Local Commentary

A Penny For Your Thoughts: The News of Greater Falls Church

Celebrate Fairfax! has become a traditional kick-off to summer, with the parking lots of the Fairfax County Government Center turned into an urban fairgrounds. Celebrate Fairfax! gives residents an opportunity to see their county government agencies up close, and have fun at the same time.

Last weekend’s festivities presented another opportunity: to honor volunteers from each magisterial district as Lord and Lady Fairfax. Since 1984, each member of the Board of Supervisors has selected a Lord and Lady representative. In Mason District, past honorees have included stalwart volunteers such as Eileen Garnett and Helen Winter, Sami Kalifa and Bo White. This year, I was delighted to select Dan McKinnon and Yolma Torres as Mason District’s Lord and Lady Fairfax. They were honored with a special recognition at the June 4 Board of Supervisors meeting, and feted at a dinner in their honor that evening.

Following a distinguished career as a Naval officer and president of a national non-profit organization serving persons with disabilities, Dan McKinnon devotes his time and effort to improving his community. As chairman of the Annandale Central Business District Planning Committee, the citizen advisory group for revitalization of downtown Annandale, Dan provides leadership on revitalization issues for everyone from the Board of Supervisors and County Executive to the longtime resident or new business entrepreneur. Now also the president of the Annandale Chamber of Commerce, Dan continues his advocacy to ensure economic and social vitality for the older parts of the county. Throughout all of his activities, Dan exhibits respect for individual opinions, calmly approaches any challenge, and has an uncanny ability to find positive attributes in every person he meets. For his able volunteerism and commitment to our community, Dan McKinnon is Mason District’s Lord Fairfax for 2007.

Yolma Torres is one of those wonderful people who quietly step forward to meet the needs of the community, extending her reach beyond the requirements of her job and making a difference in the lives of at-risk youth. A guidance counselor at Holmes Middle School, Yolma has volunteered with Girl Power, HACAN, Big Brothers, and the Annandale Community Coalition. She and her family are crucial volunteers for the after-school program, Nadar por Vida, or Swimming for Life, providing transportation and even dinner for the children participating in the Friday night programs. Her work with Spanish-speaking families has increased the number of children service by Nadar por Vida, and she also has expanded Holmes Middle School outreach to parents by teaching adult computer classes and adult ESL at the school. For her unflagging efforts on behalf of at-risk youth, Yolma Torres is Mason District’s Lady Fairfax for 2007.

There are so many wonderful volunteers in our community, and they help improve our quality of life every day. Thank you to Dan and Yolma and the thousands of other volunteers in PTAs, civic and homeowner associations, parks, places of worship, and youth activities. You do make a difference!

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