FRIENDS of the Blue Ridge
FRIENDS is a non-profit, volunteer and membership organization dedicated to protecting and preserving the Blue Ridge region (defined as the geographic area extending approximately 25 miles to the east and 25 miles to the west of the Blue Ridge Parkway in both Virginia and North Carolina). Through collaborative efforts with local and regional government, common-minded nonprofits, clubs and other organizations, FRIENDS focuses on conserving the natural and cultural integrity of historic sites and structures. They provide educational initiatives and encourage community involvement through various service projects each year.
Julie Whalen, Executive Director, spoke with us about their role in the community -
Can you share what programs/projects that the FRIENDS organization provides to the community?
“Our beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains extend well beyond our Roanoke reach. As an organization, FRIENDS has eight volunteer chapters ranging from Floyd, Virginia to Asheville, North Carolina. This is really incredible when you think about the coverage area and how each community ensures the needs of their area are being met. Our Roanoke chapter alone provides environmental preservation, trail maintenance, and educational skills. Sometimes our service projects are as simple as a community cleaning day where our volunteers come together to clean various parts of the parkway and even our city. We try to incorporate the youth as much as possible. We lead guided hikes and teach basic outdoor skills. We provide funding for many projects, too.”
I saw on the website calendar that you all host events. Tell me more!
“The events are such a blast! It’s a great opportunity for FRIENDS to partner with different organizations in Roanoke. We actually have an upcoming event next Saturday, April 9th at the Explore Park from 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm. Our events are welcome to all-ages. We helped build the stage that the band, the Shoobies, will be playing on! We love seeing our hard work come to life!”
How can people get involved?
“If you love being outside, volunteering with FRIENDS is for you. There is no time requirement or commitment. You volunteer as you would like. We love to see new faces!”
What other ways can folks support FRIENDS?
“We have an Amazon Smile account and a Kroger Rewards account. You can also purchase the Blue Ridge Parkway custom license plate!" *Click HERE to support!
What is FRIENDS of the Blue Ridge’s favorite thing about the Roanoke community?
“In this area, we are all so lucky to have the perfect green space for a work/life balance. Access to a number of trails is quickly accessible and the outdoor beauty that we see on the tourist postcards and such flows throughout our community.”
To support FRIENDS of the Blue Ridge’s mission, Rustic Roots Boho Boutique (in collaboration with Southwest Native) has an exclusive piece available for purchase April 1, 2022 - April 30, 2022. For each purchase, $10 will be donated to FRIENDS of the Blue Ridge.