Gardens in Bloom

(Photo by Wéyo.)

St. Mary’s residents — and staff — love spending time in the Home’s gorgeous courtyards. If you haven’t had a chance to see the gardens in bloom here at St. Mary’s Home for Disabled Children, we hope you will enjoy them on your next visit.
The courtyards have been beautified by the Harborfront Garden Club, Virginia Beach Garden Club and Junior Virginia Beach Garden Club.

Making Mermaid Magic

Jahmari and Amelia took a field trip today to help make a mermaid. With paintbrushes and rollers — and a little help from Amelia’s mother and staff from St. Mary’s Home for Disabled Children — they dabbed blue paint on the tail of one of Norfolk’s newest mermaid statues, which is going to be displayed at the Home.
“The kids are going to put their magic into it,” said artist Georgia Mason, who is creating the mermaid. She invited St. Mary’s children to come out to her home studio so they could see the mermaid in progress and lend a hand.
What does a mermaid have to do with St. Mary’s Home?
Norfolk is dotted with mermaid statues shaped like the city’s mermaid symbol, which is 10 years old. The city is now celebrating the Year of the Mermaid, which kicked off with a party at St. Mary’s earlier this month, including the reading of a mayoral proclamation honoring the Home. The event also celebrated the release of a new, special anniversary edition of Lisa Suhay‘s children’s book about Norfolk’s mermaids, “There Goes a Mermaid!” Suhay is donating part of the proceeds to the Home and to The Virginian-Pilot’s Joy Fund.

But the children of St. Mary’s didn’t have a mermaid to call their own. Carl Albero, a member of St. Mary’s Board, bid $5,000 at a fundraiser auction earlier this year to get them a mermaid, and one of his granddaughters also helped paint the mermaid today. Mason is using just part of the mermaid money to pay for materials; the rest will go to support the nonprofit Home because Mason is donating her time and talent to the project.

Stay tuned for updates on the mermaid.
WAVY-TV 10 ran a story about the mermaid field trip on its 5:30 p.m. newscast today. If you didn’t happen to catch it, below you can watch our own video of Amelia, Jahmari and helpers working on the mermaid:

Lemonade, Popcorn and Hula Hoops

There are few lazy days of summer at St. Mary’s Home for Disabled Children. Residents stay busy going to summer school and camp and taking part in a variety of other activities in the evenings and on weekends. This afternoon, though, residents and staff dropped by the Atrium for a little snack-and-music break.
Crystal Anderson, who runs St. Mary’s kitchen, mixed up some lemonade. Mamie McCloud, an occupational therapy technician, built a lemonade stand, recycling some old boxes. The mother of one of St. Mary’s residents donated popcorn, and staff tried out their Hula Hoop skills and dance moves as music blared from a portable stereo.
In the photo, that’s Crystal standing next to Wayne, who’s got a Hula Hoop, and Mamie leaning over Jahmari.

Sand, Sea and Team Hoyt VB

A fleet of life rafts, jogger strollers and beach buggies covered the grass at Neptune’s Park on 31st St. in Virginia Beach for several hours Saturday. Team Hoyt VB had set up camp for the 10th annual Allen Stone Memorial Run-Swim-Run, tackling sand and sea for the first time to take enthusiastic participants on an added adventure.

Team Hoyt VB goes on runs with residents of St. Mary’s Home for Disabled Children and other children and young adults with disabilities from the community. Members have completed nine running events over the past two years, so they’re used to the logistics of a typical race. Introducing beach buggies, life rafts, kayaks and life jackets, however, added a new dimension.

Runners, participants, families and volunteers showed up from across Hampton Roads, including The Noblemen, a local philanthropic group that provided many of the large jogger strollers. Two residents from St. Mary’s Home took part in the event, and St. Mary’s staff also reunited with some former residents who had moved on after turning 21. People cheered at the finish line for the 5K and at the water’s edge as crews helped participants back to their jogger strollers.

One of the parents described being involved with Team Hoyt VB last year as a gift of being “connected in community, service and spirit.” You couldn’t help but feel that way on Saturday.

Watch a WAVY-TV story about the run here:

Celebrating the Mermaid Book and the Year of the Mermaid

Five years ago, Lisa Suhay told the story of Norfolk’s mermaid statues in her children’s book, “There Goes a Mermaid! A NorFolktale.” But the story didn’t end there, as Norfolk’s mermaid population has continued to grow right up until this officially proclaimed “Year of the Mermaid” — which began Sunday with an event at St. Mary’s Home for Disabled Children.
About 60 residents, family members, staff and friends of the Home gathered in the Atrium to celebrate the release of a special revised edition of Suhay’s book, which includes some of the “new girls in town” and a page all about SMHDC. The special printing honors the fifth anniversary of the original book, the 10th anniversary of the mermaid as Norfolk’s symbol and the upcoming 65th anniversary of St. Mary’s Home.
Suhay read — actually, gave a wonderful performance of — her book and signed copies of it. She is donating part of the book’s proceeds to SMHDC and The Virginian-Pilot’s Joy Fund. “Lisa has been a real friend to St. Mary’s,” CEO William C. Giermak said of Suhay, who also spoke at the Home’s graduation ceremony in May.
Bob Batcher, public relations manager for the City of Norfolk, read a proclamation issued by Norfolk Mayor Paul D. Fraim. The proclamation honors St. Mary’s Home and declares July 2009-2010 to be the “Year of the Mermaid” in Norfolk.
St. Mary’s Home, which cares for children with severe disabilities from Norfolk as well as from throughout Virginia, exemplifies the city’s slogan of “Life. Celebrated Daily,” Batcher said. “Every day there is something here to celebrate,” he said.
Special guest former Miss Norfolk Amanda Batcher, Batcher’s daughter, sang “God Bless America” to open the program and closed out the event with a touching rendition of “Over the Rainbow.”
Also on hand for the event were Debbie Bellucci from The Joy Fund and “Mermaid Mama” Georgia Mason, who has created many of Norfolk’s mermaids and now is working on one for the children of St. Mary’s Home.

Have Fun and Help Children While You’re At It

(Photo by Wéyo.)
Garrett and Angel (above) and other children at St. Mary’s Home for Disabled Children have a lot of fun on our playground.
You can have some outdoor fun this Saturday — and help the children of St. Mary’s — by taking part in the Wells Fargo Advisors Cornhole Tournament of Champions. The event is at “hidden” shelter #5 at Great Neck Park, 2513 Shorehaven Drive in Virginia Beach.
Registration is from 10 a.m.-10:45 a.m., with game play from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. The cost to play is $20 per person, with proceeds to benefit St. Mary’s Home. Players get a hotdog lunch, and there will be a $100 purse for the winning team.
If you don’t know what cornhole is or need to brush up on the rules, check out the website of the American Cornhole Association. Cornhole is like horseshoes, except you toss corn-filled bags into holes in a wooden platform.
For more information about the tournament, contact Lori Ann Tamayo, (757) 431-6389, or

A Smile and a Handshake

U.S. Rep. Glenn Nye dropped by St. Mary’s Home for Disabled Children for a tour this week. One of his stops included the classroom of the Early Intervention Program for the Home’s youngest residents. He shook hands with 3-year-old Jahmari, who was being held by recreational therapy assistant Shaun Stauffer.
St. Mary’s Home is located within Nye’s district, the 2nd District of Virginia, which stretches along the eastern side of the state.