The Rapp for Jan. 19

Going ‘wild in your backyard’

Julie Connely

Eastern View High School in Culpeper will host an open house run by the the Old Rag Master Naturalists (ORMN) titled “Going Wild in Your Backyard” on Saturday, Feb. 4 – with lessons in attracting more wildlife to your yard, caring for protecting our environment and giving kids an opportunity to learn about wildlife first-hand. Admission is free.

Certified Virginia master naturalists from the Old Rag chapter will give presentations on how to create habitat on properties large and small, which native plants work best to attract and support wildlife (including pipevine swallowtail butterflies, shown here, which lay their eggs in the native pipevine plant) and how to build and monitor a bluebird trail, which includes a video showing bluebird development from egg to when the young leave the nest. Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries wildlife biologist Lou Verner will round out the program with a talk on wildlife basics – from which species are likely to show up in local backyards to how to manage nuisance or injured wildlife.

EVHS’ Envirothon teams, which compete annually in a nationwide environmental-project competition, will offer wildlife-related activities for children, give tours of the environmentally friendly, LEED-certified school and of a habitat restoration project on the grounds and sell light refreshments.

The open house will run from 10 to 4. Eastern View High School is located at 16332 Cyclone Way, Culpeper. For more information, visit oldragmasternaturalists.org or contact Pam Owen at 540-227-0137 or ormn.openhouse@gmail.com.

It’s Plan B, as in Benevolent

Raymond Boc | Rappahannock News

Due to circumstances beyond its control, instead of its traditional Celebrity Waiters’ Dinner – that’s a scene from last year’s fun event here – the Rappahannock Benevolent Fund will hold an evening of hors d’oeuvres and merriment at the Washington fire hall from 6 to 9 p.m. Jan. 28.

The Benevolent Fund, whose mission is to provide assistance to individuals and families with short-term emergency needs and for whom government and non-government programs are absent or inadequate, was established in December 2008 by means of anonymous matching grants. Since January 2010 most of the funds matched against the anonymous grants have come from the Celebrity Waiters’ Dinner held in late January each year.

This year a fire at the Sperryville School House (formerly the Link) damaged the large room where the event has been, and was to be held. The largest indoor gathering place in Rappahannock will not be available until the spring. Rather than cancel, the organization’s fundraising committee decided to have a smaller event on the date originally reserved for the full-course dinner (the last Saturday in January).

The evening will be structured so guests can come and go during the evening and still expect food, wine, beer and soft drinks. In addition, there will be entertainment, raffles, auctions and other fundraising activities throughout. The purpose remains to raise funds to help those with financial needs in the community but also to provide a good time for all. Admission is $50 per person, but organizers say there will be other opportunities (as at the waiters’ dinners) to spend money for a good cause.

The Celebrity Waiters’ Dinner – a project conceived, planned, and managed by an ad hoc support group of seven community volunteers – was served by 24 “celebrities,” some with assistants. In addition to serving food to their tables, the waiters provide decor, drinks, appetizers and entertainment for their tables (or for the whole room). Their enthusiasm and imagination raised a great deal of money, more even than admission fees.

When a sit-down dinner of sufficient size could not be held in the county, the fundraising committee consulted last year’s celebrity waiters, who encouraged holding a smaller event this year. Many also agreed to assist with the fundraising activities at the event this year as well as next year when, once again, a full-scale might be held. If you attended last year’s dinner, your waiter may be inviting you to attend this year’s event. But, because this year’s event is a “come and go” event, attendance will not be as restricted as previous years, so don’t wait to be invited. But do let someone know that you are coming so enough food and drink can be planned.

The Benevolent Fund’s average grant to needy Rappahannock citizens is about $250 – for the payment of electric, heating, housing, medical, phone, transportation and miscellaneous emergency expenses. Repeat grants are seldom given but recipients are urged to contact other sources of help like Social Services and the Rappahannock Food Pantry, and there is an attempt to follow those who continue in need.

The Benevolent Fund founders also wanted to reach beyond the simple meeting of emergency needs. Recipients are encouraged to pass it on when they can. Trinity Episcopal Church (a tax-exempt organization) serves as the fiscal agent for the fund and keeps the Fund’s assets in a separate bank account. There are no administrative costs associated with the fund.

Please join the fun remembering that the needs of the Fund’s clients are as great this year as last. Sign up by emailing bsmah@stoneledge.net or send your check to the Benevolent Fund, c/o Trinity Church, Box 299, Washington, VA 22747. If you cannot come, a check to the Benevolent Fund will still be appreciated.

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