Sunday, January 25, 2009

Generation Fun with the Flames

We had a wonderful day of fun and fellowship at the Liberty Flames Women's and Men's basketball games on January 24th in Lynchburg. We would like to give a big thank you to Anna Whitehurst, Assistant Athletics Director and Jeff Barber, Director of Athletics, for welcoming Generation Community to the Vine Center.

We saw some familiar faces, and we met some new friends as well. This helped us spread the word about the fun, educational, and useful resources offered by Generation Solutions through Generation Community. We had a camera in hand, so we hope that you enjoy some of our pictures below!

Tracey Davis, Generation Community Facilitator with daughter, Farrah as "Dorothy"

Farrah joined by Sue Irvine, Generation Solutions Regional Director (L) and Kristen Pine, Community Relations Coordinator (R)

One of Liberty's Ambassador volunteers says hello

Here is the winner of the Generation Solutions "Sportsfan Contest" - Buddy Moore!


Sue is joined by Generation Solutions founder Tulane Patterson and his youngest daughter.

Farrah talks with City Councilman Jeff Helgeson

Meeting new friends

"Dorothy" was invited to participate in the giant tricycle race!

On your mark.....get set..... Go!

Dorothy shows the community that Generation Solutions knows how to take the lead!

Dorothy knows there's no place like home ... except for the finish line! She clicked her heels to a first place finish!

Flame's mascot Sparky and Smoothie King congratulate Dorothy.

Sparky was clicking his heels with Dorothy! Now that's the spirit!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Generation Community Decorative Painting Workshop

We had a great time at the decorative painting workshop on January 17th. We want to thank the participants for braving the cold and coming out to the class, we'd like to thank Bentley Commons for the use of their beautiful facility, and we'd especially like to thank our teacher Joy Davis for leading the class. Joy was joined by her good friend and fellow painter Betty Caithness, who was a tremendous help before and during the class.

Tracey welcomes the painters

Joy Davis

Let's paint!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Using Gift Cards

If you received a gift card under the tree this Christmas, here are a few tips to help you get the most out of it. First, you should determine if it is a store branded card, or a bank issued card. A store branded card is simply a card that can only be used at that store. For example, if you win our Word Search contest and pick a Lowes Gift card, then the card is purchased at Lowes, has the Lowes name and logo on it, and can only be used at Lowes. Another name for a store branded card is a "closed-loop" card. Alternately, an "open-loop" card is a bank issued card that has a Visa, Mastercard, or bank logo on it, and can be used anywhere a credit card is accepted.

Traditionally the store branded cards have been more popular with consumers. However the more uncertain the economy becomes, the more aware we need to be about purchasing or redeeming store branded cards. Usually if a retailer goes bankrupt, their gift cards will lost most if not all of their value. For example, when the Bombay Company filed for bankruptcy, their already paid for cards were only worth 25 cents on the dollar to the holders. To avoid such a situation and gain more flexibility, many have turned to bank issued cards. However the "open-loop" cards have some things to watch out for as well such as fees and shorter expiration dates. A bank issued gift card could have an activation fee, a purchase processing fee, a dormancy fee, and a monthly maintenance fee. If you added these all up, a $25 bank issued gift card received at Christmas time could be worth as little as $5 by summer. Of course, that may be an extreme example, but it illustrates the importance of weighing the pros and cons of each type of card. We can say with some confidence that Wal-Mart is not about to go out of business, so your Wal-Mart gift card should not lose its value by the time you get there to redeem it. No matter what type of gift card you may have received this Christmas, it appears to be a good rule of thumb to use it sooner rather than later. Remember also that if you lose the card, you will have no way of redeeming it. In 2006, the value of unused gift cards was estimated to be $8 billion.

The Coming Digital TV Signal

In last year's January February Generation Community newsletter, we told you about the coming television broadcasting change in which all television signals will go from analog to digital in February 2009. It is hard to believe it has already been a year, but February is just around the corner. The TV signal change is scheduled to happen on February 17, 2009. For millions of Americans the transition should be seamless, because everyone that gets their programming through cable or satellite service should get the new signal converted by the cable or satellite company.

Congress ordered the change to all-digital broadcasting to free up channels for police, fire, and emergency personnel. The FCC says that the digital transition offers many benefits even beyond public safety. They believe it will open the door to new wireless services for consumers, allow TV stations to offer better picture and sound quality, and enable TV stations to broadcast several programs at the same time.

Again, if you get your TV programming through a cable or satellite provider, then you will not need a converter box to receive the new digital signal after February 17th. If you receive your television signal via a rooftop antenna or "rabbit ears", then the rest of this article is for you. A rootop antenna or rabbit ear antenna will not understand the new digital signal, so you will have three options to continue receiving programming. You can (1) connect your current analog TV to a digital converter (which we'll explain more in a moment), (2) connect your current analog TV to a paid service such as cable or satellite service, or (3) purchase a new TV with a built in digital tuner, also known as a digitial television.

If you decide to purchase a converter for your current analog TV, the US Department of Commerce will give you a $40 coupon to use toward the purchase (up to 2 per household). Most converters start around $60, so this means that you will not need to pay much more than $20 for your converter. So how do you obtain the coupon? If you have internet access, you can apply for the coupon online by going to or by phone by calling 888-DTV-2009. You can apply for the coupon anytime from now until March 31, 2009. The coupon will be mailed to you at the address you supplied when applying. It will be a plastic card that looks like a typical gift card. Please note that the coupon will only be good for 90 days after their mail date. If you decide you don't need your coupon, you may give it away to someone, but it is illegal to sell them. According to the website listed above, Wal-Mart, Best Buy, and Target stores in Lynchburg and Roanoke participate in the program, and will accept your coupon.