Pet Adoption Stories: Bianca, Common and Sasha

I produced 3 pet adoption videos for the Fairfax County Animal Shelter in December. The people and pets in these videos are remarkable.

Please share with anyone who has ever had doubts about adopting pets from a shelter or rescue group.

Poetry Corner: Faye Majette

I AM (after Where I’m From by George Ella Lyon)

I am from places and faces I have never known.

I am the hopes and fears of a farmer’s daughter.

The passion and possibility of a solider boy.

I am their offering to the future.

I am from North Carolina red clay.

It is in my bones.

I am from hard work, strong faith and

Trust in the unseen

I am from slaves and slave masters.

I am from ancestors I have never known.

“Pay or Lose Power” Scam; Be Aware

Originally posted on Fairfax County Police Department News:


Police are warning residents, in particular concern of this week’s frigid weather, of a scam that has re-surfaced in Fairfax County neighborhoods in recent weeks.

Victims report that someone claiming to be a power company employee contacts them and states their power will be cut off if they do not pay their “overdue” bill immediately.

Recently, a woman who owns a business in the Springfield area received a phone call advising that her electric bill was overdue and demanded that she “go to a CVS or a 7-Eleven” to purchase a green DOT card in the amount of $499.98 which allegedly was the amount of the bill. The victim had recently paid her power bill. She checked with her bank, contacted Dominion Power and verified the payment. When she called the suspect back, he became mad and yelled at her. Fortunately, this victim wasn’t fooled, hurt, or financially victimized.


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Dogs Rescued from Meat Farm

Dogs arrived at the Fairfax County Animal Shelter tonight after being rescued from a meat farm in South Korea. The Humane Society International arranged travel and got the farmer to agree to stop raising dogs for food and grow crops instead. Executive Director Megan Webb from the Animal Welfare League in Alexandria, VA. coordinated the regions participation.

Tawny Hammond, Executive Director of the Fairfax Animal shelter made sure she was there to welcome the puppies arrival.

For information on when these puppies will be available for adoption, visit and click on Animal Shelter for up-to-date info on when the puppies will be available for adoption.


“Kisses from a puppy who has never known the touch of kindness. Welcome to Virginia Snowball.”





Executive Director Fairfax County Shelter, Tawny Hammond (left) and Kelly O’Meara Director, Companion Animals and Engagement Humane Society International (right)

The SlumGods of Mumbai: hope, hip-hop and the Dharavi way | Guardian Docs

In a real-life Billy Elliott story set in Mumbai’s biggest slum, 15-year-old Vikram loves to dance and dreams of becoming a hip-hop artist. His dance teacher believes in him – but how long can Vikram keep his dancing secret from disapproving parents?

Processing a Time-lapse Video taken with a GoPro

Originally posted on Photofocus:

Shooting a time-lapse movie on a GoPro is very easy process.  Getting a finished product can be simple too if you use the free software that comes with the camera.  You can easily assemble the frames, tweak the color, and remove the wide-angle distortion.

This specific tutorial is from the Video Gear Weekly series presented by authors Rich Harrington and Robbie Carman. The complete course is presented as a weekly series and offers reviews and tips on the latest video gear, from cameras like the Blackmagic 4K and GoPros to lighting, accessories, and adapters.

This Post Sponsored by:

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In My Own Head

Poem by Davinna

Led to my feelings of disjointment
But my anointing phases all the pain
I am faithful and guided though im misguided with handling the pain

I looked at life as a trap
Faithful but still adapt to the devils constant breadcrumbs of the fame

He is in my head
He attacks me in my bed
Amplifying my feelings of distain

I write for truths
To give to youths
Who struggle in his name

Im crazy……not stupid
Sometimes…..I lose lucid
To fight off what it is that stains…
My brain is wired to work
To speak my worth
After a life of your never gonna be shit insane

I’m the same
Yet different
I cloak myself in difference
To be a rider in the game

One day it will all make sense
I will see over that fence
To greener pastures in his name

Until then I will crash
My behavior turned up on rash
Either your in or out
The melody is the same

I have lost friends who couldn’t see in me
Didn’t believe in me or get my walk of justice in his name
Seeing no evil of my struggles everyday

No one understands the hand of the fates
Clotho spinning
Lachesis determining places,worth and feelings…
Screw this
Atropos please give me the damn scissors so I can cut the thread

Dont want to be dead
But I fear if or when im dead
No one will get or still understand
My pain

I fall and get embarked by the dark
Slithering light
telling myself get back up to participate in this game

I climb these crystal stairs
Hoping not to break the panes

Break my ways

I break for days

I break for shade

I break in shame

To hide in when im not the same to revel in me not the getting back to me being the same
I keep the pain
Hiding in my brain

But a break is necessary
I brake for necessity
A learned condition of hiding all this pain

Im an actress but you didn’t know my role existed
I guess im gifted at hiding behind all this pain
I cant run

Or hide

Or get by with the weight of this……

The questions always exist when its detrimental to my brain
I underscore pity
Leaving out the precious gifts my family gives me
Its the definition of insane

System failure
Lets reboot

“As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance”

Peter said it all
even though the knowledge is tall
I still fall to repeat the same mistakes

The missed takes of my mistakes
Leading me to wrong
The questionable
leads me to questionable in head interference

Can’t seem to clear this
Bowling spares because im unable to strike within this brain……

I know this story

I live this story

I want to change this story

And I will
I will, AMEN



Women Are Sports Fans Too!

Earlier this month, Men’s Health Magazine took us back a few decades with its article “The Secret to Talking Sports With Any Woman.” The article, which has since been deleted, suggested that a woman couldn’t possibly care about sports because there are no storylines to follow and that they simply “just don’t care about stats.”

Female football playerIt didn’t take long for social media users to attack the magazine, causing a major stir and invoking the need for some serious damage control, and I can see why.

Assuming that women need to be emotionally invested in something to take an interest in it is stereotypical, misogynistic and quite frankly, a load of crap.

According to BuzzFeed, one in three sports fans are women. I’ve been a huge sports fan for as long as I can remember and trust me, it has nothing to do with any players’ wife, kids or how good his butt looks in football pants.

Sports have always been a part of my life, whether I was playing, attending games or spending Sunday in front of the TV.

Yes, I can spot a false start before the ref throws the flag and no, I don’t fill out my March Madness bracket based on mascot or jersey color.

I, like anyone else, am perfectly capable of understanding the concepts behind sports and actually enjoying them. Regardless of my gender, I can root for my teams and talk trash, and I should be able to do so without being quizzed on the team’s history or naming five players from the starting roster.

It’s no secret that there’s a division between men and women in society, but where do we draw the line? It’s bad enough that women barely have a say in their own reproductive rights and make a mere 77 cents per every man’s dollar; now we’re being told what activities we do and do not like.

It wasn’t until 1920 that women began to have a say in anything regarding their own lives by gaining the right to vote, but other things such as participating in higher education, having a job or choosing whether or not to have children?

Forget it. While the women’s rights movement has progressed since then, articles like “The Secret to Talking Sports With Any Woman” are prime examples of how women are still seen as inferior and unable to take part in “male activities.”

Accepting women as serious sports fans is a step in the right direction toward gender equality, because believe it or not, women are people too.
Men shouldn’t feel intimidated by a woman who is knowledgeable about sports, and should instead appreciate the fact that they can watch a game with their female friends without having to think twice about it.


IMG_2823Ashleigh Balsamo is a junior at JMU in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Her major is media arts and design with a concentration in journalism, minoring in women and gender studies.

Ashleigh loves writing and design and was editor of her high school yearbook and literary arts magazine. She is currently a contributing writer for JMU’s newspaper, ‘The Breeze’ and student-run magazine, ‘Port & Main.’ 

After graduation, Ashleigh would like to work for a national newspaper or magazine, particularly one that focuses on women’s issues.
Her dream job ?  editor- in-chief at Cosmopolitan magazine.

Ebola-related charity scams

This is a re-post from the FTC

by Colleen Tressler
Consumer Education Specialist, FTC

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the unprecedented Ebola epidemic in West Africa has taken the lives of more than 4,000 people. Many people are asking how they can help.

If you’re looking for a way to give, the Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer protection agency, urges you to do some research to ensure that your donation will go to a reputable organization that will use the money as promised.

Urgent appeals for aid that you get by phone or mail, by e-mail, on websites, or even in person, may not be on the up-and-up. Unfortunately, legitimate charities face competition from fraudsters who either solicit for bogus charities or aren’t honest about how a so-called charity will use your contribution.

Consumer Alerts: Tax Scams

irs-scamIRS fraud phone calls are out of control. I’ve received two in less than 6 months! The Treasury Inspector General for Taxpayer Administration  warns that scammers posing as IRS officials are contacting people claiming they owe taxes. The caller demands a prepaid debit card, wire transfer or a credit card number for payment. If the person doesn’t comply, the caller threatens to arrest or deport the target, or take away their driver’s license or business.Vee Johnson, Community Outreach Liaison for Consumer Affairs, Department of Cable and Consumer Services for Fairfax County offers this advice:

Why are IRS scams so prevalent?  “The IRS is a favorite target for scammers.  Each year, the IRS publishes the “Dirty Dozen” list of tax scams that start with tax season but flourish throughout the year.   Check out this list so you will be prepared and know what to do when scammers contact you by phone, mail, or mobile devices.To report an IRS impersonation scam, contact the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration or call 1-800-366-4484.”

How can you tell if it’s a scam and not the real thing?
“You can never be sure if a call you receive is the real thing or a scam.  Remember that you are not obligated to listen or talk when you receive an unsolicited call from someone claiming they are from a government agency or when they have some information about you.   The IRS and other government agencies never initiate contact with us by phone, email, text, or mobile devices to demand money or personal information. If you are curious about the call, hang up and contact the IRS direct using the information they provide to get reliable, accurate information. “

Is it ok to return a phone call if you’re not sure it is a scam? “When you return a call to a scammer, they will demand that you send money right away.  While they will take a credit card number, they prefer a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer.  Unlike a credit card, that leaves a financial footprint that can be traced or tracked, a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer is like giving away cash.  They leave no paper trail to find or stop the fraud from continuing.  Millions of dollars lost to scams are never recovered.”

What can be done if you receive an  unsolicited threatening call from an “agency” demanding money?”

Vee: “When you receive an unsolicited call from an aggressive, demanding, threatening caller, don’t expect honesty or truthfulness.  Take a deep breath.  Don’t engage the stranger with answers, questions, or comments.  Scammers know the power of words and will try to use our phones as a weapon to make us feel vulnerable or intimated so they can get our money or personal information.  Keep control of your phone and do whatever makes you feel good to hang up quickly. Tell others about the scam so they know what to do if they become a target.  Report the scam and congratulate yourself on not becoming the victim of this pervasive scam. “

VF Johnson-703-324-5959
Community Outreach Liaison
Consumer Affairs
Department of Cable and Consumer Services
12000 Government Center Parkway, Suite 433
Fairfax, Virginia 22035