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VIA celebrates a year of growing, learning and giving

Cape Gazette of Lewes, Delaware

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The Village Improvement Association enters its 107th year with its tradition of service intact, a growing membership, a continued commitment to educating its members and the public, and a robust program of giving in the greater Rehoboth Beach community.

During the past year, the VIA gave more than 23,000 volunteer hours and donated more than $51,000, in addition to in-kind items to organizations in need.

In 2015, the club, headed by President Theda Blackwelder, added 23 new members - a record year for new additions, bringing the total membership to 235. Women from all walks of life including former (and current) teachers, nurses, community activists, marketing professionals and artists joined the group to help make a difference in the community.

New members signed up to plant dune grass, volunteer at local schools, paint a mural, host the St. Nicholas Tea and support the club's cancer outreach programs.

Belonging to the VIA is an ongoing learning experience, as meetings always include an educational component ranging from household and computer security, to information about the Home of the Brave, to monthly materials supporting cancer awareness and other interesting topics. Members of various committees such as Home Life, Arts, Conservation, and Public Issues recruit speakers to talk with the group.

The VIA also has a carefully managed program of donations that acknowledges the financial realities of the community and reaches from Rehoboth throughout the state and even internationally. Members support the West Side New Beginnings program, the Rehoboth Art League, Water Step International, the Cancer Support Community, Rehoboth Public Library, Rehoboth Beach Volunteer Fire Company and many other groups.

They also provide scholarships for nursing students at Margaret H. Rollins School of Nursing, as well as funds to the Home of the Brave men's and women's shelters.

"For 107 years the VIA has worked diligently for the local, state, national and international communities by hearing the needs and actively engaging in doing something about them. From its beginning to the present time, the VIA has found no task too great to tackle. We are so fortunate to have the caliber of women who come to us to make a difference in life," said Blackwelder.

Upcoming fundraising events will include the Spring Fashion Show, the Designer Show House and many others. For more information, go to

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Original Publication Date: February 5, 2016

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