Showing the Love with Song and Dance

Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate your love for one another. This year, EngAGE took the opportunity to celebrate our love for our elders. In partnership with Henrico County Recreation and Parks, Anthem Inc., JenCare and Bremo Pharmacy, EngAGE hosted a Valentine’s Day Celebration at the Eastern Henrico Recreation Center on Friday, February 14. It was a sold-out event with almost 50 older adults in attendance! In addition to the games, line dancing, and music, there was also a presentation on Heart Health to celebrate February being American Heart Health month. Everyone had a blast!

One of the most important things gained from relationships with older adults is their advice, garnered from their years of experience. As part of the event, EngAGE asked attendees of the event to share their advice for love and life. Below are some of their responses and they did not disappoint: 

Deborah says, “Put God first.”

Dee says, “Be happy every day!”

Dorothy says, “Be kind to all!”

Gladys says, “Show love and kindness to everyone!”

Gloria M. says, “Always tell your family and friends that you love them!”

Gloria R. says, “Respect yourself and love God!”

Hazel says, “Respect”

Sandra A. says, “Always put God first and be true to yourself!”

Sandra W. says, “Don’t judge a person until you have walked in their shoes!”

Sheila says, “Love and forgive with lots of kisses!”

Shirley says, “Always be kind to one another!”

EngAGE plans to host many more social events and to continue celebrating Henrico‘s older adult residents. Since this event was incredibly popular and sold out two weeks ahead of time, they will be looking for larger venues too. “We want to continue to celebrate together!” 

 “Grow old with me! The best is yet to be.” – Robert Browning, Poet

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Café 1611: A County Staple

If you ever find yourself in the Henrico County Western Government Center and in need of a quick bite to eat or a hot meal, Café 1611 is the place to go. Located on the second floor of the Administration building next to the Courthouse and Jail West, it is a little more than a County cafeteria. Thanks to Sharlene Ladd, Café 1611 is a staple.

Since beginning her role as Food Services Manager for the Department of General Services in 2005, Sharlene created a welcoming environment for employees to come, take a load off, and enjoy a sandwich or slice of pizza. “Sharlene was a very caring and kind person. She did a great job and was always there to help you in any way,” recounts Shirley Edwards, Administrative Assistant for the Department of Information Technology and frequent café patron. For over 14 years, Sharlene ran the well-oiled machine with a smile on her face until her untimely passing in April of 2019.

The café closed that mournful day, and, in her absence, Michelle Chambers stepped up until a new manager could be hired. “Michelle is a wonderful, dedicated and true team player.  It takes a special person to fill that role as a Café Manager and she survived it.  Thanks to the Café 1611 staff we didn’t miss a breakfast or lunch,” says Shirley.

In October, Jason Smith was hired as the new Food Services Manager for the Department of General Services and came with years of experience as a Regional Culinary Director and industry involvement since he was 14 years old. He is excited to take his knowledge and build on the legacy that Sharlene created. He has big plans to take Café 1611 to the “next level” by getting more fresh and higher quality foods, new menu items, and putting in a smoothie bar. If you have been to the café in recent months, you may have noticed the increased grab and go options and the fresh proteins on the salad bar.  Julie Davis, Business Supervisor for the Department of General Services says she thought it was Wegmans. “Today, there’s duck on the salad bar, yesterday pesto chicken, artichoke hearts, Quinoa…All kinds of goodness!” “We love it!” exclaimed Regina Hill, Administrative Assistant for the Department of Planning.

 Jason’s ideas don’t end at just the food either. He intends to update the look of the Café with new order stations, fresh paint, TVs and upgraded food packaging. He also says that down the line he wants to add a delivery option for those times employees just can’t get away from their desks.

While it will take some time to implement all of his innovations, one thing is for sure: if you haven’t been to Café 1611, you are certainly missing out. As Shirley says, “Each day we’re excited to see what’s new.  Keep up the good work Café 1611 staff.”

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Lighten Up to Live Your Healthiest Life

Research shows that there’s a surprising connection between elevating your mood and shedding stubborn pounds. It’s difficult to feel calm when you worry about what to eat, when to work out, and whether your effort will pay off – all while keeping up with your everyday obligations. So, someone suggesting you relax during this process is laughable.  

Stress, like a roll of fat above your waistband, isn’t easy to shed. But by learning a few ways to slow down, put yourself first, and yes, relax, you can get both your stress levels and your weight under control for good.  


We all have times when we fall into a self-neglect rut, but lately that seems to be almost an epidemic. The American Psychological Associated reports that 44 percent of Americans believe the level of stress in their life is increasing, but only 9 percent think they handle it well. In studying the relationship between stress and being overweight, researches have zoned in on a key hormone called cortisol. You’ve probably heard of it, but it’s not necessarily a bad hormone. Our bodies use it to maintain blood pressure, and it plays a key role in the way we metabolize both fats and carbohydrates for energy.  

The trouble happens when we are under chronic stress and secrete too much cortisol for our bodies to break down properly. A common side effect of extra cortisol is increased appetite. Being constantly hungry is bad enough, but cortisol also tends to direct pounds to accumulate in the abdomen, rather than the hips, and this belly fat is closely linked to heart disease and stroke. Stress has the biggest impact on weight gain in individuals with an already-high body mass index (BMI), making stress and weight gain something of a vicious cycle. 


One of the most effective ways to manage stress is also one of the simplest: Just breathe. You hear this a lot in yoga class, but you don’t need a mat to practice it. Simply set a timer for eight minutes and find a comfortable position. Now begin. Inhale for a slow count of eight, hold, and then exhale for a count of eight. The first few times you try this, your mind will likely wander. Be patient – when you notice thoughts creeping in, just return to counting your breaths, and when you lose track, start over.

When the eight minutes are up, stop. Shooting for eight minutes a day is an amazing first step. Health benefits will kick in with repeated practice. Sticking with a deep breathing meditation practice for 8 weeks will change how your brain responds to stress. You may sense that you become less reactive to tension and that you have stress-proofed your body.  

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