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Celebrate International Friendship Day

Today marks International Friendship Day. The tradition started in 1998 when Winnie the Pooh was named the world’s Ambassador of Friendship by the United Nations. Later, in April 2011, the UN first recognized July 30 as International Friendship Day as a day to celebrate friendships and help bridge the gap between race, culture and religion. Many nations, however, observe it on the first Sunday of August. There are so many ways to celebrate International Friendship Day. You may want to personalize it to your individual friendships, but in case you’re stumped, we have a few ideas.

Plan a picnic.
Gather your friends together for a relaxing picnic at your local beach or park. They’re a cheap and fun way to spend time with those you care about, and they’re pet friendly, too. Grab some blankets and lawn chairs to lounge in while you eat, and you’ll be set. Just remember to pack silverware!

Send your friends cards.
Good, old-fashioned snail mail offers a much more personal touch than a text message or email. Writing nice notes to your friends shows them how much you care about them and value their friendship. Pick up a greeting card from the store, or design one yourself. Your friends will appreciate your thoughtfulness and perhaps send one in return.

Gift your friends succulents.
Succulents are known to be long-lasting plants. Considering gifting them to people whose friendships you know will last a lifetime. They’re easy plants to take care of and add a touch of greenery to any space. 

Grab a bite to eat.
Food has a tendency to bring people together. Get your friends together and try that new restaurant that just opened in town. You’ll get to spend time with people you care about and have a new experience together.

Try an art and wine class.
These trendy classes are often a hit for both pairs and large groups. They bring people out of their comfort zones and offer a unifying activity. Don’t worry if you’re no Picasso; most people will think their art turned out the worst. Check if the class you’re attending has a bar installed or if you can BYOB for an extra treat.

Give your long-distance friends a call.
Have a friend that lives far away? Call them up or video chat with them to let them know you’re on your mind today. Everyone likes being thought of, especially by someone they don’t get to see often. A phone call is an easy way to brighten someone’s day on National Friendship Day.

National Friendship Day is the perfect opportunity to show your friends some love. You don’t need to do anything grand to make a big impact on their days. Simply expressing your gratitude for their friendship is enough, but if you want to do something extra, consider one of the options from the list above to make your (and your friends’) day special.

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Make the Most of Your Last Month of Summer

As the summer winds down, you might find yourself scrambling for more time. Summer always seems to fly by, not letting us accomplish as much as we’d hoped. Maybe you haven’t gotten around to reading that book or solidified lunch plans with that friend. With just a month left of summer, it’s time to take advantage of all it has to offer. Below are some ways you can celebrate the end of sunshine season.

Try to make it outside once a day.
Most people can agree they feel happier when the sun is out, and they can spend time outside. This is partly to do with the serotonin (the mood-boosting hormone) you inhale while being outdoors. Instead of complaining about the heat, try to appreciate the weather you’ll likely be missing come January (especially if you live in a place with frigid winters). 

Be a tourist in your own town.
After living in one place for a while, you start to forget about all the things that make your town interesting. Consider taking a day to tour your city’s landmarks and attractions. Already seen them all? Take a tour of something you’re passionate about, whether it be coffee shops or hiking trails. 

Check out a schedule of local summer events.
Can’t come up with any activity ideas? Do an internet search for events going on in your area. Many towns host occasional movies in the park, farmers markets and concerts. These activities require little to no planning on your part, making them perfect for last-minute outings. 

Spend a day at the pool.
There are few things better than the instant relief of jumping in a pool on a hot summer day. They’re the quickest ways to cool down and often the most fun. Most towns have city pools you can relax at, so grab your towel and sunscreen, and kick back.

Host a bonfire.
On those chillier summer nights, it’s nice to sit around the fire with friends or family. Feel free to unwind while sharing summer memories and roasting marshmallows. Just don’t forget the bug spray to ensure you don’t wind up with those pesky bites.

Learn something new.
Summer is the perfect time to pick up a new hobby. Your schedule tends to free up during the summer months, so consider teaching yourself something new. Check out a calligraphy book from the local library, or download an app that will help you learn a new language. These activities will keep you busy while also teaching you new skills.

Summer can often feel too short, but with this list of potential activities, you’re sure to fill your days with activities that turn into fond memories.

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Local Nonprofit Receives Donation to Help Brain Injured Develop Computer Skills

June 26th, 2019

Contact:

Aleena Gardezi

agardezi@braininjurysvcs.org

703-451-8881 ext. 238

Springfield, VA (June 26, 2019)— — Brain Injury Services, Inc., (BIS) has received $3000 in honor of BIS client, Bryant Cohen from his friend and supporter, Thomas Holly. Holly, who leads PwC’s US Asset & Wealth Management, donated the money to support an effort where clients are learning or developing a technical skill.

A few months before his wedding, Cohen fell down the stairs of his garage and sustained a traumatic brain injury – hospitalizing him for weeks, delaying his wedding, and leaving him unable to return to work.

Cohen connected with Brain Injury Services and his case manager referred him to Brain Injury Services’ ADAPT Clubhouse where he could work on his independent living skills. His primary goal was to return to work where he was the Senior Vice President and Tax Director at a $16 billion private investment group. Cohen knew he could make progress at the ADAPT Clubhouse and credits many of his gains after his brain injury to his involvement at the ADAPT Clubhouse.

 “Since I have been coming to ADAPT my mental stamina has gotten better and I feel more motivated,” Cohen added. “I love the people here. The social aspect has been great for me.”

“Thanks to the generous donation made in honor of Bryant Cohen, the ADAPT Clubhouse was able to purchase six new computers and a new high efficiency all-in-one printer to enhance the technology and accessibility of the Communications Unit,” Dyanna Citizen explained. “We’re excited to have updated technology to best assist members in reaching their educational and vocational goals.”

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About ADAPT Clubhouse:

The ADAPT Clubhouse is a vocationally-oriented brain injury day program located in Alexandria, VA, which is a core program of Brain Injury Services.  ADAPT Clubhouse is a place for individuals with brain injuries to participate in a supportive work-ordered day. The primary focus of the program is to assist individuals with brain injuries to lead productive lives. This is achieved through skill building, volunteerism, vocational exploration, and Employment Development Services (EDS).

About Brain Injury Services:

Brain Injury Services helps children and adults with a brain injury build the skills and confidence they need to lead a fulfilling and productive life. For over 26 years, Brain Injury Services has been repairing lives, recovering possibility and restoring hope by offering the community innovative programs and services that meet the needs of survivors of brain injuries and their families. Each year, Brain Injury Services assists over 600 individuals and families who have experienced the devastating effects of brain injury, stroke, and concussion. We provide this assistance through core programs, including case management, specialized programs, and multiple support groups. Our services extend throughout Northern Virginia, Fredericksburg, Winchester, and the surrounding counties. Find out more at braininjurysvcs.org.

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Easy Ways to Observe National Give Something Away Day

July 15 marks National Give Something Away Day. It’s a great reason to give back to one’s community and make a difference. Your donation doesn’t have to be monetary or physical; giving your time to a worthy cause makes just as much—if not more—of an impact. If you have something or some time to give, consider doing so today. Here’s a list of easy ways you can give something away today. 

Pay for someone’s coffee.
Mondays are hard. Consider brightening someone else’s by buying their coffee in the drive-thru. The person behind you will definitely appreciate it, and maybe they’ll be inspired to start a chain reaction. Your small act of kindness will have made the days of potentially dozens of people, and that has to feel good.

Make a donation to a food bank.
Have cans of food in the pantry you know you’ll never eat? Deliver them to your town’s food bank, and feed someone in need. Not only will you be helping those less fortunate, but you also won’t feel guilty letting food go to waste.

Volunteer at a soup kitchen.
If you don’t have extra food or money to give, think about spending an evening serving dinner at a soup kitchen. You’ll be able to speak directly with those you’re helping and hear their stories. Volunteering is also a great way to gain some perspective and appreciate all that you have.

Donate clothes or shoes to your local homeless shelter.
If you’re like most people, you have items in your closet that never get worn. Giving them to a homeless shelter or a halfway house ensures those in need have access to clean clothes and shoes. Just make sure they’re in decent condition and have been washed before donating them. Clearing out more space in your closet is also an added bonus. 

Give unused toiletries to those in need.
Many people often forget how essential items like toothpaste, shampoo and deodorant are until they no longer have access to them. Do you have extra soap, toothbrushes or feminine hygiene products in your bathroom? Think about taking them to a local shelter or donation site. Someone out there will be affected by your act of kindness, and you can feel good knowing you helped a person or two in need.

Volunteer at your local library.
Libraries are valuable resources to communities, and volunteering helps them better serve their patrons. Spending an afternoon sorting materials, reading at children’s story times or providing computer and printing support adds to the value of libraries and prolongs their existence in an increasingly digital world.

Donate lightly used school supplies.
Now that school is out for summer, do you or your children have leftover school supplies? Slightly worn binders, notebooks, crayons, etc. are of great use to students in low-income areas and overseas. If you were planning on buying new supplies in August, consider giving away your old ones to a student who needs them.

National Give Something Away Day is a great opportunity to reevaluate your blessings and help those in need. You can make a difference in your community or even across the ocean. Think about ways you can give back today.

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7 Reasons to Buy Food from Your Local Farmers Markets

Strolling through a farmers market is a fun and cheap way to spend a summer morning. The bright colors and fresh scents are enough to draw nearly anyone in. However, farmers markets have so much more to offer than just the sights and smells. The following is a list of just a few reasons you should visit your local farmers market this summer.

1. You’ll know exactly where your food is coming from.
When you shop at a typical grocery store, you don’t always know exactly where the food you’re buying was grown. That’s the beauty of farmers markets; you get to speak face-to-face with the farmers and ranchers who produced your food. They can tell you exactly what processes they used and where the food was grown. You’re able to get all your questions answered by the person who saw your food go from their farm to your hands.

2. You’ll be helping the environment.
The food you find at grocery stores will typically travel an average of 1,500 miles before it gets to your shopping cart. All that travel means large amounts of natural resources, such as fossil fuels, are being emitted into and polluting the air. Today’s agricultural practices are also not very sustainable; producers often use toxic chemicals that contaminate water, air and land. Excess packaging used for shipping also creates more trash that winds up in oceans and landfills. 

Food at farmers markets travels much shorter distances since it’s usually produced in the local area. Its sustainable farmers traditionally grow and raise organic fruits, vegetables and animal products, so their products have much less of an impact on the environment.

3. You’ll be promoting the safe treatment of animals.
The animals whose byproducts are found at farmers markets usually have had natural diets and have grazed on green grass. They don’t spend time in cages or unnatural living conditions like conventional agricultural animals do. At farmers markets, you are getting meats, cheeses and eggs from animals that have been raised without hormones or antibiotics. When you buy animal byproducts from farmers markets, you can feel better knowing you’ve supported farmers who treat their animals safely and humanely. 

4. You can learn cooking tips and recipes.
The farmers and ranchers whose food you’re buying will know better than anyone how to prepare delicious recipes. They’re often cooks themselves, so they can tell you the best seasonings to use and which cooking techniques work best with each product. It’s like getting a free cooking lesson with your purchase!

5. You’ll be supporting local farmers and ranchers.
Supporting local businesses is important to a thriving community, and so is buying from local farmers. Small family farms are currently having a hard time competing with agribusiness, or large-scale agricultural production. Buying your food directly from these farmers and ranchers sustains their livelihoods and gives them a chance against big-name corporations.

6. You can find foods you wouldn’t normally see in a grocery store.
Farmers markets are a great way to add some color to your plate. There are so many diverse fruits and vegetables readily available at farmers markets. Try picking up some purple cauliflower, maitake mushrooms or a rainbow of heirloom tomatoes on your next visit. You might find your new favorite food. 

7. You can connect with your community. 
Farmers markets bring people together. They introduce consumers to the people who grow and raise their food. They’re perfect for families looking for an easy outing or friends who just want to meet up. They also can give people a small-town experience in the middle of a large city.

The fresh air of farmers markets is much more enjoyable than the fluorescent lighting found in grocery stores. Buying food from farmers and ranchers has so many great benefits. Consider stopping by your local farmers market to enjoy the many advantages it has to offer.

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Throw the Perfect Fourth of July Party for All

America’s most patriotic holiday is upon is. Red, white and blue banners and flags can be found on every front porch. Backyards all over the country will soon smell of hamburgers, hot dogs and sulfur from fireworks. Planning an Independence Day party should be about creating community, not a source of stress. We’ve compiled a list of everything you need—from food to activities—to throw a bash your friends & neighbors will rave about.

Get the Word Out
In today’s world of social media, there’s no need to generate paper invitations or even an email for your party. Set up a Facebook event to keep track of each person you invite and their RSVP status. This will help greatly when planning how much food and drink you’ll need to buy before the big event. However, you plan to have more food than you might need on the off chance unexpected guests show up.

Good Eats
Food is one of the best ways to instill in people a sense of community. It’s the typical focal point of any social gathering. Your guests will spend most of their time hovering over a table or a kitchen island eating and catching up. It’s fairly easy to feed multiple on a budget for Independence day. 

Cookouts tend to be the most popular food theme for the Fourth of July, therefore many grocery stores have sales burgers, brats and anything else you might need for a barbecue.

Taco/nacho bars are other easy ways to provide food for your guests. They tend to be cheap to prepare and a hit with almost everyone. Try looking at your local wholesale store to find bulk food items at a discount. 

Potlucks are the cheapest way to feed everyone and are often the most fun. Getting to try each other’s dishes is a great way to bring people together. It also means fewer pots and pans to wash for you, which is always a plus. 

Fun Drinks & Desserts
The Fourth of July is a great holiday for themed beverages. You can make patriotic drinks with or without alcohol. A crowd favorite is often red, white and blue layered Jell-O cups, which you can find dozens of recipes for online. Consider adding a patriotic twist to cocktails by adding fresh strawberries and blueberries.

If you’re planning to skip the alcohol, set out fresh fruits for guests to add to their juice or sparkling water as a great way to flavor a beverage.

Themed Decor
Decorations tend to add up quickly at craft stores. Consider stopping by your local dollar store for patriotic streamers, paper plates, flags and any other items you might need. Dollar stores tend to have a wide variety of options and won’t put a large dent in your wallet.

Fun & Games
Yard games are a staple of great summer parties. They cause people to work together toward a common goal. If you don’t have any and don’t feel like dropping the cash to get them, ask your guests if they’d be willing to provide theirs for the evening. Games like cornhole and ladder golf are easy to set up and are a favorite among many. If you have a big enough yard, consider putting up a volleyball net for a game of friendly competition.

If you have a pool, remind your guests to bring towels, swimsuits and sunscreen. Kids and adults alike will appreciate an easy way to cool down on what often seems like the hottest day of the year. 

Other activities your guests might enjoy are frisbee, water balloon toss, or a watermelon eating contest. 

The Fourth of July is a great day to gather with friends for a sense of patriotism and community. These are just a few ways to throw a bonding Fourth of July party. Feel free to add your own twist to food, drinks, or activities. No matter what, your guests will appreciate the time and effort you put into hosting them for a night of food, friends and fireworks.