Brandie Lemmon: Building a Life for Her Family in Blacksburg

Brandie Lemmon moved to Blacksburg from Connecticut when she was nine years old. Her father is a VT alum and loved the natural beauty of this area, but the biggest reason they returned was for her sister. They felt that her sister would thrive in Blacksburg with its commitment to education and top notch special needs resources.

Now Brandie and her husband Derek, alumni of Radford University and Virginia Tech, have settled here in Blacksburg with their two children. Brandie is a teacher at Blacksburg United Methodist Preschool and Derek works for Luna Innovations. They are active in their congregation and are active volunteers with their children’s sports teams and scout troops.

They are members of Friends of Price Park, a group that maintains the H.L. Price Park. This conservation work is near to Brandie’s heart because, not only is Price Park their neighborhood park, the trail system and green space was also founded by her father.

But finding housing in their beloved town wasn’t easy.

For years they commuted from Shawsville - working jobs, building social circles, and tending to family connections in Blacksburg while living a half-hour drive away. “We were doing everything in Blacksburg except actually living here,” Brandie remembers.

“It really shouldn't be this hard.” says Brandie as she reflects on a process that became a “part-time job.” For over two years, they looked at listings every day and dropped everything to pursue housing opportunities, most of them fleeting. The single family homes within their price range were often in need of thousands of dollar’s worth of renovations just to make the spaces livable for their two small children. The houses that were move-in ready were mostly over $400,000. It was a disheartening process that took years of saving, borrowing against their retirement, and help from their family to be able to buy their current home.

She and Derek decided to make Blacksburg home because their families are here and it is home. They enjoy the pace of life, access to nature, a vibrant downtown with lots of family-oriented activities, and a thriving public school system.

“My kids love to splash in the creek and look for crayfish in the summertime. We love Steppin' Out and SEEDs nature center. We love the summer arts program and the Moss Center. We love the pace of life and the feel of the small town within the larger university community. We love having a Unitarian Universalist church, a farmers market, the youth sports programs, and of course, our public schools. The public schools were a HUGE factor in why we fought so hard to get into Blacksburg.”

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