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2019 Claude Hess Distinguished Service Award Recipients Named

April 19, 2019

Congratulations to Carolyn Nowlin and the late Pres Nowlin, recipients of this year's Claude Hess Distinguished Service Award. This couple was nominated by five different VMRC employees from five different areas of campus so it's evident that their impact on the VMRC community stretches across the entire campus.

As one nomination form read, "This couple certainly has service in their nature, if not in their genes. These volunteers reach out to others in a way that doesn’t make one feel like they are doing “for” you, but instead, are doing “with” you. They serve others regardless of age, status, ethnicity or other labels frequently attributed to “others”.

This couple's volunteer endeavors have included helping escort residents in wheelchairs to and from on and off campus programs, volunteering as a Grandbig at Waterman Elementary, helping in the Main Street Cafè as a Hospitality Host, serving on resident councils, supporting the VMRC Christmas gift fund, assisting with VMRC Foundation fundraising initiatives and escorting residents to and from Shining Cuts salon appointments.

Thank you for giving of your time and talents and touching so many lives at VMRC.

Meet the VMRC Supportive Living Social Services Team

March 18, 2019

The month of March is designated as National Social Work Month. Social work is defined as “work carried out by trained personnel with the aim of alleviating the conditions of those in need of help or welfare. VMRC is privileged to have a dedicated Supportive Living Social Services team. On any given day, you can find this team helping residents and families navigate being part of the VMRC community. Their work days include leading care and service plan meetings, coordinating move ins and move outs, planning discharges to help patients and families feel as prepared as possible to leave short term rehab and working with families to understand Medicare, insurance, appointments, and payments.

 Pictured L to R: Karen Mitchell, Mandy Slabaugh, Heath Hensley, Monica Rhodes, Megan Robertson

Karen Mitchell, Social Services Manager, Assisted Living

Karen has worked at VMRC for eight years. When asked what her typical day is like, Karen says “ a typical day for me involves following up and assisting residents and families, keeping service plans up-to-date, and assisting to coordinate the move in and move out processes for residents.”

Mandy Slaubaugh, Social Services Manager, Complete Living Care

Mandy will celebrate her five year anniversary at VMRC in April. When asked what her proudest moment has been thus far, she says “Working together to find creative solutions to a big problem.”

Heath Hensley, Social Services Assistant, AL and CLC

Heath recently graduated from James Madison University with a degree in Healthcare Administration and has worked at VMRC for about 16 months. One of the requirements of Heath’s degree program was an internship which he completed here at VMRC. Retaining Heath as an employee after his internship has been mutually exciting for the SL team and Heath.

Monica Rhodes, Patient Navigator, Transitional Care

Monica has worked at VMRC for more than 14 years. When asked what she would like people to know about her position, she said “I love that my coworkers have truly become like family. Who we work alongside of makes such a difference and I’m incredibly thankful to work with friends who enjoy having fun and also believe in working hard towards a common goal.”

Megan Robertson, Student Intern

Megan is a Mary Baldwin University intern working with Karen Mitchell. We are grateful to have Megan and appreciate her many daily contributions.

The VMRC Supportive Living Social Services team contributes significantly to VMRC being a community of hope, meaning and growth for people to age well, live fully!

Women's Caregiver Event Offers Support

February 20, 2019

Are you or someone you know a caregiver to a loved one? If so, you’re one of 43.5 million caregivers in the United States. And, if you’re female, you make up 75 percent of caregivers who are taking care of aging parents, children or their partners/spouses.

This year’s theme for Women in Focus will be on female caregivers: “Take Care: Stories, Songs & Prose for Caretakers.” The Arts Council of the Valley and Court Square Theater are presenting Women in Focus 2019 on Sunday, March 24 at Court Square Theater in downtown Harrisonburg. VMRC is the sponsoring organization because it believes strongly in the focus - to nurture, support and encourage female caregivers. Doors open at 2 p.m.; the program begins at 2:30 p.m.

Emily Young, VMRC’s Volunteer Services manager, will speak about “Self-care, Service and Survival” by sharing reflections on how incorporating meaningful service into your caregiving rhythm can positively impact many aspects of your own well-being.

“The last thing a busy, tired, burned out caregiver needs is another thing to do. But, as it relates to self-care, purposeful and personalized volunteerism might be just what the doctor ordered,” Emily said.

Presenters at the event will focus on the often overlooked side of caregiving: the needs of the caregiver and discuss preventative screenings for physical well-being as well as how to maintain mental health during difficult times.

Learn more about Women in Focus 2019 at valleyarts.org.


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.


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“To be a participant in the Village has given me less stress in property maintenance and upkeep plus the bonus of more time to travel and offer some time in volunteer adventures.”

- Harley Showalter