Business Briefs: June 2023

Erik Cohen, a Crozet Firefighter, reads a story for Story Time with a Fireman at Bluebird & Co. The event is on the last Saturday of every month and features alternating firefighters.

Crozet Board of Trade Seeks Members

The Crozet Board of Trade held its annual meeting last month to discuss the year ahead. The board is a nonprofit foundation formed to let Crozet businesses organize and contribute to important community events such as the Fourth of July parade and fireworks and holiday festivities. Anyone with a stake in Crozet’s future is welcome to join the board. New this year for members will be a schedule of informal talks on business topics from community experts. Email [email protected] to join.

The main order of business at the May meeting was the upcoming parade and fireworks. Board members will be visiting Crozet-area business with requests for support, both financial and hands-on. The board also wants to expand the parade. Anyone with an interest, a cause, or an unusual vehicle is invited to march, drive, or dance: details at

New Pathway to UVa Employment

A new program strives to alleviate the manpower shortage at UVA by recruiting and training those willing to apply for jobs at the entry level. Hollie Lee, who oversees the Pipelines & Pathways program, said the interview and placement process goes far beyond what you’d expect from a conventional employment agency. One of the target areas for recruitment is Albemarle County.

“Many people without higher education or much work experience are at a loss as to where to start,” Lee said. The program is designed to help applicants with every hurdle. “We work with our applicants to judge their interests, assess their prior work experience, connect them with the right departments, and coach them in job interview skills.” 

Applicants as well as the understaffed university departments benefit from this program. Those who have been unemployed or underemployed are not abandoned once they land an entry-level job. The program offers them training as they progress in their original position: resume writing, mock interviewing, basic computer skills, workplace readiness and financial literacy. This service, which applies to full-time, part-time, temporary and wage employment, is offered for a wide variety of positions, including with the University’s academic division, its health system, physicians’ groups, and University foundations.

Job counselors work with applicants to remove common barriers to employment such as transportation, childcare, housing, and criminal history, helping them find resources in their own communities.

Once applicants are settled in a job, Pipelines & Pathways continues to support their career goals with a plan for upward mobility within UVA. After six months on the job, employees are coached by a professional trainer who will help them find continuing education and training. There are entry-level jobs available throughout the university, Lee said. A list is available on the program’s website, Language training is available as well. 

HOOS Driving

The HOOS Driving Training Program provides coursework and paid on-the-job training as a full-time transit bus driver with University Transit Service or Charlottesville Area Transit. The rate of pay for training and employment is competitive: $19 to $21 an hour.

Zia Ihsan finished the ‘HOOS Driving’ program, which pays for training as a bus driver on campus or in Charlottesville. Submitted photo.

After training, employees begin behind-the-wheel skills test training with the transit agency for their permanent Class B commercial driver’s license. 

Lee said there will be two training programs a year for HOOS Driving. Those interested in an upcoming class may email [email protected] or call 434-962-3996. More information and details are on social media and the website. 

Neighbors Launch Moonfire Doulas

Two friends and neighbors who make their homes on St. George Avenue have used their experience and training to offer doula services to expectant parents. Doulas are professionals who offer physical and emotional comfort to those on their journey through pregnancy and birth.

Laura Bates, left, and Kelsey Fatsi are friends, neighbors, and now partners in Moonfire Doulas. Submitted photo.

Kelsey Fatsi and Laura Bates explained their roles, which change a bit for every client. “No pregnancy or birth is the same,” Fatsi said. But their mission remains consistent: to encourage well-being, confidence, and connection during pregnancy and through labor and birth. Long before the midwife or obstetrician enters the picture, the doulas provide a compassionate presence, offering calm advice as well as practical help. 

“For one woman in labor, it helped so much for me to push on her back,” Bates said. Or maybe a child needs reassurance, a partner needs a break or a nap, or a meal needs to be warmed up. The doulas are quick to spot what might help the family as they wait for the birth. They’re also able to help their clients decide when to leave for the hospital, and how to ask questions once there.

“That’s important,” she said. “We don’t want them to feel bulldozed, but to know what to expect, and to judge how it fits into the birth they want.”

Generally, the doulas meet with new clients at about 30 weeks, and again at about 37 weeks, but they’re also available for clients who decide on using a doula at the last minute. They stay throughout the labor and delivery, at home and in the hospital. 

After a week or so, the doula will make a home visit, to check that everything is going well. If there’s an issue they can’t resolve, they know the community resources that can help. 

They see themselves not only as trained professionals, but as a connection to the wider community. Their experience has taught them that every birth, as joyful as it is, can also be an isolating experience. They have ideas to bring expectant and new parents together with art projects (Fatsi is a licensed art therapist) group walks, and informal interactions.

“Our hope is that every new parent can say, regardless of the way the birth unfolded, ‘I felt safe, supported and empowered,” Fatsi said.

Meet the doulas at Bluebird & Co. Saturday, June 24, at 10 a.m., and find out more at

Book Launch at Bluebird

The acclaimed book-writing team of Jo Piazza and Christine Pride have chosen to launch their new book, You Were Always Mine, at Crozet’s Bluebird & Company June 13. The event is co-sponsored by The Virginia Center for the Book, and its director, Kalela Williams, will moderate the conversation. This is a huge honor for Bluebird, said co-owner Flannery Buchanan. The authors, both already well-known in literary circles, first teamed up for their collaboration, We Are Not Like Them, and launched it at perhaps the most famous bookstore in the east, Nashville’s Parnassus, owned by literary giant Ann Patchett. 

Authors of the blockbuster, “You Were Always Mine,” chose Bluebird & Co. for the launch of their second joint book, an honor for the shop and for Crozet.

We Are Not Like Them, received a great deal of praise,  chosen as a Good Morning America book club pick as well as the Best Book of 2021 by Harper’s Bazaar and Real Simple, so the choice of Bluebird & Co. for the launch of the second book is a significant honor. Fans of the book will gather to discuss it Thursday, June 8, at Bluebird & Co., at 6:30 p.m. Buchanan said she suspects the second one will get even more accolades. The launch of You Were Always Mine begins at 7 p.m., Tuesday, June 13. It’s free, but reservations are required. To register, and for more information, visit 

Woodworking, Landscapes at Crozet Artisan Depot

Debra Sheffer of Mt. Sidney and Jason Goldman of Flint Hill are guest artists at the Crozet Artisan Depot for June. Their shows will run from June 1 to 30 in the historic Crozet train depot, 5791 Three Notch’d Road in Crozet.

Both artists will be available to meet the public and answer questions, Saturday, June 17, from 1 to 3 p.m.

Wood artist Jason Goldman finds the shapes, colors and textures inside each piece of wood. Submitted photo.

Sheffer’s show is titled “Quiet Places,” She’s a plein air landscape painter who works mostly in oil, but also gouache. Week days are often stressful and chaotic, she said, and she craves time to absorb the beauty of quiet spaces on weekends. She and her husband love exploring the countryside during painting excursions, often connecting with interesting people and learning the history of different areas. Debra captures the beauty of quiet spaces in the Shenandoah Valley and its surrounding countryside.

“My painting approach begins with tonal brush marks on the surface,” Shaffer said. “I distill my observations to a value study initially, balancing the darks and lights, sensibilities informed by years as a graphic designer.” 

Debra Sheffer paints landscapes right in the countryside. In this painting, she captures Rockfish Valley.

Goldman’s show is titled “Lucid Trees.” His craft is turned wooden objects, ranging from burial urns to salad bowls. Jason also makes functional art pieces, from furniture to hand-carved utensils.

“My work is best described as my personal journey into woodworking through understanding and learning about trees,” Goldman said. “Whether it’s ditch wood from the side of the road or a piece from the firewood pile, or an exotic burl, I want to see what is inside!” He likes to find the designs, colors, textures, and even smells hidden inside every piece of wood and figure out the best way to present them. 

Biz Bits

Avelo Airlines began service in May at Charlottesville Albemarle Airport (CHO) with nonstop service to Orlando. The $49 flights depart twice weekly from Charlottesville to Orlando International Airport and return twice weekly. For details and to schedule a flight, go to

The Amazon facility in Fishersville is open and seeking employees. Employers are looking for 200 more workers who can receive, sort, pack and ship products to customers. Training is provided.

CroZeli is replacing Morsel Compass in Piedmont Place.

Piedmont Place has opened its upstairs rooms and plans to be ready for the displaced businesses to return in mid-June, according to building owner Andrew Baldwin. A sandwich shop, CroZeli Sandwich Shop, will occupy the former Morsel Compass space, with signature sandwiches and salads. Owners Paige and Chef Chase Rannigan plan to serve classic deli sandwiches like Reubens and Italian specialties, Greek and Caesar salads, and other salads and sides. There’s also a new owner for Newtown Fitness. Opening days depend on how quickly the businesses can start up after the overall renovations are finished. Bar Botanical, the new “small plates” restaurant on the rooftop, will open in July, said owner and chef Ryan Becklund. 

Children are flocking to the Story Time with Crozet Firefighters at Bluebird & Co. This story time, scheduled for the last Saturday of every month at 10:30 a.m., includes time for children to ask questions about the life of a firefighter. Each month features a different firefighter from Station 5. 


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