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Pouches' Community Corner

The Safe Harbor Child Advocacy Center

The Safe Harbor Child Advocacy Center works to reduce the trauma that child victims of abuse face by coordinating and strengthening the community response to the abuse. The agency provides a child-friendly program that helps representatives from law enforcement, Child Protective Service, prosecution, victim/witness, medical and mental health to work together to conduct interviews and make team decisions on cases of child abuse. The program provides forensic interviewing services, forensic medical evaluations and exams, victim advocacy and support, specialized mental health services and case management.

The process is started at the moment of first report and followed until the victim and family no longer require services. Safe Harbor provides support in helping these children and nonoffending caregivers by providing case management, on-site specialized trauma therapy and ongoing support, all at no cost to the family.

Since opening May 1, 2009, there has been an increase in the number of children coming to Safe Harbor. As a result of the increased needs, goals for Safe Harbor include moving to a larger facility and growing the programs and services to accommodate the need. Support from the community will assure that the child’s healing process starts at Safe Harbor. For further information on how you can help, visit www.safeharborva.org

Pouches Safe Harbor

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The Foundry

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FredXchange, a non-profit organization that’s about to have its third birthday (March!), is focused on fostering an “entrepreneurial ecosystem” in the Fredericksburg region.  While Fredericksburg isn’t likely to turn into Silicon Valley or Boston or San Francisco anytime soon, FredX wants to keep some of those 55,000 high-technology employees locally each day – because right now they’re all commuting up to NoVA and DC.  We’ve got terrific technology talent in the region – and these are the folks who can dream up and build the next … Twitter, Facebook, Zappos, GoPro, and other highly successful, scalable companies.  This will bring more high-paying jobs to the region – and keep many of our folks closer to home and off I-95.  Better quality of life, anyone?

FredXchange has recently opened The Foundry to bring these types of folks together. The Foundry offers low-cost, shared office space for individuals and small companies looking to connect and collaborate. Centrally located in Fredericksburg less than one minute from I-95, The Foundry offers comfortable seating, a coffee station, high-speed internet, a conference room and a friendly atmosphere. Oh, did we mention that there’s plenty of free parking, too?

Pouches Foundry

Pouches attends a blogging presentation at The Foundry

fred xchange

FredX looks forward to forging the next generation of entrepreneurs and startups in the Fredericksburg region. Stop and think… the greatest startup in the world was founded in Fredericksburg. Yes, the founding fathers of our country gathered in taverns and offices and homes to innovate on government. From this collective energy, the United States of America was launched. At FredXchange’s “clubhouse”­ — The Foundry — we’re hosting the next evolution of business in the region. Come be a part of our community!

www.Foundry.FredXchange.org

To receive more information as it is available, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and we’ll keep you posted! 

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Pouches' Community Corner

Last year, we introduced you to Pouches' Community Corner. Our beloved mascot wanted to find a way to highlight all of the great work being done in the Fredericksburg and surrounding communities while also introducing each organization to you - our readers. Each month spotlighted a different non-profit organization and detailed their work and what you could do to help.

Pouches' Community Corner was able to provide information on organizations dealing with pediatric cancer, feeding the homeless and hungry, healthy eating habits for children, day support programs for adults with intellectual disabilities, and resources for parents and families.

This year we are doing it again! Check back here each month or online to find out more about those in our community who serve and how you can become a part of it!

If your organization is interested in being spotlighted, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Darby's Dancers at Inspire Dance

Darby's Dancers is a dance program for dancers with special needs. There are currently 5 dance studios in 3 states who have Darby's Dancers programs. Inspire Dance in Fredericksburg is one of them. Read on to find out more about the program from Ashley Slemp, owner of Inspire Dance.

Share a bit about yourself.

I began dancing when I was 4 years old when the Junior Woman’s League in my hometown sponsored a dance teacher to come teach in the basement of a local business. It didn’t take long for me to know that dancing would always be a special part of my life.

I graduated from the College of Charleston with a BS in Accounting and Minor in Dance and was fortunate enough to dance with the Robert Ivey Ballet in residence at the College.

I began teaching when my husband was stationed in Okinawa. The Ballet instructor on base was going to be moving back to the US and my neighbors insisted that I take over the classes.

Why did you open a Darby’s Dancers chapter?

I have always believed that the Arts should be accessible to everyone. Everyone should have the opportunity to learn to play an instrument, paint a picture, sing on the stage, dance, or participate in another form of visual or performing arts. In a world of standardized testing, creativity has been pushed to the bottom of the priority list. Dance is one thing I can offer. I want to provide a fun outlet for these children that also gives them an experience that will build their confidence. I want to provide an encouraging environment where the children can move and create. When I read about the mission the Jones’ had, I had to be a part of it. Being able to offer this class has been a blessing. During our class, we give each dancer the opportunity to dance across the floor one at a time. This is my favorite part of the week. Each girl has a smile that extends beyond the walls of our studio when she takes her turn to glide, turn, or leap across the room. Those smiles melt my heart.

Darby Emma Jones (1999-2013) was born to Patrick and Valerie Jones of Huntsville, Alabama. Born with Down syndrome, a heart defect and leukemia, Darby lived a life full of passion, kindness, bravery, optimism, perseverance and loyalty. She never met a person she did not like. She saw no differences in people regardless of their age, race, appearance, or disability. Darby was an avid dancer, musician, reader and writer. She never had a bad day, despite her challenges.

It is the belief of Darby’s parents that it would be Darby’s greatest desire to have children like herself enjoy dancing like she did. Darby’s Dancers was created to carry on Darby’s beautiful legacy and to bring joy to as many children with special needs as possible. Darby’s infectious smile and twinkling eyes are shining down from Heaven as she spreads her seeds of love and joy to all our future stars!

How large is the organization?

Darby’s Dancers began in Minnesota. Valerie’s friend asked to start a dance class in Darby’s memory. Valerie wanted Darby’s spirit and love of dance to continue and this summer she decided to expand Darby’s Dancers nationwide. She traveled to Minnesota, Virginia, North Carolina, and New Jersey to begin new chapters. I was the third studio to join. There are now 5 chapters.

How do families come into contact with you?

Currently, most families hear about us through word of mouth.

What is the process for receiving aid from Darby’s Dancers?

We have an extensive application online. We want to know as much as we can about our dancers so that we can make the 45 minutes they spend with us each week as positive and fun as we can. Once we receive an application, we make sure we have a volunteer coach for the dancer and get them dancing as soon as we can. Download an application here.

What has been the response of the community regarding the program?

The families at Inspire have loved having this program become a part of our dance family. Dancer’s Wardrobe jumped in to sponsor us immediately by donating dancewear for our first 10 participants. We were thrilled at their enthusiasm for the program. In addition, Dancer’s Wardrobe also contacted Capezio on our behalf and the dancewear company ended up donating dancewear for an additional 10 dancers.

It has been heartwarming to see how people and businesses immediately want to help out.

When we began in October, we had more volunteer coaches than we had dancers. The coaches who had not yet been paired with a dancer, continued to come to help out in the class. We have a great little community and look forward to growing in the years to come.

How many families have you helped?

We currently have 6 dancers in our class.

Tell us how volunteers can get involved.

We need adult and teenage volunteers. Adults are needed to help plan events and fundraisers. We have been so fortunate to have received so many donations that we have not even begun fundraising. Funds raised will go toward purchasing dancewear (leotards, tights, & shoes) for each of the participants. We will also use funding to purchase costumes for the dancers to wear in the annual recital in June. We hope to raise enough money to have at least 3 parties per dance year for our dancers and volunteers. Anyone interested in helping to plan and execute fundraisers or plan parties for our dancers can contact the studio to let us know.

Our teen volunteers serve as coaches to the dancers. Each dancer has a personal coach. Coaches come to every class and help the dancer with all the steps taught. Anyone interested in becoming a coach can download an application here
and bring it into the studio, send it in the mail, or email it to the studio.

How can local businesses get involved today?

We would love to see more local businesses become involved. A business can sponsor a dancer for $300 for the dance year. Businesses could also sponsor a party for the class.

Where do you see the program in the next 5 years? 10 years?

It is my hope that we can offer several different class times throughout the week for Darby’s Dancers. I would like to see our dancers have a group that could perform at various local events in Fredericksburg. I believe watching the joy in the faces of these children as they dance should be shared with entire community.

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Strong for Dom

Meet Margaret Beltran, the founder of Strong for Dom.

Share a bit about yourself.

My husband, Harvey and I both grew up in Stafford County. I am a registered nurse in the NICU at Mary Washington Hospital. And Harvey is pursuing a degree in Radiation Therapy. We have three boys, Dominic, Roman and Preston.

Why did you create Strong For Dom Foundation?

At 17months old, Dominic was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a type of childhood cancer. After fighting this disease for five years, we were told there were no more treatment options. Dominic passed away February 7th, 2013. He was just six years old.

The organization was created in his memory to spread awareness and raise funds for childhood cancer research.

How large is the organization?

Our board is made up of 8 volunteers.

Why is awareness for childhood cancer important?

Childhood cancer is important because it is the #1 cause of death by disease in children and adolescents in the U.S. The incidence of childhood cancer is on the rise. On average, 43 children per day or 15,780 children per year are diagnosed with cancer. Despite these startling facts, childhood cancer receives very little funding from the federal government. Less than 4% of the National Cancer Institute's (NCI) budget goes to fund childhood cancer research. Since 1980, only three new drugs have been approved to treat childhood cancer. Many of the survivors will suffer long term side effects of either the cancer or more commonly, the result of its treatment.

No parent wants to be told that there is nothing else that can be done for their child. We lost our son because we had no more treatment options. Through our journey we met some brilliant doctors. We believe the knowledge is there, but the funding is not.

Do you work with any hospitals? If so, how?

Strong For Dom Foundation funds innovative childhood cancer research to develop less toxic therapies. We are currently funding two clinical trials at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. We also do an annual toy drive and give to the Pediatric Oncology Clinic at VCU Hospital.

What has been the response of the community regarding the project?

Family, friends, neighbors and those that knew Dominic are our largest followers. They have donated their time and made contributions to our cause. Southpoint Quality Dental has also been a huge supporter for us as a sponsor, donor and helping us raise awareness.

We are still working on getting our name and mission known to the community. Our biggest obstacle is trying to explain that while we don't fund any clinical trials here locally (because there aren't any), the children with cancer in our community will benefit from the research.

How many families have you helped?

The research that we fund will help countless families in the future.

This year we launched our Super Fun Day program to provide treasured family time to children with cancer in the Fredericksburg region. We were able to give two families a Super Fun Day with season passes to amusement parks for the whole family!

Tell us how volunteers can get involved.

We are happy to have volunteers help us with our fundraising and awareness events. Or host their own!!!

How can local businesses get involved today?

There are sponsorship opportunities for our fundraising events, specifically our Super Hero Dash, a family-friendly fun run we host in the spring. September is a big month for our organization. We are always looking for business partners in the community to help raise awareness for childhood cancer.

Where do you see the project in the next 5 years? 10 years?

In the next 5-10 years, my hope is that our organization wouldn't be needed anymore because there would be a cure for childhood cancer.

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Pouches' Community Corner

This month Pouches poked her head into an exciting new program for teens interested in law enforcement.

pouches explorers

The long running Spotsylvania Sheriff’s cadet program has reorganized as a Boy Scout Explorer troop, said Sgt. Blackington, who took over the program in February 2017.

Read more...