Keeping it Local in Blacksburg

By
 
The practice is located on Main Street
in Blacksburg, Va.
Blacksburg is a small town, and as its motto proclaims, “A special place.” We don’t have the same amenities a more urban area offers but it’s easy to develop relationships within the local community—something I find personally and professionally rewarding.

Involvement and outreach are integral to my practice’s vision and what make being part of the community so enjoyable. Here, it’s next to impossible to go out and not say hi to someone who’s been in my exam chair.

Support of the community is also an essential part of our marketing budget. We regularly sponsor cultural and arts events, youth sports teams and advertise in a variety of media from school publications, to a community-oriented lifestyle magazine, a senior citizens’ newsletter and even programs for local performances. I love photography and frequently donate framed copies of my work to non-profit fundraising events.

 
 A decorated trunk with oversized frames announces the practice’s annual event.
Our first major charity event occurred in 2002 when a staff member was diagnosed with breast cancer. Fortunately, she is still working with us. When she lost her hair, other staff members had theirs cut short in solidarity. I decided to do the same in an effort to raise money for the American Cancer Society. We held a contest: if we could raise $500, I would shave my beard of 25 years. For $1,000, I would shave my head (except for the ponytail).

 
 Customers browse frames during the November Trunk Show and Local Charity Fundraiser.
I guess everyone wanted to see my hair come off because we had a haircutting party in the office on the big day. A neighboring restaurant donated snacks, a DJ friend spun his discs and the woman who usually cuts my hair came in to do the honors. While a female barbershop quartet serenaded us with “Baby Face,” I sat on a tall stool, heard the buzz of the razor and felt certain parts of my head for the first time in many years. Between donations and raffles of items contributed by local artists, we raised $5,000 for the Cancer Society. The response was overwhelming, both financially and emotionally. Almost everyone has been touched by cancer and the stories we heard of love and survival were inspiring and brought us all closer together.

 
Steve Jacobs, OD, opened the Dr. Steve Jacobs, Optometrist practice in Blacksburg, Va. in 1990.
Similarly, our November Trunk Show and Local Charity Fundraiser is an outgrowth of personal involvement with two local non-profits: Valley Interfaith Child Care Center VICCC and NRV Cares, a local abuse prevention organization. My wife is a board member and past president of the former, while I participate on a fundraising committee for the latter. In conjunction with the Trunk Show, we’ve held a raffle called “The Best of Blacksburg” in support of our featured non-profits and the local business community with all money raised divided between the two non-profits. Thanks to the Trunk Show this year, each organization received $1,166, as well as valuable exposure to the community.

Living in a big city has its advantages. There’s culture, food, art, and a large potential patient pool from which to draw. But living in a small town offers a sense of community, support and mental wellness making it easier to live one’s life and one’s work at the same time. I like that.