As we continue to navigate the global pandemic, I am sure most of us have read those “feel good” stories that give us faith or hope. Some of us may even be lucky enough to be a part of those stories.
I would like to share a story, about a group of people that embody everything good in the world. Some of you may even see this as an example of the “Henrico Way”. I cannot tell you that this group is perfect nor that they always get along, but I can tell you that the men and women of the Solid Waste Division are a family. They are a team that finds a way to work together and gets the job done.
When the local effects of the pandemic began in March, most restaurants, parks, and businesses closed. Residents were encouraged to stay at home to help stop the spread of COVID-19. As you can imagine, waste services were deemed essential. We knew curbside trash, recycling, and the public use areas could not be put on hold or closed. The question became, how do we provide the same basic level of service while keeping our workers and residents safe? How do we run refuse collection crews (sometimes three workers in a truck) and not expose anyone to COVID-19? How do we open the public use areas that sometimes have over 1,000 visitors a day and not expose the public or our workers to COVID-19?
Many of the answers to these questions made the daily jobs of the Solid Waste staff even harder. We asked our staff to wear masks on hot, sweltering, 100-degree days; making the job more strenuous. We asked our staff to clean their trucks and equipment multiple times a day; often adding an hour or so of work to their already extended day. We asked our staff to limit the number of residents allowed to enter the public use areas to 10 vehicles at a time and to keep those vehicles at least 6-feet apart. This created a 3-hour wait and some unhappy residents on multiple occasions. We asked our call center staff to work and take calls from home which added additional stress and hurdles to work through. Our staff found a way.
From March through July, we saw a 15% increase in the waste volumes we collected. That is an additional 3,600 tons of waste collected through curbside refuse collection program and another 1,100 tons collected through our public use area program. All while the COVID-19 limitations were in place. Our staff found a way.
In April, 20% of our staff was quarantined at one time. In May, our refuse collection routes went from eight hours per day, five days a week to nine hours per day, six days a week. Currently, 60% of our refuse trucks are broken down at one time. Our staff continues to find a way.
At the end of the day, I cannot express the admiration and respect I have for the 60 or so Solid Waste Division employees who I consider my family. They have overcome every obstacle that has been thrown at them and done so with a smile on their face. (I think it is a smile, although it is hard to tell with a mask on!) Please, if you see one of our refuse trucks on the road or visit one of our public use areas, give the staff a big smile and a thumbs up! They have worked hard, continue to do so, and have truly shown the “Henrico Way”!
Many are aware of Henrico County’s award-winning internship program and the partnerships it has with local schools. You may be familiar enough with various Henrico schools or possibly have even seen some of the students working hard around the government center. While there is no doubt that COVID-19 has had an impact on our ability to provide paid internships, the County continues to maintain relationships with many
learning institutions and can offer opportunities for students to obtain credit in their degree programs. Furthermore, these relationships have proven vital in delivering a pool of talented new employees, especially during these hard times. In fact, Henrico County has hired a total of 53 of our former interns; 15 of which were hired during the last fiscal year.
This year also marks the first time Henrico County has hired a previous high school intern as a full-time employee. Clayton Fuhrman started his internship with the County while attending Glen Allen High School and the Diesel Mechanic program at the ACE Center at Hermitage High school. Clayton completed his internship at the East End Automotive Shop working mostly on school buses and some cars. He shared, “I’ve always loved working with engines and so it was a good fit for me. The guys I worked with helped me along the way teaching me skills and tricks that would later help me succeed to move forward and start my career. My internship prepared me for a unique and special opportunity I would have never
expected, to join Henrico full-time. Henrico Fire was so impressed with my skills and ability to adapt that they hired me as an emergency vehicle technician. I have loved fire engines since I was a little kid and was amazed when I was asked ‘when can you start?’ It comes to show that regardless of where you start, with a little hard work and perseverance you can end up doing something very special.”
The success of our internships does not stop with Clayton. Cate Clifton started her internship at Henrico in August of 2019 as a Master Social Work Intern in the Child Welfare Stipend Program at VCU. Kate shared, “I did not know what to expect, but I had a good feeling about Henrico—the people, the work, and the vibe. I was introduced to everyone in the office and I quickly started to find a groove asking folks what they were doing that day or week and asking to join them. I focused heavily on the foster care and adoption unit and began working closely with this team. I was guided towards being a proficient foster care worker and learning the “Henrico Way”. My supervisor’s open-door policy and her collaborative way of solving staffing issues were invaluable to my sense of belonging. After the nine months I spent interning, I applied and was hired full-time as a Family Services Specialist. I felt prepared to do this work because of the internship; because of the training and the strong relationships built with colleagues.”
Cate went on to say, “Being an intern at Henrico was challenging due to the difficult nature of the work. As a child welfare worker, we are asked to help families solve complex problems that transcend the family system, and in many cases, it is a tall order. Today, I feel like an asset to the children and families with whom I work. I am constantly taking active steps to learn and grow, which is extremely important. I find that open-heartedness is crucial, and this work is best approached with humility and deep regard for the dignity of all families.”
As you can see, internships provide not only professional skills for students but also life skills. It affords students the rare opportunity of self-discovery in the form of career exploration. Their experiences give them a better understanding of what they like and don’t like, along with what they want in their future. The program strives to ensure a balance between the student’s specific learning and career development goals while creating a positive experience for the student. They witness first hand how various roles align with the County’s missions as well as their personal goals, all before graduating high school. Upon graduation, these students are college-ready and career prepared!
Students are not the only ones to benefit and grow with an internship. Their coworkers and supervisors have the opportunity to not only teach a younger generation and watch them flourish but learn from them as well. Clayton mentioned how the mentorship from his colleagues was crucial to his success. Cate’s supervisor, Jamie Anderson summarized her view of Cate’s success: “Cate is someone who brings a great deal of enthusiasm and passion to her work. Getting her feet wet as an intern has been an excellent segue into professional practice and provided a solid foundation for her as a Family Services Specialist. While jobs in child welfare are highly rewarding, they can come with a high level of stress. Internships can provide a valuable opportunity to see if you are a fit for a certain job type. Many of our employees were interns in public social services agencies who had the opportunity to see the work for all that it is and all that it can be and have chosen this as their profession. A true win-win for the individual, County, and our families.”
As we continue to work through this pandemic and grow, we challenge you to help us utilize these students and build a workforce for tomorrow. Interns are a pipeline of talent and provide the opportunity for you to coach, mentor, and mold. Beginning in the Spring, we will also be expanding on our partnership with Cristo Rey and their Work-Study Program. Cristo Rey is a new high school in our area that uniquely serves limited income families to provide a different type of learning experience. Each student takes a full course load of college preparatory classes for four years while participating one day a week in a four-year Corporate Work-Study program. What better way to find your next employee and show the “Henrico Way”? If your department would like to discuss offering an internship, please contact the County’s Internship Program Coordinator, Debbie Lumpkin, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 804-501-7206. September 31 is the deadline for Spring 2021 internships and November 1 is the deadline for Summer 2021 internships.
Intermittent fasting has become a popular trend over the last few years, but do you know what it truly is? Let us look at the general idea and its key components. Intermittent fasting simply means that you are going an extended period of time without eating (or drinking caloric beverages). This timeframe could be 12-hours, 24-hours, or even longer, but most traditionally intermittent fasting falls somewhere between the 14-hours to 24-hours without eating. The key is to consume the same number of calories as you typically would, but in a shorter timeframe. For example, if you typically hold yourself to a 2,000 calorie diet, your eating may look like this: 7 am you eat scrambled eggs with vegetables and a piece of toast, 9 am you eat an apple with peanut butter, lunch is a chipotle burrito bowl at noon, 2 pm your afternoon snack consists of veggies and hummus, and for dinner at 7 pm you eat pizza with a side salad and a scoop of ice cream for dessert. With intermittent fasting, the focus isn’t on what you are eating (although it is still important) but rather when. To continue the example, with intermittent fasting 7 pm to 9 am, your day may look more like the following: at 7 am you grab a cup of black coffee, at 9 am enjoy your egg breakfast, apple snack is at 11 am, lunch is at 1 pm, afternoon snack is at 3 pm and dinner is 6 pm. You are done consuming calories by 7 pm to begin your fast. Remember, while fasting, you can still enjoy freshly brewed tea, water, seltzer, or black coffee. So, if at 9 pm you are feeling bored or antsy about fasting, drink some hot tea and wind down before bed.
Why has intermittent fasting become so popular? Not to get too specific, but there are several health benefits associated with it. These benefits include blood sugar regulation improvement which can aid with certain diabetes situations, improved memory function, blood pressure, resting heart rate, and many more. From a physiological and fitness aspect, there is an increased amount of testosterone and human growth hormone (HGH) that is released into the body with intermittent fasting which can lead to improved results when paired with resistance training. Research also shows that the hormone, Ghrelin, which is released when your body is ‘hungry’, decreases with intermittent fasting.
It is important to realize that not everyone is going to respond the same way to intermittent fasting. You may see good benefits with intermittent fasting, or you may not realize any changes. The way we should view intermittent fasting, in my opinion, is that it is meant to break our normal cycle and make us more conscious of our dietary decisions. It gets you out of your comfort zone and makes you think: “Am I eating because it is time to eat?” “Am I eating because I am bored?” “Do I really need to eat right now?”
Are you now wondering how do you get started? Select a day in which you would like to try the intermittent fasting and start with a 12-14 hour fast. Now, this may sound intimidating, but if you eat dinner at 7 pm then you only need to make it until 7 am the following day to accomplish a 12-hour fast, or 9 am to make a 14-hour fast. Once you have accomplished this a few times, then you can start to expand your timeframe from 12-14 hours to 16 hours and eventually 24 hours or longer.