History in Focus

Note from the Editor:

This article references the “History in Focus” program hosted by the Department of Recreation and Parks in conjunction with two Human Resources Division: DEI and Organizational Learning and Talent Development (OLTD). The course catalog listed the following description: Each year, Henrico honors two very important dates in our nation’s history – Juneteenth and July 4th. Both represent America’s foundational values of freedom and equality. Do we celebrate our achievements or commemorate the beginning of an ongoing journey? Or can we do both? Knowing our history and the impact of events from the past is essential to understanding where we are today. As individuals with unique backgrounds, the more we acknowledge and embrace the diversity in our community, the more we progress as a society. Come join us for candid, interactive storytelling and discussion of this complex, trailblazing, and still relatively young country we all call home.


We were fortunate to host our first “History in Focus” program in March. It was quite the learning experience, and we, as facilitators, learned just as much from the attendees as we could provide them. The virtual program was very well attended and, from our perspective, a success! We were so pleased that the participants were eager for this information, and they brought up crucial points that we will incorporate into historical displays and programming moving forward. For some time now, our staff has wanted to share with co-workers and colleagues the rich insights that are found in our history, whether it is local, state, or national.

Since COVID, the extended work-from-home experience, and the period of social protest nationwide, the Division of Recreation and Parks history staff has searched for ways to use programming and dialog to help give our audiences perspective. When you can see from letters, photographs, and journals of 1918 just how deeply the Influenza Epidemic impacted Virginians, we as a community can take solace in the fact that “this too shall pass.” These words from a 13th-century Persian poet were used in a speech by President Abraham Lincoln at the close of the Civil War. History teaches us that the American journey has been and continues to be challenging and complex.

There are not always simple answers to issues we face as a society. For every story of our past that is recorded in history textbooks, there are multiple narratives that go largely unexplored and even less available to be taught in schools.

Our team believes that social and civic progress can be made through conversations about our total history, whether triumphant or tragic. Henrico County is full of stories about individuals, places, and events that have shaped our community’s growth and development and contributed to the history of the state and nation. Sharing the lesser-known stories about our collective heritage as Americans can teach us how others who don’t look like us have succeeded and endured. Our experiences shape us, and learning about the experience of others creates understanding and empathy. 

As public servants, we work daily to provide for the needs of our constituents whose life history and ancestry have shaped their worldviews. Regardless of the county division/department we represent, we must provide assistance without judgment. For those who look for historical equivalents in contemporary situations, we can see and take pride in our progress as a society. We can also see areas where we can do better. As students of history, we can also recognize essential elements of human nature that contribute to our survival. Adapting to the unexpected and the compassion to help those in need have been pervasive throughout history.

We look forward to the opportunity to participate in more classes to share the lessons of the past as we face the challenges of the future.

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Eat Seasonally

Eating seasonally grown foods promotes health, supports local economies, and contributes to environmental sustainability. In addition, the advantage of aligning our diets with natural production cycles. Seasonal eating provides the freshest and most nutritious foods. Fruits and vegetables that ripen naturally and are harvested at the right time are richer in flavor, vitamins, and minerals. These nutrients are crucial for maintaining a balanced diet and overall well-being.

Summer brings a seasonal abundance of delicious new foods and is the perfect time to introduce new fresh fruits and vegetables to the entire family. Try these four summer produce superstars:

  • Berries such as strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries provide vitamin C and antioxidants that support immune systems and overall health. They’re also a good source of fiber – with raspberries leading the way at 8 grams of fiber per 1-cup serving.
  • Try buttery avocados by adding them to tacos, as a spread on grilled cheese sandwiches, or with eggs in the morning. They contain heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, fiber, vitamins E and C, and potassium.
  • Technically a fruit, tomatoes provide fiber, vitamins A and C, potassium, and other important minerals. Available in various colors and sizes, their naturally high-water content makes tomatoes a hydrating choice. Slice tomatoes and serve with a bit of olive oil, basil, salt, and pepper. Add them to sandwiches or chop them up and toss them into salads and pasta dishes. Another fun idea – make your own fresh salsa.
  • Nothing says summer like a fresh slice of watermelon. This summer favorite is easy to eat and tastes great. With one of the highest water contents of any food, it’s great for keeping hydrated on scorching days. It is also packed with vitamin C and lycopene – a plant nutrient and antioxidant property. Lycopene is the pigment that gives red and pink fruits their color and is linked to health benefits ranging from heart health to protection against sunburns and certain types of cancers. Serve watermelon wedges for dessert, cut them into cubes and mix them into a fruit salad, or put watermelon chucks in the blender with ice, lime juice, and honey for a refreshing slushy drink.

As different fruits and vegetables come into season, you can explore new flavors by selecting seasonally grown produce as the main ingredient to diversify your meals. By making mindful choices about the foods you consume, you can enhance your well-being while positively impacting the local community. 

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Avoid These Retirement Planning Miscues

Ask any retiree if they wish they had done anything different to be financially ready for life after work, and you’ll probably hear some regrets. Planning for a future we can’t predict but know is coming can be tricky. However, you can take steps now to steer clear of those feelings of regret later in life. Here are some suggestions for things to avoid:

  • Not saving enough – Many financial advisors recommend saving enough to cover 70% to 90% of your pre-retirement annual income to maintain your standard of living. Social Security benefits and pension income may not be enough to reach that mark, so be sure to work toward closing any gap by saving at the level you need to live the retirement you want.
  • Not saving soon enough – It’s obvious but true: The earlier you start saving, the more likely you’ll reach your retirement income goals. Over time, the power of compound growth — where any earnings from your investments get reinvested to generate potentially even more growth — can work to your advantage.
  • Missing opportunities to save more – Don’t be discouraged if you’re getting a late start on saving for retirement. If you’ll be 50 or older this year, catch-up contributions may help you reach your savings goals as you near the end of your career. In 2023, you can contribute an additional $7,500 to your plan.
  • Not investing appropriately – Does your mix of investment types (also known as asset classes) match your risk tolerance and planned retirement timeline? Investing either too conservatively or too aggressively can put your retirement income goals in jeopardy. It’s critical to find the right balance of investment risk and return potential in your asset-allocation strategy.1
  • Trying to time the market – When you see your retirement account balance drop, you may be tempted to shift money out of stock funds into less risky investments with lower risk — and reinvest when the market recovers. This is known as “timing the market.” Before you do this, remember that no one knows when the market may rebound and missing out on the market’s best days. If you aren’t invested in stocks when the market recovers, you may have “locked in” your losses by missing out on potential gains.

Talk to Chip Richardson, our Henrico County plan representative about how you can avoid retirement planning regrets and achieve the bright financial future you want.

John “Chip” Richardson
Phone: (804) 501-5233
Mobile:  (804) 221-1474
Email:  [email protected]

1 Asset allocation, diversification, and/or rebalancing do not ensure a profit or protect against loss.

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Total Compensation Statement

Earlier this year, the County approved a historic pay raise for its employees that will go into effect for the new fiscal year. Given the excitement, many employees are looking closely at their pay statements.

To help employees understand the full value of their compensation, Henrico General Government and HCPS recently created a Total Compensation Statement for each employee that shows:

  • Benefits that include an employer contribution
  • Supplemental benefits that do not include an employer contribution
  • Optional retirement plan contributions
  • Annual leave accruals
  • Other indirect compensation

As of May 1, employees can find their 2023 Total Compensation Statement by logging into Oracle:

  • Select the “Employee Direct Access” tab
  • Click “Salary Related”
  • Select “Total Compensation”

If you have questions about the new Total Compensation Statements, please refer to the “Frequently Asked Questions,” which can be found at the top of the Total Compensation page. Should you have additional questions, please contact Human Resources at 804-501-4628 Option 0. If you have questions about your benefits, please view the Employee Website or contact the Benefits Department by phone: (804) 501-7371 or email: [email protected]

Thank you for all your hard work and for providing our residents and community with outstanding customer service every day.

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