Exploring the Shenandoah National Park


Whether you are a local or a visitor, there is so much to do this summer in the Shenandoah National Park. Just 75 miles outside of Washington, D.C., Shenandoah National Park offers outdoor entertainment for just about everyone. If you live in Central Virginia, I encourage you take advantage of this national treasure right in your back yard.

Discover cascading waterfalls, spectacular vistas, quiet wooded hollows—take a hike, meander along Skyline Drive, or picnic with the family. Learn about the history of the Valley, and learn about the indigenous animals and plants of the Shenandoah National Park.

Take a hike

Shenandoah National Park has over 500 miles of trails, including 101 miles of the Appalachian Trail. Some trails lead to a waterfall or viewpoint; others delve deep into the forest and wilderness. Over 50 types of mammals inhabit the area – keep your eyes open for white-tailed deer, groundhogs, rabbits, and even bobcats.

Skyline Drive

The Skyline Drive runs 105 miles north and south along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Shenandoah National Park and is the only public road through the park. With 75 overlooks, It takes about three hours to travel the entire length of the park.

Wildflower Weekend

May 7th is a weekend of special hikes, walks, and talks designed to feature Shenandoah’s diverse and beautiful wildflowers. Wildflower Weekend celebrates the over 850 flowering plants that thrive in the Shenandoah National Park.

Explore Shenandoah with a Ranger

Ranger-guided programs give visitors the opportunity to explore the wonders of the park with a ranger. Programs are offered in spring, summer, and fall. Discover the many stories of Shenandoah’s past, take a walk through the splendor of a unique mountain meadow, or learn about the many animals and plants that thrive in Shenandoah National Park.

Blackberry Delight

Blackberry Delight is an annual event held at Skyland each July that celebrates the sweet-tart fruit in all its glory. Skyland chefs create amazing dishes (even wine!) with fresh berries picked from open areas along the roads, trails and streams of the national park. The day is full of live music, dancing, Shenandoah storytelling, and kid’s activities.


There are four campgrounds in Shenandoah National Park that are open in the spring, summer, and fall. Reservations are recommended.


Mathews Arm (mile 22.1)

Big Meadows (mile 51.2)

Lewis Mountain (mile 57.5)

Loft Mountain (mile 79.5)

What outdoor activities are you looking forward to?

Providing Shelter in the Storm


The homeless are often overlooked because they are not always visible. One wonderful local organization opens its doors each winter, committed to helping homeless adults in our community find shelter during cold nights. I am proud to say that People and Churches Engaged in Ministry (PACEM) is one of the local groups supported through Win Win for a Cause donations.

At the end of March, PACEM closed their shelters after the 11th winter of providing shelter and compassionate support to 201 people who are homeless in the Charlottesville area.

The idea for PACEM was formed In 2003 during discussions among Charlottesville clergy and homeless advocates. Members of Charlottesville’s Downtown Ministerial Alliance realized they shared the experience of showing up for work in the morning and regularly finding homeless neighbors sleeping in the doorways. The need to provide shelter for individual who could not access existing programs was evident.

The Downtown Ministerial Alliance and Thomas Jefferson Area Coalition for the Homeless (TJACH) joined together to create PACEM.


PACEM opened the doors of its shelters during the winter of 2004. Eleven years later, they continue as a grassroots organization, committed to helping homeless adults find shelter during the cold winter nights.  PACEM has provided more than 73,000 total nights of shelter for homeless individuals in our community.

Want to help?

If you are interested in volunteering your time, you can find information here

The next time you’re shopping on Amazon, please enter through AmazonSmile.  A portion of every purchase you make goes to a non-profit organization of your choice. PACEM is now one of your choices.

If you’re eligible to contribute to the Commonwealth of Virginia Campaign, PACEM’s CVC number is 03345.

                             How do you plan to give back to the community?


Give a Child a Voice and a Chance.


This week I am spotlighting another local organization doing incredible work in the Shenandoah Valley. Piedmont Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), Inc., provides trained volunteers to advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children in our area. I am proud to say that CASA is one of the deserving organizations supported through Win Win for a Cause contributions.


Each year in the Charlottesville / Albemarle region, hundreds of children are victims of violence, sexual abuse and severe neglect. CASA is an organization that trains Court Appointed Special Advocates, who work one-on-one with abused and endangered children to assist the courts in determining the best environment to ensure each child’s safety and well-being. Volunteer court advocates may be the only voice that can truly speak for these children.

Last year, 118 volunteers advocated for over 200 children in 16th Judicial District of Virginia, promoting and supporting safe, permanent and nurturing homes for child victims. Piedmont CASA promotes awareness about child abuse and neglect through community education and outreach.

Piedmont CASA depends on volunteers. Be an advocate for a child in need – your time or donation will help provide the voice that saves a child. Volunteers come from all walks of life – all you need is to be 21 years or older and to have a desire to make a difference in the lives of local children. In addition to advocates, CASA is seeking Office Volunteers to help on an as needed basis.

If you are interested in this type of volunteer opportunity, please contact CASA at volunteer@pcasa.org.

If you buy or sell a home this year, what organization would you like to receive the donation in your name?


Spring Gardening Tips

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Spring is in the air! I am sure many of you are just waiting for the right moment to get your hands dirty and start planning and planting! Whether a berm, a flower bed, or foundation shrubbery, here are some helpful tip for your gardening endeavors.

Remove salt deposits

Combine equal parts white vinegar, rubbing alcohol and water in a spray bottle. Apply the mixture to the pot and scrub with a plastic brush. Let the pot dry before you plant anything in it.

Dirty fingernails no more

Run your fingernails across a bar of soap and you’ll effectively seal the undersides of your nails so dirt can’t collect beneath them. After you have called it a day, use a nailbrush to remove the soap. Easy!

No more broken trimmer lines

To prevent the line on your string trimmer from jamming or breaking, treat with a spray vegetable oil before installing it in the trimmer.

Handy measuring

Turn a long-handled tool into a measuring stick! Lay a long-handled garden tool on the ground, and next to it place a tape measure. Using a permanent marker, write inch and foot marks on the handle. Now, when you need to space plantings, you will have a measuring device at hand.


Unexpected frosts?

Little clay pots provide great protection young plants from sudden, overnight frosts and freezes.

What did I plant?

Write the names of plants on the flat faces of stones of various sizes and place them at or near the base of your plants.

Got aphids?

Wrap a wide strip of tape around your hand, sticky side out, and pat the leaves of plants infested with aphids. Concentrate on the undersides of leaves where they live. Or, you can always blast them with water from the hose or an insecticidal soap.

Down the drain

Using left over cooking water is a great way to add a nutrient boost with the vitamins and minerals left behind after you have boiled pasta, vegetables, or potatoes.

Acid management

Use leftover tea and coffee grounds to acidify the soil of azaleas, rhododendrons, camellias, gardenias and even blueberries. Approximately one-quarter of an inch applied once a month will keep the pH of the soil on the acidic side.


Ward off infections

Watering your plants with chamomile tea will help reduce bacterial and fungal infections that come with springtime. Spraying your plants with a chamomile tea mix a few times a week will help stop your seedling from damping off.

What handy gardening tips do you use?

“The idea of wilderness needs no defense, it only needs defenders.”

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I am proud to say that the Wildlife Center of Virginia is one of the recipients of donated commissions from buyers and sellers I have represented and is a wonderful organization that I am proud to help my clients support.

As those of us who are fortunate enough to live in Central Virginia know, the Shenandoah Valley boasts a rich history and heritage, as well as an amazingly scenic beauty that is home to a diverse animal population. The Wildlife Center of Virginia provides a much-needed healthcare service, often on an emergency basis, to the native wildlife residents.

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Located in Waynesboro, the Wildlife Center of Virginia, an internationally acclaimed teaching and research hospital for wildlife and conservation medicine, has rehabilitated wildlife in the area for over thirty years.

Operating out of a 5,700 square-foot building, the Wildlife Center consists of the veterinary clinic, diagnostics laboratory, operating suite, and radiology room, as well as offices for administration and outreach staff. The Center also has an array of outdoor facilities for non-releasable education animals as well as recovering patients, including large flight pens, a bear enclosure, an aviary, deer fawn pens, and more.

Since 1982, the Center has:

  • Treated more than 65,000 wild animals, representing more than 200 species of native birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians.
  • Shared the lessons learned from these cases with some 1.5 million school-children and adults across Virginia.
  • Trained a corps of wildlife medicine practitioners, including veterinarians, veterinary technicians, and volunteer wildlife rehabilitators.


In 2007, the Wildlife Center received the National Conservation Achievement Award from the National Wildlife Federation as the Conservation Organization of the Year. To see the most recent stories or to donate to this wonderful organization, please visit them at http://wildlifecenter.org/about-center/press-room.

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The Wildlife Center offers many educational programs throughout the year to ‘teach the world to care for wildlife and the environment.’

Would you know how to care for a wild animal in need of emergency help?





Defeating Hunger at Home

foodHunger is a very real problem in Virginia where 11.9% of our citizens struggle to meet basic nutritional needs. A local organization doing important and life-sustaining work  in our area is the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank. 

Founded in Staunton, VA in 1981, the organization works under the belief that ‘hunger is unacceptable; that everyone deserves access to enough food; that food sustains life and nourishes health; and that we are called to serve neighbors in need without judgment.’

The Food Bank is headquartered in Verona, with additional branches in Charlottesville, Winchester, and Lynchburg and serves over 100,000 people in need each month.  The largest organization working to alleviate hunger in western and central Virginia, they serve over 118,000 people in need each month through a network of 208 food pantries, soup kitchens, schools, churches and other nonprofit groups.

I am proud to say that many of my clients have donated their contribution from Win Win for a Cause to this organization. In fact, for each $1 contributed, the Food Bank is able to provide four nutritious meals. In addition to monetary and food donations, volunteers who offer their time play large part in the day to day operations of the Food Bank. Take a look at the many ways you can help.

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In addition to distributing food through community partner agencies, the Food Bank operates the following outreach programs for children, families and seniors:

 Family BackPack Program feeds families and children on weekends and school holidays.

 Kids Cafe™ for afterschool programs serving snacks and meals.

Operation Angel Food for preschoolers.

Summer Food Service Program for children on summer break.

Super Pantry, in partnership with the Virginia Cooperative Extension, to educate families about nutrition and food preparation.

Reaching Elderly and Challenged Households (REACH) for seniors and homebound adults.

Mobile Food Pantry (MFP) provides fresh and nonperishable food delivery in rural areas.

How will you help your neighbors in need?



Making a Difference at Home


I can only speak for myself, but spring (which is right around the corner) inspires such happiness and hope; feelings of renewal and joy. All of us have varying degrees of blessings, be it a roof over our head, an able body, a capable mind, loved ones, the longer days, sprouting gardens, and warm sunshine. I am also reminded not all are so fortunate. For the next several weeks, I will highlight local organizations making tremendous contributions and positive impacts in our communities.

AHIP Celebrates 40 Years

Some of our neighbors find themselves in difficult or unsafe homes due to economics, illness or injury. Thankfully, there is Albemarle Housing Improvement Program (AHIP) serving low to moderate income residents in the City of Charlottesville and Albemarle County.  AHIP is home repair nonprofit based in Charlottesville, VA that “changes lives, saves livelihoods, and makes neighborhoods and our community a better place for everyone”.


For over 40 years, AHIP has answered the calls from local homeowners looking for help; allowing them to preserve their homes, protect their health and safety, and stay safe at home. Their network of crews, subcontractors, and volunteers work year-round in Charlottesville and Albemarle County, helping individuals, young families, working people, retired people, senior citizens, disabled people, and multi-generational households improve their living conditions and their quality of life.

To get the job done, AHIP works with a spectrum of community partners, including local and state government, neighborhood leaders, social services agencies, regional funders, and a wide variety of volunteer groups.

I am thrilled that several of my wonderful clients have donated to AHIP through WIN WIN.  Individual monetary donations are always needed, but you can also contribute in many other valuable ways by volunteering your time and skills, helping AHIP with fundraisers and special events, or simply by spreading the good word about the organization. To volunteer or donate in any way please contact the hard working folks at: http://ahipva.org/a/volunteer .


Donate through March 31st to help AHIP reach its goal of $25,000 to help 10 local families in need of emergency home repairs.

Individuals and corporations can donate through bequests, charitable remainder trusts, charitable lead trusts, and gifts of endowment, gift and pledge agreements, personal property, life insurance, real estate, and corporate matching.

What will you do to make a difference today?