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Resolution to Succeed

January 30, 2019

The start of a new year is synonymous with new goals – goals to eat better, goals to exercise more, and goals to treat our bodies better. As we settle into the year, however, it’s easy to let those goals fall by the wayside and stick with the same routine we’ve always had.


VMRC is privileged to have a vibrant and enthusiastic Wellness Center team who thrive on helping you achieve the goals you set for yourself. From one-on-one training to fitness classes to programs on brain health, healthy eating and living well with chronic conditions, the Wellness Center is a vast resource. Use it!

Meet the Wellness Center Team

Pictured from L to R:
(Back Row) Tori Mayes, Jessica Weirich, Anna Sommers
(Front Row) Brittany Williams, Melinda Noland.
Not pictured is Mario Estevez who was busy with a wellness center member at the time this photo was taken

Melinda Noland - Director, Wellness Center
Melinda has been in the role of Wellness Center Director for more than 4 years.  She has been in the Wellness/Fitness industry for over 15 years and in the healthcare programming field since graduating from JMU in 2001.  Melinda is a certified Group Fitness Instructor and regularly teaches classes on land and in the water.  Her energy is contagious making her a great fit for motivating others.  In Melinda’s spare time, she enjoys taking yoga classes, spending time exercising outside with her dogs (Howie and Maverick) and her husband Aaron, and she loves exploring new dining destinations in the Valley.     

Jessica Weirich - Manager, Wellness Center
Jessica’s passion for health and wellness began at a young age.  Raised in the Valley, she loved playing outside and being active.  Growing up, she played numerous sports and was a student trainer for the ladies tennis team during her senior year of high school. Believing that helping people become healthier and active was her drive in life, Jessica pursued a degree in Health Assessment and Promotion at James Madison University with a minor in Nutrition. After college, she became a certified personal trainer and worked as an Assistant Manager at a local gym in the area for 4 ½ years. About a year ago, through some amazing people, she was first informed about a position open here at VMRC Wellness Center. Jessica says “I couldn’t be more thankful for everyone here; the relationships give my heart so much joy!  I am able to promote health and wellness to residents and community members and give them the resources they need to age well and live fully!”

Mario Estevez, Aquatics Supervisor
Originally from El Salvador, Mario has worked at VMRC for 17 years and currently serves as the Aquatics Supervisor. Mario says he enjoys VMRC and his job because he is able to make others feel good by listening and helping members and residents. Mario is the father of two sons and a daughter and the grandfather of 4. He and his fiancé have one four-legged son, Max.

Tori Mayes, Fitness Assistant
Tori is a recent graduate of George Mason University with a degree in Kinesiology. Prior to the Wellness Center, she worked in a hospital-based rehab and fitness facility in Woodstock, VA. While there, she grew to love fitness for the older population, ultimately leading her to VMRC. Tori grew up in Shenandoah, VA and enjoys spending time with family and friends exploring the valley, going antiquing and on adventures with her blue heeler, Bella.

Anna Sommers, Fitness Assistant
Anna was born and raised in the Shenandoah Valley and graduated from Liberty University with a Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology in May 2018. While in college, she coached middle school volleyball and basketball. Anna describes herself as having a “heart for people and lifetime fitness.” She enjoys exploring the outdoors and has a bucket list goal of hiking all of the trails in Virginia. 

Brittany Williams, Fitness Assistant
Brittany is a graduate of nearby Eastern Mennonite University with an undergrad degree in Recreational Leadership and Sport Studies, and minors in Coaching, Exercise Science, and Psychology. While at EMU, she participated in several clubs/ organizations, helped with the campus’ Campus Ministries and ran track all four years. In her free time, she enjoys coaching high school competition and sideline cheerleading, catching up on Netflix shows and attempting to recreate ideas found on Pinterest.

If you aren’t yet a member of the Wellness Center, see what it’s all about with a one-week free trial membership. And, take advantage of special February savings with 50% off the enrollment fee.





Tribute Concert Remembers Rock 'N' Roll Roots

January 28, 2019

Music and memories go hand in hand. That’s because music is associated with so many significant moments in our lives – weddings, birthdays, current events. Many of us can recall lyrics to songs from our pasts – songs we haven’t heard in years.

This influence of music is one reason VMRC is bringing live entertainment to the Shenandoah Valley.

VMRC is pleased to sponsor in conjunction with the Arts Council of the Valley “Rock ‘N’ Roll Remembered” – a tribute show featuring Little Walter & the Convictions at Court Square Theater, 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 9.

The show marks the 60th anniversary of “the day the music died” when rock stars Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson were killed in a plane crash February 3, 1959. The date has been immortalized as “The Day the Music Died” in Don McLean’s 1971 hit song “American Pie.”

Staunton-based Little Walter & the Convictions is known for their renditions of classic rock ‘n’ roll tunes, and they will be performing the greatest hits of these music legends at the show.

Tickets for the concert are $12 in advance and $15 at the door. They can be purchased at valleyarts.org.

The concert sponsorship is part of VMRC’s partnership with the Arts Council of the Valley. Known for its Park Gables Gallery art exhibit space, VMRC has become a regular sponsor of concerts at Court Square Theater in the last year.


3 Steps to Minimizing Holiday Stress and Preventing Weight Gain This Holiday Season

November 16, 2018

By Lauren Beach, MSEd, RDN

Pumpkin pie, fried oysters, green bean casserole -- they taste so good and everyone loves to indulge during the holidays. Unfortunately, there is a price to pay for indulgence which you will see the next time you step on the scale.

How can you enjoy the holidays and still be mindful of your health? 

  1. Exercise! Stay active this holiday season. Set a goal to reach 6,000 steps or 10,000 steps a day or something even more challenging. Then make it happen.  When shopping, park away from the crowds in a spot farther away from the store or schedule a time every day to be active.

  2. Sleep! Schedule in enough time to sleep so you can wake up in the morning feeling rested and ready to take on all your holiday plans. Avoid alcohol, caffeine, exercise and light emitting screens (your cell or tablet) for a few hours before going to sleep. Are your worries keeping you up at night? Try to journal or write a to-do list to accomplish the next day.

  3. Enjoy! Does Auntie Judith make your favorite bread pudding? Then enjoy a tablespoon or two. Does Grandma Betsy make the most delicious eggnog? Then take a sip of your partner’s, enjoy your sip and then make a conscious decision to fuel your body with foods that will provide lasting energy and not an afternoon crash.  Bring a fruit or vegetable platter to the party so while everyone is filling up with pecan pie and sugar cookies you can fill up on nutritious fruits and vegetables with fiber to keep you full longer and provide energy for a brisk walk after the party.

You can do this! You can make it through the holiday season feeling energized, healthy and well rested.

Inspiring Wellness Through Active Aging

September 19, 2018

Each September, the VMRC Wellness Center participates in Active Aging Week, a national event hosted by the International Council on Active Aging. The week showcases the capabilities of older adults and celebrates the positivity of aging.  This year’s theme, “Inspiring Wellness” is all about promoting experiences that help seniors discover new possibilities and avenues for inspiration.

Not only do those who participate in wellness programs find inspiration, they inspire others. Melinda Noland, director of the VMRC Wellness Center, says, “Our current members inspire me and those around them each and every day to make exercise, movement and their personal health a priority. They are dedicated, determined and focused. Members speak of the direct benefits of their dedication like energy, strength and range of motion and the indirect benefits such as friends, relationships and change of environment.  They do not take any of the benefits for granted and don’t shy away from the work that needs to be put in to receive the benefit!"

Active Aging Week runs from September 24-29 and includes the following events:

  • Monday, September 24: Gentle Stretch Class, 9:30-10:00 a.m.
  • Monday, September 24: Living Well with Chronic Pain Information Session, 11:00 a.m.
  • Tuesday, September 25: Tai Chi, 10:00 a.m.
  • Wednesday, September 26: Creating Healthy Nutrition Habits, 10:00 a.m.
  • Thursday, September 27: Fall Prevention for Aging Well, 9:30 a.m.
  • Friday, September 28: VolleyBall Pool Party, 11:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Active Aging Week would not be possible without the support of our sponsor, Everence. Everence is a faith-based, member-owned, financial services organization supporting the Harrisonburg community.

To learn more about Active Aging Week, visit www.activeagingweek.com

Join the Wellness Center or Refer a Friend:

If you’re not yet a Wellness Center member, September is a great time to join. New members receive a FREE week trial, 50% off their enrollment fee and a FREE t-shirt (while they last). Existing Members who refer a friend are entered into a drawing to win $50 in Downtown Dollars. Downtown Dollars can be used at a number of business and restaurants in Downtown Harrisonburg.

The VMRC Wellness Center is open to community members who are 50+.

Meet VMRC's New Director of Assisted Living, Kristin Trask

August 17, 2018

Kristin Trask recently joined VMRC as the Director of Assisted Living. She brings ample experience and a passion for the senior community to the role. Read on to learn more about Kristin and what she does at VMRC. 

What drew you to VMRC?

I have always wanted to work in a CCRC and had heard many great things about VMRC. My husband’s grandmother was also a resident here for many years in the independent setting. I remember visiting her and hearing her say that some of her best years were while she lived at VMRC.  When I took a long term class in college and we visited a CCRC, I was amazed. It was always my goal to one day work in this type of setting. I always wanted to be a part of something that truly made a difference and I feel that is what we do here at VMRC.

What does a typical day look like in your role?

There are no typical days as an Administrator because sometimes things change from minute to minute! I would say that in this role there is a lot of opportunity to problem solve. My days also usually include a lot of interaction with not only Crestwood residents and staff but all over campus.

What are your top priorities for the next six months in Assisted Living?

My main focus has been to make procedures more consistent throughout Crestwood. I would also like to see Crestwood use more technology based systems such as electronic medication records for staff. I would also like to see technology implemented through the use of iPads for residents as well.

What are you most excited about for the future of VMRC?

I think it is amazing to work somewhere where there is always a clear vision. I am excited to come to work every day because I know that the changes we are making directly impact residents and staff positively.

Now, a fun question. If you weren’t working in this field, what would your dream career be?

I think my dream career would have to be something with event planning! I think I would enjoy every aspect of that. I also enjoy cooking so maybe some type of wedding planner/caterer.

About Kristin:

Kristin grew up in the Staunton area and attended Mary Baldwin College where she was recruited to play on the volleyball team. Initially planning to be a nurse, she found that MBC did not offer a nursing program at the time and majored in the Healthcare Administration program instead. During this time, she realized that her true passion was working with the senior population. Kristin was hired by American Retirement Homes shortly after graduation where she was given many opportunities to grow within the company. Starting as Administrator, she was promoted after 2.5 years to a Corporate Administrator and began overseeing 6 assisted living communities throughout Virginia. In addition, she helped train new administrators and assisted them in obtaining their licensure. After 5 years with American Retirement Homes, Kristin accepted a position as an Administrator with Birch Gardens Assisted Living in Fishersville and worked there for 4.5 years before coming to VMRC.

Kristin is married and has a 3 year old son named Easton. In her free time, she enjoys being outdoors with her family watching her husband and son play golf and hiking with their dogs.

Welcome to VMRC, Kristin! We are happy to have you!




Understand, Prevent and Treat Dizziness

July 12, 2018

At some point in our lives, most of us will experience dizziness. Such episodes can last for varying durations and have many different acute or chronic causes. But being dizzy is not a normal part of aging and can quickly become a safety issue, especially among older adults who are more prone to accidental injury and death when they fall. Dizziness may also indicate a range of underlying problems, so it’s important to seek a correct medical diagnosis and treatment.

What is Dizziness?

The term dizziness can mean different things to different people. Dr. Jonathan D. Shenk, Founder of Valley Family & Elder Care, defines the symptoms of dizziness below. Sufferers may experience one or more symptoms:

  • Vertigo
  • Feeling faint
  • Unsteadiness
  • Room spinning
  • Loss of balance
  • Visual disturbances
  • Sick to stomach
  • Heart palpitations
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Low blood pressure

Many people are confused about the terms dizziness and vertigo. “Vertigo is the feeling that you or the environment around you is moving when it’s not,” says Dr. Shenk. “It’s a sensation of movement when you’re not actually moving. It can be a feeling of swaying, rocking, spinning or tilting. It’s a symptom of dizziness and not a diagnosis in itself.”

What to do if you feel dizzy

“If you experience vertigo specifically or dizziness generally, stop moving and focus your gaze on something,” suggests Rosemary Good, Physical Therapist for Vertigo and Dizziness at VMRC. “If you are standing, hold on to something, then sit down or lie down so that you reduce your risk of falling while the episode is occuring.” Moving slowly when changing positions also helps minimize symptoms of dizziness because it allows your blood pressure to adjust more gradually. If you experience chronic dizziness, consider consistently using assistive devices to reduce the risk of falling, and be sure to get checked by your physician.

Causes of dizziness

Dizziness can be caused by something as simple and straightforward to fix as dehydration or as serious as a defective heart valve. Other causes are an arrhythmia, hyperventilation, orthostatic hypotension, stress tension fatigue, vasovagal syndrome, vestibular dysfunction, inner ear infection, Meniere’s disease, cervical spinal issues, stroke, tumor and disruption of blood flow. Dizziness is a common side effect of many medications or combinations of medications.

Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (or BPPV) is the most common cause of vertigo. It comes in sudden, brief spells, but fortunately is not life-threatening. It’s triggered by certain head positions or movements, but can commonly be addressed through physical therapy.

Your inner ear is always sending messages to your brain about the position of your head and neck in space, telling you where you are in relation to the earth. The vestibular system in each of your ears is about the size of a dime and is composed of three semicircular canals connected to the utricle and the saccule in the center. The movement of calcium carbonate crystals in the utricle and saccule detects linear acceleration, and movement of the fluid in the semicircular canals detects angular and rotational movement. But sometimes the calcium crystals migrate away from the normal position and float into the semicircular canals, sending inaccurate info that does not match the other ear, thus causing BPPV.


Dizziness frequently can be treated by physical therapy and head maneuvers. Reduced stress, healthier eating and staying hydrated are other ways to reduce or cure some causes of dizziness.

If your doctor prescribes physical therapy, your therapist will ask you about your dizziness episodes and what triggers them. You may be subject to balance tests, gait tests and coordination tests such as blood pressure checks in different positions and tracking your eye movements. Your therapist may treat you with habituation exercises known as Cawthorne-Cooksey; teach you self-repositioning techniques; suggest strengthening, postural, proprioception and range of motion exercises; or direct you to do balance and vestibular training with eyes open and closed while on variable surfaces.

Practicing simple activities such as walking with head turns, walking at variable speeds, walking while reading, walking around obstacles, navigating inclines and steps and walking in low light or with eyes closed can also have a positive effect on reducing the frequency of episodes of dizziness.


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“For us, volunteering gives us the opportunity to meet people from all areas of the VMRC campus and has broadened our perspective and understanding of the community we now call ‘home’.”

- Carter and Mary Ellen Lyons