Inspiration Comes in Many Forms
BOOMER Publisher Paul Hinski discusses his recent trip to St. Joseph's Villa and realization that inspiration can be found anywhere.
Recently I spent time touring the campus of St. Joseph’s Villa on Brook Road in Richmond. I was inspired by how, right in our own backyard, children with special needs have a place to grow and develop. I could see this in the garden area designed to have the children grow their own food and in the tranquility of a soon-to-be-completed rock waterfall area. As a father of three, it is touching to see the care given to so many children who need a little extra. St. Joseph’s also has programs and services for adults with special needs, including on-campus housing. Coupled with the emphasis on the family, this is indeed a special place.
Before my visit, I was somewhat familiar with the organization but did not really understand all the work it does. After just a short time of meeting staff and touring the campus, it became clear to me that this is an amazing organization. The mission of St. Joseph’s Villa is to provide “children with special needs and their families the opportunity to succeed through innovative and effective programs.”
Come to find out, BOOMER had recently provided inspiration for some people indirectly connected with St. Joseph’s Villa – a very unexpected group of people.
FIFTH-GRADERS LOVE READING BOOMER?
At St. Joseph’s Villa, I met David Huffine, vice president for advancement. David told me his wife, Linda, loves BOOMER magazine and recently used it in her classroom of fifth-graders. Fifth-graders are just out of our boomer demographic, so curiously I asked in what manner. David told me that Linda, a reading specialist for Chesterfield County Schools, had seen our recent issue, titled “Hero Dogs,” with a cute dog on the front cover. Linda knew that her students loved reading about animals. I never imagined BOOMER magazine would be used in school as a tool to help a teacher improve kids’ reading skills!
When I spoke with Linda Huffine about her students’ reaction to reading BOOMER, it was heartwarming. Linda said the kids were excited to read about the hero dogs and connected with the articles differently than other animal stories they had read, like elephants or gorillas. They connected the story with their own pets, making it more real, more a part of their world. One of Linda’s students asked her if she thought that her dog could become a hero dog!
The students connected to reading because they were excited about the subject matter, not because they were told to read. The fifth-graders were thrilled when they found out they could keep the magazine and continue to read at home. (Of course, they didn’t know it is a free magazine!)
OUT OF ONE EVENT, CHANGE OCCURS
This one visit to St. Joseph’s Villa led to many new surprises. One example: the fifth-graders, way outside of our demographic, enjoyed one of our BOOMER articles, which encouraged the joy of reading. Maybe crediting our magazine is a bit of a stretch, as Linda is the one who deserves the credit. But perhaps our article on hero dogs provided inspiration to the fifth-graders as well.
On the tour of the campus, David Huffine and Drew Melson, director of marketing communications, explained the different programs they handle on the 82-acre campus. St. Joseph’s, which dates back to 1834, is unique to Richmond. The history of the Villa is amazing and the work they do so great, filling many needs for the Richmond community. They do not take on one cause but many.
Maybe you, too, have driven by the campus but never really understood its positive impact. If you want to learn more, visit their website, NeverStopBelieving.org. In a unique way, St. Joseph’s Villa and the fifth-graders reading BOOMER magazine unite together in their slogan, “We never stop believing in children and their families.”
Just goes to show that inspiration can arise where you least expect it. Open your eyes to find inspiration in your own backyard, and keep doing good – and perhaps you’ll be the unexpected inspiration for someone else.