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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Two educational stories to inspire others*

     There are stories to be told and shared especially if they inspire and educate others, notably our young who deserve a good education.
     One story that I'd like to share to our community is one that pertains to my two young adult children.
     Andrew and Christine (aka Tintin) both attended Catholic elementary and high schools in Hampton Roads. Both graduated from The University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Class of 2010 and 2012, respectively. Both love writing, drama, music, and poetry.
     Imbued with the love of God and spirit of community service, both have served in the Americorps program, after college. Both excelled academically. They have preformed in school plays, also competed and won in various forensics competition while in elementary and high school. Both received Presidential Excellence Award in Education.
     Andrew, the older of the two, earned the National Honor society medal while in high school. After college, he did one-year substitute teaching in Hampton Roads before deciding to work in Washington, D.C. He currently teaches IT classes to the underserved population there, while continuing to entertain theater audiences.
     He has appeared in a variety of theater productions in Hampton Roads and Washington, D.C. (Among these are William Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew, "O Dad, Poor Dad, Momma's Hung You in the Closet and I'm Feelin So Sad," Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, Districtland, Dracula, and Red High Heels: A Trilogy.)
     Years ago, Andrew performed in "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" at the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts. He also appeared at the Smithfield Little Theater.
     Tintin, who has been to Germany, China, and the Philippines, is back at UVA pursuing a graduate degree in school counseling at the Curry School of Education, after working as a college adviser for two years at George Washington High School in Danville.
     Last week, Tintin was notified that she has just won the grand prize in an essay competition by the  American Counseling Association.
     I was ecstatic when she told me the good news. I thanked God, congratulated her, and shared the news with our Facebook friends. She will be recognized at the ACA Conference and Expo in Orlando, FL, in March.
     (With her permission, here's an excerpt of her winning essay: "While counseling provides many support services to people and communities in need, it can also involve many risks. We counselors and counselors-in-training strive to provide hope, comfort, guidance, and direction to clients who have faced many difficulties in their lives, and when clients let their guards down and open up to us about very serious, personal issues, it is important that we treat all of them fairly and equally, not cause harm, promote their welfare, remain trustworthy, and maintain confidentiality. Therefore, I personally believe that the fundamental purpose of ethical standards in the counseling profession is to provide a framework to build a strong, transparent community of trust and accountability.
     Trust can take time, especially if we are working with clients who have experienced injustice, pain, suffering, and other issues that have affected their ability to become open to and confident in others. If we apply ethical standards, especially confidentiality and privacy, and take the time to listen to them and to understand their individual needs, we can better gain their trust and become more caring and more competent professionals.
     Accountability is also important to ensure that we keep ourselves responsible for our actions and do what is best to serve our clients...Without accountability to back up our actions, we can lose clients' sense of trust in us.")
     Back in November, I featured Andrew and Tintin, in two separate video interviews, on my YouTube channel. I asked Andrew about his acting pursuit. For Tintin, I asked why she chose school counseling as opposed to other graduate school programs. She said she loves working with students, and helping them pursue their educational goals.
     Every other Sunday, Tintin drives home to Hampton Roads to share her musical talent and skills. She plays piano during church worship service at one of the Christian churches in Norfolk.
     As a parent, I couldn't be happier and prouder for my two children. I feel successful when I see them succeeding in life.

-CHRIS A. QUILPA, a retired U.S. Navy veteran, lives in Suffolk. Email him at

*Published in the award-winning Suffolk News-Herald, Thursday, January 29, 2015. For more information, visit

NOTE: Below are my two separate video interviews of my two young adult children, Andrew and Tintin. The interview took place 30 November 2014 (after Thanksgiving holiday) at Taco Bell, one Sunday, after my family has attended church. Thanks for watching. And, thanks, YouTube.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Shall we go for a walk?*

     Residents of Burbage Grant in northern Suffolk have a new reason to be active, healthy and friendly with their neighbors.
     With the resurfaced and widened sidewalk that stretches from Burbage Lake to Burbage Landing, residents and their families and friends can enjoy outdoor biking, running, jogging and walking with their dogs.
     As one of the homeowners in this community, I frequently enjoy walking around the neighborhood along this sidewalk, especially when the weather is mild and sunny. Trying to manage my chronic back pain and fibromyalgia daily, I feel blessed and inspired to get active and stay healthy using this sidewalk to do my simplest form of exercise---walking.
     Encountering strangers and meeting new friends can be rewarding while strolling on this sidewalk, which helps encourage a spirit of friendship and neighborliness. i regard this sidewalk not only as a pathway to good healthy but also a link to connect with fellow residents and build community cohesiveness.
     You'll be amazed to learn what walking outdoors can do to your health. Judy Wilson, in her January 2014 article on, wrote that walking for 40 minutes to an hour a day can help prevent heart disease and diabetes. Walking can reduce weight, boost healthy cholesterol, ease chronic pain and strengthen bones. It can also help reduce stress, prevent anxiety and depression. Moreover, it can help boost your concentration.
     Furthermore, walking outdoors can add vitality to your life, allow you to breathe fresh air, and soak up Vitamin D from the sun. There is also this feeling of grateful appreciation toward the beauty of nature and our environment.
     Social interaction in the community is one of the unexpected extra benefits of walking outdoors. Meeting a neighbor or a prospective new friend is something we should not take for granted.
     A sincere and genuine greeting and a smile when we meet someone can help change even the worst day. Saying "Good morning!" to one walker or jogger you encounter along the way may even lead you to a meaningful experience that can change your life, or perspective of life.
     Since the start of autumn, I have been walking around my neighborhood. Though I did not have many expectations, except to manage my chronic pain, my walks around the neighborhood almost every morning have given me the optimism to keep on being alive and well.
     I have come to know fellow residents who are military retired veterans like me. I have been more focused on staying healthy, despite my physical disability. I have come to appreciate more the beauty of nature, my surroundings, and what I have to learn and share and offer to everyone I come to meet.
     I have gained insights into what it takes to belong to a community.
     For 2015, let's focus on health and on making a difference for others. Our health is our wealth. Doing simple physical conditioning such as walking outdoors, especially when the weather is beautiful and if we're able and capable, undoubtedly enhances our quality of life.
     By the way, I have nothing against fitness centers or gyms. They're great for exercise, but using them requires membership fees. Why pay when you can exercise outdoors for free and enjoy the beauty of nature?
     Shall we go for a walk? If we're lucky, maybe we'll meet a new friend.

-CHRIS A. QUILPA, a retired U.S. Navy veteran, lives in northern Suffolk. Email him at

*Appeared in the Opinion page of the award-winning Suffolk News-Herald, Sunday, January 4, 2015. For more information, visit

                                         Photos (c) 2015 by Chris A. Quilpa