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From Abner to Zuri, baby names fluctuate in popularity

By Gillian Bullock, VCU Capital News Service

After bringing a baby into the world, parents immediately face a daunting decision – giving their child a name. It’s an identity the child will have for the rest of their life.

Brittny Gainey is familiar with the responsibilities of naming a child: She is the mother of two sons.

“People define themselves by their name. A name lets you know who you are and where you come from,” said Gainey, a licensed clinical social worker from the Tidewater area.

In 2013, she gave birth to a son and named him James. To Gainey, it was important for her first-born child to carry on a family name. Gainey’s son shares a commonality not only with family members but with many other Virginians.

Since 1910, more than 148,000 boys born in Virginia have been named James, making it the most common male name in the commonwealth during that time period. Although the name James has fluctuated in popularity in recent decades, it was the third most common male name for babies born in the state in 2016.

The U.S. Social Security Administration annually tracks the most popular names of babies born nationwide as well as in individual states. The agency recently released its data for last year’s births.

Over the past century, the diversity of baby names has grown exponentially, and the popularity of certain names has shifted.

The Social Security Administration includes in its data any name given to at least five babies in a single year. For boys born in Virginia in 1910, there were 183 such names, ranging from Aaron and Abner to Willis and Wilson. But last year, 1,127 different male names were associated with five or more births; they vary from Abdul and Alberto to Zayden and Zymir.

In 1910, the five most common male names in Virginia were James, William, John, Robert and George. For boys born last year, the most popular names were William, Noah, James, Liam, and Mason. (John was No. 18, Robert was No. 44 and George was No. 101.)

The changes in girls’ names have been even more radical.

In 1910, the data showed, 287 female names were given to at least five babies in Virginia, ranging from Agnes and Alberta to Winifred and Zelma. Last year, the database included 1,384 girls' names, from Aaliya and Addyson to Zariyah and Zuri.

The most common female names in 1910 were Mary, Virginia, Elizabeth, Ruth and Margaret. In contrast, the most popular names for girls born in Virginia in 2016 were Olivia, Emma, Ava, Charlotte and Abigail.

Only Elizabeth remains among the top 10 female names (at No. 9). Mary has dropped to No. 70; Virginia, to No. 91; Ruth, to No. 115; and Margaret to No. 69.

Aside from parents, doulas can also play a part in the naming process of a child. Doulas, dating back to ancient Greece, provide educational opportunities and advocacy during pregnancy and after birth. As an advocate for the mother, doulas console expecting families through their fears and worries and serve as a listening ear for hopes that families have for the child’s future.

Doulas take the journey with expecting families to provide emotional support throughout the pregnancy, said Brianna Grocholski, a member of Richmond Doulas.

“Being present during a birth is the most vulnerable time during an expecting mother’s life,” Grocholski said. “It is an extremely intimate setting where later you acquire and retain friendships.”

With the close relationship that doulas form with families, it is not uncommon for doulas to share in the process of naming the newborn.

“One of my clients named their son after the father. The father’s middle name was given to the son as his first name,” Grocholski said.

Researchers say the first piece of information we learn about a person is their name – and on that basis, we may subconsciously form judgments about the individual. These judgments can trigger positive or negative feelings about someone.

Baby names can increase or decrease in popularity in response to popular culture or politics. The name Dorothy was the seventh most popular female name in Virginia in 1939 – the year The Wizard of Oz was released.

Mark Hinkle, acting press officer for the Social Security Administration, has seen nationwide trends regarding particular names as well.

Kehlani rose 2,487 spots on the girls’ side to number 872, from number 3,359 in 2015. Perhaps this can be attributed to Kehlani Parrish, a singer/songwriter who was nominated for a Grammy in 2016,” Hinkle noted in a press release.

After having James four years ago, Gainey gave birth to another boy in 2016 and named him Jabari. Jabari means “brave one” in Swahili. Gainey said parents should think carefully about all that encompasses naming a child.

“A name is something that people can never take from you, and you carry it with pride and joy,” she said.

LSBDC welcomes consultants in new regional structure

The Longwood Small Business Development Center (LSBDC) has adopted a new regional approach that utilizes experienced, independent consultants to better serve the small businesses in 19 counties and six independent cities in South-Central Virginia.

“Where we had five specific office location before, we’ve created  three sub-regions,” Longwood SBDC Executive Director Sheri McGuire said. “We’ve shifted Mecklenburg and Brunswick into our central region covered from Farmville. Lin Hite manages client services in  our western region as regional director. Ellen Templeton manages client services in our eastern region as regional director.”

In addition to LSBDC’s staff of regional directors and general business analysts, the independent consultants will provide a broader menu of services and higher level of skill sets.

New to the LSBDC consultant team is Jon Van Cleave, who has 25 years of experience with the global corporation, Reynolds Metals/Alcoa, as well as working as an independent consultant.

“Billion-dollar companies put a lot of money behind financial planning and analysis. Small businesses need the same analysis — just on a smaller scale,” Van Cleave said.

 “I do financial planning and analysis including business evaluations and acquisition integration, product and customer profitability analysis, and budgeting and forecasting.”

Van Cleave, who has been traveling on a weekly basis for the past seven years, looks forward to settling in Farmville. He and his wife are currently renovating an older home on High Street.

“I’m looking forward to focusing on Virginia,” he added. “I’m the kind of consultant that likes to work side-by-side with a client — not just come in, advise and leave. I want to work as a partner.”  Van Cleave will be available to work throughout the SBDC territories.

Michael Duncan and Kelvin Perry continue to serve as independent consultants in the western region and are available for online consultations throughout the territory as necessary.

“Michael Duncan specializes in manufacturing and operations for existing businesses ,” McGuire explained. “Kelvin Perry, who works for the City of Danville in the economic development office, also works as an independent consultant  for LSBDC on an as-needed basis.”

“I provide counseling to start-ups or for clients who want to grow an existing business,” Perry said. “I meet with clients in Martinsville after hours, but I’m flexible.”

Randy Lail provides independent counseling on a volunteer basis.

“He’s a retired CFO for Peebles Department Store whose specialty is retail and finance,” McGuire said.

A recent addition the LSBDC office in Farmville is Brandon Hennessey, who completed his MBA at Longwood University. As business analyst, Hennessey assists clients with marketing, financial analysis, and developing a business plan.

“I can give clients a good practical abstract of where they’re headed and what actions they need to take to be successful,” Hennessey said. “Developing interpersonal relationships with my clients is important to me — I want them to feel comfortable in discussing their plans and problems.”

McGuire sees the regional structure with new consultants and analysts as a way to provide greater service to small business owners in the LSBDC service area.

“We believe that providing specific and specialized resources to grow existing businesses can create an even greater impact in the community,” she concluded. “Assisting start-ups also remains an important part of what we do.”

As a small business resource for 28 years, the LSBDC core mission is to provide education, consulting, and economic research to support potential and existing small business owners throughout Southern Virginia. LSBDC works with local sponsors to

provide consulting services free of charge; for more information visit

Enfield NC Home Tour is December 2 - The Tobacco Warehouse

This year the 2017 Enfield Christmas Homes Tour is focusing on a popular architectural style of the Roaring Twenties: five Craftsman Bungalows and one 1920s Tobacco and Cotton Warehouse. To kick off the tour and to learn more about Craftsman style, Maggie Gregg, Regional Director, Eastern Office of Preservation North Carolina, will give a lecture at 11 a.m. at Bellamy Manor & Gardens, located at 613 Glenview Road in Enfield. Gregg, who has a “lifelong love of preservation,” was one of the first graduates of Edgecombe Community College’s Historic Preservation Technology Program. Her lecture will conclude at noon. From Bellamy Manor, tour participants can walk, drive or take a horse-drawn carriage to where the tour starts. Refreshments will be provided at each of the homes on the tour and DERP docents will be decked out in Roaring Twenties garb.

The homes and Warehouse are within walking distance of one another. The Warehouse was included on the tour because it was built in the same time period as the Craftsman bungalows. It is estimated that the Tobacco and Cotton Warehouse was built between 1915 and 1921, according to The Historic Architecture of Halifax County, North Carolina. The economic fuel that drove North Carolina was agriculture, but it was tobacco that made the state a powerhouse – and home to the world’s largest tobacco companies. According to the town’s website, Enfield had a population of 700 in the late 1800s. But when the Enfield Tobacco Market opened up in 1896, prosperity followed as well as growth in new businesses and population. The Parker family, the largest landowners in Halifax County during the late 19th century, capitalized on the new tobacco market that opened up and built the brick warehouse.

Turning nonresidential structures into living space is a recent trend. Old House Journal calls it “adaptive reuse.”  When Lee Jones bought the structure in 2006, the roof was caving in, some of the bricks in the façade were deteriorating or falling and he had to use a pot-belly stove to keep the place warm during the winter months. Many residents in Enfield can still remember seeing Lee singlehandedly rebuilding the roof, with lumber and long sheets of tin perched on his shoulder.

Initially Lee was going to use the space as a large garage, where he hoped to restore antique cars when he retired. But a few years into the renovation project, he changed his mind – thinking the massive space would make an excellent home for him when he retired. Retiring in 2016, Lee has literally rebuilt the entire inside of the structure.

Adapting nonresidential structures into homes is a major undertaking, but Lee has painstakingly managed to turn this Warehouse into a future living space with heated floors, under-the-counter fridge/freezer, three bedrooms, two baths, an open kitchen with a brick archway and an enormous living-dining area. With the exception of the sheetrock, insulation and AC, Lee did all the work himself – and his craftsmanship is apparent. While the project is not complete, those on the tour will get a good idea where this renovation is headed – and may even look at all those empty Enfield warehouses in a different light. Enjoy the view from the arched wagon entry on the front of the warehouse, where you can see the Railroad Watchman’s Tower, the only building of its kind at its original location.

For more information about DERP or to buy tickets to the Christmas Homes Tour, visit

PHOTO CREDIT: Susanna Martin.

The Hundley Center Now a Standalone Facility


As of November 11, 2017, VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital moved to its new location, 1755 North Mecklenburg Avenue, South Hill, VA.  When the move occurred The Hundley Center became a standalone facility at the original hospital site of 125 Buena Vista Circle, South Hill, VA.



The Hundley Center will continue to provide all of the same services as previously offered while being connected to the hospital.  Many processes were developed, streamlined and changed to accommodate this transition.  It is the desire and purpose of staff to continue to accommodate residents’ needs and serve this community.

“The well-being of our residents is our main priority.  Our goal is to give the highest quality of care in the most effective and efficient way possible.  Our staff is passionate about patient care which is vital to our mission,” said Regina Williams, R.N., M.S.H.A., LTC Administrator for VCU Health CMH.

One major improvement to The Hundley Center is the transition to a new electronic medical record system called Cerner.  Cerner is the same system used in VCU Health CMH’s new hospital and also used by VCU Health’s facilities in Richmond.  This system allows for a seamless transfer to any VCU Health facility, if needed.

The Hundley Center is a 140-bed extended care facility that provides intermediate and skilled nursing rehabilitative care.  Individuals may receive short-term or long-term extended care.  Patient care is provided under the supervision of professional nurses.  Physicians are also on call 24 hours a day.  The qualified, caring staff is trained to meet the needs of each individual according to his or her physician’s orders.  Facility services include:  nursing care, personal care, social work services, planned activity programs, maintenance and housekeeping, physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, dietary and pharmacy.  The Hundley Center is a Medicare and Medicaid certified provider.

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