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Virginians celebrate October holidays every day

Photo of Chief Anne Richardson of the Rappahannock Tribe by Louise Keeton
Photo of Chief Anne Richardson of the Rappahannock Tribe by Louise Keeton

October doesn’t just honor Halloween! The first full month of fall celebrates everything from World Teacher’s Day to National Homemade Cookies Day to Global Cat Day. These Virginians, however, observe these holidays every day through their skills, talents, and passions. Discover more inspiring Virginians on VPM’s Instagram @myVPM.

October 1 - International Music Day
Photo credit: Leslie Bretz
“Music — lyrics, instrumentation, and voice — takes me to places both old and familiar, as well as new and unknown.  My musical style and performance is a union between my favorite genres of music — blues, country, southern soul, and gospel — and the conveyance of how the music makes me feel. One of my most emotional and privileged moments as a musician was singing to a close friend’s mother in her hospital room days before she passed. My friend and her mother came to every show possible for them, no matter the distance, weather, or venue.  I had grown close to both of them and went to visit when she fell ill. When I arrived, she asked if I could sing for her. I sat by her side, held her hand, and sang a few of her favorites. It was hard to hold back tears, but such an honor to spend time with her at all.  I will never forget singing for her as one of her last wishes.”
- Rebecca Porter

October 1 - National Homemade Cookies Day
Photo credit: Louise Keeton
“Allie grew up baking with me. I would bake the cookies and Allie really enjoyed designing them. So when we opened the storefront, she started helping me. We thought when we opened Sugar Fix that we would be taking the crazy out of our home - where the workload was affecting the family - to the storefront but it opened up a whole new crazy for us. We would be here at the bakery until the wee hours of the morning. The lives of my six children were turned upside down because they usually had me at home with them. Thankfully, Allie’s organizational skills made things run more efficiently. Now I feel like we’ve got it figured out - as much as any small business can figure it out. We’re always busy and we get to talk every day - which is awesome for me as a mom. I just wrote her a little note last week and told her how proud I am of her. No matter how busy we are, she never loses it. She is wise beyond her years.”
- Melinda Foster and Allie Wong of Sugar Fix

October 1 - National Hair Day
Photo credit: Rebecca Wesley
“The Black barbershop culture is very unique. It's built off of relationships, it's built off of trust, and it's built off of energy. When I was getting my barber’s license, I actually went to a historically Black college by the name of Virginia State University. While I was there I was able to get my degree and get hours toward my barber's license. I wanted to be able to create that same type of opportunity for students to get a degree as well as a trade. Having a trade gives them something to fall back on, and if they take the trade seriously enough, they can make career money. A couple of years ago, we did a pop-up shop at Virginia Union, and we left such a lasting impression that I was given the opportunity to open up a barbershop on the Virginia Union campus. It was like divine intervention. It feels like we’re meant to be here. 
The key to successfully cultivating a barbershop on a college campus is becoming one with the students, becoming one with the culture of the school, and engraving ourselves in the culture. One Thanksgiving, our barbershop - Brand New Wave - hosted a Thanksgiving potluck for the students. As we were sitting at the table eating, I asked everyone to share what they were appreciative for. As I listened to their answers, I had an epiphany! I could see in that moment the impact our mentorship at Brand New Wave had on the students. They were so appreciative for the food, the thought, and the camaraderie! It felt like we were able to provide the support the students had been looking for along their journeys.”
- J. Bizz of Brand New Wave

October 1 - International Coffee DayPhoto credit: Louise Keeton
“We have signs on our door that say, “Everyone is welcome” and we mean it. In today's climate, people feel very polarized but we want everyone to feel like family. We’re actually friends with a lot of the Richmond police because many of them come in here every day to chat and have a cup of coffee. That gave us the idea to start, “Coffee with a Cop.” A couple times a year, the Richmond Police department come in and give people a chance to talk to them. It is huge to be able to sit down, ask questions, and get a chance to be reassured that the police are here to be a part of the community. I’m glad we’ve been able to help bridge gaps between people. That’s what Greenbriar is all about!”
- Julius Green, Chef at Greenbriar Cafe and Coffeehouse 

October 1 - International Day of Older Persons
Photo credit: Louise Keeton
“50 years ago, my wife Marlene and I were working at the Bendix Research Lab. There, we were awarded the contract for the lunar rover, and Marlene was chosen to head the department. She was responsible for managing 60 engineers so they could develop the first-ever land rover to go to the moon. The rover had to be capable of carrying two astronauts, a whole ton of moon rocks, and it had to go 40 miles to the destination and 40 miles back. This was the first time anyone had ever attempted to create a land rover under these circumstances, and if you’re going to take the dang thing to the moon, it’s gotta work. There were no second chances. With nothing but a high school education, Marlene managed this large engineering department - which, if you know anything about engineers - they have a lot of pride in their work. They all think their idea is the best idea, so if you have too many of them in one room, they don’t get anything done. But Marlene had a wonderful mind and could manage people. Her boss told me he couldn’t imagine anyone better than Marlene to get the job done. So, under her management, she was able to direct all 60 engineers and got the land rover to the moon 50 years ago. She had a great mind, until the car accident. We were driving together when we hit a deer. The airbag went off and hit her in the head. 30% of her brain function was diminished. Today, she can carry on an intelligent conversation with you to some degree, but the next minute, she will have no idea what we talked about. That is why I want to share her story. Even if she can’t remember her place in history, I want the world to know who is responsible for bringing the land rover to the moon.”
- Jerrold and Marlene Janke

October 4 - World Animal Day
Photo credit: Louise Keeton
“I have always loved animals. As a child, I would always try to take in stray cats. During my junior year of high school, I signed up for a two-year Veterinary Assistance class at the Pruden Center in Suffolk. That’s where I learned about being a Licensed Veterinary Technician. We’re like the nurses of the veterinary field. While I mainly help take care of small animals, I’ve also had the opportunity to take care of some wildlife such as baby raccoons, opossums, birds, rabbits, and on rare occasions, deer. One time I even helped a small bat. Taking care of wildlife can be extremely difficult due to their nature. Unlike human medicine, our patients can not tell us what’s wrong. They can’t look us in the eyes and tell us how their stomach is hurting or how there is an unusual pain within their abdomen. Everything has to be figured out through clinical signs and behavior. Sometimes trying to help them can actually harm them more if they begin to act out in an effort to protect themselves. But when we have a problem that can be fixed and the animal heals, that’s one of the best feelings. We spent a few days taking care of a deer with a broken jaw at my animal emergency job. We named him Buckwheat. Injured wildlife cannot be immediately returned to the wild. Instead, they are transferred to the care of a licensed rehabber. If they heal, they may be returned to the wild or even taken in by facilities for educational purposes. Buckwheat’s jaw healed up, and he now spends his life at the Virginia Living Museum in Newport News. When a patient recovers, it is one of the biggest rewards. Of course, there are not always happy endings, but there are more than enough good times to relish in.”
- Virgie Riddick and her dog Maple

October 5 - World Teacher’s Day
Photo credit: Richmond Public Schools
“I have been named National Teacher of the Year! This honor allows me to bring attention to the juvenile correction schools. A lot of people think, “Oh, teaching in a jail is so tough.” It's not tough, because for the first time I think these kids are allowed to be teenagers. This is the first time in their lives they've had a chance to focus on education and get out of survival mode. A lot of my students are in here for crimes of survival -- whether it be gang issues, home issues, or life issues. I often tell them, “When you come here, just relax. You have a roof over your head. You're going to get food every day. You’re safe now and can focus on your education.” 
You'd be surprised at how much more motivated the students are because a lot of them have never gotten positive attention in school. I want to build up that confidence because a lot of education is what you think you can do. If you believe it you can achieve it. If you don't believe in yourself, you can’t achieve.”
- Rodney Robinson, Social Studies Teacher at Virgie Binford Education Center inside the Richmond Juvenile Detention Center, and 2019 National Teacher of the Year

October 6 - National Coaches Day
Photo credit: Louise Keeton
“Me and my co-founder, Jawad met on the inside. We noticed a lot of young men coming into prison with no sense of direction. So we said, once we get out, we’re going to try to eradicate some of the social ills that we once helped create. So, RVA League for Safer Streets was born. Sitting inside prison, we had a lot of time to start putting together our plan. We knew that young people wanted to play basketball. So if we got the basketball courts, then maybe we could get kids from high-crime areas in the same place together to listen to workshops on conflict resolution, problem-solving and critical thinking. Then, after they have been given resources and gained the understanding they need, we can go play basketball together. Our motto became, ‘No workshop, no jump shot.’
Jawad got out before me and started knocking on doors to make our dream a reality. One day, he knocked on the door of the Richmond Police Chief at the time - Chief Alfred Durham. He said, “Never in all my 30 years of law enforcement has a fella knocked on my door asking how he could help.” We never imagined we would get support from the Richmond Police Department. They even have a team in our league! It doesn’t matter if you’re from a high-crime area or a part of the police department - basketball is a value we all share, and everyone wants a team in our league. Basketball, though, is just the bait to get everyone inside the gym. What we’re really trying to do is build relationships and provide resources. Since Jawad passed away in 2019, it has become more important than ever for us to maintain what we have going on in his memory and for everyone who has been left behind.”
- Taylor Paul, Co-Founder of RVA League for Safer Streets

October 10 - World Mental Health DayPhoto credit: Louise Keeton
“I was a ward of the state until I was 16. As a ward of the state, therapy is mandatory, but I didn’t feel like I could tell my therapist about what was really going on with me because they were outside the African American experience. From a statistical standpoint, it’s rare to have a male therapist, and when they are males, they’re not generally a part of the African American culture. Going back for my master’s in therapy was solely to serve people who are not in a position to advocate for themselves. For me, therapy is about healing and helping people - not about being judged. I started the Men to Heal movement to get men to focus on their overall wellness. That’s why I put together the Healing Hub. I want it to be a one-stop-shop to ensure we’re providing service to everybody holistically. We have a resiliency thinker who does yoga and trauma-informed care, we have a doula and a physician, a massage therapist, and I do outpatient therapy. Creating that open space for people to acknowledge their vulnerabilities has been really awesome and life-changing.”
- James Harris of The Healing Hub 

October 11 - Native Americans’ DayPhoto credit: Louise Keeton
“In the past, everyone has seen Pocahontas as a cartoon character. But she was real. She was a real person. When I was growing up, we didn’t know very much about her. All we had was the oral history that was passed down through the tribal families. It never occurred to me to really think about who she was until I went to England in 2006. To my great surprise, the people in England love Pocahontas and still consider her to be the mother of America. They believe that she saved the colony and they have documentation on her that we don't have here. So when the elders and I went to England, we saw the documents and we heard the stories and we had a ceremony in St. George's Church. Our elders began to weep because Pocohantas was still so honored in England but not by her own people because the stories about her had been hidden here. The elders were very much grieved about it. So we began to honor her there and it became a ceremony of reconciliation between the tribes. It was so powerful. I felt Pocahontas in the room. I knew that there were people from our past in the room with us, elders who had fought for this and died before ever having seen the victory. I don't think there was a dry eye in the whole delegation. It changed our relationships forever. I wanted to bring that powerful relationship here so that people in America could experience it. The Pocahontas Festival is important to bring her alive again and embrace her for who she really was. Her faith was strong and I believe she was led explicitly by it. That's what caused her to want to feed people, to protect people, to keep them from harm. That's who she was. And I think that's a story that America needs to know.”
- Chief Anne Richardson of the Rappahannock Tribe

October 12 - Farmers Day
Photo credit: Leslie Bretz
“I’m not a quitter. I don’t let anything stop me, not even losing my legs.
The day I lost my legs, I came home from teaching and decided to finish picking the corn on my farm. I went down and got to the machine, made one round around the field and I heard this squealing noise, so I let up and got off the tractor. The sound was coming from the picker so I looked at it, but this detter chain was running real close to the ground and my foot ended up getting caught in it. I bent my foot back, but I couldn’t get it out. I tried to jerk my foot out but I couldn’t do it, so I tried to get my foot out of the boot, but I just couldn’t get it. By that time, the machine had grabbed my leg. I knew right then and there that this was gonna take my legs off.
The machine pulled me right up inside of it. It knocked me down on my back and knocked me around. So there I am, by myself, and I holler and holler and holler, but the nearest house was so far away, no one could hear me. After about a half-hour, the machine stopped.
There was a young man, who would sometimes help on the farm. He came around looking for me and I called him. I told him not to try to get me out, but to go call the rescue squad as soon as possible.
The squad got to me and I could tell by their faces that they didn’t know what to do. I stayed awake and told them to move the lever to the right so it would open up the rows and give a little more room to get my legs out. The last thing I remember was when they lifted me out and put a sheet over my stumps.
After all that, we started a support group for people who have lost limbs in the valley. We’re called ‘Raise It On A New Limb.’ We teach tractor safety to ages 6 to 18, and sometimes adults. We make young people aware that farming equipment is dangerous and that you need to be careful.”
- Art Mitchell

October 16 - Global Cat Day
Photo credit: Louise Keeton
“A gentleman had decided to surrender his 14-year-old cat Teddy to a kill shelter so he could get a kitten instead. The shelter reached out to us because they know I have a soft spot for older pets — so much so we have a senior pets program. So we agreed to help Teddy who is a beautiful Himalayan but he was meaner than a junkyard dog. He bit, he scratched, and he was pissed at the world. We thought he might be too much. Then a dear friend of mine, Bob, said, ‘Let me take the old guy.’ I said, ‘Bob this cat is biting and scratching, I don’t know if you can handle it.’ He said, ‘Let me try.’
Those two guys are a match made in heaven. I actually got to see Teddy and he has probably picked up three pounds since Bob adopted him. Teddy kisses Bob, he lets Bob brush him - they’re just two old guys living the bachelor life. Bob said the sweetest thing to me about a week ago. He looked at me with tears in his eyes and he said, “Teddy gave me life.” This is the perfect happy ending to me because we were able to save two lives.”
- Lynne Layton of Smitty’s Cat Rescue Shelter

October 20 - National Day on WritingPhoto credit: Louise Keeton
“I’ve always been a writer. I’m always taking notes and chronicling moments of inspiration as I’m going about my day. I think the Richmond area is an especially inspiring, exciting place to live so I wanted to preserve in verse some of what makes Richmond so special and share it with the greater Richmond community. So, I wrote Short Pump BUMP!
I was reading in a fourth-grade classroom one day and one little boy said, “I don’t like where I live. It’s terrible there.” He immediately got a rush of support from his classmates. Maybe they felt that way because they were not familiar with the positive places and positive history in Central Virginia. This was a great opportunity for me to open that dialogue with these kids. I pointed out that there are places in Short Pump BUMP! that are in or near where they live. And because the book is so diverse, all of those children were able to pick it up and see themselves reflected in the pages. After that, they left feeling a lot prouder of where they are from and it felt really good to me to be able to write a book that not only promotes Richmond but also diversity and reading.”
- Angie Miles

October 20 - International Chefs Day
Photo credit: The Inn at Little Washington
“I’ve always believed, and still do, that humans are very dangerous creatures. So if you keep them well-fed, they’re far less dangerous. That sounds harsh, but I don’t regard it that way at all. They enjoy being fed.
We opened [the Inn at Little Washington] in 1978. At the end of our first year, I decided to go on a gastronomic pilgrimage to the greatest restaurants in France. That was my first experience with what Michelin stars meant. The appreciation of culture, gastronomy, heritage villages, regions, the electricity in the room, that performance, and the contrast between where we were after the first year and a half in business and where they were was like taking a rocket ship to a different planet. And I thought, ‘Well, you know what? Screw them.’ We grew up on Miss Paul’s fish sticks and Stouffer’s lasagna, but it was a legitimate flavor memory. I was taking my childhood flavor memories and bringing them forward. We shouldn’t ever be embarrassed by our past. Refined American cuisine is American resourcefulness, flavor memories, fun-loving, and elevated, just something that ideally could rest side by side with a dish that was on a Michelin three-star French menu. 
When we received two [Michelin] stars for the second time, we put the pictures up of all the other two-star establishments in the world. These are beautiful places with celebrated chefs, and that helped, but the great thing about being human is we are insatiable. The expectation is simply perfection. Right now, the next move is to just keep evolving. Cleverly, Michelin gave us something to work towards - that third Michelin star.”
- Chef Patrick O’Connell, Chef and Proprietor at the Inn at Little Washington

October 25 - National Artist’s Day
Photo credit: Jim Eicher
“I was raised in Japan. There, you have a set course for life - you do your studies, you get into college, you get a job. Growing up, I never imagined doing anything different. Then I moved to the States and suddenly it seemed as if life could take any course I chose — and all I wanted — was to choose ballet.  
I never imagined that I could actually become a professional ballet dancer. It would have been very easy for me to study something else, and pursue another career that was maybe more ‘practical’ or ‘lucrative.’ But dancing professionally was my dream and I couldn’t let go of it without trying my best to see if I could reach it.
When I get to perform for children, it reminds me that I can show them what they are capable of pursuing in a way that wasn’t afforded to me in my childhood. They rarely have seen anything like ballet before and you can see the magic spark in their eyes. They are inspired by what they see and I think the world needs more of that - opportunities for children, or anyone, to be inspired. I think what's so amazing about the culture in this country is that people are encouraged to explore what they are interested in and what they feel passionate about. It just shows how inspiring and uplifting life can be when we are able to connect to others by creating and sharing art.” 
- Eri Nishihara, dancer with Richmond Ballet

October 28 - National Immigrants DayPhoto credit: Crixell Matthews
“Nobody can believe that an immigrant from Afghanistan — who has suffered a lot — can come to the United States and open a restaurant. 
In Afghanistan, I was a chef for the USAID. People who work with Americans, their life is in danger. My family had a lot of trouble with the Taliban regime. As a child, they attacked my village and I lost my dad, my cousin, my uncle, and my mom was injured. Through the USAID, I applied for a special visa. I moved here with my beautiful wife and four children. I’ve got two boys and two girls. They are in school right now. They are safe working on their dreams.
My dream was to open a restaurant. I want people to come into The Mantu and feel the love. Love can be found anywhere. It just needs the support of the people to come together and make it happen.”
- Chef Noori of The Mantu

October 31 - HalloweenPhoto credit: Louise Keeton
“Two years ago, I dressed up as a ghost for Halloween. I just loved the simplicity of it all and it sure got a lot of attention that night. The next Halloween, I had a funny idea to pose wearing my sheet for an Instagram picture at a local restaurant, Garnett's Cafe. To this day, I think that photo is still the most liked out of all their posts. That’s when the idea came to life… or died! Can you imagine!? A Richmond ghost?! Posing at ice cream shops and local grocery stores? I scream! Boo berries! THE PUNS! SO MANY PUNS! The ideas were flooding in and I couldn't stop imagining it. I didn't go forward with it for a while, but the ideas were keeping me up at night. I finally reached out to a local photographer, Meagan and she was into it. We were off! I hope what we’re doing with Mostly Ghosting You inspires people to embrace their weird. I want it to make people go for that thing that keeps them up at night. I want it to make people not be afraid to do that thing even if on the outside it looks super freaking weird!”
- Richmond Ghost of Mostly Ghosting You

October also observes…

October 1
World Smile Day first Friday of month
World Vegetarian Day

October 2
International Frugal Fun Day - first Saturday of the month
National Custodial Worker Day
Name Your Car Day
World Card Making Day - first Saturday of the month
World Farm Animals Day

October 3 
National Boyfriends Day
Oktoberfest in Germany ends - date varies
Techies Day
Virus Appreciation Day

October 4
Child Health Day
National Golf Day
National Frappe Day

October 5
Do Something Nice Day

October 6
Come and Take it Day
Mad Hatter Day
National Kale Day 
Physician Assistant Day

October 7
Bald and Free Day
International Walk to School Day

October 8
American Touch Tag Day
World Egg Day - second Friday of month

October 9
Curious Events Day
Fire Prevention Day
Leif Erikson Day
Moldy Cheese Day
National Motorcycle Ride Day -  second Saturday in October

October 10
Indigenous People Day - second Monday in October
International Newspaper Carrier Day
National Angel Food Cake Day

October 11
National Coming Out Day
It's My Party Day

October 12
Cookbook Launch Day
Moment of Frustration Day
National Gumbo Day

October 13
Emergency Nurses Day- second Wednesday of month
International Skeptics Day
National Fossil Day - date varies
National Take Your Parents to Lunch Day - date varies
Take Your Teddy Bear to Work Day - second Wednesday of the month

October 14
Be Bald and Free Day
National Dessert Day 

October 15
Bosses Day - Weekday closest to October 16
White Cane Safety Day

October 16
Dictionary Day
Sweetest Day - third Saturday of month

October 17
National Pasta Day
Wear Something Gaudy Day

October 18
National Meatloaf Appreciation Day
No Beard Day

October 19
Evaluate Your Life Day

October 20
Brandied Fruit Day  

October 21
Babbling Day
Count Your Buttons Day
International Nacho Day
National Pumpkin Cheesecake Day 

October 22
National Nut Day

October 23
Make a Difference Day-  fourth Saturday of the month
National Mole Day
TV Talk Show Host Day

October 24 
Mother-In-Law Day - fourth Sunday in October
National Bologna Day
United Nations Day  

October 25
Punk for a Day Day
World Opera Day
World Pasta Day

October 26
National Mincemeat Day

October 27
Black Cat Day
Navy Day

October 28
Plush Animal Lover's Day    

October 29
Frankenstein Friday - last Friday in October
Hermit Day
National Frankenstein Day

October 30
National Candy Corn Day
Mischief Night

October 31
Carve a Pumpkin Day 
Increase Your Psychic Powers Day