Local Commentary

A Penny for Your Thoughts: News from Greater Falls Church

Merry Christmas! As many Mason District residents observe their religious traditions by attending Midnight Mass or other appropriate religious services, others are hard at work, making sure that our community is safe and that folks needing emergency services – from police, fire, health care providers, social workers, etc. – have the help they need.

Did you know that volunteers deliver Meals on Wheels on Christmas Day? In a wonderful display of ecumenical spirit, volunteers from a local synagogue have offered to make the food deliveries today so that their Christian neighbors, who usually make the rounds, can stay home with their families. In a diverse area like Mason District, reaching across religious barriers happens all the time, and soon there are few barriers, only friendship and respect.

As we offer gifts and make end of the year donations to our favorite non-profit organizations, I’d like to highlight three opportunities to consider for your support.

1) The Annandale Christian Community for Action (ACCA) has been responding to community needs in Mason District for more than 40 years. The organization is run by volunteers (that means little or no overhead) who do everything from fundraising to food pantry operations to delivering furniture to needy families. Dire economic conditions have stimulated increased requests for rent and utility assistance, medical and dental care, shelter, and child care. There is a bright spot, however. ACCA has received, for the seventh year, a “Challenge Grant” from the Washington Forrest Foundation because of the efficient and effective way its hundreds of volunteers have met critical needs in the community. The Challenge Grant will match your contribution, dollar for dollar, until January 31. All contributions are tax-deductible. Send your gift to ACCA, Inc., 7200 Columbia Pike, Annandale, VA 22003. Please note “Challenge Grant” on the memo line of your check. ACCA will put all donations to work immediately. I already sent my check to ACCA. I hope you will, too.

2) Shelter House, a community-based non-profit organization serving homeless families in Mason District and Fairfax County, is seeking donations for families who are transitioning from the shelter to more permanent housing. You may contact the Community Coordinator at 703/536-2155 for more information about the type of needs that must be met. Shelter House can accept new clothing only, with an emphasis on clothes for babies and children, and professional clothing for women re-entering the workforce. Gently used or new kitchen equipment and new linens also are accepted. If you want to donate items that Shelter House cannot use, try Second Chance Thrift Store at 703/385-3064 or the Salvation Army of Fairfax at 703/385-8700.

3) For more than 20 years, RPJ Housing has provided free home repairs to low-income homeowners in Northern Virginia through its Volunteer Home Repair programs: Rebuilding Together and Hearts & Hammers. Most of the work is done by volunteer teams on the last Saturday of April each year, but the planning begins many weeks and months earlier. Repair needs range from safety, health, and accessibility concerns to preventive maintenance and modifications to accommodate elderly and/or disabled homeowners. RPJ Housing is looking for Fairfax County residents who meet HUD “Low-Income” Guidelines and need assistance to remain in their homes. If you or someone you know might qualify, you can find more information at www.rpjhousing.org.

These organizations have provided substantial assistance for Mason District residents, and I can recommend them wholeheartedly. I hope your holiday weekend is filled with family, friendship, and festivities.


  • Penny Gross

    Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be e-mailed at mason@fairfaxcounty.gov