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Volunteers needed at Manassas Saturday Farmers Market

Good morning Prince William – Brain Injury Services is looking for a volunteer who could teach very basic or conversational Spanish just for fun to a young lady in Ashburn. She is fun loving and very social and is looking forward to this activity 2 times a month. Please email Michelle at: mthyen@braininjurysvcs,org for more info.

· Catholic Charities- Hogar Immigrant Services is urgently seeking teachers for various classes in Manassas. The English class is held Monday – Thursday for just one class a week. No foreign language or teaching experience is needed as you’ll receive all the training needed. Please call Arielle at (703) 534-9805 ext. 252 to learn more.

· Project Mend-A-House is now registering participants for their Spring 2017 Live Well Workshops. This is a free 6 week series to help you deal with diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure, chronic pain and other conditions. Please call Jodie at (571) 494-5577 for locations.

· The Haymarket Regional Food Pantry is having their Breakfast Bingo event on Saturday April 8th 3-5pm at the QBE Building. You don’t want to miss this fun event. Bingo cards are $1 each or 1 breakfast item such as pancake mix, box of cereal or oatmeal. You can contact Alison at: fundraising@haymarketfoodpantry.org with any questions. (more…)

‘While none of it is funny, comedy…gets people to stop talking…and literally act’


Rahmein Mostafavi has been bringing headlining comedy acts to venues in Northern Virginia since 2011.

His shows at the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton, in Arlington, Fredericksburg, and other locations have introduced area residents to acts who have been featured on Comedy Central, HBO, and others.

We talked to Mostafavi about his recent efforts to use laughs to raise money for a serious cause — helping children in war-torn Syria.

PL: What inspired you to start the “All for Aleppo” fundraising campaign?

Mostafavi: Quite simply the horrifying images of the country and it’s suffering people. Especially the children.

PL: How much money did you raise?

Mostafavi: $11,976

PL: What was the best thing about doing this campaign?

Mostafavi: Seeing the people come out for a cause that has nothing to do with their daily lives. We can all just watch the news and even get sad, but to take the time to go out and do something, even as simple as attending a comedy show, is action.

It was truly heartwarming to see people give, $5, $10, $20, and
often much more than that to people that, at this time, need if far more than we do.

PL: What’s a big challenge you had to overcome with this endeavor?

Mostafavi: Honestly, it didn’t take much. The DC comics are very supportive and wonderful people. The minute I put the word out about these shows, I had more than enough talent to produce great shows. Our talent pool runs extremely deep in DC.

I suppose the challenge was taking time away from my kids to do these non-profit shows. They are old enough to know when daddy is gone, so they got a bit less daddy time during this run. However, it provided me a perfect opportunity to sit them down to talk
about exactly what I was trying to do.

They are smart boys. They got it and became supportive too. When I’d get home from a fundraiser, they’d ask me how much I’d raised for
the people of Syria.

PL: Where are you performing next?

Mostafavi: I’m kind of all over. Locally my next shows are my productions that I’m hosting in Leesburg, Lorton, and Fredericksburg. Details at coolcowcomedy.com.

PL: Was it a bit awkward to use comedy as a way to raise funds for such a tragic endeavor?

Mostafavi: At first, I had those concerns as well. But it’s like any fundraiser. Whether it’s the Orlando shooting, Katrina, etc…we gather for the cause. While none of it is funny, comedy is simply the magnet that
gets people to stop talking or posting about a given situation and literally act.

PL: When did you start your business Cool Cow Comedy?

Mostafavi: About six years ago.

PL: What’s next for you and Cool Cow Comedy?

Mostafavi: More of the same I suppose.

PL: If someone wants to donate to your campaign how/where do they do that?

Mostafavi: At this point, no more fundraiser shows are scheduled. Please donate directly to whatever cause inspires you. The three I focused on where Islamic Relief, Doctors Without Borders (with Syrian focus), and Handicap International (with Syrian focus).

*This post is written by Rod Loges and Jenn Mathis, of One Degree Capital in Occoquan, in collaboration with Potomac Local.

Bingo mixed with aerobics keeps seniors active during winter months

The winter months can be a difficult time for seniors.

Cold temperatures and wintry weather conditions can make it difficult to go outside or to take regular shopping trips and excursions.

The Arbor Terrace Sudley Manor Assisted Living and Memory Care Center near Manassas recognizes this can be a problem and works to keep their residents active and engaged on gray winter days.

One of the ways it does so is by gathering residents in a dining area and playing “Arringo,” an activity that mixes aerobics with bingo to engage the mind, body, and soul.

This post is sponsored by Home Instead Senior Care of Manassas

‘The Prince William SPCA wants to partner with area food pantries’

Good morning Prince William – TOP Soccer needs volunteers on Saturday mornings at the Vint Hill Gym. This program provides a safe, fun, inclusive environment for children with development issues to enjoy soccer. Please email John to volunteer at: piedmonttopssoccer@gmail.com.

· Habitat for Humanity is gearing up for the opening of their Woodbridge ReStore and volunteers are needed beginning March 16th for the build out and fixtures in the store. This location is right on the Parkway at Minnieville Road. Please visit their volunteer sign up at: habitatpwc.org.

· The Prince William SPCA wants to partner with area food pantries based in Houses of Worship that would like donations of pet food to support the families they serve. This partnership can help you serve the entire family! Please contact them for more info at:pwspca@pwspca.org or visit their website:www.pwspca.org

· Rainbow Therapeutic Riding Center is having their next volunteer training on Saturday, March 25th 2-4pm. Space is limited to please email Scottie at volunteer@rainbowriding.org for information on how to register. Experience with horses is welcome but not required. They have lots of fun jobs. They are also having an Open House on Saturday, March 18th 10am-2pm. (more…)

Biggest challenge yet for new Village Ski and Bikes owner: Replacing cash register trapped in 1987

Village Ski and Bikes, a Lake Ridge staple since 1984, recently underwent new ownership. Tom Finn, a retired Marine purchased the shop in December 2016 and has big plans for Village Ski and Bikes.

ODC: Why did you buy the business?

VSB: Because I’m still trying to figure out what I want to do when I grow up. I’m not quite ready to retire, and, having previously owned a business I’m unemployable in the sense that I don’t want to work for someone else, so owning a business was my only option. I’ve been a customer of Village Skis and Bikes buying skis and bikes for over 17 years and when Jim told me he wanted to sell the business but hadn’t found the right person, I decided to take a look at it. I liked what I saw, and when Jim told me he wanted to continue working here part time, I just couldn’t pass it up.

ODC: Can you share with the readers a little about yourself?

VSB: My wife and I have been married for 39 years. We have two children that both graduated from Virginia Tech and two young grandchildren. I also enlisted in the Marines and eventually became an officer and finally became a Marine aviator flying the F4 – Phantom. I’ve owned another business here (Finn Autobody Inc. in Woodbridge from 1995-2006) in the area for over 11 years and I’m looking forward to serving the community again. (more…)

Call to Action: Child Advocate training by The Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights

Good morning Prince William – Historic Manassas is looking for volunteers to help with the Live Well Festival on Saturday, April 22nd – 9am-2pm. Positions include morning directional to help get vendors situated from 7am-9am. Also needed is assistance with helping set up the Farm to Table Brunch from 9:30am-12:30 pm. Please call Erin at (703) 361-6599 to register for this fun event.

· Prince William Conservation Alliance invites you to their Open House on Tuesday, February 28th, 5:30-7 pm with a speaker on new stormwater rules and the Chesapeake Bay. They’re also having an Environmental Advocacy Workshop in Alexandria on March 18th. You can register online for this at audubonva.org. There’s their Annual Party with guest speaker Alonso Abugattas on March 12th in Woodbridge, 3-6pm and lastly, there is bird walks on the last Sunday of every month at Merrimac Farm in Nokesville. Please call (703) 499-4954 or alliance@pwconserve.org to learn more.

· Project Mend-a-House has partnered George Mason to offer the POISED: Stay Active and Independent for Life group fitness program. This is a 10-week program for ages 55 a better that meets three days per week at Lutheran Church of the Covenant in Dale City on Monday, Tuesday and Thursdays from 11:30 to 12:30. It is FREE, and classes can be joined up to 2 weeks past the start date! Contact Jodie to register: pmah.health@gmail.com or via phone at 571-494-5577. (more…)

‘You will learn how to teach…students who are both American-born and English language learners’

Good morning Prince William – Literacy Volunteers of America-Prince William is looking for volunteers to tutor adults who wish to improve their lives through literacy. Previous tutoring experience is not needed as their training series will give you all the skills needed to be successful. The next Tutor Training Workshop is Saturday, March 18th (8:45-4:00) with the follow-up on Saturday, April 1st (9:00-12:00). ‘

You will learn how to teach reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills to the students who are both American-born and English Language Learners. Both classroom and one-on-one matches are available. Please visit their website for further details: www.lvapw.org or call them at 703-670-5702. You will truly make a difference in their lives and our community.

· Don’t forget the Powell’s Creek Cleanup is this Saturday February 25th at 9am. Please dress for the weather that day. Cleanup supplies are provided. You’ll want to register for this event at: pwtsc.org/event/powells-creek-cleanup-Saturday-february-25-2017. You can call Neil at Prince William Trails and Streams Coalition for more info at: (703) 232-4037. It’s the perfect way to welcome spring. (more…)

Historic Manassas reveals new logo

Historic Manassas old

Featured photos in slideshow: New logo, old logo

Over the last year, Historic Manassas, Inc. (HMI) has worked endlessly on their rebranding efforts and are excited to announce the release of their new logo. The new logo features a streetscape of Main Street as well as the welcoming historic water tower. To represent Historic Manassas’ close partnership with the City, their new tag line ‘Historic Heart. Modern Beat.’ was also incorporated into the logo.

Patrick King, CEO of Imagine, worked to create the perfect logo.

“We are humbled to be a part of this rebrand, excited that Manassas is undergoing a wonderful amount of growth and change, while still staying true to its history. We felt it was fitting to create a logo that married a vibrant energy to its beautiful architecture, and we are very proud of the result,” said King.

HMI began their rebranding efforts within the community by creating a survey last spring to determine who the community thought HMI was. The former logo, the downtown train depot, gave many the impression that HMI was just those who ran the train station or a committee involved with the museum and historic preservation within the City. Very few realized the involvement HMI has in the community including the numerous events that take over the streets of downtown each year.

Historic Manassas, Inc. was formed to promote a positive image of Historic Downtown Manassas and to perpetuate its revitalization. HMI feels this new logo helps to push forth its mission statement to engage the community in promotion, preservation, and enhancement of our vibrant Historic Downtown. Those interested in learning more about HMI’s four committees can find information here on their website.

Keep an eye out for the new logo and be sure to check out all of the events coming up in downtown. Next up is First Friday – March Madness on March 3!

Be a Meals on Wheels volunteer driver to deliver a noon meal

Good morning Prince William – spring must be right around the corner so mark your calendars for the Powell’s Creek Cleanup on Saturday February 25th at 9am. Please dress for the weather that day. Cleanup supplies are provided. You’ll want to register for this event at: pwtsc.org/event/powells-creek-cleanup-Saturday-february-25-2017. You can call Neil at Prince William Trails and Streams Coalition for more info at: (703) 232-4037. It’s the perfect way to welcome spring.

· Mark your calendars for the 29th Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup on Saturday April 8th – 9am-12 noon. Come be part of this huge event for clean land, safe waters and healthy lives sponsored by the Alice Ferguson Foundation. Please visit their website at: potomaccleanup.org to see all the locations and continuing opportunities throughout the month of April. Last year 9,465 volunteers removed 300,000 pounds of trash from the watershed! Please call Hannah at (202) 417-3524 to learn more.

· Historic Manassas is looking for volunteers to help with the Live Well Festival on Saturday April 22nd – 9am-2pm. Positions include morning directional to help get vendors situated from 7am-9am. Also needed is assistance with the shred-it truck from 9am-12 noon or 12noon to 2pm. And lastly helping set up the Brunch from 9:45am-11:45 am. Please call Erin at (703) 361-6599 to register for this fun event. (more…)

‘Willing Warriors has lots of fun volunteer opportunities at their facility in Haymarket’

Good morning Prince William – how would you like to take a 2 hour lunch and do super stuff in that time? Being a Meals on Wheels volunteer driver to deliver a noon meal to homebound seniors is just the answer! Come be part of this wonderful team of volunteers who go out 5 days a week to share a warm meal and a friendly face. Volunteers are needed on both sides of the community, either picking up at the Woodbridge Senior Center or the Manassas Senior Center. This super activity only takes 2 hours or so making it perfect for a professional who can flex out of work for these 2 hours. You pick the day of the week or month best for your schedule! Please give Melodee a call at (703) 792-4583 to learn more.

· Willing Warriors has lots of fun volunteer opportunities at their facility in Haymarket. Their big fundraiser is the Monte Carlo Night on Saturday February 18th. Come enjoy the games and evening or volunteer that evening with the activities. Come to their next All Hands On meeting on February 15th at 6:30pm to learn about their plans and upcoming events or attend the next volunteer orientation on February 22nd at 11am. Please email Kimberly at: volunteer@willingwarriors.org to register for any of these activities. (more…)

Horizon Business Brokers just finished their best year ever by brokering the sale of 19 local businesses. But was 2016 a fluke?

Horizon Business Brokers just finished their best year ever by brokering the sale of 19 locally owned businesses.

Horizon Business Brokers, LLC was founded in 2006 by Dustin Zeher, a longtime resident of Prince William County having grown up in Lake Ridge, where he still lives.

Horizon Business Brokers: I was introduced to the Business Brokerage Industry by my father’s childhood friend who was a Business Broker in New York and immediately became interested as I always had a passion for small business ownership, law, real estate, finance, and helping people; business brokerage was an industry that allowed me to play a role in each.

I decided to get my feet wet and see if I liked the business, so I became an Associate Business Broker for a Maryland-based firm. I worked with them for about a year where I quickly realized I enjoyed the business and had the promise to be a good deal maker.

I soon took the leap of faith to go into business for myself and Horizon Business Brokers was born soon after that.

Potomac Local: Do Businesses in our area sell?

Horizon Business Brokers: Absolutely, and they sell fast. The national average time to sell a business is 8 to 12 months. Our average is only 5-7 months, and we have sold businesses in as little as 30 days.

PL: What kind of businesses sell? (more…)

Discover the area’s best-kept secret when planning your wedding

You’ve heard it before: planning a wedding can be expensive. According to  costofwedding.com, the average cost of a wedding is $26,645. Most couples plan to spend less than $10,000 for their big day, but the cost of everything associated with planning weddings adds up – and guess what, this price does NOT include the cost of the honeymoon!

So what money saving tips are out there for couples on a budget? How can they keep costs down and quality high? In other words, are there any corners you can cut while providing a top-notch, well presented, beautiful day for yourselves, your friends, and your families?

“After looking at between 15 and 20 venues, we chose the Manassas Park Community Center (MPCC) Banquet Hall because the price was good,” says newlywed Anna Sandara. “The MPCC Banquet Hall fit into our budget, and although there was a limited amount of reviews on renting the Banquet Hall, we took a chance, and boy am I happy we did,” Sandra exclaimed.

“I really think the Manassas Park Community Center Banquet Hall is the best kept secret in our area,” stated Sandara, “Couples planning a wedding should really check it out because they will be pleasantly surprised just like we were.”

When you rent the MPCC Banquet Hall space, the price also includes access to a caterer’s kitchen and pre-function and patio areas.   (more…)

Souper Bowl is Back in Manassas for a third year

First Friday is back and it is time for the Third Annual “Souper Bowl!”

On Friday, February 3, from 6 to 9 p.m., merchants in Historic Downtown Manassas will be hosting restaurants and serving up soup. This year, 10 locations will feature soups, ranging from chili to gumbo and more.

Tickets can be purchased for $10 at any participating merchant location and will entitle attendees to unlimited soup samplings. Once you have sampled the wide assortment of soup, you’ll be asked to vote for your favorite to crown the winning restaurant “Souper Bowl Champion.”

Last year, downtown’s newest restaurant, Mariachi’s, took home the crown with their Tortilla Soup. After being open for about a month, they also took home second place with their Spinach and Chorizo soup.

February kicks off the first First Friday of 2017. Souper Bowl is a great kick off for the year and gets the community excited about what is to come for future First Fridays. Street closures for First Friday will begin in April and run through October to allow pedestrian traffic in the streets.

The event is a great way for people to get a little sample of what each restaurant has to offer. A list of participating merchants and restaurants for Souper Bowl can be found at visitmanassas.org. This event will be held rain or shine. Don’t forget to also stop by Ameriprise while on your tasting tour and sign up for a $25 membership with HMI! Memberships entitle cardholders to a discount at your favorite downtown restaurant and shops!

If you are looking for something to do on a First Friday, or any other day of the week, be sure to check out Historic Downtown Manassas – you just may find your new favorite restaurant and shops!

Call to Action: Opportunities abound for volunteers to help Prince William

· Good morning Prince William – Meals on Wheels needs volunteer drivers to deliver a noon meal to homebound seniors. Come be part of this wonderful team of volunteers who go out 5 days a week to share a warm meal and a friendly face. Volunteers are needed on both sides of the community, either picking up at the Woodbridge Senior Center or the Manassas Senior Center. This super activity only takes 2 hours or so making it perfect for busy retirees, moms with their kids in school or a professional or can flex out of work for these 2 hours. You pick the day of the week best for your schedule! Please give Melodee a call at (703) 792-4583 to learn more.

· The Virginia Volunteerism and Service Conference Is May 16-17 in Richmond. This is a fun, worthwhile opportunity for volunteer managers from across the Commonwealth. It offers workshops, networking events and opportunities for service. You don’t want to miss this opportunity to learn from or share with others. Please visit their website to learn more at, virginiaservice.virginia.gov. This conference is a bargain so come invest in your professional development. (more…)

Help needed with annual ‘Point in Time Count of homeless’

Good morning Prince William – Join in the fun at the Souper Bowl Bingo event on Saturday, January 28 to support the wonderful work of the Haymarket Regional Food Pantry. The event is from 3-pm at the QBE building located at 14600 Washington Street in Haymarket. Bingo cards are just $1 each or I can of soup. There will be snacks and refreshments available for purchase and also lots of fun prizes. What a great way to spend a cold afternoon. Please email Alison with any questions at fundraising@haymarketfoodpantry.org.

· The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program is looking for volunteer’s age 55+ to transport veterans to their doctors’ appointments and perhaps stop by the pharmacy to fill a new prescription. There is an immediate need in the Woodbridge area! It’s a great way to say thank you for their service. The second need is to present life skills to 4th-grade students who may be home alone for a short period after school. It’s a fun curriculum and certainly a fun age to work with. Please call Jan at (571) 292-5307 for more info.

· The Annual Joe Page Blood Drive is Saturday, January 21st at the Manassas Church of the Brethren from 9am-2pm. This is a wonderful way to remember a great young man. Please email his mom Debbie at Debd509@aol.com to schedule your appointment. The great kids with the Joe 15 Team will be on hand to continue Joe’s love of volunteering. (more…)

‘Many volunteers are needed especially if you know a little Spanish to cover this large neighborhood and share fire safety information’

Call to Action

Good morning Prince William – Happy New Year and a huge Cheers to this wonderful community for supporting our Un Trim A Tree Holiday Gift Program last month. We provided toys, warm clothes, and joy to 5,652 children! Thank you so much for your generosity and joy!

· The American Red Cross has an urgent need for volunteers on Saturday, January 14th from 8am-1pm to install smoke alarms in the Georgetown South Community of Manassas. Many volunteers are needed especially if you know a little Spanish to cover this large neighborhood and share fire safety information as well. You’ll truly make a life-saving difference. Please register online at volunteerconnection.redcross.

· The Martin Luther King Oratorical Contest is Saturday, January 16th, 11 am at the Hylton Memorial Chapel. You don’t want to miss this annual free event, but please bring along canned goods to help the area food pantries. This event is sponsored by the PWC Alumnae Chapter Delta Sigma Theta. Here’s a huge Cheers to these ladies and their 32 years of service in our community. (more…)

Want More Prince William County?

Prince William County has established itself as an important part of the economic landscape of the Greater Washington D.C. metropolitan area and Northern Virginia.  The County’s contributions to the Northern Virginia economy has resulted in the region singularly accounting for roughly 45 percent of the Commonwealth of Virginia’s total economic activity and 37 percent of all employment, as recently reported in the 2016 State of the Commonwealth Report.  

As Virginia’s second-largest and fourth-fastest growing County, Prince William County has grown consistently and continues to expand and diversify.  Last year, Site Selection, cited one of Prince William County’s Department of Economic Development projects as “…the top project in capital investment [in Virginia] for 2016, to date, is a $350 million Iron Mountain data center going into Manassas.”  SmartAssets also named Prince William County among the state’s top 5 investment locations.

In the last five calendar years [2011-2015], projects closed by the Prince William County Department of Economic Development alone intend to invest a record $2.7 billion and to create 2,900 jobs.  2015 was the fifth year in the Department’s history that it logged over half of a billion dollars in capital investment, with $660 million and more than 600 new jobs. 

“Twenty years ago Prince William County recognized the importance of Economic Development and dedicated a new Department to work on defining a roadmap to its future,” said Corey A. Stewart, Chairman, Prince William Board of County Supervisors. “Today, we are realizing the benefit of laying the foundation for a prosperous economy and continue in our dedication to raise the bar higher for our business community and citizens by delivering on increased capital investment and high-paying, highly-skilled jobs.”

“By concentrating in life sciences and information technology we are creating growth opportunities that are opening up new markets and new types of business opportunities, influencing other technology sectors and the region, as a whole,” said Jeff Kaczmarek, Executive Director, Department of Economic Development, Prince William County.  “The County’s growth is owed in part to its strategic location and excellent competitive edge, such as a ready supply of highly-educated young professionals, affordable and available land and competitive labor costs, all of which result in a strong value proposition.”

Throughout its growth, Prince William County has distinguished itself as a premier business destination, that has made significant strides in its new role as a thriving science and technology hub.  There has also been a notable increase in employment opportunities within Prince William County.  As of 2015, the County provided job opportunities for over 122,000 persons.  In fact, over the period 2010-2015, job growth in Prince William County convincingly outpaced that of the Washington D.C. metropolitan area at 18% compared to 6%; as well as that of the state of Virginia which also saw a 6% increase.  Similarly, the number of businesses in Prince William County increased by 20% over the same period compared to 11% growth in the Washington D.C. metro area and 12% growth for all of Virginia. 

By all indications, Prince William County’s ability to generate job opportunities within its boundaries is expected to continue into the foreseeable future, based on the latest round of estimates released by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.  According to those projections, job growth in Prince William County is expected to outpace that of any of the other observed localities in the metro area.  Over the 30-year period, 2015-2045, the County is expected to add an additional 114,000 jobs – an almost 80% increase. 

Want more Prince William County?  Check out our latest video, sign-up for newsletters or visit us at: www.PWCEconDev.org or @PWCDED.

Dog search for Iraq War vet leads to animal training business

“My youngest daughter was deployed to Iraq, and when she came home, she was a different person.”

Thanks to Caring Angels, “JJ” was rescued from a local animal shelter and received the training he needed to begin his new life as a therapeutic support dog.

Caring Angels is the nonprofit arm of “Sit Means Sit” of Northern Virginia, a woman-owned franchise in Manassas. We sat down with owner Sonny Madsen recently to find out more about her business and her nonprofit.

PL: Tell us about your involvement with Caring Angels

Sit Means Sit: Caring Angel therapy dogs have all come through the Sit Means Sit training program. We have dogs that have helped with the victims of human trafficking, juvenile detention centers, fire departments, reading programs for children, nursing homes, FBI, funerals, teaching dog safety, assisting with college students going through test anxiety, returning soldiers, children with special needs and so much more.

PL: Why did you decide to start this endeavor?

Sit Means Sit: Before starting my business, I was a public speaker and sales manager. My youngest daughter was deployed to Iraq, and when she came home, she was a different person.

I hardly recognized her and had trouble connecting with her. One day on a trip to Arlington Cemetery we saw a soldier with a service dog – a beautiful white golden retriever. My daughter’s eyes lit up for the first time since coming home. I decided then and there to get her a service dog.

Turns out that is a lot easier said than done. I learned support dogs are extremely expensive and the whole process can take years. My daughter didn’t have years to wait – I knew she needed a support dog right now. So I decided I would find and train one for her myself.

PL: What attracted you to the Sit Means Sit (SMS) program over other options?

SMS: I did a lot of research including interviewing law enforcement for their training suggestions (since they train so many great dogs). The Las Vegas Sheriff’s Department referred me to the founder of Sit Means Sit, Fred Hassen.

The first time I met Fred he gave me a quarter and told me to throw it in the middle of his 5,000 square foot training room. He then explained that he would be able to get a small black labrador retriever to sit on that quarter in four attempts without moving himself.

Intrigued, I threw the quarter toward the middle of the room. Amazingly he had that dog happily sitting on the quarter in just two attempts without ever having to walk over to where I threw the quarter. I was impressed. I asked him how he did it and that was the first time he showed me the e-collar.

PL: What is unique about the SMS style of training?

SMS: We are e-collar trainers. The e-collar is a neutral training tool to teach focus, obedience, and trust. If you do it the right way, you have a happy dog who loves you more than treats or toys or anything else.

We have been able to work with puppies, anxious dogs abused and neglected dogs, dogs that are deaf, aggressive dogs and dogs that just plain have bad manners.

PL: What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far, and how did you overcome it?

SMS: SMS: Overcoming the negative stigma of e-collar training. I’m the first one to agree that the old-fashioned way of e-collar training was harsh and punitive. That is definitely not the way we use a collar. Our e-collars do not cause pain – they function as an adjustable ‘tap’ which is used as a cue to get the dog’s attention. The ‘tap’ is similar to muscle therapy devices found in the medical field for humans. When we bring on a new client, we always have them try out the device on their hand so they can feel the tap for themselves. With 64 sensitivity settings, the collars are fully adjustable to the smallest and the largest of breeds.

PL: What’s next – where do you dream of taking your business?

SMS: Sit Means Sit is the largest dog training program in the country, and our Northern Virginia franchise is their fastest growing location in the U.S. We want to keep that momentum and keep educating our clients.

Of course, my heart lies with the Caring Angels program and with the service dogs that we train – it’s the whole reason I got into the dog training business, to begin with, and I never want to forget that. Therapy dogs make a difference in ways we may never fully understand – I can only describe it as God’s grace. Right now, given our limited resources, we can only place a few dogs a year through the program. My goal is to one day build a facility where we can continue to train, house and donate ten service dogs a year.

The facts: 

Sit Means Sit 9823 Godwin Dr Manassas, Va
Website: sitmeanssit.com/dog-training-mu/fairfax-dog-training/
Caring Angels Therapy Dogs: https://www.facebook.com/caringangelstherapydogs

*This post is written by Rod Loges and Jenn Mathis, of One Degree Capital in Occoquan, in collaboration with Potomac Local.

Be a part of great community journalism

We continue our community conversations in 2017

Before any great journalism is made, a publisher must listen to his community. 

As we prepare to ring in 2017, we’re also preparing for another year of producing great, quality journalism that is worth your time and attention.

Covering our communities in and around Prince William County has been our mission since we started in 2010.

You play a crucial role in helping us reach this goal. So, that’s why I’ll be at the One Degree Room, located at 204 Commerce Street in Occoquan, on Monday, Jan. 9, 2017 from 10 a.m. to noon. 

Later in the week, I’ll be at Jirani Coffeehouse, located at 9425 West Street in Manassas on Wednesday, Jan. 11, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

During both sessions, you can chat with me, tell us what’s on your mind, and about what stories you think we should be covering. 

Just as I was last month when we met here, I’m open to talking about any issue in our community from roads, traffic, transit, schools, parks, local government, business development, shopping, entertainment, etc.

Got a pothole on your street that’s been ignored? Know of a special person in our community deserving of recognition? Just want to say hello and drink a cup of coffee? 

All of these are great reasons to visit.

See you soon. Happy New Year. 

Five ways Manassas Park Parks and Recreation staff stay motivated to workout

To many of us, the new year is an excuse to finally get motivated to work out and lose weight. Working out regularly is easier said than done because, for so many of us, it’s incredibly difficult to get, and then keep, the motivation to continue working out.

Here are some helpful hints from the Department of Parks and Recreation staff at the Manassas Park Community Center in regards to getting past the intimidation of working out, finding the motivation to work out, and keeping that motivation!

1. Set a goal to inspire you and keep you motivated

Whether you’re trying to advance professionally or looking to start working out, having clear goals help you stay focused and motivated especially during periods where you feel like you’ve plateaued. Operations/Aquatics Supervisor Sarah Barnett says even though she began working out as a student, she finds it harder and harder to stay motivated as a mom with a full-time job.

“I attended college on a running scholarship and felt like I was sort of getting paid to run,” she shares, “But now I find the best way to stay motivated is to sign up for a race or a marathon, and that forces me to stay motivated.”

Stay on task by setting clear goals using the SMART system; goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. Getting ready for your first 5K easily follows the SMART system and can help propel you to setting more SMART goals.

2. Find someone to keep you accountable

Having a friend or hiring a personal trainer can really help you get the most out of your workouts. They can help ensure you’re using proper form, inspire you to try a new exercise, and help motivate you to steadily and safely push yourself to get you closer to your goal. One of the most important advantages of working out with somebody is that they can help keep you focused.

“I need an accountability partner as a motivator so I work out with a trainer,” says Jacqueline Tyre-Perry, Recreation Specialist for School Age Programs. Tyre-Perry knows she will be tempted to take shortcuts if she does not have that extra person tracking her progress. “Seeing results also motivates me, but the best motivator for me is definitely a trainer. When they say, ‘Give me five more reps!’ you know they’re pushing you while cheering you on.”

3. Work out in a group setting to motivate you to keep coming back

Working out with friends isn’t only great for accountability, but it makes the gym and working out fun instead of a chore. Park Manager AJ Tibbs says he began working out a couple of years ago because he wanted to get healthier, but now he likes going to the gym because he has tons of friends there.

“Now, working out has become a hobby for me,” Tibbs says, Life is too short, you really got to have fun while you can. I love going to the gym because I like to socialize there while I work out with weights.”

Marketing Manager Jason Shriner says he never worked out when he was younger. A former baker, he remembers watching a video by one of his food idols Michael Pollan where Pollan suggested to eat what you want, but make it yourself. Following this rule will keep you from overindulging (french fries take a lot of effort to make!) but you will also know exactly what you are eating.

However, he realized that eating healthy isn’t enough to have a healthy lifestyle. He remembers hearing a story on the radio where a 30-year-old nurse had a heart attack. “When I heard that story, I was about two years from turning 30, and I thought to myself, ‘If a nurse has a heart attack, what chance does a baker have?’” Shriner recalls. 

He started working out on his own at a gym, but he really started to love working out when he took boot camp at the Community Center – his first group exercise class. 

“I like working out in a group setting like boot camp because you never feel alone. Everybody is giving their all right next to you! Honestly, some of my favorite times are when the instructor does the craziest exercise, and we all just start laughing because we think it’s impossible – but then we try it together and succeed!”

4. Use working out as a chance to recharge your mind

Study after study has shown that exercise can help improve your mood as well as provides a myriad of mental benefits. When you’ve had a really stressful day, it can be really satisfying to channel that frustration in a healthy way by lifting weights.

When I work out, I like to be alone so I can just think,” says Jay Swisher, City of Manassas Park, Department of Parks recreation director. Swisher began working out as a school athlete to compete on the field, to be more competitive, and to enhance his sports abilities. “This led to a real interest in fitness and nutrition, which I studied in college. My interest in working out began as physical, but as I have grown older, my interest has become more mental as I use working out as my excuse to decompress and de-stress.”

To get the most mental benefit out of your workout, find a routine and a setting that works for you. Try jogging through a park, such as Signal Hill Park, to take in all the beautiful green scenery and sunshine. Once you find that perfect mix of scenery, routine, and music, you’ll naturally be drawn to working out.

5. Track your workout to measure your progress and use technology to help keep you accountable

When you start working out over several months, it’s easy to lose track of how much weight you’ve been lifting or how long you’ve been running three miles. Using a notetaking or fitness app on your smartphone can help keep you on target with your fitness goals. When you notice you haven’t increased your weights in three weeks, it could motivate you to add an extra five pounds.

Speaking of technology, if you prefer working out on your own getting a fitness device can also help you stay motivated. 

“My Apple watch was a Christmas gift from 2015, and it came with an app to help you track your workouts,” says Amelia Powell, Customer Service Supervisor. “The watch buzzed everyday reminding me to exercise. All those buzzes finally took their toll, and finally, on February 8th, I began running,” she said.

Reminders aren’t the only feature you can expect from fitness devices. Apps can also help you keep track of health metrics such as heart rate, exercise frequency, and calories consumed. Plus, the app can make sure you achieve your daily goals. 

“The app gives you completed circles each day you complete your workout. I have met my current fitness goal, but I still like seeing those completed circles on my watch. In fact, those completed circles keep me motivated to continue working out,” Powell explained.

Once you begin working out, you will find your own reasons to stay motivated just as the some of the staff members at Parks and Recreation have. We wish you much success with your fitness goals, and remember the Manassas Park Community Center offers group exercise classes such as Zumba or boot camp as well as qualified and certified personal fitness trainers to help you meet all of your fitness needs. Here’s to a healthy 2017!

The Manassas Park Community Center is located at 99 Adams Street in Manassas Park, VA. Managed by the City of Manassas Park Department of Parks and Recreation, the facility is home to basketball courts, a swimming pool, and wellness areas as well as a variety of special events and programs. 

For more information visit us at www.ManassasParkCommunityCenter.com or call at 703-335-8872.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

For a brief moment, we pause

It’s at this moment the world is merry and bright. Families travel to be with each other. Gifts of appreciation are shared. Memories are made. 

The store windows in Occoquan are decorated with garland, while the buildings in Downtown Manassas are adorned with white lights. 

A large Christmas Tree overlooks Stonebridge at Potomac Town Center in Woodbridge, while light continues to shine on our very own symbol of freedom — The National Museum of the Marine Corps at Quantico.

These sights are commonplace in our community at this time of year. The hustle and bustle of our daily lives sometimes make it difficult for us to stop, look around, and appreciate them for all they’re worth. 

At Potomac Local, I’m appreciative of you for allowing us to celebrate another Christmas by looking back at all we’ve accomplished over the past year. 

We’ve seen the opening of a new Re-Store which helps provide housing to some of our area’s neediest. We saw the renaming of a Dale City middle school and talked to the community who came to be a part of the process. 

We learned about the histories of Aden and Smoketown — once settlements that today remembered best by the road signs erected in their honor.

And we saw the community crave sweets with the opening of a new doughnut shop, and lose their appetites when another favorite restaurant closed

These are just some of my memories from 2016. 

Your gift of continued support and readership of Potomac Local goes a long way in helping us to celebrate the season.

We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. 

Uriah Kiser

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