The First Lady of Ivy Hill

As the second in a series of articles for Life in the Ivy, I uncovered more about Ivy Hill community during my interview with Ann Hite. Although she wanted to keep her official age off-the-record, she shared stories about Central Virginia dating back to the 1970s.

For these articles, Mary Garner, the publisher uses both my articles and my photography to complete the magazine spread.

Meet Your Neighbor: Ann Hite

Originally published at Life in the Ivy

Ann Hite laughs and smiles generously, especially when she tells stories from her time in Ivy Hills. She treasures those stories from celebrity encounters to world travels to everyday amusements. 

One of Eleven Families

Published in Life in the Ivy

Ann lives in Ivy Hill with husband Jim and son Bill. Her other son, Eppa, lives in California. After getting married, the Hites living in Richmond before moving to the Ivy Hill community.

“My husband was with the telephone company and we were transferred here from Richmond,” Ann explained.

When Ann moved into Ivy Hill, only 11 families were living in the community. In 1974, the three existing streets, Hitching Post Lane, Trading Block Lane, and Quail Ridge Drive, had occupied homes. According to Ann, you could see from Hitching Post Lane across the fairway to miles of rolling hills and woods. 

Soon after joining the community, Ann and others decided to start the Ivy Hill Ladies’ club. Most of the families were new to the area and wanted a way to socialize with their neighbors. 

Ann explained, “Everyone was in charge at one time or another. In fact, every member had to serve on a committee. Somebody’s got to do the work, you know.”

The club puts on several events during the year, including socials. Ann looks back fondly on those past events in Ivy Hill. In particular, she remembers Bob Hope’s appearance. 

Bob Hope Visits “The Gateway”

In September of 1977, Bob Hope supported the Lynchburg Hospital for a fundraiser. Ivy Hill resident, Allen Harvey, hosted Hope during his stay. Before Hope’s arrival, several of the ladies worked on a large sign, made from marigolds with a welcome message. 

“It took all day!” Ann reminisces. “It was like getting ready for the parade of roses.”

During the fundraiser, Ann recollects that Hope’s jokes were written to the setting. During the introduction, Hope joshed, “Hello, I’m glad to be here in Lynchburg — the gateway to Altavista.” 

Also, Hope played in a pro-am portion of the Virginia State Open tournament at Ivy Hill. He loved to golf and even secretly stayed after the event to play the back nine. 

As he was teeing off the 14th hole, Ann watched his ball bounce out of bounds, practically at her feet. She stood there until Hope pulled up and said, “What’s it look like?”

“It’s round, white, and dimpled,” Ann announced with a grin. 

Although Hope was not amused at the time, Ann heard him repeat the phrase later in the day. She laughed, “I thought it was cool that he used my line.”

A Long Walk Enjoyed

If you ask Ann about her golfing style, she’ll tell you she likes to have fun. For her, golf allowed her to meet people and chat. 

Published in Life in the Ivy

Ann never played golf before moving to Ivy Hill. When she first stepped onto the course, she asked the greenskeeper if she could wear sneakers. He told her she could wear anything — except cowboy boots. 

When they weren’t walking the green, the Hite family loved to travel. Sometimes, they would visit their extended family. Often, they would camp their way across the United States, going as far as California in a recreational vehicle. Eventually, their explorations brought them to more exotic locals.  

“We mainly traveled with other couples from Ivy Hill. We all belonged to the same church and played golf together. So, we knew each other well. Every couple of years we’d ask, ‘where do you want to visit?’ to our friends,” recalls Ann. 

Their adventures brought them around the globe to Spain, England, China, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Russia, Scandinavia, and several cruises. Their sons caught the travel bug too. Eppa spent some time in France and Bill lived in Guatemala for a while. As Ann tells it, their family was happy to have an excuse to holiday out of the country. 

Although Ann can’t pick just one favorite destination, she said, “I loved Scotland and the Caribbean is always very refreshing.”

Now, the Hites don’t travel much outside of Virginia. But that doesn’t stop Ann from living a full life. 

You’ll notice she has a lot of energy for someone who wants to keep her age “off the record.” Perhaps Ann’s sense of humor plays a role!

Freedom School Brochure

Compared to the rest of The Listening, Inc. brand, The Freedom School materials are playful. They use a different color palette and the images feature the bright, playful movement of students.

For this brochure, I put the focus on the parent as the target audience. For example, that mother in the centerfold exudes both hope and determination. Also, I edited the text from past versions to add a little clarity and create parallels between the points.

The brochure’s inside and outside back panel are connected by graphic bars of color, that lay in line when the brochure is folded. These also help draw the reader’s eye from panel to panel to review the important program details.

Solar Energy Spotlight

When I first got the assignment for this article, I accepted quickly. The topic was timely, both locally and nationally. While solar power is on the rise, the government was discussing whether to roll back provisions for solar power.

Published in Lynchburg Business Magazine

Shortly after publishing, Trump turned an eye toward taking away the Solar Investment Tax credit.

Later, his tarriffs impacted the industry, partially because the parts that American Solar Panel Manufacturers use to make those panels come from China. In spite of this, the industry has continued to grow both in the U.S. and globally. As a news junkie, I had been following the conversation surrounding the solar energy industry.

I was excited to see what Virginia was doing to prepare workers for that growth.

My article focused on how Central Virginia Community College (CVCC) and Affordable Energy Concepts have created a new program to train students in solar power.

Published in Lynchburg Business Magazine

A Bright Future: CVCC Prepares a Solar Energy Workforce

Central Virginia Community College (CVCC) now offers an Energy Technology program, designed for students who want to work in the electric and energy industries as an entry level technician or solar panel installer. Fitting naturally with other Central Virginia workforce initiatives, the program brings together educators and local businesses to train young people in this rapidly growing industry.

Will Sandidge, Director of Strategic Initiatives at CVCC, explains the program’s inception saying, “The mission of CVCC is to offer the programs that the local community needs—what’s in demand. Whatever program we offer, we research it. We believe this is going to enhance the community and prepare local students for the workforce.”

From the Solar Lab to the Job Site

To create the Energy Technology program curriculum, CVCC partnered with the Center for Energy Workforce Development to make sure the degree aligns perfectly with the industry’s expectations for incoming employees.

Also, the college received a grant from the Virginia Community
College System, funded through Dominion Power, to build their solar lab. Training the local workforce was the main goal, leading CVCC to consult local energy companies.

“One of the advantages we have here is a great working relationship with the local energy companies. They’re very supportive of the college,” explained Sandidge.

Those local companies include: Appalachian Power Company, Affordable Energy Concepts, BWX Technologies, Dominion Power, Areva and TRAX.

Sandidge elaborated, “What we want to do is create a partnership working toward the same goal, which is put out as many technicians as we can. The need is there.”

Published in Lynchburg Business Magazine

One of those partners, Affordable Energy Concepts, installed CVCC’s solar lab and will support one of the core classes, “Photovoltaic Energy Systems.” Alex Haney, Project Manager at Affordable Energy Concepts and Adjunct Professor at CVCC, will expose students to industry fundamentals using the equipment on the rooftop solar lab.

“We installed three different types of solar energy systems as demonstrations,” Haney describes. “We used two different kinds of solar panels: monocrystalline and polycrystalline. We bought extra racking materials. They can take them apart and get practice putting them back together.”

Haney believes the class will prepare students to work with a construction team on solar installations. “In the class, students will learn a lot about how to do a site assessment. Meaning, which side of the roof to put the panels on or where in a field you would put it,” he says.

Upon completion of the program, students will be ready for a certification through the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners.
Although most employers don’t require certification to work on an installation, it will bolster students’ resumes during the job search.

Industry Growth and Employment Opportunities

Currently, energy companies are searching for new employees with an interest in the solar industry and a capacity for installation. Cindy Wallin, Dean of the Science, Math, and Engineering Division at CVCC, wants their students to fill this industry need. She explains, “Any type of program like this is developed in conjunction with an industry partner or partners. That’s the driving force.”

The demand for workers continues to increase. “CVCC believes this is a good time to push energy. We know the industry is calling for a workforce because the current workforce is going to retire over the next five to ten years. They’re going to lose a third to a half of their workers just due to retirement. So, we want to help the industry be ready to meet their workforce needs,” Wallin explains.

In Virginia, solar power has been emerging for several years. “In our service region, almost every one of the counties has a solar farm already or they are in the process of building a solar farm,” Wallin says. “In addition to that, solar energy for residential areas is becoming more popular.”

For students, the CVCC certification can help them get on the job site within one year. “It’s affordable. It’s right here. You can do it full time; you can do it part time,” Wallin explains. “You can go to school and work at the same time because the classes are mostly in the evenings and weekends. And then, you can walk out with the skill set you need for a great entry-level job.”

As far as the ideal student, Wallin says the program is looking for “…someone who is a problem solver, possesses technical ability, works well with customers and enjoys being outside.”

Start Now to Finish Early

For those expressing an early interest in solar energy, high schoolers can inquire about dual enrollment. Some of the classes are approved by the Virginia Department of Education. Then, students can transfer to CVCC and complete the program in one year or less.

As the demand for solar energy continues to grow, so does the need for a capable, trained workforce. CVCC sees their role in the process as a simple one: prepare local students for a bright future in the exciting, expanding energy industry.

About the Program
• Career studies certificate
• Two-semester curriculum
• 24 credits
• Evening and weekend classes
• Financial aid and scholarships available
Source: Central Virginia Community College

Building a Brand Guide for The Listening, Inc.

I built a brand guide for The Listening, Inc. to help their team stay on the same page as they created marketing materials. The document includes details about their brand identity, such as:

  • Logo Specifications
  • Brand Colors
  • Typography
  • Messaging
  • Blog Guidelines

Click on the cover below to view the full document.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is tli-brand-identity-guidelines.jpg
Click to view .pdf

Because I’ve put together many of these guidelines in the past, I encouraged the client to keep this document focused and succinct. Many of the people referencing the guidelines are volunteers who just need to understand the basics of the brand.

This puts all the information in one place for easy access.

Project Background

I became attached to The Listening, Inc. as a volunteer in 2017. At the time, the founder Nick George was looking for some assistance with his email marketing and website. I loved their organization’s mission and decided to support by using my existing marketing skill set. This is part of my pro bono work for the organization.

I worked with Nick to develop the brand guide. We actually put the final document in Canva so that he could update it without using Adobe Suite.

If you liked this…

example brand guide

How to Define Your Brand on One Page

At a minimum, you brand guide should contain several key elements: a logo, colors, fonts, main message, key statement, contact information and a moodboard. When they’re put together on a single sheet, it’s easier to interpret your creative preferences.

A Light and Bright Shop

Camera and tablet in hand, I searched Buchanan to find “The Best Place” for antiques. The clever name belonged to an equally charming store. I followed up my location visit with a long call to the owner — who wasn’t available on the day I found the shop. Her insights into the antique market became the backbone of my piece.

Published in Buchanan Area Guidebook

The Best Place for Antiques in Downtown Buchanan

Whether you’re a collector, junker, picker, or a weekend traveler, your map search results can help you uncover timeless treasures. If your travels take you anywhere near Buchanan, finding the best place for antiques is easy. You just type, “The Best Place Antiques.”

Full of energy that keeps her working into retirement, Diane Di Palma, who along with her husband Joe runs The Best Place Antiques and The Back Door Market, is running a business that aspires to fulfill its name. She’s selective about which items merit a space in her store because she knows that her customers expect quality. With over 30 years of finding treasures among trinkets, Diane still strives to uphold that reputation.

Back in Buchanan

Diane has built The Best Place from a lifelong love of antiquing. As a child, she accompanied her parents to auctions hunting for glass and other treasures. When starting her own family, she re-entered the world of antiques by setting up her own booth selling antique glass and country finds.

“It was something I could do with my young daughter,” Diane explained. 

Moving to Virginia, she opened Eagle’s Wings Antiques in Buchanan. She kept it open for about ten years. Now, with Joe retired, both Di Palmas are in business with The Best Place Antiques. 

For the Love of Local

“I’ve always loved this old building with its high tin ceilings and wood floors. Since it’s right in the center of downtown, it seemed like the perfect spot,” explains Diane. 

The beautiful building is suited to the “two businesses in one” it houses. At Main Street level, you’ll find The Best Place Antiques, with various antique vendors. While they carry a strong variety, they’re best known for glassware, jewelry, primitives and country-style decor. 

The lower level, known as The Back Door Market, offers, “a rather eclectic mix of products, everything from eggs and sunflower seeds to Virginia-made crafts, vintage finds, and gifts.”

Diane and her husband are excited to participate in the revitalized downtown, which often draws tourists off the highway. “There is so much here — right on the edge of the James River and set in the mountains,” says Diane. “I have always been a small town girl. I love living where I can walk to work.”

Visiting her store, you’ll be taken with the beauty, both inside and out. Take a relaxing afternoon at The Best Place to step back in time. 

Pink and Red Sale

I generated materials for a “Pink and Red Sale” for Spearman Artisanry, a boutique in Downtown Lynchburg, VA.

For this project, we discussed the sales concept — a discount on all items that were pink or red. I worked with the owner, Jannett Spearman, to select several items to photograph for the digital campaign.

I photographed the items, arranging them in a flat lay that included her branding. She used these materials on her facebook, website, and email marketing to promote her in-store sale.

Project Background

As a freelance client, I worked with Spearman Artisanry on several sales event marketing campaigns and supplied photography of their new inventory.

A Fair to Remember

The Amherst County Fair will always have a special place in my heart. This article for the Amherst County Guidebook was one of my first projects where I took my son as part of the research.

Before the event, I interviewed several people who planned and coordinated the event. Then, I actually attended the fair. I wrote this piece and added details from that experience.

Local Fair Renews Community Spirit

Originally Published in Amherst County Guidebook

Everyone wants to stand in a place like the Amherst County Fair during the late summer. From the elevated fairground, you can view miles of mountains and feel the rush of wind on your cheeks. The sun is a little too warm, but it’s welcome on your skin.

Here the greens are greener, the blues are bluer and your eyes open a little bit wider.

Maybe that’s why the fair attracted 15,000 visitors, according to fair organizers.

Young and old, families and friends, put down their devices to breathe in a little hometown spirit.

A Fair to Remember

Visiting the Amherst County Fair was an experience that started by bringing visitors back to the days of school field trips. They parked in an open lot at a short distance from the original fairground near Sweet Briar College. Assembling into a cheery line, visitors stepped onto sunny yellow school busses.

From there, the volunteer drivers chauffeured attendees to the front gate.

Again, friendly volunteers greeted everyone, taking their crumpled bills and stamping their hands with a bright blue stamp in the shape of the county.

Inside, visitors were immediately greeted with a meaty smell of barbeque. It was not the only food available, as signs boasted funnel cake, fried pickles and fresh-squeezed lemonade. Barbeque was just the most distinct, local flavor.

To the left of the gate, the sound of dance music attracted people to a small stage with hay bale seating. All of the rows were filled, with many more standing to watch Mike Klee and his Awesome AG Magic Show.

He used a young boy from the audience like a ventriloquist dummy. The boy stood in front while Mike’s hands performed tricks such as pulling scarves out of his sleeves. The audience laughed and gasped along with the boy, enjoying the up-close and personal play on familiar sleights-of-hand.

Continuing in a clockwise manner, that scent of barbeque grew stronger. Food trucks and tents were clustered together to create a foodie’s dream. As Templeton, the rat from the Charlotte’s Web cartoon would say, “A fair is a veritable smorgasbord!”

Nearby, two sounds competed: electric guitars and braying. One was an 80s rock cover band and the other was an assortment of farm animals on display from the local 4-H club. Both were welcome, and appropriate sounds, to serenade visitors as they viewed a gigantic American flag hanging from a tall crane.

As the flag flapped against that backdrop of mountains, a customized LOVE sign drew the eyes. The familiar shape was made from rustic items like a tractor tire for the O and corn stalks for the V.  It was definitely Instagram bait and everyone took a photo in front.

From there, the fair was all fun and games with bounce houses and a Kid’s Zone for the little ones and nostalgic rides, local artisan booths and carnival games for children and adults. The mainstays were there, like bumper cars and a carousel. A giant ferris wheel rounded out the fairscape.

Bringing the Fair Back

None of this could have happened without the support of the community, according to Dean Rodgers, Amherst County Administrator. From the beginning, multiple people and groups joined resources to bring the Amherst County Fair back.

Fair Committee Members (in alphabetical order): Vanessa Angus, Don Austin, Jade Brooks, Sam Bryant, Wayne Burnette, Sara Lu Christian, Alyssa Elliott, John Grieser, Lori Hussein, Taylor Johnson, Jeff Kessler, Cathy Mays, Kelly Mays, Rich Meyer, Dean Rodgers, Anne Richards, Anne Marie Roberts, Dottie Rucker, Karissa Shrader, Karen Tanner, Jeremy Thompson, Stacey Wilkes.

According to Rodgers, the idea began as a way to combine several local events into one community-minded festival. It was over 40 years since the last fair and the county was looking for a way to refresh community pride.

Rodgers explained, “The county staff wanted to show the Board of Supervisors and people of Amherst that we can do really big things, and do it well.  The fact that we had almost 250 volunteers willing to help demonstrates there is a lot of community spirited people who want to contribute.”

Indeed, volunteers and city workers created the backbone of the event under the supervision of Fair Director, Vanessa Angus. Angus explained that the goal was to, “…celebrate our roots in agriculture, showcase our businesses and local talent and bring the community together to celebrate all things Amherst.”

So, she brought together several key groups to ensure success. According to Angus, “The first order of business was to identify the appropriate departments that would be essential to making this a successful event. Those department leads would mostly comprise the 2018 Amherst County Fair Planning Committee. The professional knowledge and input of the Health Department, Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), Amherst County Sheriff’s Office, and Amherst County Public Safety was invaluable to ensuring a safe and logistically well-run event.”

Notably, Captain John Grieser, of the Amherst County Sheriff’s Office, assisted as Logistics Manager for the fair by leading the team in preparing the site, planning the footprint and coordinating traffic, medical and other needs during the event. Grieser worked with several groups including the Amherst County Public Schools staff, Amherst County Building and Grounds, Amherst County Sheriff’s office and the inmate workforce members, Clay Thompson and Brian Drewry. He’s excited for next year saying, “We’re already looking at expanding it. It’s something we can continue to build on for our community. We want more agricultural exhibits, more rides and more to excite families.”

Overall, Rodgers was pleased with Angus and her team’s work saying, “I did all I could to support her as she marshalled the resources and did the heavy organizational lifting. She spent the past year meeting with other fair directors and county administrators, finding and contracting the midway rides company, soliciting sponsors and donors, selling the vendor spaces, finding the entertainers and getting all the logistics into place. It took a lot of people to get that fairground and event ready and she let nothing slip through the cracks.”

To Next Year and Beyond

Part of the fair’s success lies in the insurmountable buzz leading up to the event. In addition to an online presence on multiple websites and social media pages, local newspapers, television stations and radio segments covered the story.

Now, the fair poster, proudly displayed by many local businesses, has become something of a collector’s item.

It’s the first of, hopefully, more Amherst County Fairs to come.

Looking to next year, the Board of Supervisors can see that this year’s (2018) $60,000 investment paid off. The attendance, and boost in community pride, was unexpectedly high.

If it is approved for next year, the team that brought this fair to life can apply the many lessons they learned. These include:

  • Changes to the fairground layout to optimize flow
  • Adjustments to parking and money-handling
  • Reducing the hours on Thursday and Friday afternoon
  • Increasing the number of vendors

With the energy from this event, it wouldn’t be surprising if the community is once again gathering in late summer on that scenic knoll in Amherst, surrounded by family and friends.

Maybe the Hills Grew

Although the Heilmans had recently moved into the townhomes on Ivy Lake, we walked through Lynchburg history. They had lived in the area for several years before they moved away — only to move back.

For me, it was a stressful situation. The COVID-19 shutdown regulations were constantly changing so, I wore a facemask during the interview for everyone’s comfort.

I found the cloth distracting and claustrophobic. Thankfully, the mood didn’t translate into my images from the day.

Meet Your Neighbors: Jerry and Rose Heilman 

Originally Published in Life in the Ivy

Jerry and Rose Heilman have traveled around the world to come back to Ivy Hill. 

Wisconsin natives, Jerry and Rose met in high school and married shortly after graduating. They have four children, six grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren — living throughout the continental United States. 

Jerry jokes, “We lived in 8 states over my 42 year career. We had four children — in 4 different states — but, they just kept finding us!”

Jerry’s career in broadcasting prompted the Heilman’s journey across America, starting in the 1960s.

“My childhood was spent on a dairy farm in Wisconsin and I was just absolutely fascinated with my transistor radio. At bedtime, I would listen to ball games under the covers until my mother told me to turn it off.” 

In his youth, Jerry dreamed of becoming the voice of the Brooklyn Dodgers. After high school, Jerry attended Brown Institute of Broadcasting and Electronics (Brown College) in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Upon completing his degree, he started in small market radio. 

On November 22, 1963, the senior staff members were out to lunch, leaving young Jerry live on the air — alone. Jerry remembers, “I would do what they called rip-and-read. You go to the teletype and give the news between segments.” 

On that day, Jerry saw the news that President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated. 

“I called the news director. He basically told me to get on the air and announce it immediately,” Jerry recollects. “So, I broke that news to my own little radio market.”  

After a few years in radio, he moved into the television market — focusing on sales and management. In 1990, Jerry took a position as the Vice President and General Manager of WSET bringing the Heilman family to Central Virginia.

“We immediately noticed how friendly the people are in Greater Lynchburg. Not that other areas aren’t kind but, Lynchburg is warm and the people are so engaged.” Jerry says. 

The Heilmans moved into Sailview Drive, making Ivy Hill their home for about six years. They look back fondly on that time. 

“I had a wonderful experience with WSET,” Jerry laughs, adding with a smile, “Virginia’s Thirteen!”

“When people would ask me how I liked broadcasting, I would say, ‘…it sure beats working!’” Jerry explains with a smile. 

After WSET, Jerry established a new TV station in Birmingham, Alabama with Allbritton Communications Company. After 42 years in broadcasting, the Heilmans decided to retire in Ocala, Florida.   

“When people would ask me how I liked broadcasting, I would say, ‘…it sure beats working!’” Jerry explains with a smile. 

Around the World

In Ocala, the Heilmans enjoyed the moderate weather and rural landscape. Although Jerry had retired, Rose continues her career as a tour director to this day.

“I can work from anywhere with an airport,” Rose says. She started the profession in 1978, keeping up with the changing travel industry. 

“We used to do bus tours,” Rose recalls. “Now we fly all over the world.” 

One thing that hasn’t changed is Rose’s love for the “City of Lights” — Paris, France. 

“It’s not like New York City — where it feels like a canyon with skyscrapers on each side of the street,” Rose explains. “Paris has wide boulevards and sidewalk cafes that bring a different energy.”

Rose has visited Paris dozens of times, both leading tours and for her own pleasure.

Another French location, Normandy, holds a special place for both Rose and Jerry. They appreciate the connection to the Bedford Boys, as told in the book and memorialized on the beach. Rose notes that the French guides mention the town by name during tours.

Drawn Back to Virginia

Among their adventures, the Heilmans found themselves drawn back to Virginia. 

“We never got those Blue Ridge Mountains out of our system,” Jerry proclaims. “Virginia was by far our favorite state. So, we decided to come back.”

They returned in October 2019 and started renovations on their townhome on Ivy Lake. They moved into the space in February of this year. Currently, they’re updating the exterior and landscaping as the spring weather allows.

“Maybe the hills grew,” Rose laughs. “I find they’re much harder to walk up than 23 years ago!” 

During the past 23 years, they have noticed how much the area has developed. 

“The Kroger and those shops weren’t here,” Rose recalls.

Pointing to the rolling mountains outside their wall of windows, Bob says, “The one thing that didn’t change was the view.”

“Maybe the hills grew,” Rose laughs. “I find they’re much harder to walk up than 23 years ago!” 

The Ivy Hill community is still welcoming as the Heilmans both greet old friends and meet new neighbors. In the past, moving meant starting over. Returning to Ivy Hill was a chance to reconnect.

We’re physically distancing… not social distancing!

It was a new experience for me — calling the day before an interview to see if my subjects wanted to meet. The Coronavirus situation had escalated quickly and I wasn’t certain of the safest way to proceed for the health of my subjects.

The Harveys were glad to meet with me. We maintained physical space while still building rapport. I have a feeling they’re still waving at neighbors and shouting greetings across their lawn to dog walkers today.

Meet Your Neighbors: Bob and Brenda Harvey

Originally Published in Life in the Ivy

During these overcast spring days, the Harvey home feels bright. Stepping outside, Bob and Brenda Harvey laugh at their standard poodle, Coco. She skips happily through the front yard to greet her friend — a chihuahua named Athena. (Their humans remained a responsible 6 feet apart.)

This gloomy weather doesn’t stop their fun — and social distancing hasn’t dampened their spirit.

Standing in the Circle

From their home on Equestrian Ridge Circle, Bob and Brenda have grown deep roots in the local community. Bob and Brenda both find ways to stay involved with the people they love and the passions they pursue.

Brenda was born in Amherst County and grew up in the area. She attended Lynchburg College (now University of Lynchburg) to study education. After college, Brenda taught elementary education for about 30 years until 2002.

“Second-graders haven’t changed that much. They want to do well at that age,” laughs Brenda, “They still like to learn.”

Once a week, Brenda assists her daughter, a second-generation teacher, with her 2nd-grade class at Bedford Elementary School. Brenda explains, “It brings back memories. I enjoy it a lot and I think it helps her.” 

Although some details, like Chromebooks in the classroom, have changed, the kids are the same. “Second-graders haven’t changed that much. They want to do well at that age,” laughs Brenda, “They still like to learn.”

With a similar passion for learning, Bob spent most of his career in science, technology, and mathematics. Bob says. “I’ve had quite an adventure in several different jobs — both corporate and educational. My passions are tied together through an interest in understanding how things work.”

Bob and Brenda have two children, a daughter in Bedford and a son in Boston. They also have two grandchildren from their son. 

Keeping Up with Coco

Coco, is a smart, sweet companion. Her name came from a previous owner because Coco had dark brown fur as a puppy. It’s a standard transition amongst certain poodles to turn light grey — called Café au lait. 

Bob and Brenda repeat, “Adopt, don’t shop,” as they explain the seven-degrees that led them to bring Coco into their family. 

Bob recalls, “We used to ride our motorcycle everywhere. Once we got Coco, we got a Jeep. Now the three of us can ride together.”

Coco loves adventuring in their Jeep — even off-road — following a caravan through the trails alongside the Blue Ridge Parkway. 

Sometimes, those muddy adventures bring Bob to his other passion — amateur radio. He is part of a group that services repeaters along the Blue Ridge mountains. 

They also support community events like serving as relay points for races. Bob has enjoyed seeing the group grow as more people have become interested in ham radio.

That love of sound connects to his musical hobby. Bob has played music since high school. Now, Bob plays bass with his cover band “Off The Cuff.” Bob says, “I play anything rock-and-roll or country.” 

His favorites are dancing tunes, anything 80s, and he’s partial to The Doobie Brothers and Journey. He also enjoys helping bands improve their sound quality.  

A Place for Everyone

“We came to Ivy Hill in 1987. The community was mostly developed except for the circle — where we live now,” recalls Brenda. “We built over here and moved in 2006. It was literally across the way. We could stand on our deck and see the builders working.”

After they first married, the Harvey’s lived in Forest, VA. When they decided to move to Ivy Hill, they found the local landscape was a little barren. Bob remembers, “There was King’s grocery store. That was it.”

“We had a neighbor that said, if you need anything, like even a can of soup, come to me because it’s a long way out,” laughs Brenda. “It’s not that way anymore.”

Even now, Brenda waves to her neighbors shouting, “We’re physically distancing — not socially distancing.” 

Now, they are settled into the thriving community. Bob is the treasurer of the Homeowners Association (HOA) while Brenda helps with The Ladies Association. Brenda also manages the growing Ivy Hill Book Club saying, “We started out with 3 members but, now we have 12.” 

She’s also known as the “Welcome Lady” because she brings a packet to each new family when they move into the neighborhood. 

While this season of life has created barriers, Bob and Brenda are staying connected. They talk to their grandchildren on Skype, send out emails to the HOA and Ladies Association, and sometimes they stretch out Coco’s leash and chat with neighbors from their front yard. 

Even now, Brenda waves to her neighbors shouting, “We’re physically distancing — not socially distancing.” 

5 Tips to Get More Out of Your Marketing Team

“I’m going to stop by,” I say whenever a marketing project stalls. I’ve worked on both sides — as the client and as the marketing team. I’ve worked as a freelancer, for agencies, and on internal marketing teams.

Every time a marketing project stalls, it usually takes a face-to-face meeting to sort things out.


Because we’re people.

Projects don’t stall on their own. They fall into the abyss because of communication issues, personnel problems, or process barriers. Below are the most common areas that project managers need to address.

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