Spending Versus Saving: How Changing Your Habits Can Change Your Future

An eye-popping statistic recently made the news — and it’s directly related to the topic of saving for retirement. According to one survey, the average adult in this country spends $1,497 each month on “non-essentials,” which adds up to nearly $18,000 each year!1 Some of the categories include restaurant meals ($209.38 a month), cable TV ($90.57 a month) and online shopping ($84.11 a month).  

How does your own spending compare? Have you ever tracked your spending over a few months to see exactly how much goes toward things you may not need but are simply nice to have?The results may surprise you. 


One of the striking things about the $18,000 annual spending figure is that it is close to the limit the IRS has established for contributions to 401(k), 403(b) and most 457 plans in 2020. Each year, the IRS announces an annual limit for contributions to employer-sponsored retirement plans. For 2020, that limit is $19,500 (keep in mind that people age 50 and older may be eligible to save even more through catch-up contributions). 


If you think contributing more to your retirement account seems impossible, it may be time to rethink your spending habits. Even if your own spending on non-essentials each year isn’t anywhere near $18,000, you probably have areas where you could cut back without any major changes to your lifestyle. One or two fewer visits to restaurants each month, a more affordable cable package, fewer impulse purchases made online — the savings can add up quickly. Best of all, you can use the savings to increase your contributions to your retirement account, where they can help you build the income you’ll need for the future you want.  


Remember, many financial advisorssay that we’ll need at least 70% of our pre-retirement earnings to maintain our pre-retirement standard of living.2 A few painless changes to our spending habits can make reaching that goal a little easier.  


1 usatoday.com, You don’t need that: Average American spends almost $18,000 a year on non-essentials, May 7, 2019 
2 ssa.gov, Benefits Planner: Retirement, September 2019 
Securities offered by GWFS Equities, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC, marketed under the Empower brand. GWFS is affiliated with Great-West Funds, Inc.; Great-West Trust Company, LLC; and registered investment advisers Advised Assets Group, LLC and Great-West Capital Management, LLC, marketed under the Great-West Investments™ brand. This material has been prepared for informational and educational purposes only and is not intended to provide investment, legal or tax advice. 
Great-West Life & Annuity Insurance Company and its subsidiaries are not responsible for, nor do they endorse, the content contained in the additional third-party site(s) provided. ©2019 Great-West Life & Annuity Insurance Company. All rights reserved. RO1028382-1219 

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Team Henrico Update

Team Henrico Gets Tacky 

Saturday, December 14 Team Henrico participated in the Tacky Light Run for the first time. With a group decked out in tacky sweaters, holiday leggings, goofy hats, and holiday attire lead by Santa Claus, 50+ Henrico employees and family members set off on a walk/jog/run that was full of holiday cheer. The event included Christmas light lined streets, beautifully orchestrated houses with lights and decorations, and hundreds of supporters along the route playing music and cheering for everyone. The Fitness and Wellness Division of the Department of Human Resources recognizes that events like this are vital in developing and blossoming inter-departmental relationships that carryover from an extracurricular fun activity to professional relationships. The Tacky Light Run is now behind us and we are focused on the next Team Henrico event, that never fails to disappoint, the Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k.

2020 Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k – March 28, 2020 

As with all Team Henrico supported events, we are offering a discount for 50% off the current registration fee. There will be a price increase starting January 16th so make sure to sign-up now to get the best deal available. The code to utilize during registration is HenricoRuns10k20. Our standard discount code rules apply: They can only be used for permanent Henrico County employees – i.e. not for friends or family. In addition, this code will only be available to be used once per transaction so if you are signing multiple Henrico employees up at one time you will need to do so in separate transactions.   

If you are questioning your ability to complete the 10k please check out the 10k Training Program written by the Fitness and Wellness staff to get you on the path to completing the 10k in March- whether you are looking to walk it, jog it, or run it. On the off chance that the 10k just does not seem appealing to you, we welcome you to join the Team Henrico Spirit Team. Our Spirit Team is amazing, each year, and last year we had the National Champions Highland Springs Cheer Squad with us cheering on everyone- but especially any Henrico County employees we saw. 


If you have questions about the event please email Joey Pacelli at PAC037@henrico.us and be on the lookout in the near future for updates. 

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Soaring Above: A Review of the State of the County

Last month County Manager John Vithoulkas, presented the “State of the County” to address area business leaders. He likened his review of 2019 to the speech President Kennedy gave announcing the moon landing mission: “We choose to go to the moon not because it is easy but because it is hard.” In the County Manager’s words, “We reached for something, might have seemed a bit risky, a little beyond our grasp, but we did it and history was made.” He went on to say how the County did the same; we took risks over the past year by utilizing the “Henrico Way” and a desire to soar above. Together, embraced by a workforce of 4,000 people, the County was able to achieve great things. This is good news for business owners and residents, but what does it mean for employees? We asked a few to share their thoughts on this year’s State of the County accomplishments:  


What are your overall thoughts on the State of the County information shared?  

“WOWWW!!! were my overall thoughts.  It is very easy to forget accomplishments as we go about our day to day lives at work.  I believe the State of the County information helps every associate, citizen, business owner etc. understand the impact of what we do and how it affects Henrico and Virginia.  There is a correlation to providing good customer service, for example as it allows for vendors to feel confident in doing business in the County.  Internal deadlines that we meet and exceed allow decisions to be made and executed that provide clarity in the process of local government (which could be cumbersome) but our efforts exceed other localities which makes us great.” – Jeff Conley, Supplier Relations Manager, Finance – Purchasing Division 

“The County is transparent in their efforts to manage, build, grow and partner with others for the best possible place to live, work and grow your family or business. The staff and administrators have heart in all things being considered and challenge stakeholders to work together to achieve and do difficult things to make our County the best it can be for everyone while being fiscally conservative and mindful of the past, present, history and future.”– Debbie Lumpkin- HR Analyst 


How do you see this impacting the employees of Henrico?     

“As an employee I take great pride in the accomplishments and the goals that our County has set.  I think that the information shared gives additional tools and resources to share with our community as “ambassadors” for the County.” – Jeff Conley   

The impact to employees is that we are challenged to get the job done, thinking outside the box and partnering with others in ways that we might not done in the past.The more we reach for the moon, the more we will achieve together.” – Debbie Lumpkin 

What are you excited about?     

“I am excited about the energy and motivation of County leaders, it is contagious and is multiplied as we spread the message in each of our work areas.  I am further excited when friends and colleagues outside of the County ask about my experiences and successes and I am able to share with great enthusiasm and zeal that not only is Henrico a great place to live it is a great place to work!” – Jeff Conley   

“I am excited by partnership opportunities and the revitalization of residential and businesses and new growth of each. By creating inviting facilities and recreational venues with transportation for all to enjoy only helps the community live, learn, prosper and engage with one another, and is that not what life is all about? “– Debbie Lumpkin 


Is there one thing in particular that stood out to you?     

“The growth of our County stood out the most and how we as a local body are finding innovative ways of keeping not only our County competitive but our associates also through leadership opportunities on major initiatives impacting our community.” – Jeff Conley 

“These quotes from the presentation, “With heart the impossible is possible” and “We reach for things not because they are easy but because they are hard” sum up the mission for County employees as we conduct business and interact with one another because what we do is bigger than ourselves and has great impact to many for years beyond us. “– Debbie Lumpkin 


What do you think employees who didn’t attend the State of the County should know?     

“I like that there is a link that can be shared that provides an additional opportunity to tell the Henrico story and highlight the ‘Henrico Way’. I also think associates benefit from knowing how the community supports the State of the County address and who is in the room, partnering for the success of our County.” – Jeff Conley   

“For employees who have ever wondered their purpose, the presentation will bring to light the purpose and the “why” we do what we do each day and should feel the pride and appreciation for the ways that they contribute to the success of our County and its future for everyone. “– Debbie Lumpkin 


Anything else you would like to add? 

“I REALLY liked the references to not doing the easy stuff, but the hard stuff is what makes this County epic.  I cannot get the picture of the moon landing and the Henrico flag out of my head. It made me proud to be counted in the number of associates and citizens. The graphic for Facebook and the H formation of the current buildings and how growth could impact our region was memorable as well.”– Jeff Conley 

To watch the State of the County, please visit  the Henrico County YouTube channel. 


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Live your Healthiest Life: Setting Personal Wellness Goals and How They Can Help You Be Successful

Achieving and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is a lifelong journey and there may be times when the task may seem overwhelming. Living your healthiest life is a big project – possibly one of your biggest undertakings yet. 

As with any big project, if you focus only on the end result (which may seem endlessly far away!) the process seems daunting. For those trying to lose weight, setting goals can often mean the difference between success and failure. Goals help motivate you and keep you focused. They put your thoughts into actions and help you meet your expectations. But goal setting is easier said than done. You cannot just write something down and expect that it will happen.  

Your ability to reach your fitness and wellness goals is closely tied to how realistic they are. Many have unrealistic expectations. They set goals for themselves that are too big, too quick, or too impractical. Before you identify your goals, take some time to reflect on your situation. You know you want to lose weight, but why? What is it that you are really striving for? Once you have answers (or at least some pretty good assumptions), develop a plan. Break those big goals down into smaller steps that seem within your grasp.  

Here is a hands-on guide to help you establish and achieve your goals: 

If you have not already, write down each of your goals on a piece of paper. Underneath write why this goal is important to you. What is it that is motivating you to make this big change in your lifestyle? Next, ask yourself how confident you are that you can achieve each of the goals you have written down. If you have more than one goal, consider whether working on multiple goals at once will be distracting or energizing. Analyzing your goals may cause you to refine or even change them. Perhaps your goal of losing 50 pounds was sparked by an upcoming class reunion, but now you realize what you really want is just to get healthier and feel better. Most often personal health goals tend to center around weight, activity, healthy eating and feeling better.

It is OK to dream big. Big things do not happen unless you have big aspirations. But recognize that big things typically do not happen without big efforts. Champion athletes do not become champions and then start training like one. It is the other way around – they dream big, do the necessary preparation, and then carry out their plan to reach their goals.  

So, dream big if you want to – keeping realism in mind – but understand that you will need a well-planned effort to reach your healthiest life.

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Christmas Mother Tradition Continues to Grow

In 1942, a dedicated teacher asked her students to bring in canned goods to donate to those in need in the community. Over 70 years later, her small act of kindness has evolved into one of Henrico County’s largest charitable traditions- The Henrico Christmas Mother. Now, the Christmas Mother council hosts and attends fundraising events throughout the year with various sponsor organizations. In December, once all the items and funds are collected, they are taken to the warehouse where the magic begins. Volunteers spend two days setting up the warehouse in sections with a plethora of new books on display, a variety of clothing items, toys galore and truck loads of nonperishable food! Once distribution begins, a volunteer will “shop” with an approved applicant so he/she can pick out items for his/her loved ones. Every child under 18 years old gets a sweat suit (This year donated by Haynes), 2 pairs of socks, new books, 2 toys, a coloring book, and stocking stuffers. After “shopping” the family member is given nonperishable food items, based on their family size, and a gift card to purchase perishables. Once they are finished, members of our very own Henrico Division of Fire and Department of Public Works load the family’s car. Rebecca Slough, one of this year’s Christmas Mother Co-chairs, remembers how heart warming it was to see the gratefulness of those in need as they saw the generosity of others and selected their entire Christmas for their family who would otherwise have nothing; some even breaking down in tears. 

This tradition wouldn’t be as successful if it wasn’t for the volunteers; including the many Henrico County Government and School employees that organize collection drives, coordinate fundraising events, and help at the warehouse. Every year, we continue to grow in our efforts. Last year, during the campaign there were 15 events hosted by various departments. This year, we have expanded to 25 events! Of course many of the fan favorites came back; like the MH/DS Candy Cane Grams, DPU’s Chip & Chan Chili Challenge, Finance’s Chili and Barbecue, Building Inspection’s Baked Potato Bar, Community Correction’s Hot Dog Day and the many Bake Sales with MH/DS, Finance, Jail East, and the Permit Center. There were also some new, exciting events: 

Juvenile Detention hosted their First Annual Fish Fry which completely sold out! They had perfect weather to enjoy fresh fried fish under canopies with homemade desserts by the staff. 

Jean Moore in the Planning Department issued a challenge to Joe Emerson, Planning Director. If she and her department could raise $1,000, he would complete a surprise task. They raised the money itwo days! She says, “It was awesome, but the success really goes to the enthusiasm and support of my coworkers and especially the agency directors and a couple very generous pledges.” The task is currently a surprise, but be on the lookout at the Board of Supervisor’s meeting on December 10. 

Rec & Parks brought back their breakfast fundraiser that they had last done 6 years ago. Then, it was with just their division, when they were all in the same building. Now, with it open to all employees, they managed to get 30 pre-orders and had an even better turnout. The ladies were at Belmont at 5 am to start on their menu of quiches and French toast. Mary Stanley said many of their employee work on their feet all day so the loved the chance to give back and take care of them. Elaine Olay was absolutely touched when the Park Services guys came in the kitchen with a stack of dishes and silverware and asked to wash them to give the ladies a break. 

IT switched it up this year and instead of doing a bake sale, they went with a Halloween BooBBQ fundraiser that was open to the County. Within an hour they were sold out of pork BBQ. Warren Bowman had smoked meat for the IT Department for additional purchase and some members of IT donated their personal share of BBQ back to the event to sell! 

Human Resources did an Elf Surveillance fundraiser within their various offices. Employees donated to be on the watch team that gets to find “Glitter” the elf. She would hide each day in a different office until she was found.  

Can’t forget the Community Revitalization BBQ Pitmaster’s challenge, the County Manager’s Office dunking booth and the Jail West’s Pie the Chief. All the events this year were very successful and a huge thank you goes to all who participated! As Tanya Harding, one of this year’s Christmas Mother Co-chairs, noted, “every year I am completely blown away with how much our County and our employees do each year.  Every year it is like the campaign and the events get bigger and better.” 

There are still a few events left if you want to participate. December 2 will be the last drop off date for items and then distribution (“Shopping”) starts on December 5. For the funds raised, there will be a mock check presentation at the December 10 Board of Supervisor’s meeting. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for Joe Emerson and his holiday spirit! 


For more photos of all of the events, please visit the Christmas Mother page on SharePoint. 

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Healthy for Life! How to Live Your Healthiest Life – Adding positive habits and breaking bad habits, part two

+ Eat Vegetables and Fruits (4 or more servings of vegetables and 3 or more of fruits) and Avoid Added Sugars 

Fresh vegetables and fruits are the foundations of a healthy diet and successful weight loss. Most processed foods, sweets and non-diet sodas contain a lot of calories in just a small portion. Vegetables and fruits are the opposite – they have lots of bulk (fiber) and few calories. You can eat a lot, consume fewer calories and feel full at the end of your meal. The American Heart Association recommends eating 4 servings of vegetables and 3 servings of fruit every day.  

Your first reaction to seeing how many servings of vegetables and fruit you should eat might have been, “I can’t do that!” Hold on – you may be confusing servings with portions. A portion is the amount of food YOU put on your plate; which may contain many servings. One of the reasons many Americans today are overweight or obese is that portion sizes have increased; especially in restaurants. We’ve become accustomed to eating large amounts of food at our meals – far more than we actually need. To lose weight, and keep it off, you need to learn how to estimate servings so you can control portions.  


This month, the challenge is to eat more servings of vegetables and fruits. And you may find that focusing on eating more veggies and fruits (a very positive, health improvement habit) will distract you from having to say NO to highly processed, high-calorie junk food. Use the following tips to plan how you can increase your chances of increasing your daily vegetable and fruit intake.  

  • Be selective. Eat only those vegetables and fruits that you like, but don’t be afraid to explore different types and varieties. You may be surprised. 
  • Make them #1. Vegetables should take up the largest portion of your lunch and dinner plates, with fruits trailing close behind. East these foods first, rather than reserving them for the end of the meal.  
  • Consider them a priority. When planning meals, think of dishes that contain vegetables and fruits as the centerpiece and build the rest of your meal around them. 
  • Mix it up. Try both raw and cooked vegetables. Lightly cook, steam or roast vegetables for a softer texture.  
  • Grab-and-Go. When you’re in a hurry, have ready-to-eat vegetables and fruits on hand. Buy fresh vegetables and fruits that require little preparation, such as baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, bananas, apples and grapes.  
  • Think toppings. Add bananas, strawberries or other fruit to cereal or yogurt. 
  • Explore. Visit local farmers markets. The freshness and variety may encourage you to try new kinds of produce. 
  • Innovate. Find ways to incorporate vegetables with other foods or in existing recipes. Add them to soups, casseroles, pizzas and sandwiches. 

Stay on track with your vegetable and fruit intake each day to avoid added sugars found in processed foods. Added refined sugars contains extra (unwanted) calories, has no nutritional value, and negative health effects such as tooth decay and an increase in blood sugar (glucose) associated with diabetes. If you want something sweet use the natural sweetness of fruit. Instead of sugar on your cereal add banana, blueberries or strawberries. Blend fresh (or frozen) fruit with frozen yogurt and ice for a refreshing and naturally sweet treat and for dessert, prepare baked apples or grilled pineapple.  


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A New Intranet is Coming! Part 2

New Intranet

In any given week, almost 3,000 employees view nearly 12,000 different pages on our intranet. Known as Virtual (http://virtual.henrico), it plays a large part in many employees day-to-day work. It is an access point to so many tools and a great way for the County to privately share employee-specific information.  

Virtual, in its present form, is still relevant but a bit outdated; having been in use for 20 years. The Department of Information Technology (IT) decided it was time to investigate new possibilities and also knew replacing something with such a legacy was not going to be an easy feat.  IT began by surveying employees on what they would like to see in a new intranet. Ideas of more dynamic content, searchability, and calendars were the most common answer. IT took this feedback, their web analytics, and research into modern intranets to design and build something new; from the ground up. Their solution was to transition to SharePoint- a tool IT is very excited about. SharePoint is already being used by many County agencies and  IT sees many more potential uses for in the County.  

This is the largest SharePoint project yet and is led by IT Systems Developer II, Morgan Edwards. He is now well known for his vast Office 365 knowledge and some of his earlier work at the County was the development and maintenance of Virtual. His long-time understanding of how the County does business, how people like to interact with similar tools, and his history with the intranet, have allowed IT to develop something impressive; something that honors what people enjoyed about the old intranet, as well as provide so many new things moving forward.   

What is being developed is a modern intranet- a collection of sites that users can move in and out of depending on their various tasks throughout the day. IT didn’t just take the old site and make it prettier, they reorganized it for a better user experience and accessibility. Similar to the approach taken on https://henrico.usseveral years ago, services will have a bigger approach than pure department-centered organization. Users will be able to interact with County services from various departments for both their job responsibilities and as a participant. In addition, from nearly anywhere on the site, users can reach other popular pages; like the phone directory or employee resources.  Users will also be able to access this new site from their computer or mobile devices and still have all content instantly searchable across not just the County intranet, but all permitted SharePoint sites; a one-stop shop.  

 Other changes include a new sites for Café 1611 to show you their menu (one of the more popular current sites) and the new employee resources section with services, forms, policies, and more of what is useful to County employees; a calendar tracking events going on around the County, upcoming holidays, Board Meetings, and paydays; and new internal-service organization sites dedicated to sharing more information with employees.  


IT plans to launch the new Intranet (SharePoint) before the end of the year and will be redirecting the URL for ‘virtual’ to SharePoint. Not to worry, Virtual will not be going away just yet, but will be available using a new link. The old Virtual site will be phased out over time, and communication about it will be available on the new intranet.  


Please keep in mind that even after implementation, this will be an ongoing project.  As IT sees how the site is being used, they will begin adapting to the needs of the organization. Employees can use the Feedback form to let IT know their likes, concerns and needs of the new intranet. IT has already received and implemented a lot feedback-based updates since previewing this project a month ago.  


If you are interested in leveraging tools like SharePoint and other Office products, IT is ready to help. Check out the new site request form if you are ready to take that step!  


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“A Truly Fantastic Space”: The New Fairfield Library from the Employee Perspective

“It’s just so beautiful.” Those were the words shared by numerous visitors who toured Henrico’s new Fairfield Area Library when doors opened to the public for the first time on Sunday, October 6. The library welcomed 2,500 people at the Grand Opening and, by day’s end, patrons had checked out over 1000 books. Each Henrico library focuses on a specific theme, with Fairfield’s theme centering around the convergence of black political thought, dually led by Booker T. Washington and W. E. B. Du Bois. With intentionality embedded in the aesthetic and visual representation of the library, County Manager John Vithoulkas described it as a “facility that goes so far beyond a library at the minimum level.”]

For quite some time, Henrico’s community has waited in anticipation for the library’s new building to open its doors, and not just because it’s something new. As Patty Conway, Henrico Library’s Community Relations Coordinator, shared: “Before the building opened, there were years of planning, during which time the community could give input and feedback into the building’s features and design. This added to the feeling of possibility and anticipation for all of us, I think—that the building is such a reflection of the community, a monument to the community’s need and values.” However, it’s not just the citizens who have been monumentally excited for this new addition to Henrico’s East End. We asked a couple of our own Fairfield Library employees about their experience with opening the new library.

“I’m sure it’s everything you would think it could be,” said Fairfield Library Manager Mike Hatchett. “Of course, it’s very exciting for everybody involved and it’s exhausting, packing, moving, unpacking, looking for things you know you’ve packed, but can’t find.  Then you look up from all the work and find yourself in a truly fantastic space.” The new Fairfield Area Library is a noteworthy upgrade, with over double the square footage of the previous building, a modern design of rooms for study or meetings, and designated areas for children, teens, and adults. The library also has a digital media lab, a recording room, a beautiful fireplace, and even an outdoor space for activities. When asked about his favorite thing about the library so far, Hatchett explained, “My favorite thing is seeing long-time Fairfield patrons come up to the staff and just hug them with joy.  ‘We did it,’ they say, ‘we finally did it.’”

Conway says the Trailblazer’s Wall—a monument to significant people who influenced the culture of the county, state and nation—is her favorite thing about the library so far. “The stories it shares are inspiring… At the library’s grand opening, many Trailblazers and descendants of Trailblazers attended the opening ceremony, which was incredibly special. I hope the wall offers recognition to the local and regional heroes it depicts, and that their stories go on to inspire others to do great things.” With features such as these throughout the library, employees discover an interactive environment as they check out a book, study, use the computers, or just sit to read and enjoy the view. As this new facility caters to its patrons through these innovative mediums, Henrico employees focus on what they do best—going above and beyond to deliver the best customer experience for those that they serve.

“For most librarians, it’s a once in a lifetime experience,” said Hatchett.  Fairfield opened its previous library in 1976. Now over 40 years later, Fairfield frequenters are witnessing the start of a legacy that will reflect “the many interests and needs of the community it serves,” said Conway, “and it has the spaces to support those interests and needs as they change and evolve.… It’s a great feeling to be a part of something like that, and we are lucky as librarians in Henrico that we have these kind of facilities that support our work.”

Ribbon cutting on opening day at Fairfield Library

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A New Intranet is Coming!

New Intranet

An intranet is a private website focused at an organization’s staff, versus the public. At Henrico, this has commonly been served by http://virtual.henrico.  “Virtual” has been in place for a very long time.

Based on survey results, usage analytics and research into modern Intranets, Information Technology is nearing the completion of the new intranet and is ready to have you try it out!

Note: The new intranet is still under active development – we are still adding content, features, and images. While we look forward to your feedback, please only review the site and provide feedback, and use Virtual for an actual source of information.

Some of the new features you can look forward to with the new intranet:

  • Access from anywhere as it lives in Office 365 (including home and mobile use)
  • New areas focusing on services, forms, and policies related to County employees
  • Quick access to your email, calendar, and SharePoint sites
  • Increased engagement through news, calendars, and other features
  • Easily search across the Intranet, SharePoint, and Office 365 in one place
  • Direct access to request your own SharePoint site for your Team, Division, or Department
  • Modern technology platform that makes it easier for future growth

The new site is planned to go live in mid-November.  You can visit the new site by going to https://henricova.sharepoint.com.

Here are some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) we have already gotten related to the new site:

Q. The site asks me to login, why?

A. We are leveraging SharePoint as a part of Office 365 for a significantly more modern intranet. This is tied to the same login account you use for your email to log into your computer. This does mean due to Microsoft licensing, Schools and Libraries employees must request direct access.

Q. What will happen to Virtual?

A. Starting at the launch, http://virtual.henrico will link to the new site. A legacy URL will be provided. We plan on decommissioning the legacy intranet site in early 2020.

Q. Something is missing that is very important to me, what do I do?

A. You can submit all feedback using this form or by clicking ‘Feedback’ available at the top of the new site.

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Live your Healthiest Life with a 7-Day Sleep Makeover to Take You from Exhausted to Energized

Follow these simple steps to put yourself on the path to a fully energized, fully awake YOU! Start by running a “7 for 7” sleep experiment. Seven hours of sleep for seven nights in a row. No excuses. Even if you think you can function well on five or six hours. This is non-negotiable. Which means you will also need to…

Pick a bedtime. Choosing a set time that you day will end is THE KEY to getting those seven hours. If you know when you must wake up back it up by 7 hours and viola, that is your bedtime! This becomes the hard stop for your day. To close your eyes at the time you’ve picked, you’ll need to…

Establish a wind down routine. A regular wind down routine is vital to falling asleep more easily at night and staying asleep until morning. You will want to begin this routine about an hour before bedtime, giving your body and mind time to decompress from your day.

  • Cut out caffeine after noon. Caffeine can temporarily block sleep-inducing chemicals in the brain and increase adrenaline production.
  • Clean up the clutter. Visual clutter stresses us out, so tidying up each evening helps you feel ready for bed. This is why spas are so Zen! Just take a few minutes to put things away.
  • Dim the lights. Go through the house and dim the lights (or turn some off if you don’t have dimmer switches). This sends a subtle signal to your brain that it should start to wind down.
  • Soften sound in the house. Like the lighting, changing the soundtrack in the house in the hour before bedtime can be powerful. Choose music or TV programming carefully so the sounds in the house are aligned with your goal of getting to sleep.
  • Stow your devices. I know, I know…but do it. Take the phone and the tablet and ALL the electronics that emit blue light and put them away. A digital detox for the last waking hour is HUGE to sleep wellness. It will keep you from scrolling mindlessly for hours. Instead, read or journal, or have a conversation with someone you love. PS – if your phone is your alarm, put it in the next room and turn up the volume or buy an analog alarm clock.
  • Clear your head. If your thoughts prevent you form falling asleep, keep a journal or notebook on your nightstand. If you are worried you might forget an errand or deadline the next day – jot it down. If you are stressing about something, write about it. This simple act of clearing your head is the last step toward a restful night of sleep.

For more information on healthy sleep, visit the National Sleep Foundation at www.sleep.org

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