Fight Back Against Mold Illness with Help from Proactive Wellness Centers

CIRS Mold Toxicity Treatment in West Springfield, VA

Experiencing mold toxicity is a terrifying thought for most people. Although it may seem like an interesting concept for a medical drama, nobody wants to experience the effects of mold exposure firsthand.

Mold is a fungus that thrives in wet environments, such as under tiles, wood floors, and ceilings, pipes, and roofs. While several types of mold exist, some are more hazardous than others, and some individuals may be allergic or sensitive to mycotoxins, the toxins that mold naturally produces. Exposure to excessive amounts of mold, or the types of mold that trigger health problems, can lead to mold toxicity and even CIRS - Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome. This acute and chronic systemic inflammatory response syndrome is typically acquired after exposure to mold or other producers of biotoxins, usually from damaged water buildings.

If you believe that you're suffering from mold toxicity or mold illness, it can seem like the world is folding in on you. No matter what you do, your symptoms persist, lowering your quality of life and eliminating your peace of mind. Fortunately, there is reason to be hopeful: Proactive Wellness Centers now offers a research-backed, highly effective mold illness poisoning treatment in West Springfield, VA for men and women just like yourself and your children as well if they have been impacted.

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CIRS and Mold Toxicity

CIRS and mold illness are on the rise, and accurate diagnosis of the issue plays a major role in this trend. Thanks to Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker, there is a huge body of evidence that covers diagnosing and treating patients with CIRS. Dr. Lawson is one of less than 30 practitioners in the United States that are fully certified by Dr. Shoemaker for diagnosing and treating CIRS. The body of evidence by Shoemaker and many associates is the largest body of scientific evidence that is published in major medical journals. Around 80% of CIRS/Mold cases are caused by indoor air contaminated with mold toxins and other triggers. However, it's important to note that CIRS can also be caused by biotoxin producers such as cyanobacteria and a marine dinoflagellate that produces the Ciguatera toxin found in certain types of fish.

When mold or biotoxins are not processed effectively, a series of biochemical changes known as the Biotoxin Pathway occur. Genetic studies have revealed that approximately 24% of individuals have a genetic makeup that makes them susceptible to developing an illness related to mold or biotoxins. The remaining 76% of the population can typically eliminate these toxins from their system and avoid the development of the Biotoxin Pathway that can lead to various diseases.

CIRS Treatment In West Springfield West Springfield, VA

CIRS and Mold Poisoning Misdiagnosis

CIRS and mold exposure symptoms overlap with many other chronic illnesses, which makes diagnosis challenging and can even lead to missed diagnosis of CIRS. Based on research from Proactive Wellness Centers, CIRS is frequently misdiagnosed. Some of the most common misdiagnoses include:

  • Lupus
  • Chronic Pain Syndrome
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Parkinson's Disease
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • PTSD
  • More

Lyme disease, in particular, is often misdiagnosed. We have treated a number of patients whose symptoms were in line with Lyme disease. Fortunately, we were able to confirm the presence of CIRS and mold and were able to successfully help those patients using CIRS treatment in West Springfield, VA.

Note that many of these patients have CIRS and Lyme disease and in that case, it is necessary to treat both in order for full recovery. Treating one or the other will invariably leave the patient with debilitating symptoms and even more frustration with their medical team. At Proactive Wellness Centers, we are skilled In diagnosing and treating both.

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 CIRS Mold Toxicity Treatment In West Springfield West Springfield, VA

CIRS and Mold Poisoning Symptoms

If you're reading this page, chances are you're concerned that you might have CIRS or some form of mold poisoning. You may be wondering what you have - is it CIRS, or is it something else like Lyme disease? We can't provide the answer to that question without consultation and testing at our wellness center in Virginia. However, there are common symptoms of CIRS and mold toxicity you should know.

Some of the most common symptoms of CIRS include:

  • Fatigue
  • Decreased Word Finding
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty Concentrating
  • Morning Stiffness
  • Tremors
  • Excessive Thirst
  • Tingling
  • Night Sweats
  • Frequent Urination
  • Confusion
  • Mood Swings

Proactive Wellness Centers'

Tools for Diagnosing Mold Sickness and CIRS

Identifying and confirming if a patient is being impacted by CIRS and identifying the cause and source of the biotoxin are the two main steps in diagnosing CIRS and Mold Exposure. To diagnose CIRS and Mold Exposure, the following diagnostic tools are commonly used:

To learn more about the debilitating symptoms of mold sickness and to find out whether you have CIRS or something else, contact Proactive Wellness Centers. Our team of medical professionals is here to help you every step of the way.

 VA West Springfield, VA

Hope for Patients with CIRS: Proactive Wellness Centers' Mold Illness Treatment in West Springfield, VA

Our approach to treating CIRS utilizes integrative and functional medicine, The Shoemaker Protocol along with the latest evidence-based approaches to treating mold illness and the related secondary issues that it causes. We begin by utilizing advanced diagnostics to confirm the presence of the condition and identify the specific environment causing continued exposure to biotoxins. Next, we take a stepwise approach to halt the progression of the disease, eliminate biotoxins from the body, and reverse any damage to cellular structures. Our goal is to help patients achieve a full recovery.

To do this, we not only have to identify the primary condition like CIRS or Lyme disease, but we then have to continue looking to see if you have any of the common secondary conditions like reactivated EBV, Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS), and others. Once we understand the totally of your condition, then we can implement a treatment plan tailored for you. Yes, it will leverage the Shoemaker protocol, but we have found that we have to extend the protocol to cover the secondary issues that we uncover.

The steps we follow to reach that goal include:

In order to initiate the recovery process, it is important to address and resolve any affected areas, or, alternatively, relocate the patient from that environment if necessary. Prolonged exposure to mold can hinder the success of the treatment plan and impede the healing process.

Two commonly used binding agents in the process of treating Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome are Welchol and Cholestyramine. Cholestyramine is particularly effective in binding biotoxins that are processed in the liver's bile ducts and helps to eliminate them from the body. It has been scientifically proven, through placebo-controlled studies, to reverse multiple aspects of the inflammatory process associated with CIRS.

Many individuals experiencing mold sickness and other chronic inflammatory illnesses may have a staph infection called MARCoNS (Multiple Antibiotic Resistant Coagulase Negative Staphylococci) residing deep in their nasal cavities. This infection is resistant to antibiotics and needs to be eliminated for the patient to fully recover.

Each patient requires a customized plan based on the affected areas and CIRS severity. Retesting is necessary after each step to confirm balance restoration. Testing may include some or all of the following:
  • VIP
  • TGF Beta 1
  • MMP9
  • ADH
  • Antigliadin
  • Androgen Imbalance
  • C4a
  • More

In order to halt the growth of mold fungi, patients need to avoid foods that can cause mycotoxins. Some examples of these foods include:
  • Barley
  • Cottonseed
  • Peanuts
  • Corn
  • Black Pepper
  • Figs
  • Rice
  • Bread
  • Beans
  • More
Proactive Wellness has a proven track record of treating patients who have experienced severe health issues without any clear explanation. Unlike other "syndromes," our diagnosis process involves specific tests to confirm a diagnosis rather than simply ruling out other diseases.
 CIRS Mold Poisoning Treatment In West Springfield West Springfield, VA

Fibromyalgia, Lupus, Chronic Fatigue, and Chronic Pain Syndrome are examples of illnesses that are often diagnosed without such confirmatory tests. If you are experiencing unexplained health issues or have been exposed to water-damaged buildings, it is possible that you are suffering from CIRS or a mold illness.

The good news is that we can diagnose and address this disease with a mold illness treatment program in West Springfield, VA tailored to your body and your symptoms. That way, we can help you regain your health as soon as possible.

Be Wary of These

5 Symptoms of Mold Exposure

Mold spores can easily be brought into your home on your shoes or clothing or through open windows or doors. If these spores can find a warm, damp, humid environment, they can begin to multiply. Soon, your home can be filled with toxic mold. If you think mold has invaded your home or another environment, like in an office or warehouse, it's important for you to know about the symptoms.

Unfortunately, diagnosing mold issues can be exceptionally difficult. But why? The answer can be quite frustrating.

Understanding the Difficulty of Diagnosing Mold Symptoms

Many doctors fail to recognize the impact of mycotoxins emitted by certain indoor mold species, which can lead to chemical and inflammatory reactions. While conventional medicine acknowledges that mold can cause allergies, it may overlook this crucial aspect of mold-related health issues.

This can happen for several reasons:

  • Standardized treatment protocols for mold toxicity are offered mostly by Functional/Integrative physicians as the conventional physicians are not on board despite over 20 years of published research. Due to this issue, patients spend precious months/years going from doctor to doctor in the conventional channel with no answers.
  • Though ERMI testing has been accepted in the integrative/functional medical community, there isn't a "gold standard" in mold testing that is universally accepted.
  • Mold symptoms can manifest in vastly different ways depending on the patient.
VA West Springfield, VA

After understanding the points above, it's no wonder that mold poisoning can be hard to diagnose. Fortunately, integrative and functional holistic medicine providers and wellness centers like Proactive Wellness are flipping the proverbial script. Unlike traditional clinics, our team considers environmental factors that can affect patient health and has advanced training to provide mold poisoning treatment in West Springfield, VA.

Now that you understand why mold symptoms are so hard to diagnose let's take a closer look at five of the most common indicators of mold sickness.

 Mold Toxicity Symptoms West Springfield, VA


Fatigue is probably the number one symptom of well over 90% of CIRS patients. The level of fatigue varies from 5 on a 10 point scale all the way to 10 on a 10 point scale. Many patients can no longer work or remain productive as in the worst cases, the fatigue is overwhelming. College students living in moldy dorms frequently have to drop out of school until the illness is treated effectively. Older adults have to retire or stop working due the fatigue. If you have overwhelming fatigue, CIRS may be a major contributor to your illness.

 Mold Poisoning Symtoms West Springfield, VA

Breathing Problems

Exposure to mold can cause a host of respiratory problems, such as breathing difficulties, allergies, and asthma, especially in individuals with a weakened immune system. Mold can worsen asthma, irritate the nasal passages, lungs, and throat, and lead to symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, sneezing, sore throat, and nasal congestion. Other health issues such as hypersensitivity pneumonitis, sinus congestion, allergic rhinitis, asthma, and allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis have also been associated with mold sickness.

 Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome Treatment West Springfield, VA

Sadness and Depression

Mold can cause a variety of illnesses that can show up in different ways, such as psychological symptoms like anxiety, depression, insomnia, concentration problems, and memory loss. It has been reported that nearly 40% of people who live in moldy homes experience depression. Researchers suggest that exposure to toxic mold and dealing with the physical symptoms of mold illness can contribute to mental health issues.

Due to this phenomenon, many mold patients are given antidepressant medications in the conventional channels.

 Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome Symptoms West Springfield, VA

Feeling "Pins and Needles"

Numbness, twitching, or tingling in the extremities, such as hands, feet, legs, and arms, is another symptom of mold illness. The sensation is similar to pins and needles, which are often felt when the body is held in an uncomfortable position for a long time. While this sensation can indicate serious nerve damage or disease, it can also be a symptom of mold sickness.

CIRS Treatment In West Springfield West Springfield, VA

Digestion Problems and Disorders

When exposed to mold, individuals may experience various digestive problems. Some may lose their appetite, leading to unintentional weight loss. Others may suffer from stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. Furthermore, the influx of mold spores may trigger systemic inflammation, causing bloating and weight gain due to the digestive system's exposure to harmful mold.

Top Tips for

Controlling Mold in Your Environment

It's not possible to completely eliminate all mold and mold spores from your home or place of work. However, since mold spores need moisture to grow, the best way to prevent or get rid of growth is to reduce the moisture in your environment. If you already have mold growing there, it's important to clean it up and address the issue causing dampness. If you only clean up the mold and don't address the underlying problem, the mold is likely to return.

Here are some tips to help reduce moisture throughout your home or office:

  • Use A/C or Dehumidifiers. This is especially important if you live in a hot, humid area of the United States.
  • Ensure A/C drip pans are clean, dry, and obstruction-free.
  • Thoroughly dry areas that are damp or wet within 48 hours.
  • Be sure to install insulation in cold areas like your home's exterior walls and windows. Doing so will reduce condensation.
  • Work with an HVAC company to check your HVAC system. Doing so can help ensure your unit is removing as much humidity as possible.
  • Keep the humidity in your home below 60% whenever possible.
 CIRS Mold Toxicity Treatment In West Springfield West Springfield, VA
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Here are some tips to help reduce moisture in your kitchen:

  • Check for leaks near your ice makers, sinks, and anywhere else water is present.
  • Make sure your exhaust fans are directing moisture outside, not into your attic.
  • If you notice your appliances are causing moisture on windows and other surfaces, turn them off as soon as you're done using them.

Here are some tips to help reduce moisture in crawlspaces:

  • Use a plastic covering on the dirt in your crawlspace. Doing so will prevent moisture from saturating the ground.
  • Ensure that your crawlspace or basement is ventilated well.
  • Check your home's gutters. Make sure they're directing water away from your property, not toward your foundation or crawlspace.

Your Top Choice for

Mold Toxicity Treatment in West Springfield, VA

Trying to "tough it out" through life with CIRS isn't any way to live. If you're suffering from the effects of biotoxin illness, you should know that there are solutions available to help you reclaim your health and your life. With the help of a can-do attitude, healthy living, and mold illness treatment from Proactive Wellness, there's light at the end of the dark tunnel you're trapped within. Contact our office today to get started on your first step toward recovery!

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Latest News in West Springfield, VA

Veterans Day: What is it and how can you celebrate?

WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – It’s Veterans Day, a time for us to pay our respects to those who have served in the military. In West Springfield, the town hosted it’s annual Veterans Day Parade. Veterans Day events in western Massachusetts “We get to put our veterans out at the parade and have the community applaud them, cheer for them, and s...

WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – It’s Veterans Day, a time for us to pay our respects to those who have served in the military. In West Springfield, the town hosted it’s annual Veterans Day Parade.

“We get to put our veterans out at the parade and have the community applaud them, cheer for them, and support them,” expressed West Springfield Director of Veteran Services, Jorge Santiago.

Veterans Day pays tribute to all American veterans, those living, and those no longer here with us.

Hundreds of people flocked to West Springfield for the Veterans Parade on Saturday, where they honored and remembered our country’s fallen heroes. With the bravery and the sacrifices of these veterans, the community says it is important to show appreciation for those who fought for freedom.

Attendee Ken Lamontagne of the Corvette Club of Western Massachusetts told 22News, “I mean, let’s face it, we wouldn’t have the freedoms we have if it weren’t for the veterans. In so many countless ways they have contributed to the quality of life in this country and our future, and our potential. So its nice to give them some recognition and feed back.”

Veterans Day occurs every year on November 11th in honor of the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” in 1918, signaling the end of all wars. Congress passed a resolution in 1926 for an annual observance, and November 11th became a national holiday in 1938. This holiday used to be called Armistice Day.

So on Saturday, people across America will celebrate and honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love for the country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice.

There are Veterans Day celebrations happening all over, in West Springfield, Chicopee, Holyoke, Agawam, Greenfield, Westfield, and South Hadley.

Brian Miller with the Massachusetts Chapter of Honor and Remember says he came to the parade to honor all veterans, “We are just out here joining the march, the parade to honor those veterans that can not actually be there today, and make sure we remember those veterans also. And not just the veterans here to participate in the parade.”

Around 6:45 a.m., 22News was at Vietnam Veterans Bridge in West Springfield for a ceremony. After that the veterans parade started at 10 a.m. at St. Thomas School.

The celebrations were taken to West Springfield Town Hall after the parade, where the town unveiled two parking spots that are designated for veterans.

Kiara Smith is a reporter who has been a part of the 22News team since March 2023. Follow Kiara on X @KiaraBSmith1 and view her bio to see more of her work.

Veterans Day events in western Massachusetts

CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Veterans Day is Saturday, November 11. This Federal holiday is to recognize all who have served in the United States military, both living and deceased.Below is a list of events being held in the region to commemorate Veterans Day:Wednesday, November 8:Holyoke Community College: 8:30am- Campus ceremony in the Kittredge Center conference room.Thursday, November 9: Springfield: 11 a.m. – American International College (AIC) ceremony at Cam...

CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Veterans Day is Saturday, November 11. This Federal holiday is to recognize all who have served in the United States military, both living and deceased.

Below is a list of events being held in the region to commemorate Veterans Day:

Wednesday, November 8:

Holyoke Community College: 8:30am- Campus ceremony in the Kittredge Center conference room.

Thursday, November 9:

Springfield: 11 a.m. – American International College (AIC) ceremony at Campus Center Auditorium on the upper level of the Schwartz Campus Center, 1000 State Street.

Friday, November 10:

Pittsfield: 10 a.m. – Parade with a ceremony to follow at Veterans Memorial. The lineup will take place at 9:30 a.m. on Fenn, Pearl, and Allen Streets then proceed to North Street, and move south to the Veterans Memorial on South Street.

Saturday, November 11:

Agawam: 7 a.m. – Wreath laying ceremony at Vietnam Veterans’ Bridge, Bridge Street. 10:45 a.m. Ceremony at Veteran’s Green at Phelps School.

Chicopee: 10 a.m. – Memorial Service at St. Stanislaus Church, 534 Front Street. 11 a.m.- Wreath Laying ceremony, Veterans Memorial Plaza, 650 Front Street.

Greenfield: 10 a.m. – Parade begins at Greenfield Middle School marching to Veterans Mall for a ceremony.

Holyoke: 10 a.m. – Ceremony at War Memorial Building, 310 Appleton Street.

Ludlow: 10 a.m. – Ceremony at Ludlow High School Auditorium, 500 Chapin Street.

Palmer: 10:45 a.m. – Parade steps off at Bondsville Fire Department and ends at the Bondsville Grammar Park.

South Hadley: 10:45 a.m. – Ceremony at Town Hall, 116 Main Street.

Westfield: 10 a.m. – Parade steps off at Westfield Bank at 10:30 a.m. and moves along Elm Street, onto Broad Street, and then down West Silver, ending at the Westfield Middle School parking lot at 30 West Silver Street. The ceremony will be held inside the Middle School at 11 a.m.

West Springfield: 6:45 a.m. – Ceremony will be held at the Vietnam Veterans Bridge, Front Street. 10 a.m. – Parade steps off from St. Thomas School down Kings Highway to Elm Street, ending at Town Hall on Central Street where a ceremony will be held at 11 a.m.

22News, an NBC affiliate, began broadcasting local news, network, syndicated, and local programming to western Massachusetts in March 1953. Watch the 22News digital edition on weekdays at 4 p.m.

District Taco tries out different look for new restaurant in West Springfield

A new District Taco quietly opened its doors last fall in the Old Keene Mill Shopping Center.The Mexican-inspired fast-casual chain began welcoming customers at its West Springfield location in September 2023, according to a spokesperson for District Taco.Spanning 2,043 square feet, the restaurant at 8432 Old Keene Mill Road...

A new District Taco quietly opened its doors last fall in the Old Keene Mill Shopping Center.

The Mexican-inspired fast-casual chain began welcoming customers at its West Springfield location in September 2023, according to a spokesperson for District Taco.

Spanning 2,043 square feet, the restaurant at 8432 Old Keene Mill Road is co-owned by Hicham El Abbassi and Isalmou Boussaa, who also launched a District Taco franchise in McLean last August. The West Springfield restaurant operates from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day, according to District Taco’s website.

Originally from Morocco, the franchise owners started their journey in the food industry working at Five Guys before franchising several restaurants, including Five Guys.

In 2016, Abbassi and Boussaa approached District Taco with aspirations of running a franchise. Fast forward to seven years later, they now oversee 13 locations. Last August, they inked a deal to open five more outlets in Northern Virginia, including the Old Keene Mill and McLean locations.

“Their story mirrors the resilience and determination of our own CEO and co-founder of District Taco, Osiris Hoil who transformed his own opportunities and dreams into reality,” District Taco’s spokesperson told FFXnow.

District Taco, which started out as a food cart in Arlington over a decade ago, now boasts 16 locations throughout the D.C. area and Pennsylvania.

While the company says there are no specific expansion plans in the D.C. region that it can share, the spokesperson disclosed that 70 stores are currently in development nationwide, including northern New Jersey, Brooklyn, New York, and Tampa, Florida.

The menu at every District Taco offers customizable tacos, burritos, bowls, salads, and quesadillas, with vegetarian and vegan options available.

The West Springfield location, however, is unique in that the interior has more of an “industrial” design.

“We kept the existing brick infrastructure as is and it is exposed in the interior of the store in the front,” District Taco Director of Design Victoria Stratton told FFXnow. “It also has more of an open kitchen design where you can clearly see the prep area and the employees making guac right in front of you!”

So far, customer feedback for the West Springfield location has been overwhelmingly positive, according to the company.

“The new location’s success has exceeded expectations and has received a tremendous amount of positive feedback from guests,” the company spokesperson said. “We hope to continue to deliver a delicious and memorable experience to our guests, and we look forward to creating a stronger relationship with the Springfield and McLean community in the New Year.”

(Updated at 4 p.m.) Hundreds of Fairfax Connector workers could strike if contract talks between their union and employer break down.

Nearly a month after the end of their existing contract with Transdev, which operates Fairfax County’s public bus system, union drivers, mechanics and other employees voted on Dec. 29 to authorize a strike, the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 689 announced yesterday.

As a policy, the union didn’t disclose how many of the approximately 546 Fairfax Connector workers it represents participated in the vote, but 99% of those who did voted in support of authorization, a Local 689 spokesperson told FFXnow.

Despite the recent authorization vote, a strike call doesn’t appear to be imminent, as the union says it has another bargaining session scheduled for Jan. 19.

“For the past three months, Transdev has proven time and time again that they are more interested in hoarding their money than making necessary investments to improve their dedicated and hardworking employees’ wellbeing,” Local 689 President Raymond Jackson said in a statement. “Our members are fed up with Transdev’s flat out refusal to fully engage in meaningful bargaining over key economic issues and attempts to distort facts.”

The workers who support Northern Virginia’s largest public bus system have been negotiating a new labor contract since October, when Local 689 delivered its first proposal to Transdev. The union has said its priorities include pay increases, better sick leave, standard work schedules and retirement security.

Shortly before the existing contract expired on Nov. 30, the union reported progress on some issues, but it said Transdev’s proposed wages still fell short of what workers are seeking.

Now, the union says Transdev “finally presented a decent wage increase proposal,” but the company is pushing the union to drop its demands for “improved dental care and sick leave, retirement security, and more stable working hours.”

(Correction: This article initially said that, according to the union, Transdev had threatened to withdraw its offer of improved sick leave and other benefits in exchange for the wage increases. A union spokesperson clarified that those benefits weren’t offered. Instead, the proposed pay plan was “contingent” on the union dropping its other demands.)

Transdev, which was first hired by the county to operate Fairfax Connector in 2019, says it’s continuing “to bargain in good faith” with ATU Local 689.

“To date, we’ve agreed to over 50 modifications to the prior [collective bargaining agreement] and proposed significant improvements to wages & benefits,” Transdev said in an emailed statement. “We value our partnership with the ATU and remain hopeful that we can come to a mutually-agreeable resolution quickly.”

However, Local 689 claims that many of the contractor’s concessions are either “technical corrections or the bare minimum necessary changes to keep somewhat competitive with other transit entities in the region.”

“A vast divide between the two sides still remains,” the union said.

Serving approximately 26,000 passengers a day on 93 routes, Fairfax Connector is currently operating under the expired contract, which was ratified in early 2020 after workers went on a four-day strike in December 2019 and raised the possibility of a second walkout.

The county’s plan for handling a strike, if the current contract dispute isn’t resolved, aren’t yet clear. The Fairfax County Department of Transportation told FFXnow it “has no comments about a potential strike at the moment.”

Inside Springfield's new Whole Foods Market, double the size of now-shuttered West Springfield store

It’s amazing what one can do with 25,000 extra square feet.Greater Washington’s newest Whole Foods Market opens at 8 a.m. Wednesday in Springfield. The grand opening at 6426 Springfield Plaza comes three days after Whole Foods closed its West Springfield store three miles away, giving employees 72 hours to stand up a store double the forme...

It’s amazing what one can do with 25,000 extra square feet.

Greater Washington’s newest Whole Foods Market opens at 8 a.m. Wednesday in Springfield. The grand opening at 6426 Springfield Plaza comes three days after Whole Foods closed its West Springfield store three miles away, giving employees 72 hours to stand up a store double the former’s size.

The new Whole Foods, formerly a Giant Food, is nearly 49,500 square feet, and with that extra space, the store offers a host of things the former could not. There was no full-service meat department in West Springfield; there is here. There is indoor and outdoor seating, multiple areas of prepared foods, salad bar, coffee bar, made-to-order pizza and sandwiches, a scratch bakery, massive cheese section, much larger beer and wine selection and a large row of self-check stations.

Daniela D’Ambrosio, senior “local forager” for Whole Foods Market, described the setting as lighter and brighter. It’s D’Ambrosio’s job to identify “local” — defined as within 250 miles — items to offer in store, of which there are some 600 in Springfield.

The new store employs roughly 200, a Whole Foods spokesperson said, and all West Springfield staff were offered jobs in the new location. Operating hours are from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.

The West Springfield Whole Foods is among the region's oldest. It originally opened as a Fresh Fields in 1993. Whole Foods acquired Fresh Fields three years later and converted the store.

At Springfield Plaza, Giant relocated to a larger store carved out of a former Kmart. Trader Joe’s, another Springfield Plaza tenant, is expected to leave its space for Whole Foods’ now vacated location on Old Keene Mill Road in West Springfield.

Largest Grocery Retailers in Greater Washington

Metro-area grocery sales 2022

RankPrior RankName/Prior/URL
11Giant Food LLC
22Albertsons Cos.
33CVS Caremark

View this list

Virginia actress comes home to Fairfax Co. for ‘Cher’ musical tour at Capital One Hall

Now, she’s excited to come home to Fairfax County to headline “The Cher Show” at Capital One Hall in Tysons, Virginia, for a run of five shows this weekend on Friday, Feb. 16, Saturday, Feb. 17, and Sunday, Feb. 18.“I’ve been looking forward to this weekend for months, ever since I found out I got this role and we were coming so close to [my] hometown,” Ariale told WTOP. “I can’t wait...

Now, she’s excited to come home to Fairfax County to headline “The Cher Show” at Capital One Hall in Tysons, Virginia, for a run of five shows this weekend on Friday, Feb. 16, Saturday, Feb. 17, and Sunday, Feb. 18.

“I’ve been looking forward to this weekend for months, ever since I found out I got this role and we were coming so close to [my] hometown,” Ariale told WTOP. “I can’t wait to show everyone who hasn’t seen me perform in so long. … Lots of family, friends, people in the theater program at West Springfield, my old teacher Bernie DeLeo is coming, as well as my old chorus teacher Dustin Brandt. … They had a huge part in kick-starting my career.”

She’ll never forget meeting DeLeo when she was a sophomore in high school still finding her way.

“One day after school, I ended up walking past the arts hallway where he had a bulletin board of all the auditions,” Ariale said. “I was just there by myself, glancing around looking at auditions for a play that was coming up and he happened to walk by like, ‘Hey, who are you? Are you interested in auditioning?’ … He convinced me right then and there. … One day after rehearsal he was like, ‘What do you want to do for college? … You should be doing this.'”

Her answer was to study theater at Pace University in Manhattan, allowing her to see Broadway shows in person.

“That was the reason that really drew me to Pace,” Ariale said. “I always loved New York City, I always knew I wanted to live there from an early age honestly, just going to see shows with my family growing up on vacations. A lot of [Pace] faculty are in the business … and the insight that you get from going to a school like that is unmatched. There was no scary post-grad moving to the city … I had been there for four years already.”

Now, she brings her Big Apple experience back home for the national tour of “The Cher Show,” which premiered on Broadway in 2018. Written by Rick Elice, the show casts three lead actresses to portray musical icon Cher at different stages of her career, first nicknamed “Babe” in the 1950s and ’60s (played by Ella Perez), then nicknamed “Lady” in the 1970s (played by Ariale) and finally nicknamed “Star” in the 1980s and ’90s (played by Morgan Scott).

“It starts out with Babe, you see Cher in her early teen years when she first meets Sonny, they have this lovely spark moment where there’s just crazy chemistry between the two of them,” Ariale said. “Lady steps in when Babe is a little too shy in front of a crowd in Vegas. I literally tap her on the shoulder like, ‘Get out of the way, it’s my turn.’ … Then you see Star come in, the oldest Cher, she is the pop-glam icon that we see today.”

Along the way, you’ll hear all of your favorite Cher tunes for a jukebox musical.

“We sing ‘Song for the Lonely’ at the end of Act 1, which is by far my favorite moment,” Ariale said. “The opening is ‘If I Could Turn Back Time,’ just full concert mode. … ‘I Got You Babe’ has to be the No. 1 recognized. … One I didn’t know is a mashup of ‘When the Money’s Gone’ and ‘All or Nothing.’ … You’ve got to have ‘Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves.’ … ‘The Beat Goes On’ was a song I did not know was Cher’s. … ‘Believe’ is in our megamix at the very end.”

Of course, you can’t have a Cher show without the Tony-winning costumes by Bob Mackie.

“There’s some iconic costumes in there that are just really brilliant and really fun to wear,” Ariale said. “I forget how many there are, I know it’s in the hundreds. I have around 23 costume changes I think. There’s a lot of beads, there’s a lot of sparkles. … Some of the iconic Oscar costumes that Cher wore, the one with the mohawk. … She wanted to be big and bold with her fashion and that’s why Bob Mackie was so perfect for her.”

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WTOP's Jason Fraley previews 'The Cher Show' at Capital One Hall (Part 2)

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