Community Partners
Welcome to United Way’s blog!

Welcome to United Way’s blog!

Partner Spotlight: Virginia Beach Field House

By Suzanne Higgs

VB Field HouseAs you drive down Landstown Road in Virginia Beach to reach the Sports Complex, you can’t help but be impressed by the magnitude that is the Virginia Beach Field House. When you walk through the doors you’re immediately greeted by a friendly front desk - that is if you can even manage to say “Hello” as you look around at the surrounding volley ball courts and soccer fields.

On Friday, April 8, 2011 the entire United Way of South Hampton Roads staff enjoyed a day of team building, improved interdepartmental communication, and had some fun; all thanks to the Virginia Beach Field House.

The Virginia Beach Field House generously donated the use of their huge, two floor, sports complex that allowed us enough flexibility to not only host a team focused relay that took up a soccer field, but also allowed for smaller meeting to be held in activity rooms for group communication exercises.

The lounge outside of the Blue Moon Grille & Restaurant was the perfect gathering place for our breakfast and lunch, departmental reports, and a place to convene in between activities. The Grille itself has an amazing menu with a variety of choices that could compete with anything off of the main roads, but at a good price.

Jed Sherman and his staff were very helpful, friendly and easy to work with before the event and throughout the day.

United Way of South Hampton Roads personally recommends the Virginia Beach Field House for corporate retreats, athletic events and just as a great place over all.

Thank you to for LIVING UNITED.

"A Special Place for Special Children"

By: Suzanne Higgs

St. Mary’s truly is a home. When you walk in you feel warmth, and welcome. St. Mary’s Home for Disabled Children is unique organization providing long term pediatric residential care facility that exclusively serves children with severe physical and intellectual disabilities.

Filled with colorful hallways, art projects, and learning St. Mary’s offers a unique experience to any visitor, and they love to give tours. The center features four “neighborhoods” for students that includes a nursing station and classrooms, interior courtyards and a playground with adaptive play equipment, private family rooms, skylights and other features that make it unbelievable.

Earlier this summer I had the opportunity to visit with Regent University during their campaign but we had come when there weren’t many children because summer school had just ended and the regular school year was about to begin. Wanting to really see what St. Mary’s did I went back a few weeks ago when classes were in session.

It was well worth the trip to see the compassion, patience, and love that teachers and staff have with the students. To be a part of one day, one hour will stay with you long after you leave St. Mary’s.

If you would like to visit this one of a kind, state of the art home you can contact United Way of South Hampton Roads or St. Mary’s website.

American Red Cross of Southeastern Virginia

By: Brent Tietjen

When I hear about the Red Cross, the first thing that comes to mind is donating blood. Although running blood drives are a high priority for the Red Cross, I didn’t realize all the other areas in our community that the Red Cross impacts.

In addition to blood collection, the American Red Cross of Southeastern Virginia provides disaster services, both locally and nationally, health and safety education throughout the community, services to the Armed Forces, and a Dental Clinic.

With the winter weather in full effect, one of the biggest emergencies that the Red Cross sees in our community are residential fires. A close friend lost her house because of a fire and I saw the devastation that house fires can cause. Fires take away the things that are often taken for granted, like shelter, clothing and food. In addition to losing the necessities, fires can destroy pictures, souvenirs and other sentimental items in a matter of minutes.

Nothing can replace memories but the Red Cross can provide food, clothing and shelter to those who recovering devastating house fire. Those in need are no longer strangers. They are our friends and neighbors, our coworkers and family.

With classes on health and safety topics such as CPR, First Aid, and Disaster Response, the Red Cross is also the leader in ensuring prevention of emergencies in our South Hampton Roads. Check out their simple fire safety tips that only take a few minutes to follow but can save lives and memories.

The American Red Cross of Southeastern Virginia is critical in our community and their work extends far beyond blood collection. To learn more about their organization and all that they do for our community, visit their website. A simple $20 donation can help the American Red Cross provide a warm meal to a family of four. Learn how you can help today.

Visit to Samaritan House

"A Door to Hope, Healing, and Change"

We don’t like to talk about domestic violence (DV), we don’t like to think of bruises, broken ribs, or mental torment. But for some in South Hampton Roads, men and women, it’s a reality.

DV involves power and control over one partner in a relationship. It can include coercion & threats, using intimidation, emotional abuse, isolation, minimizing, and blaming among others. It can be emotional, verbal, physical, sexual, psychological, and even include leveraging things like pets or property.

Thankfully, there are agencies like Samaritan House that provide emergency shelter, aftercare programs for children, transitional housing, children’s programs, and a victim advocacy program to help with legal issues.

Did you know that it takes someone 7-12 times to actually leave? For those that are having difficulty, they even offer “safety planning” to help victims get out.

They also offer educational and outreach programs  because “knowing is important.” They offer programs that teach about DV and Homelessness where they try and clarify myths and stereotypes and “Teen Dating Violence and Healthy Relationships”. Everyone should know the warning signs for flags no matter if you are male or female.

In a community as large as South Hampton Roads, it’s chilling to know that 1 in 4 women have been effected in someway by DV. One of the biggest challenges we face is the “Not Me” thinking.

The best part about Samaritan House aside for the services they offer is support, turning the “not me” into “I”m not alone and there is a way out”.

There are many different volunteer opportunities at Samaritan House visit their website to learn more.

Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast

Much More than Cookies

I’ve always wished I had joined the Girl Scouts…and after visiting the Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast, I definitely regret not doing so.

Much more than cookies and badges (all though a big part), Girl Scouts are so much more. Girls are challenged and encouraged at all age levels to reach for and achieve their best.

More than 16,000 girls are apart of the Colonial Coast, which is 1,500 troops and groups. Volunteers serve more grades K-12 in a 27,000 square mile area of southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina.

With so many activities and programs all year round-there is truly something for every type of girl at any age! From trips to Europe, learning CPR, canoeing to music.

One unique feature at their corporate location is the “Outback”, a nature preserve behind their main building. Here the girls experience many of their programs and even earn badges. There’s even a lookout and fitness trail.

They say, “It’s your world, change it.” These Girl Scouts definitely have every opportunity to make a difference in many different ways.

To learn more about the programs and other wonderful activities they have click here.

Girls Inc.

Inspiring All Girls to be Strong, Smart, and Bold.

"Picture the world through the eyes of a Girls Inc. girl. She belongs to a community that empowers her to pursue the biggest dreams she can dream. She is uplifted by the strength of a national organization that is committed to inspiring the leaders of tomorrow.”

Girls Inc. in Portsmouth is specifically designed to meed the needs and interests of at risk girls (and boys till 12) in the community. But from the looks of the happy faces and confidence there is no ‘at risk’, just kids learning to be strong, smart, and bold.

Through programs they try and reach out to girls to educate them on the options they have, and that being successful is attainable, and they can beat their circumstances.

A few of the programs include focusing on preventing adolescent pregnancy, economic literacy, and media literacy.

Preventing pregnancy empowers girls to discover responsible behavior and positive decision making. Economic literacy teaches skills and self confidence to learn how to contribute to the economy, how to budget, save and make informed financial decisions. Media literacy is aimed at shedding light on magazine and self-image marketing campaigns to increase confidence and overcome gender stereotypes.

They even offer Saturdays so girls have a place to go all week long to be engaged in a positive environment.