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Potomac Mills partners in fight against breast cancer

Earlier this month, Potomac Mills announced their participation in a national month-long engagement with Susan G. Komen® to support the fight against breast cancer.

Throughout the month of October, the mall has engaged employees, retailers and shoppers in ‘Mission Pink® events. “As an active member in the community, Potomac Mills has provided an ideal backdrop for raising awareness and encouraging support in finding a cure for breast cancer, a disease we know touches the lives of our employees, retailers and shoppers every year,” said Rocell Viniard, Area Director of Marketing and Business Development for both centers.

With one week left in the month, there is still time to help and make a difference. A message of strength board provides an opportunity for survivors, supporters and their families to visually articulate what gives them strength during their fight with breast cancer.

In addition, the mall is offering a voucher program. For $10, a voucher card can be purchased allowing shoppers the opportunity to save 25 percent off of one item at all participating retailers. One hundred percent of these donations will benefit Komen. Simon a global leader in retail real estate is proud to support Susan G. Komen through various fundraising initiatives, and along with the help of generous customers, will guarantee a contribution of at least $250,000.

Art show to solicit donations for food pantry, help starving artists

Coinciding with the Historic Downtown Manassas Fall Gallery Walk on Friday, November 6th, marketing and creative firm Imagine will be holding their first annual CANNED: A Show of Art & Compassion group art show in their facility at 9415 West Street in Manassas.

The show is open to the public, and doors will open at 6pm. While admission to the show is free, donations of non-perishable food to Northern Virginia Family Service (SERVE) are encouraged.

The show will highlight unique contemporary art from artists in and around Manassas, with all pieces on exhibit for purchase. The concept for the event is to spotlight young artists, while asking the community to come together to help in giving food to the many families in need throughout Prince William.

“This show is to show artwork that would not normally be shown during the Manassas Gallery Walk,” Imagine President Rebecca Vaughan-King explained, “and to support artists while they are living.”

The event will showcase 10-13 artists, each presenting a unique style and choice of content. Many pieces will be on canvas; however, some artists have taken to using skateboards, scrap wood and other materials as their canvas.

All sales on the artwork will go directly to the artists; Imagine will not charge artists to participate.

“Even though Manassas is a very arts-friendly community, making a living from artwork is still nearly impossible,” Imagine CEO Patrick King said. “This event is our way of helping to make it just a bit more possible.”

Refreshments will be served throughout the event. For more information, please visit www.imaginedc.net/canned or call (703) 873-7740.

Portion of Balls Ford Road closing for railroad repair

On Saturday, October 24 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., weather permitting, the Virginia Department of Transportation and Norfolk Southern will be closing Balls Ford Road at the railroad crossing west of Prince William Parkway (Route 234) in order to replace the at-grade crossing.

Traffic will be detoured via Prince William Parkway, Sudley Manor Drive, and Wellington Road back to Balls Ford (see map).  Detour signs will be in place to guide motorists.

Electronic message signs are in place to notify drivers of the scheduled work.

Voter information for Manassas residents

he Voter Registration & Elections Office at 9025 Center Street is open Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., for In-Person Absentee Voting.  Additional voting hours listed below.  Last Day to Vote Absentee In-Person is Saturday, Oct. 31.

Saturday Oct. 24:                  Voter Registration Office is open 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. for In-Person Absentee Voting.  Please note:  Fall Jubilee is Oct. 24 and will have some street closures.  There will still be access to the Voter Registration Office via Church St. to East St. to Center St.  Designated parking will be available.

Tuesday, Oct. 27:                  Last day to request an Absentee Ballot by mail

Saturday, Oct. 31:                 Last day to vote absentee in-person for the Nov. 3, 2015 General Election.  Voter Registration Office opens 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. for In-Person Absentee Voting.

Tuesday, Nov. 3:                   Election Day.  Polls open 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Employeers, job seekers turnout for Greater Manassas Community Job Fair

Over 450 jobseekers participate in area’s first independently organized job fair

When local business and industry leaders shared the struggles they were having in filling current job openings, a small group of citizens, led by Manassas City Councilman Ian Lovejoy, embraced the challenge to identify workers capable of filling the void.

The Greater Manassas Community Job Fair was established as the means to help meet the worthy goal. This week, over 50 regional employers, career counselors and education partners came together to meet and interview prospective employees from the City of Manassas and surrounding areas.

“I found myself in the odd position of having citizens in the area talking in one ear about wanting to find work and regional businesses talking into the other about needing employees. Something wasn’t connecting. After finding out there was no job far in the region planned, it became obvious what I had to do,” said Lovejoy.

“Things came together rather quickly. Bethel Evangelical Lutheran Church stepped up right away to offer space and many organizations helped market the event and volunteers were abundant,” he added.

Organizers and participants were particularly impressed with the fair’s success especially considering it was designed and implemented independently by just a few volunteers rather than a large civic organization or university. With over 450 jobseekers participating, several employers stated they were able to find quality applicants that day.

“The Manassas Job Fair was a huge success for KO Distilling. We received many quality resumes from potential candidates. More importantly, we were able to meet and talk with people so we could learn more about them and they could hear about our start-up distillery. Definitely a win-win for everyone and proof-positive that Manassas is a good place to do business” said Bill Karlson, KO Distilling, co-Founder and CEO.

Elder Ramos, recruiter for JK Moving Services, said, “we came away with a stack of completed applications, and even conducted some interviews on the spot. We were very pleased with the turnout and the whole process of the job fair.”

“I was glad to be able to talk to several applicants with IT experience,” Abhishek Chaudhry, owner of ITQuo Inc., said. “Having the opportunity to meet so many job seekers in such a short time was invaluable.”

Some employers, such as Harris Teeter and Keller Williams Realty, provided prizes that were given away, and several vendors, such as Michelle Davis-Younger’s The 1 for HR, were on hand to assist applicants with resumes and interview performance.

“I was very happy the fair worked well for both employers and those looking for work. There is a bitter-sweet aspect to it, however, realizing just how many in our area are in need of jobs- from entry level to experienced professionals. There’s no doubt we need more events like this and we’ve already begun planning our next one,” said Lovejoy.

Organizers for the event also Bethel Evangelical Lutheran Church, Home Instead Senior Care, and both Strayer and Stratford universities.

Volunteers clean up Occoquan River

Despite a chilly and windy morning, 128 volunteers came out on foot and by boat to participate in FOTO’s Fall Occoquan River cleanup. 

A big thank you goes out to all the community groups, the Boy Scouts of America, local schools and families with their children who collected 86 bags of trash, 24 bags of recyclables, eight tires, a flat screen TV, blinds, car generator, skate boards, a box spring and mattress, two oil barrels, carpets, foam pieces, large iron rings, pieces of a fence and a door, two crates and assorted pieces of Styrofoam and wooden boards.

Because of their efforts the scenic Occoquan River is relieved of 1.3 tons of trash. A special thanks goes to Duane DeBruyne and the Lake Braddock Crew, Bull Run Rotary Club, Osbourn Eagles from the Manassas City Schools, Interact and CCN, Boy Scout Troop 1369, the Sea Shepherds Conservation Society, American Water, Nestle Company, SEV1Tech, Fairfax Yacht Club, Lions Club, Optimist Club, Trash Trek of Penn Elementary School, Environmental Science students from Woodbridge and Osborn Park High Schools and Lake Ridge Elementary School.

For the younger generation, FOTO’s Helga Perrin demonstrated an environmental display on conservation & stewardship of the environment and the importance of wetlands at the Lake Ridge Marina. Thank you Helga Perrin and thanks also goes to Kimm Barry, Kirstyn Barr Jovanovich, Linda Murray, Sonia Monson and Alex Vanegas for manning the sign-in stations at the four marinas and the Town of Occoquan and the various park managers who provided boats, their time and the disposal of the collected trash.

Culvert replacement to cause detour on Ashton Avenue near Manassas

Beginning Tuesday, October 20, Ashton Avenue will be closed between Crestwood Drive and Lomond Drive for emergency culvert replacement. The work is expected to take about two weeks, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation.

Drivers are asked to avoid the area and take alternate routes to minimize impacts.

Traffic on Ashton Avenue will be detoured via Lomond Drive, Route 234 Business onto Crestwood Drive (see map). Detour signs will be in place to guide motorists.

VDOT signal engineers will monitor traffic and adjust signal timing as needed.

Ashton Avenue carries about 20,000 vehicles per day.

33rd Annual Thanksgiving Art and Craft Show

This year, Northern Virginia Handcrafters Guild (NVHG) 33rd Annual Thanksgiving Art and Craft Show is moving to a new location: the beautifully renovated Spring Hill RECenter, 1239 Spring Hill Rd., McLean, VA 22102.

Formerly held at the Vienna Community Center, the show will feature the original, handmade craft and artwork of approximately 80 local artists and artisans.

The show dates and times are Friday & Saturday, November 27 and 28, from 10am to 5pm, and Sunday, November 29, from 11am to 4pm. Admission is $5 for adults (free for children 12 and under) and includes free return and free parking.

For more information, visit www.nvhg.org. All items for sale – jewelry, woodworking, photography, painting, fiber art, pottery, fused and stained glass, and much more – are juried by the NVHG to ensure the highest quality and variety of handcrafting. This show is an annual favorite for those in search of holiday gifts and unique arts and crafts.

Show attendees will have the opportunity to meet the NVHG artists and artisans, and learn more about their medium and techniques. As always, gift certificates will be awarded during the show to drawing winners.

The NVHG was formed in 1972 as a charitable, organization, whose mission is to promote handmade art and craft in Northern Virginia. The NVHG contributes to the community in many ways, providing educational opportunities for artisans, scholarships to local art students, and ongoing donations to Alternative House and Meals on Wheels.

8th Annual South Run Art and Craft Show

Experience the world of unique and original art and craft created by artisans of the Northern Virginia Handcrafters Guild (NVHG) at the NVHG 8th Annual South Run Art and Craft Show.

This always-popular event will take place at the South Run RECenter, located at 7550 Reservation Drive, Springfield, VA 22153 on Saturday, October 31, 2015 from 9 am to 4 pm and Sunday, November 1st from 10 am to 4 pm.

More than 50 experienced artisans will tempt shoppers with everything from beautiful jewelry to intricate woodworking. Other crafting categories include photography, painting, knitting, glasswork, clothing, dolls, pottery, and more! Juried by the NVHG to ensure the highest quality and variety of handcrafted items, the show is an annual favorite for those searching for holiday gifts and unique art and craft.

Additionally, show attendees will have the opportunity to meet the NVHG artisans and learn more about their artwork and techniques. Gift certificates will be awarded during the show.

Admission is $3, and free for children 12 and under. For more information go to www.NVHG.org. The NVHG was formed in 1972 as a charitable, organization, whose mission is to promote handmade art and craft in Northern Virginia. The NVHG contributes to the community in many ways, providing educational opportunities for artisans, scholarships to local art students, and ongoing donations including art and craft items to Alternative House and Meals on Wheels.

Georgetown South seeks volunteers for community’s ‘biggest event ever’

Georgetown South is hosting its largest ever event. It is a combination Community Clean up, Carnival, Food Fair, Yard Sale and Resource Center.

We are doing this to help the children of a woman named Reyna Torres Alatriste. She has incurable cancer and only six to eight months to live.

She wants to leave something for her children, Yarizel (11), Rebecca (10), Marking (5) and Esther (3) and the proceeds from this event will be their inheritance.

What do we need to make this day a success and make Reyna’s wish come true ? We need you; that is we need you to volunteer to help us that day.

What will I do you might ask? If you help before the event, you may pass out flyers, make some things we need on the day of the event, hang posters all over Manassas. If you help on the day of the event, we want you to be with us as long as you can between 8 am.  and 4 p.m., watching over the Carnival equipment, making and selling cotton candy, Sno Cones and popcorn, face painting, running the Kids’ Games and Activities, soliciting donations for “Reyna’s Children”, giving directions, and just doing what it is that needs to be done.

This is an opportunity to score points on your Loyalty Card, to perform Community Service, and to do what Jesus did which is to perform an act of selfless love for your sister Reyna Torres Alatriste and her children.

Please contact Meg Carroll at mcarroll@georgetownsouth.org or call her at 571-264-3386 to see how you can help.

Oh and by the way, you will have fun, that is a requirement at our events, just think you gain valuable hours as a volunteer that you can put on your college application, or do it for a kind act. T shirts will also be provided to volunteers. 

Check out our FaceBook Event at: Georgetown South: A Community that Cares for Its Own Check out the Go Fund Me Account for Reyna’s Children at the following address https://www.gofundme.com/Reyna-s Children Like “Georgetown South” on Facebook to receive Reyna updates and all the news of your community.

Help needed for annual “Christmas with Mercy” program for poor children

Client families at the House of Mercy have a common prayer this Christmas; that they are restored financially.

In an effort to assist clients move toward this, House of Mercy is again presenting the “Christmas with Mercy” program. In its fifth year, individuals and community organizations are invited to provide gifts for the children of qualified families receiving aid from the House of Mercy (HOM).

Especially in the wake of Pope Francis’ visit and words, we all long for a better world for those who suffer with the economic reality of poverty. Staff and volunteers of HOM are planning the gifting program for more than 500 low income children who are eligible to receive free gifts this year.

Relying upon the kindness of the community, House of Mercy is anticipating a shortfall of gifts this year. Children qualify for gifts based on their parent’s participation in the numerous free classes available at HOM. The classes include Personal Money Management, ESL, Growing Vegetables, Parenting, and faith formation.

Reuter’s financial reporting agency is projecting a weak Christmas season in 2015 , citing people being apprehensive of the fluctuating stock market and fears of the global financial situation. In addition, the escalating military strife around the world is also having a negative impact. “We are really relying on individuals and civic groups to help us provide gifts for almost 300 client families this year,” said Ann Cimini, Executive Director of HOM.

“The economy has had a tremendous negative impact on non-profits,” said Cimini. “Those of us who provide food, clothing and limited financial assistance for families in need have seen a decrease in real and financial donations and an increase in the number of people we serve. According to Feeding America, forty-nine percent of the food insecure living in Prince William County earns too much money at low-paying jobs to be eligible for government assistance. They turn to faith based agencies like House of Mercy for supplemental food and assistance.”

“We love to welcome groups and individuals to help with the annual event. We’ll be using SignUp Genius beginning the week of November 16, so people can sign up online for their volunteer assignment and time. Simply search for “House of Mercy”. Volunteer slots start on Tuesday December 8 and end with the event on Saturday December 12 when our client parents come to the gift distribution,” continued Cimini.

Gifts will be accepted at the HOM Donation Center, located at 8162 Flannery Court, Manassas, beginning November 9. Because client children might be receiving only one gift, HOM requests the gifts to be valued at about $20-$25 range.

For more information about the House of Mercy’s “Christmas with Mercy” program or how to register as a client or to donate financially, email help@houseofmercyva.org or call 703-659-1636. 1 – http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/09/22/us-usa-retail-holidays-idUSKCN0RM2WN20150922

Free ESL, math, and money management classes at House of Mercy

A variety of free classes created to help people learn information crucial to success in the world are available at House of Mercy (HOM).

House of Mercy believes that community usually equals opportunity, so HOM is working to ensure that low income and under resourced residents of the Manassas area have access to classes that can help them succeed.

To help people become active learners, we offer three equally important programs to the community —ESL (English as a Second Language), Math Review, and A Practical Guide to Money Management.

Regularly scheduled free classes and one-on-one tutoring (by appointment) are available at HOM: ESL “Everyday English” – Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, noon to 12:45pm, October and November 2015.

Math Review in English – (perfect for people who want to help their children with Math homework, or as a study review for the Math GED Exam) Tuesdays, 2-3:30pm, October and November 2015.

Practical Guide to Money Management – An interesting AND easy one-time basic class in budget building, and sticking to your plan. As a bonus, registered HOM clients who make a budget by November 1 will be in the first group for Christmas gifts.

Classes are ENGLISH: Mondays 11am to noon; SPANISH: Wednesdays 11am to noon; October and November 2015. Evening Classes: English, Oct. 21, Nov. 4, 18 at 6:00-7:00pm; Spanish, Oct. 14, 28, Nov. 11, 25 at 6:00-7:00pm.

Enroll for classes at our website, www.houseofmercyva.org (complete the Contact form) or call 703-659-1636 to enroll. Class size is limited. For more information about the House of Mercy’s free classes, or how to register as a client, or to donate financially, email help@houseofmercyva.org or call 703-659-1636.

House of Mercy to offer free “Grow Your Vegetable Garden” class

House of Mercy is offering a “Grow Your Garden” class for people who are fed up with the skyrocketing price of fresh produce.

Many people think growing their own food is difficult. But by using a few practical skills, it is possible to plant a garden that helps provide your own fresh vegetables.

The one-time class will be offered on Tuesday, November 17, from 7-9pm Although it may seem odd to attend a class in November about gardening, it is actually the perfect time to begin planning.

“Some people who will benefit from this beginner class are urban gardeners, those people who don’t have a yard, or who have a very small yard. By taking advantage of pots and maximizing outdoor space, with a solid plan people can grow a lot of vegetables,” said Ann Cimini, Executive Director of House of Mercy.

“People who want to plant their huge backyard with veggies will benefit from this class, too,” added Cimini. “Planning is the first step.”

The added benefits for you and your family are that vegetables from your own garden are higher in nutrients than the ones that have traveled hundreds of miles to get to your grocery store. Having children help with the plants can increase the chance that they will eat more of the produce they have helped to grow.

Also, gardening increases physical activity, so it’s a great way to engage the whole family in exercise, and it allows them to take responsibility for the garden. The produce grown in your garden will help promote health, because the vegetables are rich in nutrients, especially in phytochemicals, anti-oxidants, vitamin C, vitamin A and folate.

When signing up for “Grow Your Garden”, you’ll learn how to grow your own produce and keep the crops coming. You’d be surprised how much these savings add up when you choose to roll up your sleeves, and plant the seed.

By holding events that teach practical skills to stretch our dollars further, we can help people survive hard economic times and explain the value of individual decision making. Enroll at our website, www.houseofmercyva.org (complete the Contact form) or call 703-659-1636 to enroll. Class size is limited, and we’re providing dinner.

For more information about the House of Mercy’s “Grow Your Garden” class, or how to register as a client, or to donate financially, email help@houseofmercyva.org or call 703-659-1636.

Trees planted at Coles Elementary as part of Dominion volunteer program

Volunteers planted eight fruit trees at Coles Elementary School in Prince William County.

The volunteers worked on Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015 as part of Dominion Virginia Power’s “Energize the Community” project.

Dominion employee volunteers will take time away from their normal, busy schedules to “Energize Our Community” and help Coles Elementary teachers and students enhance their learning environment by building a learning orchard. The learning orchard will feature a 150-foot long three-foot wide trail made up of compacted rock dust. Employee volunteers will plant eight fruit-bearing trees of the school’s choice at eight learning stations around the trail. At each station will be a bench that the students can use to study and understand the process that each tree undergoes from seed through a mature fruit — ready for harvest. Volunteers will also remove sod and enhance the overall aesthetic environment.

This marks the 16th year for the program.

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Virginia Dominion Power donates van to ACTS

A van was donated to ACTS (Action in the Community Through Service) by Dominion Virginia Power.

The charity took delivery of the 2002 Freightliner MT55 van on Sept. 25, 2015. A manager at ACTS made a request to Dominion Virginia Power for the van.

ACTS is a non-profit organization that provides food and shelter to residents of Prince William, Manassas, and Manassas Park.

McDaniel Auction Center turns 2

Two years later, Bryan McDaniel and the crew at ‘McDaniel Auction Center’ thrive selling antiques, collectables, jewelry and art.

A truck pulls up to the front door of McDaniel Auction Center in Manassas. It’s loaded with an entire household of antique furniture.

Oil paintings are packed in cardboard, the grandfather clock is wrapped tight in a moving pad, and leather chairs are stacked strategically, strapped down tight. For one older couple in Dumfries, the contents in this truck represent most of the acquisitions they’ve made over the last 30 years.

Sadly, they couldn’t take every piece with them when they downsized. So they called the auction.

“We bring in anywhere from 200 to 500 items every week from people downsizing or moving out of the area,” says Bryan McDaniel, the owner and auctioneer. “The thing that makes it interesting is that you never know what’s going to come in next.”

The hundred or so people at the auction every Saturday evening must think the same thing: they stand along the sides of the aisles when all the seats are taken, all for a chance to get a great deal on a silver dollar collection or a fancy Persian rug.

As more of these folks continue to seek smaller living quarters, the need to liquidate furnishings will only continue to grow.

“We’re on the brink of something very large,” says McDaniel, a tone of responsibility in his voice. “Unlike this generation, Boomers are collectors, they have a lot of stuff.”

The McDaniel Auction Center in Manassas is located at 8279 Shoppers Square in Manassas. Its is open every Saturday at 4 p.m.

Heritage Hunt to hold community open house

The public is invited to the home owners Community Open House at Heritage Hunt Golf & Country Club—a community designed for the active adult (55+).

The event is scheduled for Sunday, October 18, 2015, 12:30 – 4:00 p.m. Visitors will be registered at the front gate and directed to the community clubhouse (6901 Arthur Hills Drive, Gainesville, Va. 20155)

The visitors will be given a packet of information about the award-winning Heritage Hunt Golf & Country Club community, including a list of almost 100 clubs and activities to enjoy. Visitors may tour the golf pro-shop, clubhouse, fitness and aquatic center, the secondary clubhouse at the Marsh Mansion.

The visitors who are interested in golf may request a short tour of the golf course.

To visit the community website, go to heritagehunt.net. If you would like more information, please call 703-743-5490 or yfeldman@heritagehunt.net.

New Sheetz open in Manassas

TRITEC Real Estate Company, Inc. is pleased to announce that Sheetz, a growing, family owned convenience retailer has opened a new location in Manassas, Virginia.

Sheetz occupies 2.57 acres on a 10-Acre parcel located at the corner of Sudley Manor Drive and Ashton Ave. TRITEC Real Estate Company and the Merion group jointly purchased and developed the 10-acre site in December of 2012 and obtained a Special Use Permit for the Sheetz drive through and gas pumps.

The remainder of the site has been divided into two additional pad sites of 1.51 and 1.70 acres and a 4.7-acre parcel that is currently under contract to an undisclosed user.

The new Sheetz store, their 509th, is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and offers fresh foods such as Angus beef burgers; premium grilled chicken sandwiches, freshly made salads, French fries, Wisconsin cheese balls, appetizers and more.

The new store also features MTO items which are ready made sandwiches or wraps that make it convenient to just grab and go on the run. The Sheetz Bakery, features donuts, muffins, and gourmet cookies that go along great with signature Sheetz Bros. Coffeez, which is staffed with a trained barista to meet customers’ needs for smoothies, and specialty drinks like mochas, lattes, cappuccinos: hot, frozen, or iced. 

Preceptor Gamma Psi raises funds for American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

The Preceptor Gamma Psi chapter of the Manassas Council in Virginia raised $855 for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP).

The chapter also participated in the AFSP Out of the Darkness Walk in Manassas recently. Their team was the ninth largest fundraiser for the local walk. Along with participants, four chapter sisters and their family members participated in the 3.5-mile walk: Valerie Burke, Kim Howard, Nancy Schneider and Suzanne Seaberg.

“Everyone in our chapter was somehow touched by suicide and some of us more than once. Mental health is still a taboo subject in our culture. We wanted to chisel away at that and walk to honor the memory of family and friends who are no longer alive. Every life matters and every dollar counts,” said Kim Howard, vice president of Preceptor Gamma Psi.

Eighty cents of every dollar raised for AFSP goes toward funding. Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death for adults between the ages of 15 and 64 in the U.S. and the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S.

The Manassas Walk raised more than $35,000 for AFSP.

Stonebridge at Potomac Town Center to hosts pet-friendly event

Stonebridge at Potomac Town Center located at 15151 Potomac Town Pl, Woodbridge, Virginia is pleased to host the PetOberfest Event on Saturday, October 17, 2015 from Noon – 4pm.

All are welcome to attend and enjoy free family and pet friendly activities. All pets in attendance must be leashed.

The PetOberfest is sponsored by NOVADog Magazine, Maple Shade Animal Hospital and Prince William SPCA and will feature activities including: pet rescues and adoptions; pet-related exhibitors, a strolling fashion show, a pet parade, pet contests, children’s entertainment, store discounts, prizes, and much more (full schedule included below).

PetOberfest Entertainment Schedule Main Street, In Front of Orvis

• Noon: Gail Mirabella & The Dynamo Dogs Main Street, In Front of PF Changs

• 12:45pm: Reptiles Alive • 1:30pm: Strolling Fashion Show featuring animals available for adoption

• 3:30pm: Pet Parade & Contests – Must register no later than 3pm at the Information Tent. PetOberfest Main Street Activities, Noon – 4pm

• Prince William SPCA Pet Photos & Mobile Adoption Van • Stonebridge merchant displays

• Pet-oriented exhibitors • Local animal rescues and shelters

• Petting Zoo

• Parakeet Encounter

• Moon Bounce • Balloon Art

• Prizes For complete event information, visit www.sptcpetoberfest.com.

‘Books 4 Babies’ encourages parents to read to their young children

As part of its mission to advance quality early learning initiatives for the region’s young children, Smart Beginnings Greater Prince William (SBGPW) partners with business leaders, health professionals, schools, childcare providers and other community stakeholders to help young children start school healthy and ready to learn.

Early literacy is a key component of school readiness and several programs are currently underway in the region, including “Books 4 Babies” and “Reach Out and Read.” Books 4 Babies, a program of SBGPW, provides many families with their baby’s first book as a way to encourage parents to read to their young children from Day One. Over 1,900 books and other educational materials, such as a bookmark about a baby’s brain development and a wheel describing developmental milestones from birth to age five, have been distributed to newborns at Novant Health Prince William Medical Center since October 2013.

The Books 4 Babies program has been expanded in 2015 to include expectant mothers participating in Centering Pregnancy groups at the Greater Prince William Community Health Center. Reach Out and Read is a program for medical providers to promote early literacy and school readiness in pediatric exam rooms.

Pediatricians read a book to young children during a well-child checkup, integrating children’s books and advice to parents about fostering a love of books and reading from an early age.

“Each child, until the age of five, receives an age-appropriate book at every well-child visit,” said Dr. Anastasia Williams of Olde Towne Pediatrics, which has offices in Manassas and Gainesville. “We encourage parents to talk to their children and also to read, sing and rhyme to them everyday. This will significantly increase the child’s vocabulary and promote healthy brain development, among many other benefits.”

Smart Beginnings Greater Prince William is also participating in a campaign currently running between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day (May 20-June 21) called Smart Beginnings Start with Families: Healthy Children are Ready to Learn. The campaign, which is sponsored by the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation and the American Academy of Pediatrics-Virginia Chapter, focuses on the importance of building a strong foundation for good health in the early years, so that young children will start kindergarten healthy and ready to learn. Parents can download free resources and tip sheets at www.smartbeginnings.org.

“Business leaders, educators, health professionals and other community stakeholders are working together to ensure a healthy start for Virginia’s young children, giving them the best opportunity for school, life and workforce success,” said Kendra Kielbasa, Director of Smart Beginnings Greater Prince William.

For more information about local early learning initiatives, visit www.smartbeginningsgpw.org.

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