Sunday, June 25, 2017

Phillip Wright Memorial Cornhole Tournament

After months of planning, the Phillip Wright Memorial Corn Hole Tournament was held today at the Atkinson Barn in Danville.  
Our family just got home from the event, and I can't say enough positive things about the Wright family and all of their efforts and planning, their volunteering of time and labor, and of Paul’s construction of the corn hole boards. Philip was so blessed to have such a wonderful family in the Wrights, and I am so proud to call them extended family. 
I know that if Phillip could see all the people who showed up and helped out today, he would be so pleased. I know he would be especially pleased that his family is working to honor his memory, and to help raise money for and awareness of mental health and suicide awareness and prevention. 
I do want to acknowledge the sponsors of the event and the participants and volunteers who helped make the event possible. Of course, Paul Wright of BuiltWright Woodworking and Jeanette Burnette, Phillip’s aunt and uncle, organized the event, so a special thank you to them! The platinum sponsors of the Phillip Wright Memorial Corn Hole Tournament are Point Blank Sporting Goods, Columbia Forest Products, TS Trophy and Sign, Bojangles, Davenport Energy, Ramsey, Yeatts and Associates Realtors, Teresa Moody Real Estate, Lands Towing, Tim Smith’s Climax Moonshine, Chesapeake Bay Trading Company, W. L. Bowman Home Improvement, LLC, A and L Hauling in Gretna, Polynt Composite, Atkinson Farms, Tyree Heating, Cooling, and Electrical, and GoDocs Healthcare Center. Gold sponsors included Home Depot, Old Dominion Insurance, Gretna Animal Clinic, M&W Flower Shop, Chatham Shirts and Signs, Cherrystone Veterinary Hospital, Tucker Road Tactical, Sparkle and Shine Car Wash, Creative Expressions, State Farm Agent Diane Waller, Make America Great Again, Doomsday Tackle Company, Butcher’s Block, BB’s Place, CRB electric, 57 Superette, Gretna theater, Family Pharmacy in Tight Squeeze, Fisher Auto Parts in Chatham, and Chatham DMV Select. Paul Wright constructed the cornhole boards and scoreboards, and Olivia Bartell made all of the cornhole bags.
Volunteers from the Danville-Pittsylvania County Out of Darkness Walk were present with information about suicide awareness and prevention, as well as signs lining the walkway leading to the event entrance. Terry Sharpe, The Walking Marine who walks to bring attention and awareness to US military veteran suicides, was also present.
In addition to sponsorships and participant registration fees, concessions were sold, prizes were raffled, and a silent auction was held. The funds will go toward any final family expenses, and any proceeds that remain are going to go toward the family’s participation in the Danville- Pittsylvania County Out of Darkness Walk to be held in November. There is more information about the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, as well as how you can walk, volunteer, or donate at www.AFSP.Org/walk.

Congratulations to today's winners Nick Travis and Mickey Pope. Thank you again to all of the people who donated silent auction items, who sponsored the event, who volunteered, participated, and who showed up and were simply present today. It was a special day that we were happy to share with so many. Thanks for helping us honor Phillip's memory, bring awareness to some very real, difficult, and important issues, and raise some money for a good cause. Thanks to our community for continuing to love our family. We love you right back! 
xoxo, Erin

Thursday, June 8, 2017

An Inside Look at Joe and a Bow, the New Coffee Shop and Children's Boutique in South Boston, Virginia

South Boston, Virginia, is a charming small town, but as much as I enjoy strolling and shopping here, I've felt for a while that something was missing. If you're one of those who has wished for a downtown coffee shop, you're in luck. That something missing has been found in the form of Joe and A Bow, a unique hybrid coffee and tea shop along with a children's boutique providing children’s gifts, clothing, and ruffles, tutus, and hairbows for days! I was lucky enough to have an inside look at the new business, just in time for their opening, and can’t wait to share it with you!
Joe and a Bow is located in the old laundry building at 530 Wilborn Avenue. The building has been recently renovated by property owner Vilma Pambid.  The interior of the coffee shop is absolutely stunning. Mrs. Pambid had the original brick walls cleaned, repaired, finished, and sealed. She was able to preserve the original pulley system that was used in the original laundry. It is still intact and on display above the cafe seating area. The ceiling and roof of the building is absolutely beautiful with wooden beams and natural light windows. 
Stephen and Brittany Adamson, proprietors of Joe and a Bow, hired a contractor to build the coffee bar using reclaimed sheet metal from an old local barn.   The rustic, industrial feel of the interior of the building is perfect for a downtown coffee shop, and is a fun backdrop for the frills and sequins for sale in the store front.

There are so many sweet and playful little girls clothes that it was difficult to pick a favorite, so naturally I had to pick three. This lemon print dress is bright, cheerful, and so pretty. (I would love a more grown-up version for myself.) I adore this colorful infants one piece romper trimmed in pom-poms. Thee back-to-school two-piece set is perfect for the upcoming Kindergartner. Parents and grandparents, don't delay on this outfit. I have a feeling this item will sell fast! These pom-pom trimmed shorts are simply adorable. 
In addition to offering coffee, Joe and a Bow offers many varieties of hot tea, as well as spices. The children's boutique offers children's gift items, toys, and these baby swaddlers and wraps.
And of course, hairbows!

The Adamsons were among 12 winners in the SoBo Start-Up! business grant competition. $52,500 in start-up costs plus $10,000 in goods and services was distributed amongst the winners to launch or expand their business in downtown South Boston. The SoBo Start-Up! Program was one of five in the state which are part of Governor Terry McAuliffe’s Virginia Community Business Launch Initiative. SoBo Start-Up! is overseen by Destination Downtown South Boston. In the next few months, expect to see a new bakery, health food store, the expansion of Southern Plenty, a personalized t-shirts and gifts store, and a new clothing and accessories boutique.
Brittany and Stephen Adamson moved to South Boston from Texas about six months ago, when Stephen accepted a position at ABB. They quickly found the area to be both friendly and a great place to raise their children. Stephen told me that they love it so much, they never plan to leave. We are so glad to have the Adamsons here, so glad to have a new coffee shop and children's boutique, and wish them the very best.  Located at 530 Wilborn Avenue, Joe and a Bow will open for business at 6:00 am tomorrow, Friday, June 9 with a ribbon cutting at 10 a.m. I can't wait to show my support for this business and finally enjoy that downtown coffee shop I have been craving for so long. I hope to see you there.  
xoxo, Erin
Southern Virginia Mom

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Ignore the Grass, Excuse the Mess

My husband and I aren’t exactly “yard people.” He is gone more weekends that he is home doing National Guard work. When he is home, we spend time doing things with our children, not perfecting the lawn.  Our yard used to bother me a little bit, until my friend Linda, who has three grown boys told me, “You can grow grass or you can grow kids, but it’s hard to do both!”  Amen to that! 
We have a full day of soccer, go cart racing, music lessons, and a school dance this evening, followed by a sleepover. Who has time for lawn care on a beautiful day like today? So if you’re in the same boat as me, here’s a little perspective. 
We won't have forever to watch them play.
These are words to live by.  Thanks to whoever shared this cute photo. I saw this photo circulating on Facebook (please let me know if you know where this originated so I can give proper credit where credit is due).
Now, Let's Play Ball!
xoxo, Erin
Southern Virginia Mom

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Celebrating the Promise of Easter

We have been celebrating Easter for seven weeks.  
For forty days before Easter, the church remains focused on Jesus' suffering. The things we chose to give up during Lent are daily reminders of that suffering. No flowers adorn the altar, and no Hallelujahs are spoken. But it is different when you are deep in the throes of suffering. Every day becomes a reminder of the Resurrection. You hold dear to the Easter promise. And every waking, living, breathing moment holds a song of praise, a prayer of thanksgiving, a plea for comfort, and a Hallelujah to the One who not only overcame death, but has given new life to all those who believe. Hallelujah!
When I went with Emily to choose his casket, she ran her fingers over the satin lining and pressed her hands into the pillows on each one.  Through tears and a quivering chin, she asked, “Does this feel good to you? I just want for him to be comfortable.”  The beautiful wooden casket that she chose was closed at his funeral, and my nephew Phillip's earthly body was laid in his grave seven weeks ago today.  But that is not the end. I have good news. Phillip is beyond comfortable, and while his casket is beautiful, and the satin lining is plush and soft, it is not his eternal resting place. His soul is not in that casket any more than Jesus is still inside of a tomb.  When Jesus overcame death and that stone was rolled away, he made a way for all to have eternal life and to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. Three years ago this week, Phillip was the guest preacher at church for Youth Sunday. In the sermon he prepared, he spoke about salvation and entering into the Kingdom of Heaven. I remember him asking, "If you died today, do you know that you would go to Heaven?" Phillip knew. There is so much comfort in that.  
Today our family attended church, then spent the day at my parents' house for lunch and an afternoon of just being together. A special thank you to my incredible mama, who always makes family gatherings and holidays so special for our whole family. My mama cooked a ham, deviled eggs, sweet potato casserole, green beans, baked beans, corn pudding, macaroni and cheese, yeast roles, two desserts, and sweet tea without looking at the first recipe. She can do this blindfolded, because she has done it so many times. Also, special thanks to my sister Maggie who works magic with a camera, for capturing the sweetness before the children shed their Easter Sunday clothes. 
Happy Easter from all of us to all of you! This beautiful Easter Sunday has been both difficult and joyous. We are clinging to the Easter promise and so thankful for the gift of Everlasting Life!
xoxo, Erin
Southern Virginia Mom

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Mission Trip to Honduras in Memory of Phillip Wright #forflip

**My sister Emily and I have established a GoFundMe page to help us serve on a medical mission trip to honor Phillip's memory. He loved to serve others through missions work, and had a special love of helping children. Emily is an RN, which is very beneficial to this type of mission. Your help is coveted. Our page can be found at
Emily and I have an opportunity to honor her son Phillip Wright's memory by serving on a medical mission trip to Honduras with a group traveling from Danville with Friends of Barnabas, a medical mission organization headquartered in Midlothian, Virginia. Emily lost her son Phillip on February 21 of this year, three days before what would have been his 19th birthday. During his 18 years here on earth, Phillip Wright touched many lives with his good nature and servant heart. One of his joys in life was attending four mission trips where he helped with vacation Bible schools, back yard Bible studies, painting, and other service projects. He loved working with children, and children loved working with him. 
Losing Phillip has been devastating for his mother Emily, our family, his friends, and all who knew him.  In the wake of her loss, Emily, a Registered Nurse, has decided to channel her grief into something productive and helpful to others, so that she might honor Phillip's memory and find healing herself.  Rather than live our lives in sadness, our family has vowed to honor Phillip by doing things that were important to him. We have decided that the best way to remember Phillip and honor his memory at this time is to serve others on a mission trip to help children in need. Friends of Barnabas provides medical services such as dental care, eye care and deworming shots for children and families in remote villages in Honduras. The upcoming trip is only 5 weeks away, with payment due ASAP. Please help us to honor Phillip's memory by doing the work that was important to him. We are told that this is a life changing experience, and we hope to gain a new healing perspective on this trip, while both honoring Phillip's memory and serving children who otherwise have no access to necessary medical care. The cost of the trip covers all of our necessary expenses, including lodging in Honduras, food, medical supplies, and transportation including daily transportation from the base site to remote villages. We are not requesting funds for personal expenses, and will pay for our own passports, vaccinations, malaria medication, personals, incidentals, souvenirs, etc.  The trip lasts 8 days and 7 nights, April 22-29. Safety is a primary concern and safety precautions are taken throughout the trip. Military Police will accompany the mission group to the villages. 
The trip is expensive, and covers all costs directly related to the mission, including medications, fluoride, eyeglasses, and medical supplies. We have established a GoFundMe page to help offset the expense of joining the group for this trip. If you would like to help us, but aren't able to help financially, please pray for us in our journey, and please share this story. If you are able to help, any assistance will be greatly appreciated and will be applied directly toward the cost of the trip. If we exceed our monetary goal, we will put the funds toward a future trip. Our donation page can be found at
We can't possibly express our appreciation enough to those who have loved and supported us throughout the past three weeks. Thank you for all you have done and continue to do for our family and for Phillip. Much love  and many thanks to you all! Let's do this #forflip! 
xoxo, Erin
Southern Virginia Mom

Phillip Alan Wright; His Story is Not Over

Phillip Alan Wright
February 24, 1998 - February 21, 2017
It has been three weeks ago today since I lost my nephew. My children lost their cousin, my parents lost their oldest grandchild, and my sister Emily lost a son. Phillip took his life on Tuesday, February 21, just three days before his 19th birthday. For the next three days following Phillip’s death, visitors poured into our family’s home, bringing food and flowers, cleaning, talking, sitting and listening, crying, sharing stories, and even laughing.  As Phillip’s birthday approached, we decided to celebrate him and his birthday as we had planned to do all along. He had made other plans, but those of us who knew and loved him still wanted to celebrate him and his birthday, so that’s what we did.  There was an abundance of food brought by visitors, and Phillip’s aunt Jeanette brought a birthday cake to my parents' house.  One candle was lit, signifying Phillip's first birthday in Heaven.  A full house of dozens of friends and family gathered around one another to sing Happy Birthday in Heaven, to share cake, and to celebrate Phillip on what would be his 19th birthday.
Then we celebrated in a way we've never celebrated before.
 At 10:00 on that Friday night, my three sisters and I, plus Zach, Courtland, Mark, and Andrew, found ourselves in a tattoo parlor.  I have lived my whole life with zero interest in getting a tattoo. I certainly didn’t wake up that morning expecting to have one at the end of the day, but every single thing we were doing that week was something new, something completely unexpected. Getting tattoos with my sisters was somewhat unexpected, but then again, I was doing a lot of things I never expected to do.  I didn’t expect to hear the awful news that Tuesday night. I didn’t expect to have to drive home sobbing, sick to my stomach at 2 am  to deliver the news and explain suicide to my own two children.  I didn’t expect to sit at my parents’ dining room table and type my nephew’s obituary.  I didn’t expect to sit with my sister in a funeral home, help plan her son’s funeral, and help her choose a casket. I didn’t plan to accompany her to choose a cemetery plot.  I didn’t plan to celebrate Phillip’s birthday without him.  And I certainly didn’t expect to bury my nephew. This was uncharted territory, and all we have had to navigate it with is each other. So it was fitting that we do this together. For Flip.
Project Semicolon
If you have seen pictures or tattoos of the semicolon symbol and wondered what it symbolizes, here is the answer: Project Semicolon is a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and love for those who struggle with mental illness, suicide, addiction and self-injury. Learn more about Project Semicolon here at
We all chose semicolon-themed tattoos to honor Phillip on his birthday.  Each tattoo contains a semicolon to represent suicide awareness. Six of us got tattoos, while Courtland and Mark offered moral support. It was such a good night, and it felt so good to laugh and celebrate our precious Phillip. We love and miss Phillip so much, and are so happy to now have a symbol to carry with us daily.  His story is not over.
On February 24, Phillip's 19th Birthday, Emily wrote this about her son:
19 years ago today I gave birth to the most beautiful baby boy I had ever laid eyes on. It was truly the happiest day of my life as I had never known a love like that before. I was just a child myself when I became a mother. I knew very little but I knew I loved that baby with all my heart. He made me so happy and proud at times I felt like my heart would explode. Phillip was an extraordinary person. He had the biggest heart. Phillip loved his family, loved his friends, loved his baseball. The happiest days of my life were spent sitting on a baseball field. Phillip was smart, so smart. We recently discussed him joining the peace corps after college, he always wanted to make a difference. And he was beautiful!!! He was absolutely gorgeous, he always dressed up. He even wore ties to school. I have tried to wrap my head around all of this and I just can't. He was sick and tortured in his own mind. And as a parent it is the hardest when you can not help your child. I am heartbroken and I am forever changed. I will have to find my new normal. I have cried on Phillip's Birthday the last few years because I was sad he was growing up and was going to leave me. I said just the other day that this would be his first birthday in years I didn't think I would cry. God knew otherwise. On a Tuesday morning, just three days before his 19th birthday, my precious, beautiful, loving, funny, perfect son took his own life. We have been proud of Phillip his entire life and we are not ashamed of him now. That was his way to feel better. I hope no one, especially his friends, question themselves. Please don't replay the I could haves or I should haves. Please don't feel guilty and please don't feel blame. Just continue to love and honor my baby's memories. Happy Birthday to my sweet Phillip. And when the pictures quit coming and the posts go away and months down the road when everyone is back to their normal routines, please don't forget my family and please always pray for us. We are tight and we are hurt. ❤ love to you all
Since Phillip's death three weeks ago, so many people have shown their solidarity and support in getting their own similar tattoos. I have appreciated the tags and posts throughout the past few weeks, and hope you will keep them coming if it is something you feel inclined to share.  So many people have shared with us their own struggles and fears. People are reaching out for help and support, and they are sharing their own stories often for the first time. This response reflects how profoundly touched we have all been and how far this love has reached. Phillip touched lives and reached people.  Even in his death he is reaching others.  Several weeks ago, we didn't expect to see his impact on others to be so suddenly profound, but we have found ourselves in uncharted territory, and we are navigating it together the best we know how. 
Our family loves you all. You are amazing friends and amazing people whom we are blessed to have in our lives. We never expected to walk through this wilderness,but are so grateful for our friends and family that have helped navigate it with us. Much love.
xoxo, Erin
Southern Virginia Mom
SoVA Mom Home

**If you or a loved one is in crisis and/or needs help and a listening ear, there is help. Please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 
1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).