Digging Deep: Connected Communities Inc.

May was National Mental Health Month, and we were happy to spend some time with Connected Communities Inc., a local organization that specializes in offering therapeutic counseling, mentorship programs, and trauma therapy to youth ages 6-17 and young adults/adults.

Throughout the pandemic, discussions surrounding mental health and self-care have become more mainstream.  Employers, workers, and family members have been challenged to adjust their routines, and methods of communication, and remain safe while following a seemingly ever-changing standard of safety.

One of our clients has been in the trenches providing aid to this exact topic.  Connected Communities was formed by a team of individuals that saw an opportunity to improve the lives of children and families in their neighborhoods.  The organization launched in July of 2017 by a small team with big goals to introduce a different approach to aiding youth and adolescent mental health.

We recently sat down with the founders of Connected Communities to learn more about its mission and about its success.

Mission & Value Proposition

“Over the course of our careers, we witnessed so many children who needed an outlet, a trusted person to confide in who were simply left out.  Counseling can be expensive, and many programs aren’t tailored to be readily available to children in poor environments.”Tavan Mair    

Seeing the need to serve children and families that institutional programs had failed, Connected Communities seeks to connect with these individuals and provide a more customized experience.  They actively support the most difficult cases to fix generational systems that aren’t serving the minority demographic. Institutional programs, while necessary and supportive, can be limited by standardized structures that may not suit the needs of every client.

Connected Communities seeks to meet its communities where they are and to create a tailored approach for each client. While many organizations discharge clients after missing a couple of sessions, Connected Communities subscribes to a different philosophy.  The team understood its client base dealt with overwhelming obstacles and the last thing it wanted to do was take away an outlet from struggling individuals.

“We simply don’t discharge clients very often.  We serve kids and families that are juggling an array of scheduling and transportation obstacles.  We see kids struggling with substance abuse, threatening family lives, and assist parents who simply want a better life for their families.  Instead of discharge, we continue communication with clients who miss appointments and keep building trust.  That’s how change happens.”Megan Slaughter, Human Resources + Finance Director

Connected Communities currently maintains a short waiting list.  Many institutions have a three-six month waiting list which may increase panic in clients desperate for assistance.  The organization maps its hiring strategy to meet demands and prevent a long wait period for any client needing to be onboarded.


Counseling During the Pandemic

Connected Communities began assisting its home market, Frederick County, in 2017 but officially opened a location near Old Town Winchester in May of 2019.  Its success after this was due to a unique value proposition just before the onset of the impending pandemic that surged in 2020.

Connected Communities, with the rest of the world, faced the difficulties of the pandemic.  Many organizations transitioned to virtual-only counseling. While virtual sessions were offered, this team understood that many of their clients didn’t have access to reliable internet and technology to maintain a regular treatment plan.  They also felt an opportunity to provide a haven for clients who needed an escape from their home environment. They safely continued in-person counseling throughout the pandemic to accommodate their community’s needs.

The need to maintain a sense of regularity became of utmost importance to the counselors that work with Connected Communities.

“There are families who drastically suffered during the pandemic.  Families who went without income, children who couldn’t keep up with schoolwork that was virtual, and parents who were trying to explain why life was different now due to the spread of COVID.”  -Krystal DeWalt, Clinical Director

Connected Communities also launched a program, Home For Now, to provide a pandemic-safe environment for students in underserved areas, helping them to stay on track with school while still having a safe outlet with their counselors. This program is still active and continues to support students who are readjusting to daily in-person school.


F&M Bank understands that any successful organization that makes this level of impact does so with the foundation of an incredible team.  Tavan Mair founded the organization after many years of serving in various state and local programs aiming to help troubled youth.  While he modestly attributes the organization’s success to his team, Tavan’s passion for making an impact in his community, and his tenacity to overcome adversity, is what inspired so many of his team to join his initiative.

“We’ve implemented a value-driven hiring policy.  In order for us to reach the lives we are called to; we feel it’s important to hire teammates that share in our values.” –Mair

Krystal DeWalt met Mair while working together at a different organization and built a mutual bond over shared concerns  where their industry was lacking in terms of helping families of various minority and income statuses.  “Tavan really is one-of-a-kind.  We met several years ago and discussed how we can set a better standard in the industry, or at least close more gaps.”

The organization has employees who have relocated to join the team simply because they wholeheartedly believe in its mission.  Connected Communities built its team to represent the communities they serve.  They found it important to have counselors that children could relate to and had shared backgrounds.

“One of my favorite moments while working here happened just a few weeks ago.  We were sponsoring an event for troubled youth in a nearby town on a Saturday night.  It was calling for bad weather and many other organizations backed out, but we wanted to show up.  The number of Connected Communities staff that showed up and gave up their rainy Saturday night to make an impact on kids assured me that I’m in the right place.  I work with a team who genuinely cares.”Slaughter


More About the Organization

Connected Communities specializes in offering therapeutic counseling, mentorship programs, and trauma therapy to youth ages 6-17 and young adults/adults.  With a footprint spanning from Winchester to Augusta County, the organization is actively growing to meet the needs of each neighborhood it expands into.

If you or a loved one is struggling with mental health issues, or are facing a troubling time, you can contact Connected Communities at info@cciwinchester.com or call 540-404-5985. 


National Ag Day with F&M Bank

National Ag Day


National Ag Day is March 22, 2022!  Virginia’s agricultural production is one of the most diverse in the nation. Many Virginia commodities and products rank in the top 10 among all U.S. states.  Our local farmers, and other agriculture experts, represent a leading group of industry movers and shakers that support our economy and sustain life for our region, and beyond.



Virginia is home to over 43,000 farms that cover nearly 8 million acres across the Commonwealth.  98% of all farms in the United States are family-owned and operated.  These families sacrifice a lot to feed our communities and sustain life throughout our region.  F&M strives to thank farmers throughout the year and we encourage our community to take a moment next week to thank a local farmer as we celebrate our farming community!


Farming is the biggest private industry in Virginia


F&M has been supporting local farmers for over 100 years.  We’ve helped farmers navigate several economic cycles from recessions and droughts to boom periods with flourishing production.  These experiences and partnerships have helped us develop tailored products that include equipment financing, land expansion, cattle purchases, waste management funding, and lines of credit.


Learn More about our line of Ag products here, or contact one of our Agri-Business specialists at agribusiness@fmbankva.com.




Local Business Profile

Check out our Q&A with locally owned and operated businesses in the Valley!

We interviewed Skip Frost, Executive Agent of Integrity Insurance.

Q: When did your business open? Is it locally owned?
A: We opened in February of 2013, so we’re new, but bring over 35 years of insurance experience. We are locally owned. The business is owned by myself and two partners – Brian Showalter and Brandon Crawford. Brian and I are both from Bridgewater and Brandon is from Broadway.

Q: What types of services/products do you offer?
A: We specialize in Commercial Lines Insurance, e.g., Business owner’s policies, Commercial Property, General Liability, Worker’s Compensation, Etc.

Q: Why did you decide to open your business in the Valley?
A: We love the valley! It’s home to us and we enjoy all the valley has to offer. From a business perspective, the area has done very well in terms of business growth amidst a struggling economy. With JMU, EMU, Bridgewater College and others, there will always be a steady influx of young entrepreneurs which will continue to contribute to the economic growth of this area.

Q: Name one thing people may not know about you or your business?
A: We set ourselves apart by taking a team approach with all of our clients. Every client has the expertise of, and access to, three agents. From the quoting process through policy delivery and beyond, the Integrity Team works diligently to be sure that our clients receive the best coverage with the most affordable premiums.

Q: Just for fun, what is your favorite song?
A: Someday by Rob Thomas.

Integrity Insurance is located at 410 Neff Avenue, Suite 400, in Harrisonburg.

Find out more about this local business that serves all of Virginia by visiting their website: http://www.integritygroupva.com/ or by giving them a call: 540-433-0200.


Trans Tech Auto, Inc.

Trans Tech Auto, Inc.
Go Local Business Profile: Trans Tech Auto, Inc., is located at 419 Trumbo Court in Broadway, VA.


Trans Tech Auto opened in 1985 and is owned by Kenny McKenzie of Broadway. Trans Tech provides light and heavy duty towing and recovery; roadside assistance for flat tires, as well as jump starts, and unlocking of car doors.  The business regularly provides services for off-road towing and recovery for farm machinery, and also has a full service auto repair facility for minor and majors repairs or maintenance.

As an industry, Trans Tech is accustomed to facing challenges like no two recovery incidences of a car or tractor trailer ever being the same; the challenge of clearing an accident scene as quickly as the police would like; and getting correct directions or information when taking a tow call.

Kenny’s favorite thing about doing business in the Valley is “seeing gratitude on a customer’s face when [Trans Tech] is able to help them… [like] towing them to a safe location or repairing their car.”

For more information about Trans Tech and their services, visit their website at www.transtechtowing.com.



What Does Going Local Mean?
By going local, consumers can make a hometown investment they are proud of. The money deposited at your community bank will be reinvested in ways that drive our local economy, such as in the form of loans to local residents who want to buy a home or to small business owners who are looking to open a business, shop, or restaurant on the Main Streets of our Valley towns.


By going local, consumers can make a hometown investment they are proud of. The money deposited at your community bank will be reinvested in ways that drive our local economy, such as in the form of loans to local residents who want to buy a home or to small business owners who are looking to open a business, shop, or restaurant on the Main Streets of our Valley towns.

Going local helps us as a bank remain invested in our customers and helps us as all as individuals stay invested in our communities. As a small business ourselves, we only thrive when our customers and communities do the same. Taking care of you and looking out for the best interests of our neighbors has been ingrained in the way we conduct business since our own humble beginnings in 1908.

After many townspeople witnessed family fortunes disappear following the devaluation of Confederate money at the close of the Civil War, not all Timberville residents were receptive to the concept of a new bank in town. However, cautiously hopeful of a new government monetary system that would last, a few local businessmen led the way to promote an independent local bank in Timberville. With the times fostering an emerging concept of banking — a convenient place near home to safely deposit, borrow or invest money  somewhere other than in a sock or under a floorboard — the trust of our communities and local customers helped F&M bank raise the $10,000 capital needed to open its doors in 1908.

Whether located in the small towns and suburbia of the Shenandoah Valley, or in big-city neighborhoods, community banks improve America’s communities by funding nearly 60 percent of all small businesses under $1 million, and by using local dollars to help families purchase a home, buy a car, finance college and build financial security.

By driving local economies and creating local jobs, community banks are an integral part of our financial system and play a key role in our nation’s economic recovery. As many of the nation’s consumers consider switching banks, now is the perfect time to take part in the “go local” movement by joining your local community bank.
Information courtesy of:
Banking on the future : a 100-year history of Farmers & Merchants Bank, 1908-2008 (Paperback)
by Nancy Bondurant Jones (Author). Stop by your local branch for a copy!

Independent Community Bankers Association