New Project update: #HilltopHouse is Under Roof!

New Project update: #HilltopHouse is Under Roof!

We had a beautiful day checking in on our #hilltophouse and we are excited to see this design come to life. This home is located in a special place for clients Charles has known for many years. It has been fun working through the design goals to create the just-right solution for this family and we know they will enjoy time together here for many years to come.

The exterior walls are draped with framed views of pastoral landscapes and the Massanutten Mountain Range. Capturing these views with large windows creates a direct connection to the outside, where they plan to spend much of their time. A wrap-around porch will be added to give a variety of covered and uncovered spaces to gather. The design centers around connecting as a family and we know this will become a hub for numerous gatherings.

Pictured above, Sauder Builders is hard at work executing the design plan. This is our first project with Larry and his team and their attention to detail is showing through the framing process. It takes many discussions and decisions to determine how the details will fit together to allow our clients the best possible outcome when the project is completed. Although challenges will be incurred, it takes this integrated team approach to deliver amazing results. Stay tuned for more updates on the #hilltophouse as we will be sure to share as progress continues!

Community Spotlight: Harrisonburg Half Marathon

Community Spotlight: Harrisonburg Half Marathon

Harrisonburg locals might notice an increase in runners tackling miles throughout the city streets this fall. Virginia Momentum is debuting its first-ever Harrisonburg Half Marathon on October 15, 2022. This premier event is causing a lot of buzz around town and a great number of participants have already signed up before the recent price increase. Many of our team members regularly participate in VA Momentum’s numerous community-oriented events (such as the Rocktown Turkey Trot) and we are excited to spotlight this organization whose mission is to energize the community for good. The course highlights the new Friendly City Trail which was officially completed this spring. We are excited to see wonderful opportunities such as these for our community to gather and enjoy our local attractions

Annie recently spoke with VA Momentum co-founder Kevin Gibson and asked him a few questions about this exciting event.

Kevin, what made you want to bring a half marathon to Harrisonburg?

“We’ve always wanted to host a half marathon and community members have desired one for years. Half marathons put you on the map in a different way than a 5K because there’s another level of commitment from participants. And if you do it right, these events will draw participants from outside the immediate community, which can be a great economic benefit to Harrisonburg. We want locals and out-of-towners to experience the best of Harrisonburg and a half marathon is a perfect way to do that.”

Aside from adding more miles, how will this race be different that other events?

“We’re thankful for more widespread support on the whole for this event. Sponsors are highly engaged, local youth teams will volunteer en mass at course aid stations, local businesses will host post-race celebrations and participant swag is on another level. We’re inviting homeowners in the local neighborhoods to come out and cheer for runners and we’ll host a packet pickup Expo with live music at Magpie Diner. Everything is amplified!”

What are you and your business partner Alan most excited about as the race draws near?

“We love watching people of all backgrounds and skillsets accomplish their goals. The race day environment at half marathons is special and we’re honored to help create that for participants in Harrisonburg. When they cross the finish line, we’ll be the first ones rooting for them!”

We love seeing community events such as this find a home here in the Shenandoah Valley. Annie is joining the volunteer crew for this event and will be cheering on runners as they tackle 13.1 miles!

“Mind Behind the Design” featuring Deborah Smith

“Mind Behind the Design” featuring Deborah Smith

It’s time to discover another great mind behind the design and today we are excited to feature team architect, Deborah Smith. Deborah is no stranger to setting BIG goals for herself and is a tremendous support to others in her role as an architect and as a servant leader in the community.

Originally raised on a sheep farm in Rockingham County, she naturally gravitated towards hobbies involving drawing, combing through house plans, watching HGTV, and solving puzzles. She has a remarkable green thumb from helping in the garden during her childhood and originally thought this would lend well to a career in landscape architecture. It wasn’t until she visited Virginia Tech and wandered through the hallways of the architectural school that her dream of pursuing architecture was realized. Seeing the architecture studios through its pyramid skylights and feeling the creativity exuding from the desks covered in drawings and 3D models set her on a path that would become her very successful career. Looking back at this inspirational visit, she didn’t know at the time just how much work would be involved to achieve her goals, but this memory stands out as a big influence in her journey.

After a rigorous 5 years of studying at the Virginia Tech School of Architecture and Design, Deborah graduated and joined the Gaines Group in 2012. She dove into working at the firm headfirst and was the single employee working with Charles in the Harrisonburg office for the first few years. After one year of working at the firm, Deborah knew this was the path for her and set the goal to eventually tackle the architecture licensing examination process to become a registered architect. Because she likes an added challenge and she was curious about the innerworkings of running a small business, Deborah started an MBA program at Eastern Mennonite University while working full time at the firm. Years of hard work paid off when she received her MBA in 2016 and passed her final architectural licensing exam in 2018 to finally be able to call herself Deborah Smith, Registered Architect.

Deborah’s years of experience and education provide a great depth and level of detail to each project she works on. There are parts of each project she enjoys, but she especially appreciates working on adaptive reuse projects in which older buildings are brought back to life for new purposes. These types of projects require a lot of problem-solving during the design and construction process to either make an existing building fit the new use or to expand an existing building to serve a growing organization. Addition and renovation projects are also some of her most memorable projects, especially if it is a historical building! Our office building (the Depot), Eastern Mennonite Elementary School, Deering Hall, and the Blue Ridge Area Foodbank are just a few of her favorite projects to date.

Outside of her life as an architect, Deborah has a dedication to serving the greater community. While studying at Virginia Tech, she served on the Virginia Tech Rescue Squad which is the oldest collegiate student-run, student-led, all-volunteer rescue agency in the country. Currently, she continues to make a big impact in the community by serving as the president of Harrisonburg Women’s Service League; which is committed to supporting women and children in the community through volunteering time and fundraising for local nonprofits. She also recently graduated from the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Chamber of Commerce Leadership Program in which she worked with colleagues to open a pop-up shop providing business and interview clothing to anyone in need, free of charge.

When Deborah isn’t working hard in the studio or volunteering in the community, she loves spending her time reading, gardening, painting, drawing, traveling, and attending the many wonderful community events that happen throughout the year (Red Wing Music Festival being a favorite!) She has a special love for animals and welcomes many rescue animals into her home through fostering and adoption.

Whether it’s setting big goals, serving the community, harnessing her creativity, or having a soft spot for animals in need, Deborah is a team player who makes an impact wherever she lands.

First Friday Artist: Janine Aberg

First Friday Artist: Janine Aberg

Janine Aberg’s art will be featured during the First Friday Gallery Opening on September 2nd.

In September, we are excited to share another talented local artist, Janine Aberg. Janine is one of two artists who will be featured during our First Friday gallery opening on September 2nd, from 5-7pm. To learn more about the event and RSVP, visit the event page here.

Janine (South African) and her husband Simon (Sweden) met in Hawaii.  They lived in Harrisonburg for a number of years and now they own a small farm in Keezletown, VA where they run River Mountain Farm And Life Center (See more at Janine and Simon have three beautiful girls Arowin, Katanyah and Soercha.

Janine is a passionate artist. She processes life through art and finds true solace in her times in front of a fresh canvas or wall. Art is a form of meditation for Janine and gives her time to connect the spiritual and physical aspects of life. Janine gives herself fully to whatever she sets her mind to and she finds satisfaction in a life fully lived. 

Janine is a fine artist, muralist, and dancer. Her art is strongly influenced by color, light, and by her love for dance, movement, and animals. Her work expresses the wealth of beauty and feeling that is born out of the confluence of suffering and the joy of life. This coupled with complexity in design makes Janine a truly unique artist. She is  deeply influenced by her country of origin (South Africa), living in Hawaii, and travelling around the world.

In their time in Harrisonburg Janine painted murals in every room in their town house, creating a taste of different countries and otherworldly places. She has also painted murals in a number of Harrisonburg homes and businesses including Dick Myers, Sentara RMH wellness center, J. Frank Hillyard Middle school to mention a few.  Janine loves to connect her many passions, like her passion for psychology, peacebuilding, animals, and dance. She has found joy in her art being used on the cover of books especially “to stir &” by Nikia Chaney. Her art also hangs in Eastern Mennonite University. 

Her preferred mediums are oil and acrylic. She loves to experiment with the intersectionality between fine art, dance, theater, music, and healing. She does portraiture, landscape, murals, body painting (especially for pregnant mothers), and social justice pieces.

The artist holds a BA in Performing Arts from the University of the Nations, and an MA in Conflict Transformation from Eastern Mennonite University, Center for Justice and Peacebuilding. Janine has won prices at fine art competitions on the Hawaiian Islands, including the Kona Coffee Arts Festival and the Waimea Arts Council. She has worked for a summer with Philadelphia Mural Arts and has exhibited with a group of fantastic artists at the Olympic games in the UK 2012.

Her art hangs in many countries including the USA, South Africa, China, Germany, Sweden, and England.

First Friday Artist: Saloma Furlong

First Friday Artist: Saloma Furlong

Saloma Furlong

Our second artist we are excited to feature in September is Saloma Furlong. To learn more about the First Friday art gallery opening, visit the event page here.

Saloma Furlong was born and raised in an Amish community in northeastern Ohio. With the eighth-grade education of her childhood, she acquired her GED, enrolled in community college courses, and became an Ada Comstock Scholar at Smith College. She studied at the University of Hamburg in Germany for a semester. At fifty, she graduated with a major in German Studies and a minor in Philosophy. Furlong is the author of three books, and her story has been featured in two PBS American Experience films, “The Amish” and “The Amish: Shunned.” She is the mother of two grown sons and lives in Virginia with her husband, David.

Saloma will share her book, Liberating Lomie at the gallery opening. In this personal and moving memoir, Saloma (Lomie) traces the genesis of her desire for freedom and education and chronicles her conflicted quest for independence. She recalls her painful childhood in a family defined by her father’s mental illness, her brother’s brutality, her mother’s severe punishments, and the austere traditions of the Amish—traditions she struggled to accept for years before making the difficult decision to leave the community. Eloquently told, Liberating Lomie is a revealing portrait of life within—and without—this frequently misunderstood community.

Also available at the gallery opening will be her book, Bonnet Strings: an Amish Woman’s ties to Two Worlds. In this poignant coming-of-age memoir, Saloma’s freedom allows her to thrive in her new life in Vermont. Then late one night, her freedom comes to an abrupt end when members of her Amish community arrive to take her back into the fold. Thus begins a years-long struggle of feeling torn between two worlds. Bonnet Strings offers a universal story of overcoming adversity and a rare look inside an Amish community. Readers will find a story of competing desires between freedom and belonging.

Aside from writing books, Saloma is also the creator of handmade rugs. These beautiful works of art will be available at the gallery opening.