December 2021: VICCC's Board of Directors and staff found themselves overwhelmed recently, to learn that we have received an extraordinarily generous bequest. Bob Schulman, a long-time contributor to VICCC, and a greatly-admired retired member of Virginia Tech's Department of Statistics, passed away in April, of lung cancer, to the sadness of everyone who knew him. His wife of thirty-two years, Debby Hix, informed the VICCC Board in October that Bob had remembered VICCC in his will, with a gift that will help raise VICCC's programs to an entirely new level.
Bob Schulman loved young children, and especially enjoyed reading to them. Grandfather to six, he was known as "Storyman Bob" during the twenty years he spent reading to the very young children of the New River Valley. (He was also known at Virginia Tech men's basketball games, as the person who originated the big, full-arm, VT wave, which caught on enthusiastically with the crowds--and which the students are continuing this season.) Bob specified that his gift to VICCC be used especially for programs that would directly benefit the children. The generosity of the gift will make it possible for VICCC to do something truly big and innovative.
"Bob Schulman loved young children, and especially enjoyed reading to them. Grandfather to six, he was known as "Storyman Bob" during the twenty years he spent reading to the very young children of the New River Valley.”
A subcommittee of the VICCC Board has been formed, and has met to devise and recommend a plan. We are leaning toward a project involving special emphasis on the arts and music,which stimulate young minds in ways that no other approach does, and are planning to tie art and music to the development of reading, science, arithmetic, movement, and other skills,including the needed-for-school social skills. Our Board has members who are highly qualified and knowledgeable in the arts and in the psychology of early education, and we hope to recruit other local talents to this work. We are in the discussion and planning phase now, but hope to move quickly forward after the new year.
A major goal of VICCC has always been to see our children--the youngest and most vulnerable in the New River Valley--be able to enter kindergarten as well-prepared as children from the most privileged local homes. So many stories of our VICCC "alumni", who are now in kindergarten and elementary school, have let us know howwell our children are doing at holding their own among their classmates, and we are very proud of them. But this bequest is making it possible for us to think bigger, and more creatively--we see the possibility to have our children not only able to hold their own, but to shine, and to be outstanding among their peers.
To do this, we are looking at exemplary programs around the country, and are looking to model an"academy" for the very young, full of cross-disciplinary learning, full of the uplifting beauty of art and music, and full of fun and happiness.
We are tremendously excited about the possibilities. Our gratitude to Bob Schulman is great indeed, and we are grateful to Debby Hix for so kindly carrying out his wishes.We'll keep you, our friends, informed at every step of the way, and we hope you will want to play a part in supporting and sustaining this vision as it takes shape. Nothing done for children is ever wasted, and the good things that will come from this gift will surely enrich our VICCC children for a lifetime.
VICCC Board Member Highlight: Jeanne Roper
Jeanne Roper was one of the original organizers, inspiration, and most enthusiastic cheerleader of VICCC from its inception in October, 2003. Jeanne served as the first President and has remained on the board until this day, except for a 3 year rest. She has good stories of growing VICCC--putting notices in church bulletins, giving talks to multiple groups, gaining partnerships with New River Community Action and Head Start, securing donations, recruiting the first child, working with Greg Campbell to complete legal necessities, and receiving their first donation from the Town of Blacksburg.
Jeanne sees VICCC as responsive to all since taking care of little children is fundamental to all beliefs and, thus,``the faith is good childcare.” Although she is both the idea person and the one who can implement projects, her favorite part at VICCC has been watching and helping children develop. As a Master Gardener, she was instrumental in conceiving and implementing the garden in honor of past President, Cathy Jacobs. Also, she championed the idea of the “Buddy Bench” where children wait to be invited to play with others. Jeanne thinks her love for VICCC came naturally from her mom, who loved little ones, and a dad,who as an urban planner instilled in his children the importance of giving to the community.
Born in Massachusetts and raised in Boston and Florida, Jeanne completed her PHD in
England in Soviet history and education. Coming to Blacksburg in 1966, Jeanne raised two
boys here and joined Virginia Tech in 1975 where she won multiple teaching awards in Urban Affairs and Planning. She pioneered a course on Homelessness where students put into practice Ut Prosim by taking warm blankets and other goods to those needing them locally and in D. C.
Jeanne was active in forming MCEAP and in projects for the homeless . On the Vestry at Christ Episcopal Church, Jeanne led the Outreach Committee as Chair, tirelessly contributing to serving others. She and husband, Dave, have also been leaders on the board of Habitat for Humanity. Known as one of Blacksburg’s best cooks, Jeanne can be found creating in the kitchen and in her awesome garden. A compassionate activist, twice a Jeopardy contestant, a voracious reader and a charming wit, others turn to her for what is new in ideas and adventures. However, her heart belongs to VICCC.
Notes From The Director
I love winter. I love the look and feel of fresh snow. I don’t,particularly, care to drive in it though. There is a feeling in the air at this time of year. People feel warm and welcoming. We exchange gifts to show others that we care for them. We see family and friends that we have missed through the year. We celebrate holidays and have parties. We take time off to rest our heavy hearts and minds. Tis the season of joy and a time to be thankful. I am thankful for the children and families that we serve every day. I am thankful for the smiling faces that do the work of teaching our children, our wonderful staff. I am thankful for the board members who give of their time and resources to advocate for VICCC. I am thankful for the donors and community that support the mission of safety, love, and learning for our children. This is also the season of giving. May we give of ourselves to each other and every good work. May our days be merry and bright, and may all our wishes come true. Happy holidays.