Here’s a round-up of news briefs from around Southwest and Southside. Send yours for possible inclusion to

* * *

DePaul Community Resources to premiere documentary

DePaul Community Resources in Roanoke has produced a 30-minute documentary entitled Impossible Choices: The reality of living with a developmental disability in Virginia to take a deeper look at the disabilities system in Virginia through the eyes of those who navigate it every day.

According to a release from DePaul, in the documentary “you’ll hear stories of families who have been waiting eight to 12 years for the services they need today, as well as families who struggle to navigate the burdensome developmental disabilities system. At this very moment, more than 14,000 Virginians with disabilities qualify for Developmental Disabilities Waiver services but may wait for 10 years or more. This documentary will showcase how far Virginia has come—from housing individuals with disabilities in institutions—and how far we must go to ensure every Virginian is able to thrive in their community.”

DePaul Community Resources will mark the official release of Impossible Choices during a premiere event at the Dumas Center in Roanoke.

Thursday, June 30

Dumas Center (108 1st Street NW Roanoke, VA)

5:30 pm – refreshments | 6:00 pm – screening | 6:30 pm – Q&A

The premiere event will also be streamed live on DePaul’s YouTube channel:

* * *

Virginia receives grant to expand transportation navigator directory

The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation has received $100,000 from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration to expand and enhance Virginia Transportation Navigator, a one-call, one-click directory of public and human service transportation, as well as mobility management and travel training services.

Transportation Navigator is a database of public transit, human service, and specialized transportation providers, programs, and services. The free Virginia Transportation Finder widget can be placed on any website — hosted by a state agency, transportation provider, nonprofit, community partner, business, or other organization — that wants to help connect citizens to transportation providers in the Commonwealth.

DRPT is one of 17 projects that received $8.4 million in funding for projects aimed at improving public transportation for underserved groups, with a focus on health and wellness. FTA’s Innovative Coordinated Access & Mobility Pilot Program — which received millions more in funding from the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act — increases access for Americans all over the country by building partnerships among health, transportation, and other service providers.

* * *

Fox leaves tourism group, joins Roanoke firm

Catherine Fox. Courtesy of Eddy Alexander.

Eddy Alexander, a Roanoke-based marketing and growth  strategy consulting firm, has hired Catherine Fox, former Vice President of Destination Development for Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge, to help support the firm’s  growth in tourism, destination management, and economic development.  

Fox officially assumed the number two position within the firm’s tourism  and destination marketing practice on June 20. 

During her time with Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge, she is credited with increasing group tours  to the area by 50%, increasing media coverage of the region by 65%, obtaining a silver level ride center designation from the International Mountain Bicycling Association, and  leading the regional logistics for the inaugural 2021 and 2022 Carilion Clinic IRONMAN  70.3 Virginia’s Blue Ridge, a national and international event. 

Fox has also served in a number of industry leadership roles with the Virginia Restaurant,  Lodging & Travel Association, the Governor’s Conference on Travel and Tourism, the  Shenandoah Valley Travel Association, the Blue Ridge Parkway Association, and the  Outdoor Writers Association of America.

* * *

The Shaws are honored by Domino’s. Courtesy of Dominio’s.

Shaws win company award

Kevin and Allison Shaw of Roanoke, who own 17 Domino’s locations in Southwest Virginia, were recently honored with a company award.

The Gold Franny Awards were originally created more than 20 years ago by the International Franchise Association and designed to honor excellence among franchise owners. This is the Shaws’ seventh such award. Kevin Shaw started as a Domino’s driver in 1986 and bought his first franchise in 2002.

* * *

Madeline Saia and her parents. Courtesy of the SIFMA Foundation.

Christiansburg girl wins national prize for investing advice

Madeline Saia, 11, of Christiansburg has won fourth place in the SIFMA Foundation’s Spring 2022 InvestWrite competition.

Beating out thousands of other students around the country competing in the elementary school division, Madeline, who attends Falling Branch Elementary School, researched and composed a long-term financial plan.  

SIFMA Foundation’s InvestWrite national essay competition bridges classroom learning in math, social studies and language arts with the practical research and knowledge required for saving, investing and long-term planning. It also serves as a culminating activity for the Stock Market Game curriculum-based financial education program that challenges students to manage a hypothetical $100,000 online portfolio of stocks, bonds, mutual funds and cash over a period of 14-weeks, a semester or a school year. 

The Spring 2022 InvestWrite competition asked fourth through 12th graders: What is something you learned about investing that you didn’t know before participating in The Stock Market Game? Explain how this can help your future and help others. If you were investing $100,000 to perform well over the next 30 years, what stocks, bonds and mutual funds would you choose and why?

The Stock Market Game and InvestWrite are offered in Virginia through the Virginia Council on Economic Education. Madeline and her teacher, Brenda Mash, were honored by the SIFMA Foundation and the Virginia Council on Economic Education earlier this month.

Her essay:

It’s a lazy Saturday morning and you’re “watching” the news, half-awake. You listen to the news reporter drone on about how amazing it is that a stranger saved a cat that fell into a storm drain. “Big deal,” you think to yourself. By the time the reporter switches to something else, you’re almost fully asleep. “Breaking news,” you hear the news reporter speaking, “Toilet paper stocks have begun to revive themselves, making investors rich!” Your eyes flare open. You’re awake now! You don’t waste one minute scrambling to your computer. Fortunately, you decided to invest in toilet paper stocks because the recent pandemic left them at an all-time low. You try to log in, loading, loading, loading. Each passing second feels like years. Finally, the line chart appears, it’s at a mountainous height. Your eyes dart to the stock value, and that’s when you realize just how much money you’ve made.

This could be you if you invest smartly. Prior to playing The Stock Market Game I didn’t even know you could gain a lot of money. I now know that one of the deciding factors between gains and losses is precise timing, knowing when to buy and sell. You could buy 50 shares of Netflix when it’s low but if you don’t sell it at its peak, you won’t make a good profit. Though it’s important, timing isn’t everything. Research plays a significant role in adept investing. Buying the right stocks and the correct amount is another deciding factor. Without investing in adequate stocks for gaining money, the factor of timing is unimportant. If the stock’s value won’t rise, there isn’t a need for selling until it does. Following this advice could fill the gap between rich and poor.

Knowing what stocks to buy and when greatly increases your chances of earning an ample amount of money. Extra money is important for anyone’s future. That money could fund your future college bill or a nice car. If you have a good education and some degrees, you could have your dream job. Your job could directly help others, like teachers and doctors, who care for kids and adults every day. Or your job could indirectly help others like chemists and writers who make things that can help people. If you make extra money from investing, it could enable you to give or donate to the community or important causes around the world.

If I were investing $100,000 to do well over the next 30 years, I would invest in “safe stocks.” But before I decide what stocks to buy, I need to ask myself, exactly how much is $100,000? It may sound like a lot at first, but when you try to spend it, it’s easier than you would expect. Public colleges average around $25,000 per year. That’s 1/4 of your money for one year! After four years, you’re all spent! The average house costs around $250,000. That’s more than double your money! Having a better understanding of $100,000 lets me better understand how to spend my money. Like I mentioned before, I would invest in “safe stocks,” also called “long-term stocks.” They progress quite slowly. These stocks don’t take any major dives or large spikes, they’re great for retirement and are trustworthy. I think, and many people would agree with me, that planning ahead is essential for good long-term investing. BUT (there’s always a but), I wouldn’t just invest in stocks, I would invest in mutual funds too. Mutual funds are basically giving money to an investor who will use that money, and money from other people, to invest in stocks for you. Which leads into another topic, diversification. Have you ever heard the phrase “don’t put all your eggs in one basket?” This phrase also applies to the stock market. If you put all of your “eggs” or money in one “basket” or stock industry (energy, healthcare, technology, etc.) if that one industry doesn’t do well you could lose all your money. Putting your “eggs” in different “baskets” keeps your money safe. This is called diversification. The investors, who are given money, use that money to diversify your portfolio (the collection of stocks, bonds, mutual funds).

Precise timing, research, diversification, and using your money smartly are all good investing skills. Participating in the Stock Market Game taught me all of these things and has prepared me for a future of investing. So next time you are caught in a situation or event, like the Covid pandemic, use these skills to benefit yourself financially. If a stock or company isn’t doing well, try to buy it so when it goes up so do your savings. As crazy as it sounds, we all can learn something from toilet paper!