Henrico County Volunteer Program

In 1984, Henrico County created the Volunteer Services Program. A coordinator was assigned to establish guidelines for effectively using volunteers in county government departments. A department coordinator, or primary volunteer supervisor, was also identified in most departments. At the program’s start, about 500 volunteers worked in as few as ten departments in the county. Since then, the opportunities available to volunteers and the services provided by non-paid staff members have grown significantly.

The term “volunteer” has taken on many meanings. Specifically, to Henrico County, a volunteer is a person who has chosen to give their time and talent to a worthwhile group or cause without concern for monetary profit. The county has come to rely more and more upon volunteers to: 

  • Enrich and extend the programs now being offered through various county agencies
  • Gain skills and practical experience through personal development 
  • Perform and support direct services that impact the community by encouraging civic engagement 
  • Afford residents and employees an opportunity to affect the environment in which they live, work, and play

Community support and interest are essential in providing quality services for County residents. Volunteers’ contributions, dedication, and commitment are vital to the county’s growth. Each opportunity is different and contributes an essential part to the organization.  

In the last few years, the county has expanded volunteer programs to serve volunteer opportunities with county employees, residents, and students. The county aims to provide a practical and rewarding experience to engage with public service and community organizations.  

The Volunteer Program has been a vital resource to the county’s community and workforce for forty years. Throughout the past few years, Henrico volunteers have contributed hundreds and thousands of hours of volunteer work in several ways. 

  • 2018, 1,232 volunteers contributed 147,530 hours
  • 2019, 960 volunteers contributed 146,263 hours
  • 2020, 806 volunteers contributed 90,289 hours
  • 2021-2022, no data due to COVID-19
  • 2023, almost 618 volunteers per month contributed 104,928 hours

Henrico honors its volunteers for their commitment to serve, and we encourage all agencies to take time to recognize their volunteers and all the work they do throughout the year. Every year, a national organization shines a light on the individuals inspired to serve and lend their time, talent, and voice to make a difference in our community during National Volunteer Week (NVW). NVW was established in 1974 to host thousands of volunteer projects and special events scheduled throughout the week to celebrate the power of people who actively support their communities through volunteerism. This year, NVW will be observed April 21-27, and Henrico County will participate by hosting various community service activities from Wednesday, April 24 to Saturday, April 27. From food pantries and clothing closets to beautification projects and community partner events for kids, there will be something for everyone. Stay connected with General Notice messages to sign up for all the activities.

The Board of Supervisors will also proclaim that week as Volunteer Week for Henrico County at its April 9 meeting. 

Thank you again for your support of the Volunteer Program. We look forward to continuing the rich tradition of volunteerism here in Henrico County! 

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From Fads to Fiber: Rethinking Weight Loss Strategies

In the relentless pursuit of weight loss, the allure of fad diets and their compelling promises often leads us astray. Internet searches related to weight loss inquiries have increased immensely over the years, so it is safe to say that many are interested in making some changes but need guidance. This guidance often comes from social media and our interpersonal relationships. However, the truth is that consuming a high-fiber and plant-predominant diet is a simple approach to weight loss because it is more sustainable and backed by substantial scientific evidence.

Fad diets are trendy dietary patterns known to be a quick fix for long-term problems. Three key characteristics can quickly identify them: they promise rapid weight loss, focus on one food group or eliminate entire food groups, and provide limited scientific evidence to support their claims. It is also important to note that even if there is available scientific evidence, these studies have not been conducted often or long enough to understand long-term health effects and usually fail to mention high dropout rates. The reason behind these high dropout rates is that the strict regimes of fad diets make them unsustainable long-term, and participants usually revert back to their previous eating habits, regaining the weight they already lost, plus more.

Instead of relying on “quick fix” diets, do yourself a favor by making small but substantial changes to your diet like including more fiber and plant-based foods. Dietary fiber makes you feel full, so consuming more will cause you to eat fewer calories overall. Most meat contains unhealthy fats, so reducing the amount of it you consume will aid you in managing your weight as well. We know that the all-or-nothing approach is only sometimes realistic, so instead of cutting out meat entirely, try a plant-forward diet with a mixture of meat and non-meat protein sources like beans, nuts, and lentils. The key to losing weight is to burn more calories than you consume daily. Making these minor changes to your eating habits and regularly exercising are far more efficient ways to reach and maintain your goal weight than participating in fad diets. 

If you are the type of person who likes to follow a diet plan, consider the Mediterranean diet. This diet is not a quick fix; it’s a complex of dietary choices followed by people living in the Mediterranean region who derive most of their calories from fish and plant-based foods. Whole grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables, olive oil, fish, and nuts are key components of this diet, with moderate allowances of alcohol, dairy products, and meat. The Mediterranean diet is the most extensively studied diet to this day and is proven to be suitable for weight-loss-oriented people.

The Fitness and Wellness Division of the Human Resources Department is committed to helping you ditch the gimmick diets and improve your eating habits by offering an eight-session nutrition program called Full Plate Living. This program will help you understand how to alter your meals to add as much fiber as possible without relying on an all-or-nothing approach. If you, your department, or work group are interested in participating in this program, please contact the Fitness and Wellness Division to get started!




Khawandanah, J., & Tewfik, I. (2016). Fad Diets: Lifestyle Promises and Health Challenges. Journal of Food Research, 5(6), 80. https://doi.org/10.5539/jfr.v5n6p80

Nancy C. Howarth, Edward Saltzman, Susan B. Roberts, Dietary Fiber and Weight Regulation, Nutrition Reviews, Volume 59, Issue 5, May 2001, Pages 129–139, https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1753-4887.2001.tb07001.x

Slavin, J. L. (2005). Dietary fiber and body weight. Nutrition, 21(3), 411–418. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nut.2004.08.018

Spadine M, Patterson MS. Social Influence on Fad Diet Use: A Systematic Literature Review. Nutrition and Health. 2022;28(3):369-388. doi:10.1177/02601060211072370

Tahreem A, Rakha A, Rabail R, Nazir A, Socol CT, Maerescu CM, Aadil RM. Fad Diets: Facts and Fiction. Front Nutr. 2022 Jul 5;9:960922. doi: 10.3389/fnut.2022.960922. PMID: 35866077; PMCID: PMC9294402.

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Henrico’s Newest Fitness Trainer Talks Healthy Hearts and Black History Month

Every February, the United States honors the contributions and sacrifices of African Americans who helped shape the nation. In our diverse, multicultural community here at Henrico, seeking to understand and support our peers goes a long way to promoting positive relationships and elevating respect for the experiences and insights of all cultures. 

This month, we encourage you to participate in celebrating the black community’s rich cultural heritage, triumphs, and adversities. In Henrico County, there are many opportunities to immerse yourself in Black History Month and engage our community through events and connections.

Building positive relationships with others has benefits beyond forging connections and deeper understanding. Studies show that having positive, close relationships with others can improve your ability to recover from stress, anxiety, and depression and can benefit your heart health. Each February, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) and The Heart Truth celebrate American Heart Month by motivating Americans to adopt healthy lifestyles to prevent heart disease.  

To understand more about heart health, a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Division team member interviewed Sydnei Douglas, a trainer and health enthusiast in the Department of Human Resources’ Fitness and Wellness Division, to ask her thoughts about the importance of heart health. These are some of the highlights of the conversation:

 Why is heart health so important?

Sadly, cardiovascular disease is a public health crisis as it is the leading cause of death in the United States. About one person dies every 33 seconds in the U.S. from cardiovascular disease or related conditions. A big reason for this could most likely be hypertension—high blood pressure—which is the number one cause of cardiovascular disease. About 40-45% of the U.S. Adult population has hypertension. That’s almost half of our adult population! 

I think it’s important for our employees to be aware of this and to take steps towards prevention. It’s never too late for a change. Start with the small steps. 

What do you think people should know about heart health or heart disease?

When you think about our workplace setting, a good portion of our employees experience a high volume of sedentary activity because of sitting at our desks. Sedentary behavior and lack of physical activity can also play a huge role in cardiovascular disease. For employees, it’s important to note that we do sit down a lot of the time throughout the day, so one of the things we can do is be more intentional about moving more and getting more physical activity in our daily lives. 

What are three things one can do to be more intentional about heart health? What advice would you give?

The first thing would be to move more. The steps you take towards prevention don’t have to be super intense. Everybody is on a different journey and physical level, so start with what is capable for you. Perhaps start with taking the stairs or getting up to walk around at certain times during the day. Being more physically active in small increments over time is a great way to start being more intentional with your heart and overall health. 

We offer many classes throughout the day at the Training Center for employees to be active. It is also a great way to make connections with other employees! Exercising in groups brings about a sense of community, holds you accountable, and empowers you to overcome challenges. 

Changing your diet is a big one. A small step I recommend is cutting down on fried foods. Fried foods are filled with fat, which can cause plaque buildup in your arteries and blood vessels. We offer many classes and workshops—for both physical activity and nutritional knowledge—throughout the year that our employees participate in. 

Get involved with the programs we have available. You can find this information on the Fitness and Wellness SharePoint site

If you are a smoker, choose a quit date. There are good resources out there that provide knowledge and support throughout your journey, including Employee Health Services and our Anthem Employee Assistance Program (EAP). And if you aren’t a smoker, vow never to start!

Even if you have high blood pressure, which is a huge risk for cardiovascular disease, it can be reversed. Making healthier choices now can improve your heart health over time. 

How can employees celebrate American Heart Month and Black History Month in February?

A good way would be to attend our Heart Health Initiative program in February! I will be doing a bunch of different workshops and educational initiatives to help our employees understand how to improve our heart health. You can register online or email me at [email protected]

Week two of this initiative will be dedicated to health equity, where we will be talking about health disparities regarding cardiovascular health in the black community. This is a great opportunity to educate yourself about the history behind these disparities and the social determinants and recognize black healthcare professionals and clinicians who have impacted cardiovascular health. 

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The 50-30-20 Budget Rule Explained

We all know the feeling of our spending getting out of control. We often don’t realize how much we are spending on the “little things” like ride-sharing, our daily lunch at the deli around the corner, or all those subscriptions to streaming services we pay every month.

While the big things like rent or mortgage, car payments, and groceries often have the biggest impact on our spending, creating a comprehensive budget is one of the most important things you can do to manage your finances responsibly. However, there are many different approaches to budgeting and many different kinds of budgets.

So how do you choose the right budgeting approach for you and your family? One type of budget you might want to consider is what’s called the “50-30-20 budget.” It’s a percentage-based budgeting approach that is designed to make it easy for you to allocate certain percentages of your income to “buckets.” This can help you gain more control over your spending and, hopefully, achieve your financial goals.

3 main expense categories

With the 50-30-20 budget, you assign all of your household income to one of three main categories of expenses:

  1. Needs — The 50-30-20 approach dictates that you devote 50% of your income to this category. Needs are things like housing, utilities, food, clothing, insurance, and transportation.
  2. Wants —You’ll devote 30% of your income to this category. Wants are things like entertainment, eating out, vacations, recreation and hobbies, and non-essential items such as big-screen TVs, audio systems, and boats and motorcycles.
  3. Savings —You’ll devote the remaining 20% of your income to savings. This includes savings to meet both short- and long-term goals. It may also include debt repayment (other than a home mortgage, which should be considered housing and included in the needs category).

Distinguishing between wants and needs

While these expense categories may seem cut-and-dried, there are some expenses that can bleed over from one category to another. Take clothing, for example.

Obviously, we all need clothes. But there’s clearly a big difference between buying basic clothes and frequently purchasing designer clothing at a high-end boutique. The former would be considered a need while the latter would be considered a want.

Cars are another example. Unless you live in a big city where you can reasonably get around via public transportation, you probably need some kind of vehicle. A basic, dependable car like a Honda or Toyota could be considered a need, while a luxury car like a Mercedes-Benz or Jaguar could be considered a want.

Don’t get too hung up on these kinds of distinctions, though. Decide which category each of your household expenses fits in best and go with that. You can always make adjustments to your budgeting categories later.

The savings buckets

One of the biggest advantages of using a percentage-based budget like the 50-30-20 budget is that it forces you to devote a fixed percentage of your income to savings. Other budgeting systems can tend to just make “savings” whatever is left over after you’ve met all of your needs and wants.

With the 50-30-20 method, your savings should be further divided into two distinct buckets: short-term savings and long-term savings.

Short-term savings

Short-term savings may include an emergency fund, a planned surgery or medical procedure, or saving for a down payment on a car that you’re looking to buy in the near-term. For your emergency fund, it is generally recommended to have between three to six months’ worth of expenses set aside.

Emergency funds are there for you to tap to pay for large expenses like a major car or home repair, or to carry you over during an unexpected time of unemployment. Building an emergency savings account is a short-term savings goal that we recommend everyone set for themselves.

Long-term savings

Conversely, saving for retirement or your children’s college education is usually considered a long-term savings and investing goal. You might use tax-advantaged accounts such as a Roth IRA, 401(k), or 529 plan to help you meet these objectives. The amount you allocate to long-term saving and investing like this is going to be highly personal and depend on your specific goals.

If you can’t devote 20% of your household income to savings right away, don’t let that stop you from adopting a percentage-based budget like the 50-30-20 budget.

Start off with a savings percentage that’s realistic for you and adjust the formula accordingly. For example, a 60-30-10 budget might work better for you now, with the goal of gradually building your savings up to 20% over time.

How Empower can help

Empower provides free online tools that can help you implement a 50-30-20 budget. Empower’s financial tools offer a holistic view of your overall household finances in one central location; this is the first step to creating any kind of budget.

You can link your investment, retirement, bank, and credit card accounts to the dashboard in order to see all of your expenses and total monthly income to get a quick snapshot of your monthly cash flow. Based on this, you can start allocating income to the three expense categories dictated by the 50-30-20 budget system and make adjustments in order to get the percentages right.

In addition, you can create sub-categories beneath the main categories of needs, wants, and savings to help you track cash flow and categorize expenses more closely.

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10 Ways to Beat the Winter Blues

Dark mornings, darker evenings, and chilly gray days in between mean winter is here — and with the coldest season comes the winter blues. There’s no clinical diagnosis for the “winter blues,” but experts at the National Institutes of Health say the so-called winter blues are fairly common and are usually marked by feeling more down than usual, sad, less energized, or less interested in activities one usually enjoys.

Here are ten ways to lift your mood this winter:

If you think it is more than the winter blues or want to talk to someone about them, don’t forget about the Anthem Employee Assistance Program! It has resources and professionals available help you!

Source: https://www.everydayhealth.com/depression/your-best-weapons-against-the-winter-blues.aspx

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Achieve Your Resolutions with the Power of Habits!

Did you make any New Year’s Resolutions this year? How about setting some healthy goals for yourself? In his book, “When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing,” Daniel Pink shares that the beginning of the year is a great time to make changes because it gives us a psychological push, inspiring us to take action, set goals, and make positive changes in our lives. 

So, what’s the best way to get these resolutions and goals to stick? 

We usually rely on willpower, and it turns out that willpower is actually a very small source of energy for us – and it quickly runs out. Research shows that if we use our willpower for one thing during the day, like staying calm during a stressful meeting, we don’t have much left to make the healthy choices we promised ourselves we’d make.  

So where do we find that energy? The answer is: we develop new habits! Habits involve creating consistent behaviors that become automatic for us. Rather than relying on sheer willpower, habits tap into the power of repetition and routine, rewiring our brains so we perform those positive actions effortlessly. We are, in fact, actually drawn to doing them rather than needing to push ourselves using willpower.

The video How to Create and Maintain Healthy Habits on the Department of Human Resources’ YouTube channel has much more on how to make the power of habits work for you so you can finally achieve those goals you’ve been promising yourself you’d meet!

If you want to focus on creating attainable goals, checkout HR’s two-part video about Goal Setting.

Regardless of the approach you take, we hope you find these resources helpful and wish you a successful new year!

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Open Enrollment for 2024 Benefits Need to Knows

Open Enrollment is your annual opportunity to enroll or change your coverage and add or drop dependents for your health, dental, short-term income protection, and flexible spending accounts (FSA). Open Enrollment will be Sunday, October 1 through Friday, October 27, 2023. All changes must be submitted through Employee Direct Access by 4:30 p.m. on October 27, 2023.

We will be re-introducing Open Enrollment Information Sessions this year! Consider attending a session to learn more about our plans and speak with benefits staff and our various vendors. No sign-up is required, and the sessions will be “open house” style.


 Tuesday, October 3, 2023

12:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.                                    Henrico Training Center

                                                                          7701 E. Parham Road

                                                                          Rooms 2029/2030


Thursday, October 19, 2023

12:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.                                   Eastern Government Center

                                                                         Community Room

                                                                         3820 Nine Mile Road

What do you need to know?

  • Healthcare rates will not increase for full-time employees! Anthem will continue to administer our health care and prescription drug benefits. There will be new group numbers in 2024, so plan participants will receive new insurance cards for 2024. Please make sure you use the new card for services starting January 1, 2024.
    1. Due to IRS inflation guidelines, there will be an increase to the high-deductible health plan (HDHP)’s deductible. For employee-only coverage, the deductible will increase by $200, totaling $3,200. The deductible for any dependent-level coverage will increase by $400, totaling $6,400.
  • Delta Dental will continue offering the same plan options for 2024 with a minimal rate increase.
  • TASC will continue to provide our Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) benefit. This year, the minimum annual election for both healthcare and dependent (day) care FSAs will be $100. The new maximum to the healthcare FSA will be $3,050. The dependent (day) care FSA limit will remain at $5,000.


 What do you have to do as an employee?

  • Re-enroll in Flexible Spending Accounts if you wish to participate in 2024.
    1. Up to $570 will roll over into your 2024 healthcare flexible spending account.
  • Review your current plan and dependents to see if changes need to be made.

Note: Healthcare, dental, and short-term income protection enrollments will roll over for 2024 unless you change them during Open Enrollment.

We encourage you to take advantage of Open Enrollment to choose the benefits that are right for you and your family. Visit our dedicated Open Enrollment webpage at https://employees.henrico.us/info/oe for more information!

As a reminder, Open Enrollment for Voluntary Benefits will also be from October 1, 2023 – October 27, 2023. Enrollments and changes to your voluntary benefits are handled through Pierce Insurance Agency, Inc. on the web at pierceins.com/henrico or call 800-421-3142 ext. 170.

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