Valley Living is poised to begin its 25th year in 2016. Founder Eugene Souder wanted to bring a positive light and give families a free publication to assist in the sometimes challenging work of not only raising families, but thriving in helpful and constructive ways in our communities. It’s a vision we still hold high.
You know what—families still need help! Surprise, surprise. Not because Valley Living hasn’t done its job, but because more than a generation has passed. New parents are now raising their families. And just living means there are ongoing family and community issues with which we all struggle. Family members needing better jobs—or even transportation to jobs. Drug issues. Fooling around outside of marriage. Housing needs. Crime and punishment. Racial conflict. Violence. Terrorism.
It would not be hard to get discouraged, even depressed.
But putting together each quarterly issue of Valley Living (and yes, we used to be just called Living, then Living for the Whole Family, and now Valley Living) is a wonderful opportunity to focus on worthwhile, positive, heartening, uplifting stories and news in this marvelous and scenic Shenandoah Valley.
This has always been a lean operation—for many years run out of Souder’s own rent-free basement. It’s been a side gig for most of us who’ve worked on it—because of our own needs to combine raising our families with income and creative outlet. For the last seven or eight years, we’ve operated without an actual director. Our board is all volunteer. We have a small rented office space but most of us do most of our work on Valley Living from our homes and kitchen tables.
In this issue, for the first time ever, we’re dedicating a whole page giving you the opportunity to join in a meaningful way with this mission and challenge. We’ve always asked you to help support our advertisers, because our advertising revenue is an essential part of paying for printing, paying writers and photographers and our very part-time staff. But we could do more if our budget were bigger. To expand this effort, we need your help. We’d love to place more racks in this area where you can pick up Valley Living in new locations, increase our online outreach, continue featuring local persons on the cover and add even more local stories. This all takes time and people. And time + people = money.
I hope you’ll consider sending a gift this Christmas season to help us continue far into the future—and have a significant part in truly reaching out to hurting and distressed families throughout our communities.
As always, I’m delighted to bring you stories like those in this issue: the Hammer family in rural Rockingham County who has adopted a son who is blind, autistic and with some cerebral palsy; interesting local history and personalities such as Charlie Pennybacker, longtime owner of valley landmark Thomas House Restaurant in Dayton; a profile of an outstanding young man making waves in the theater scene he loves so much, both at JMU and Valley Theater—and many additional features from here and there.
We thank you for this opportunity to come into your home and invite you to help us continue in any way you can: by giving, supporting our advertisers, liking us on Facebook and sharing our posts there, and most of all, by telling others how much you get from the magazine!
We wish you a most blessed and safe Christmas and New Year holiday season in the days and weeks ahead.
Melodie Davis, editor