Nearly every day Chasity Barbour reports to work at one of the most beautiful and elegant venues anyone could hope for— the Vinton War Memorial.
Barbour is in her fourth year as the Event and Operations Manager for the facility owned by the Town of Vinton. Coming up with a job description is difficult— her duties basically include “doing whatever needs to be done in planning and executing” the myriad number of events scheduled there.
In 2017, Barbour and Event Operations Assistant Robbin Reams facilitated approximately 240 events, large and small, at the War Memorial, both private and in-kind for the town. This year the Vinton War Memorial is celebrating its 70th anniversary, having first opened in 1948.
In recent weeks the facility was the site of the enormously popular Vinton Area Chamber of Commerce Senior Expo. It hosts the annual Dogwood Festival luncheon for the Dogwood Court and crowning of the Dogwood Queen on April 28. Their “Grapes and Grains” wine festival is coming up on May 19.
The Vinton War Memorial is the site of the town’s Fourth of July celebration, the Open House with Santa after the annual Christmas Parade, Veterans’ and Memorial Day observances, and the annual State of the Town Address. The event center is also the scene of numerous community input meetings on a variety of topics from Valley Metro to Explore Park.
They welcome conferences, events, and graduations for Carilion the Jefferson College of Health Sciences and other organizations. There are William Byrd sports, First Aid Crew, Vinton Police, Virginia State Police, and civic organization banquets, such as Mothers Against Drunk Drivers.
In 2017 the Vinton Relay for Life, including the Survivor’s Reception with a Scout Flag Retirement Ceremony, were held there when the stadium at WBHS became unavailable.
The War Memorial hosts funerals. Vertical Church meets there on Sundays. The Vinton Historical Society holds most of its monthly meetings there. The Town of Vinton even interviews job candidates in one of the meeting rooms.
Politicians reserve the War Memorial ballroom or use its front portico to announce their candidacies. Political parties such as the Republican Women hold fundraisers at the facility. More than one governor, senator, congressman, and delegate has spoken or hosted an event in the building or on the grounds.
Barbour says they facilitate about 30 weddings per year, and assist with the planning, collaborating with vendors including the florist, the caterer, the cake baker, and the photographer, as well as the bridal party. She creates a detailed itinerary for the wedding day, which gets everyone to the right place at the right time, from first arrival to the tossing of the bouquet.
Two weddings at the venue were featured in the most recent edition of “bridebook” magazine, published by LeisureMedia360, which tells the wedding stories of Virginia.
There are birthday parties, baby showers, and anniversary parties. Barbour says she is now seeing generational parties where a couple is married at the memorial, sometimes preceded by a bridal shower, holds their baby shower there, followed by birthday parties, anniversaries, and eventually graduation celebrations as the years pass.
Her Fit Bit indicated that she recently walked 13 miles in a day in the course of her job, in a work week which encompassed 82 hours.
Barbour is originally from Gretna and moved to the Cave Spring area when she was 13. She graduated from Cave Spring High School and studied Business Management at Virginia Western.
She was fortunate to be able to spend several years as a stay-at-home mom for older daughter Skylour, who is now a senior at Northside High School where she was this year’s Homecoming Queen and serves as the Student Advisory Committee representative to the Roanoke County School Board. She will be attending West Virginia University in the fall. Barbour and husband Sean also have a 9-year-old daughter, Kaidence, who attends Burlington Elementary and is a member of a traveling all-star cheerleading squad.
Prior to accepting the position in Vinton, Barbour worked for Blue Ridge Catering for eight years, doing everything from “prep to cooking to set-up, break down, and coordinating events.”
Barbour said her prior hospitality experience has been especially valuable in managing the War Memorial, as she listened for years to what brides and their families wanted and is now able to put their suggestions into action.
She has “added tons of product, linens, and centerpieces,” developing more “fully rounded services” for events. Saturday wedding packages have become “Peace of Mind” packages with Friday evenings included in the arrangements.
One of her most eye-catching achievements is the construction (by Public Works) of the LOVE sculpture on the front lawn of the complex in collaboration with the Virginia Tourism Corporation— an effort more than a year in the making, initiated and facilitated by Barbour.
She is currently one of 32 members in the Leadership Roanoke Valley (LRV) Class of 2018, sponsored by the Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce. She was nominated for the prestigious 10-month program, established in 1983 to “build leadership skills and enable participants to make a difference in business and the community.”
Barbour said the LRV class has opened her eyes to the whole region, allowed her to network with leaders from around the Roanoke Valley, helped her to better comprehend how economic development decisions are made, emphasized the advantages of regional cooperation and coordination, and given her the opportunity to showcase the Town of Vinton and the Vinton War Memorial.
Last year the War Memorial was nominated for the Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce Small Business “Not-for-Profit Arts and Culture Award.”
The facility’s office is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays and at other times by appointment to accommodate clients. Visitors can stop by to make inquiries or take a tour. Barbour and Reams work on a very flexible schedule that includes days, nights, and weekends, basically seven days a week.
Vinton Assistant Town Manager Pete Peters refers to Barbour as “a ‘Grinder’ who loves her work and gets the job done no matter how large the task or physical the demand.”
“Running an event center might seem to be a fairly simple position, as easy as unlocking the door and turning on the lights,” said Peters. “However, I know this position to be one of mental strength, attention to detail, and physical prowess– all while keeping a smile. There are so many details and organizational tasks to consider such as keeping up with inquiries, securing the contracts, taking payments, facility inspections, maintaining permits, decorating, scheduling staff, setting furniture, grounds maintenance, photographers, caterers, etc., and then there is clean up.”
“What may surprise people is how creative and imaginative Chasity can be and really shines the most when she can ‘let loose’ her style and put her personality into her work,” Peters said. “In some cases, clients know exactly what they want, and Chasity can certainly deliver. However, when the client may simply ask for ‘something great,’ that is when her talent really comes into play. To be able to ‘have a vision’ for the final product, paint the picture for the client, and then make it a reality– now that’s a skill set that not everyone is born with.
“Given all of the details and deviations of working with anywhere from two to a dozen clients each week, Chasity constantly exceeds expectations when it comes to customer service and is the definition personified,” he continued. “She works whatever hours and does any and every job to satisfy her clients and is always leaving a positive image of the town in her wake.”
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