this simulation and grab your free hot breakfast on the way out the door. Please go to: prepareprincewilliam.com to register. Keep Reading…

NewsChat: Burning rail car, bourbon tastings popular events at Manassas Museum

manassas museum

Elizabeth Via-Gossman is the director of the Manassas Museum System. At the center of the organization is the Manassas Museum in Downtown Manassas.

Through its many exhibits, the museum tells the story of the railroad city from its early beginnings during the Civil War up until today. We wanted to learn more about the inner workings of the Manassas Museum and Via-Grossman took some time out of her day to answer some of our questions.

PL: What makes your museum unique to our community? What special exhibits do you feature, and why do you think your museum has become a favorite of those who visit you? Please also mention who is a typical visitor at your museum.

Via-Gossman: We are fortunate to be the stewards of seven historic sites as well as our museum and lawn, which are central to Historic Downtown Manassas. We are able to share a vast collection of artifacts with visitors, and to share our love of history with visitors of all ages. We are aware of the serious responsibility we have to preserve our area’s history, to educate new generations, and to provide citizens and visitors with a rich cultural and recreational resource. We love when visitors of all ages leave learning something they never knew before.

Also on NewsChat: Celebrating saving the Mary Washington House

PL: What challenges has your museum faced over the years, from getting out the word about your organization, to securing and maintaining funding? How did you overcome them?

Via-Gossman: Like any museum, we have to find diverse ways to let area residents and visitors know about all exhibits, programs, and sites. The way people get their information has changed so much from the days when everyone read a local newspaper. Now many of our visitors love to get our postcards, some like emails, and some rely on our website, signs, and area calendars. We’re always delighted when we have first-time visitors who have lived here but have not known about the museum, Liberia or other historic sites.

Through the years, we have been fortunate to secure many private donations and grants that have helped enhance such things as exhibits, programs and restoration at Liberia. We appreciate that The Manassas Museum Associates, our fund-raising arm, has been a steady source of support for all our efforts, and as a city-funded museum, we are continually grateful for the support of our city government and our citizens.

PL: Has your museum put our area “on the map” of cultural and community significance?  Please discuss some of the unique items that can only be found in your museum. Keep Reading…

NewsChat: Celebrating saving the Mary Washington House

Anne R. Darron is the executive director of Washington Heritage Museums. The organization is responsible for maintaining the Mary Washington House in Fredericksburg, the home of George Washington’s mother. They also oversee the Rising Sun Tavern, Hugh Mercer Apothecary, and St. James’ House in Fredericksburg.

Darron has been on the job 11 months. We asked her how things are going, and what events are coming up at the museums.

PL: What makes your museum unique to our community? What special exhibits do you feature, and why do you think your museum has become a favorite of those who visit you? Please also mention who is a typical visitor for your museum.

Darron: The four 18th century properties that make up the Washington Heritage Museums are unique to the area in that they are actual 18th century buildings, not reproductions. Mary Washington actually lived in the Mary Washington House. The other three properties are each connected to the Washington family in some way.

The Rising Sun Tavern was originally the residence of George Washington’s brother, Charles. The Hugh Mercer Apothecary represents the office of Dr. Hugh Mercer, who treated Mary Washington, and was also a Revolutionary War hero, serving under George Washington. St. James’ House was the home of James Mercer, the attorney who drew up Mary Washington’s will.

Also on NewsChat: Burning rail car, bourbon tastings popular events at Manassas Museum

At the Mary Washington House, visitors enjoy seeing some of Mrs. Washington’s belongings, including her teapot. The Hugh Mercer Apothecary has an exhibit about a letter from George Weedon, who adopted Hugh Mercer’s son after his death, to Charles Willson Peale. The letter discusses the artistic training of Hugh Mercer’s son by Peale.

Our visitors are often families, but we often see group tours as well. 

PL: What challenges has your museum faced over the years, from getting out the word about your organization, to securing and maintaining funding? How did you overcome them? 

Darron: Washington Heritage Museums is open to the public 360 days a year without state or federal funding. We are a new 501(c)(3), having formed our own organization in 2013 from the statewide organization, Preservation Virginia.

In the last two years, we’ve established 501(c)(3) status, created bylaws, recruited members, and hired an executive director, our first full-time employee.

We are working to secure grants to care for our buildings and are currently working on plans to renovate portions of the Mary Washington House.

PL: Has your museum put our area “on the map” of cultural and community significance?  Please discuss some of the unique items that can only be found in your museum.

Darron: Absolutely! The Mary Washington House is the only house that George Washington purchased for his mother, and was the last home that she lived in. The Tavern portrays an excellent example of tavern life. The Hugh Mercer Apothecary Shop gives a very interesting insight into 18th century medicine – how much it has changed, and how much is still the same.

PL: Can area residents help play a larger role in helping your organization build awareness of your goals? 

Darron: We are always seeking new members! We’re also thrilled when we hear that visitors recommend our sites to their friends.

We are in need of volunteers – They help in the Museum Shop, tend the gardens, help in the office. You name it – if someone has a talent, we have a need to match it!

PL: What new exhibits / events can we expect at your museum in the near future?

Darron: On Sept. 12, we will be celebrating the 125th anniversary of the  saving of the Mary Washington House. Slated to be sold to the Chicago Columbian Exposition in 1890, the house was to be dismantled and moved  piece by piece to Chicago, where it would likely have burned in the  fire.

Local women, with help from the newly formed Association  for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities, raised money and acquired  the house saving it from certain loss.

We will be celebrating  with a fundraising gala the evening of Sept. 12. People can contact the office at 540-373-5630 for more information.

For more on Washington Heritage Museums, visit their website, and find them on Facebook and Twitter

Call to Action: Kick off summer at Bahama Breeze at Potomac Mills

· Good morning  – Keep Prince William Beautiful is kicking off their summer in fashion with a fun evening at Bahama Breeze on May 28th 6-9pm. Enjoy appetizers, drinks and live music and all for a great cause. You can RSVP on their website: kpwb.org. You won’t want to miss this fun event.

· SERVE has lots of fun volunteer jobs for the summer at both the admin building and the food pantry. Come be part of their super team by helping with important services provided to families. You must be at least 18yrs old and complete a background check. Bilingual Spanish speakers are most helpful. Please email Jan at jhawkins@nvfs.org to learn more.

· BEACON Adult Literacy is looking for volunteers this summer for their conversation classes. They will give you all the skills needed to make a significant improvement in another’s life. Please call Caroline at (703) 368-7491 to learn more.

· Virginia Dept. of Health needs volunteer actors at their next exercise on Thursday June 4th first thing in the morning. Please stop by the Costco at Potomac Mills for a few minutes to help in this simulation and grab your free hot breakfast on the way out the door. Please go to: prepareprincewilliam.com to register.

· Habitat for Humanity needs volunteers in their ReStore in Manassas. This is a super fun place full of donors and customers. It’s a great place to volunteer for either a morning or afternoon shift. Please visit: habitatpwc.org to sign up and view their volunteer calendar.

· The 150th Anniversary of the Juneteenth Celebration is Saturday June 20th from 11am-4pm. Volunteers are needed for helping with games for the kids, set-up, greeters and other fun jobs. Please call Katie at (703) 792-4620 to learn more this event.

· Historic Manassas is looking for volunteers to help with the 21st Annual Railway Festival on Saturday June 6th in Old Town Manassas. Duties include line control, directional, helping with games and activities. This is a super fun event. Please email Erin at: erin@historicmanassasinc.org to learn more. Keep Reading…

Call to action: Vets, spouses need rides to doctors appointments

· Good morning  – Memorial Day- May 25th is right around the corner and SERVE needs a group of volunteers to prepare breakfast or lunch to the residents of the Family Care Shelter. You need to provide all the food ingredients but can utilize their kitchen or grills if you want to do an all American cookout. It’s a special day and a very special way for you to help our most vulnerable citizens. Please email Jan at: jhawkins@nvfs.org to learn more.

· Historic Manassas is looking for volunteers to help with the 21st Annual Railway Festival on Saturday June 6th in Old Town Manassas. Duties include line control, directional, helping with games and activities. This is a super fun event. Please email Erin at: erin@historicmanassasinc.org to learn more.

· Tornado season upon us I thought I would remind everyone to sign-up for their local Alert network to receive severe weather notifications. In Prince William County go to: www.pwcgov.org/pwcan, and in Manassas go to: www.manassascity.org/alert, and in Manassas Park visit www.cityofmanassaspark.us and scroll to the bottom right or the page and click on the sign-up icon. The American Red Cross has excellent apps for your cell phone as well. Stay safe out there!

· I’m calling on individual’s age 55+ in the Gainesville, Haymarket area including Heritage Hunt and Dominion Valley to join our Drive a Vet Program with RSVP. We have requests from veterans or their spouses for a ride to their doctor appointments. Come join this wonderful program of simply giving someone a ride! Please call Coleen at (703) 369-5292 ext. 1 to learn more

· The Alzheimer’s Association is looking for volunteers to assist with our community outreach and awareness efforts. They need volunteers for several upcoming events. Please contact Sony for additional information: samartey@alz.org or 703-766-9025.

· Brain Injury Services is looking for volunteers to be matched in one to one friendships with survivors of brain injury. Experience is not necessary only your interest. Please call Michelle at (703) 451-8881 ext.232 to learn more.

· BARN is in need of more raffle baskets for their upcoming golf tournament fundraiser named in honor of Senator Colgan. This is a great way for a business, group, or individual to help homeless women and children. Call Tammy at 703-369-1325. Keep Reading…

Potomac Local readers click on crime news

If it bleeds, it leads.

That’s an old saying about local news; taking shots at news directors who put stories like car crashes, shootings, and other general mayhem at the top of their newscasts.

However, news about crime and public safety is some of the most read, most shared, and consistently highest-ranking content on PotomacLocal.com.

Information about new arrests, scam artists trying to rip off residents, and details about why the police were on your street last night always does well on our local news site.

More than 50,000 unique readers in Prince William, Manassas, and Stafford consume this content on a daily basis. After seeing their friends and family member’s arrest photo on our site, finding a good lawyer becomes one of the first things on their to-do list.

It’s something for you to think about when trying to build awareness about your services in our community.

We also cover more than crime news – topics like schools, traffic and transit, and community events. We’re a trusted daily online news source read daily — with more than 150,000 page views and social interactions per month.

Take a look and you’ll see, from our list of most-read stories in 2014, PotomacLocal.com readers are captivated by stories about crime in their community.

See for yourself by visiting our site. We post at least one crime story a day on PotomacLocal.com. Our posts are based off trusted information obtained from local police and sheriff’s departments.

When it comes to marketing your services, we have online display ads, as well as ways to reach our audience through social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

We also offer a promoted post option that allows you to reach our audience by posting answers to commonly asked legal questions directly to our site. It’s brands you as the local legal expert in your field. 

If you have questions about how all of this works, please send me an email and I’d be happy to chat with you.

Call to Action: Sign up for local emergency alerts

Good morning – with tornado season upon us I thought I would remind everyone to sign-up for their local alert network to receive severe weather notifications. In Prince William County, go to pwcgov.org/pwcan and in Manassas go to manassascity.org/alert, and in Manassas Park visit cityofmanassaspark.us and scroll to the bottom right or the page and click on the sign-up icon. The American Red Cross has excellent apps for your cell phone as well. Stay safe out there!

· Learn more about your community! Join Volunteer Prince William and a host of other organizations Saturday May 9th during the Community Expo at Pftizner Stadium from 9am-3pm.

· I’m calling on individual’s age 55+ in the Gainesville, Haymarket area including Heritage Hunt and Dominion Valley to join our Drive a Vet Program with RSVP. We have requests from veterans or their spouses for a ride to their doctor appointments. Come join this wonderful program of simply giving someone a ride! Please call Coleen at (703) 369-5292 ext. 1 to learn more

· The Alzheimer’s Association is looking for volunteers to assist with our community outreach and awareness efforts. They need volunteers for several upcoming events. Please contact Sony for additional information: samartey@alz.org or 703-766-9025.

· Brain Injury Services is looking for volunteers to be matched in one to one friendships with survivors of brain injury. Experience is not necessary only your interest. Please call Michelle at (703) 451-8881 ext.232 to learn more.

· BARN is in need of more raffle baskets for their upcoming golf tournament fundraiser named in honor of Senator Colgan. This is a great way for a business, group, or individual to help homeless women and children. Call Tammy at 703-369-1325. Keep Reading…

I was stopped by a Prince William police officer after I took this photo

Every photo has a story.

As a reporter for many years, I’ve worked a lot of crash scenes, house fires, and homicide investigations. Never once was I stopped by a police officer and asked for my license and registration.

There’s a first time for everything, they say. Who knew it would be the assignment where I’m taking a photo of a Ferris Wheel?

It was just before 1 p.m. Friday when I was driving along Route 1 and saw a carnival rides erected in a parking lot across from Our Lady Angels church. I pulled into the parking lot to take a photo of the wheel with my camera phone. A police car was sitting in the parking lot.

After pulling in, I stopped my car, rolled down my driver’s side window, stuck my cell phone out the window, and took this photo: Keep Reading…

Call to Action: Haymarket Regional Food pantry first Annual 5K Run for Hunger Saturday May 9

Good morning  – the Bill Mehr Drop in Center is looking for volunteers to help with general admin tasks, help schedule volunteers and most importantly if you have the credentials is to provide case management to clients. This facility is located close to Potomac Mills Mall and offers wonderful services to homeless individuals. Come be part of this super team. Email Juan at juanmm@juno.com or Terry at teniel3@aol.com to learn more.

· BEACON Adult Literacy needs an electrician to tutor an adult in the Manassas area as he prepares to take his state license exam. Please call Caroline at (703) 368-7491 to learn more.

· Come join the fun mas the Haymarket Regional Food pantry hosts its first Annual 5K Run for Hunger on Saturday May 9th. This year’s event will be at the Vint Hill Craft Winery beginning at 8am. Registration is just $30. Please visit their website: haymarketfoodpantry.org for all the info.

· I’m calling on individual’s age 55+ in the Gainesville, Haymarket area including Heritage Hunt and Dominion Valley to join our Drive a Vet Program with RSVP. We have requests from veterans or their spouses for a ride to their doctor appointments. Come join this wonderful program of simply giving someone a ride! Please call Coleen at (703) 369-5292 ext. 1 to learn more

· Keep Prince William Beautiful is full of fun projects this spring. Volunteers are needed on Saturday May 2nd 10:30am-1pm at the Potomac Library Volunteer Fair, on Saturday May 9th at the Community Expo at Pftizner Stadium from 9am-3pm and throughout the month of May to complete Shopping Center Surveys. Please call Damir at (571) 285-3772 to learn more. Keep Reading…

Call to Action: Vets needs rides to doctor appointments

Good morning – Join with Comcast and Leadership Prince William for a day of service on Saturday April 25th in several locations in Manassas Park. Please register at: leadershipprincewilliam.org. Check-in is at 8am and things get under way from 9am-12:30 and finish with a lunch celebration.

· I’m calling on individual’s age 55+ in the Gainesville, Haymarket area including Heritage Hunt and Dominion Valley to join our Drive a Vet Program with RSVP. We have requests from veterans or their spouses for a ride to their doctor appointments. Come join this wonderful program of simply giving someone a ride! Please call Coleen at (703) 369-5292 ext. 1 to learn more

· Now that tax day has passed the Prince William Recycling Program needs volunteers to help them on Saturday May 9th from 8; 30am-1pm for their community shredding day. This event is at both the Landfill on Rt 234 and the Balls Ford facility. Tasks are easy – just direct or help folks unload their cars. They also need volunteers at the Community EXPO at Pfitzner Stadium from 9am-3pm. Please call Deborah at (703) 792-5328 to learn more.

· Capital Caring is looking for volunteer artists to do monthly art activities with nursing home residents. Please call Rachel at (703) 957-1785 for locations and times to share your love of art.

· Please mark your calendars for Sunday May 17th to honor our fallen military by holding flags on the Marine Corps Historic Half Marathon course from 6am-11am. This movement is called Wear Blue and certainly epitomizes how we all feel for our service members. Please call Krista at (410) 932-1812 to learn more.

· Court Service Unit would love your help during traditional business hours helping with screening of individuals seeking protective orders, custody, visitation and answering the phones, filing and such. This is a fun fast paced environment and includes a background check before starting. Please call Lynn at (703) 792-4785 to learn more.

· SERVE needs volunteers as well with admin tasks on Wednesday and Thursday mornings from 9am-1pm. You must be an adult, be friendly, empathetic and enjoy helping families. Spanish speakers are most welcome. Please email Jan at:jhawkins@nvfs.org to learn more. Keep Reading…

How reading the ads clues me in to all the fun stuff going on

When I travel to a new city, the first thing I do is listen to the radio stations. I’ve probably heard nearly every song before, but the commercials are all new to me.

When I check in to my hotel, after marveling at the view (if I’m lucky enough to have a view), I turn on the local TV station. If I can find one, I grab a local newspaper.

These have always been tried and true sources of local information. I scan their local news and read the ads.

The local ads, just like the news, tell me what’s going on in a community. They serve as informative content that, at a glance, tells me about fun things happening in the area.

Most times I’ll see or hear an ad for an event, and then pack up friends and family in the car and drive over to that event feeling as if I’ve got some kind of insider information just because I saw the ad or read a promoted post on a blog.

I don’t know why I’m this way. Maybe it’s because I’m a media guy. Maybe it’s because I like to explore the community and try new things.

I do the same in my own community. I’m always scanning and searching for things to do right here in Prince William and Stafford counties. That’s why I’ll never understand when people say “I never read the ads.”

I get that some, if not most advertising is disruptive. TV ads that interrupt your favorite show, or pop-ups on your computer screen that try to sell you online poker chips. Keep Reading…

Even Aware, It Can Happen To Anyone

062814-mushungI just reported on a woman being robbed in the parking lot of Target in North Stafford. And already social media commenters are saying people should be more aware of their surroundings, or they need to carry mace and have their car keys in their hands ready to use as a weapon. But it’s not so simple.

To recap, the woman and young child had walked out of the store to her vehicle. She then placed the child in the carseat. When she stood back up, she was shocked to find a man standing next to her. She asked him to step back. He showed a gun and demanded money.

A similar thing happened to me years ago in another area. I am normally very aware of my surroundings. I had served in the Civil Air Patrol, and our motto was Semper Vigilans, which is Latin for “always vigilant” — always alert and ready. I took that motto to heart. 

Yet, one day at the park, after I had placed my child’s stroller in the trunk of my car, a man appeared out of nowhere standing VERY close to me. He asked for money. 

He didn’t get any.

The trunk of my car was still open, and I had a sword in it. Yes, a sword. 

I had recently given a presentation on what it was like to live in the Middle East as an American and had brought various souvenirs as well as historic cultural symbols. One of them included a sword. 

I last saw him running across the train tracks with a bicycle in his hands that he didn’t have with him earlier. He was running fast. I never saw him again. 

I was fortunate the man did not appear to have a gun. Mace, car keys, and even being aware enough to notice a criminal before he gets too close doesn’t help if that criminal has a gun.

I still don’t know how this man got right up next to me so quickly and so silently in an open area when there was no one else around for at least 50 feet except a gentleman sitting in an adjacent truck who called police after I was approached. 

So I ask you not to judge the victim of the crime. If you choose to judge anyone, let it be the perpetrator. 

To read the original story, click here.

Call to Action: Become a BINGO volunteer for Save a Dog

Good morning – Happy Easter and happy spring! Springtime brings with it lots of things including puppies and kittens. We all know there are not enough good homes for them all. You can help the furry ones by becoming a BINGO volunteer for Save a Dog, Save a Cat (SADSAC). BINGO begins May 3 at the Elks Lodge on Minneville Rd. in Woodbridge. First there will be a volunteer training session on April 26. You can become a card verifier, concession server, or help with set-up or take-down. Email Sherry for details: sadsac01@yahoo.com.

· To all agencies who utilize wonderful volunteers in their work please don’t forget to submit their names for recognition at the community wide Volunteer Recognition event which is scheduled for Sunday May 17th. Please email Shelley at: stibbs@volunteerprincewilliam.org for more info.

· Beacon Adult Literacy offers affordable ESL classes in the Manassas area. Volunteer are needed, no previous teaching experience is required – they will train you. The new semester starts April 6th and there are opportunities in both the evenings and mornings. You can learn a new skill and help someone else learn one too! Visit: beaconliteracy.org or Facebook to learn more or call 703-368-7491.

· Saved Hands Foundation will present a FREE resume writing seminar April 8th from 9:30am to 11:30am at Goodwill of Greater Washington, Dale City Career Center, 2950 Dale Blvd., Dale City. Seating is limited – please visit: savedhandsfoundation.org/events or phone 571-572-9013 to register.

· Transitional Housing BARN cordially invites you to their Annual Sen. Chuck Colgan’s Charity Golf Tournament on Monday May 11th at the Evergreen Country Club. Lots of great golf, goody bags, breakfast, awards banquet and fun contests. Entry fee is just $150 and supports all their good work. Please call or email tammy for all the specifics at (703) 369-1325 or tperkins@barninc.org

· The City of Manassas has a community clean-up at Cannon Ridge on Saturday April 18th at 10am. Come out and help clean-up the neighborhood and have a chance to win a free pass to the Stonewall Pool as well as recognition from Mayor Parrish. Register at the Manassas Police Dept by April 10th.

· Division of Historic Preservation is gearing up for spring projects at the Julie Metz Wetlands Preserve in Woodbridge. Volunteers are needed to help with trail and stream clean-up, development of interpretive materials and education programs. These volunteer opportunities continue through the fall. Please call Rebecca at (703) 499-9812 to learn more about this county treasure. Keep Reading…

A panda helped us find parking at Bobs Burgers

When it comes to parking in the city, a Seinfeld episode comes to mind.

You know the one where George Costanza gets into an argument with another driver over a parking space on the street.

I’ve always remembered this particular exchange between the characters:

Elaine: Oh, you’re never gonna find a space on Jerry’s block, just put it in a garage.

George: Look, I have my system. First I look for the dream spot right in front of the door, then I slowly expand out in concentric circles.

Elaine: Oh come on, George, please put it in a garage. I don’t want to spend an hour looking for a space.

George: I can’t park in a garage.

Elaine: Why?

George: I don’t know, I just can’t. Nobody in my family can pay for parking, it’s a sickness. My father never paid for parking; my mother, my brother, nobody. We can’t do it.

Last week, however, I did want to pay for parking. My wife and I had tickets to see “Bobs Burgers Live” at the Warner theater in Washington, D.C. It was a Wednesday night, I drove us both into the city after work, and we wanted the easiest, most uneventful evening leading up to our show.

Earlier, I went to Google and typed in “Warner theaterParking” and saw a host of results appear on the page. I clicked on one of them, and I saw the “Bobs Burgers Live” logo.

“Hey, that’s the show we’re going to tonight,” I said.

It was like the website knew exactly what I was looking for — parking for the Bobs Burgers show. I was intrigued, and I clicked on.

The site’s name was Parking Panda. It showed me several garages within a three to four block radius of the Warner Theater, and it also showed how much it would cost to park there – between $11 and $23. Some garages offered valet though my wife and I are not fans of valet. Keep Reading…

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