Volunteers were highlighted all last week as Fairfax County celebrated Volunteer Week. Volunteer Fairfax hosted more than 500 people for breakfast at the Fairview Park Marriott on Friday morning. Emceed by Cynné Simpson, ABC 7/WJLA-TV weeknight anchor, the 18th annual event honored Community Champions selected by members of the Board of Supervisors, as well as adult and family volunteers, senior and youth volunteers, and corporate volunteers.
I chose Frank Vajda, Park Authority member and longtime Camelot Neighborhood Watch volunteer as Mason District’s Community Champion. Frank is a tireless volunteer on behalf of parks and his neighborhood, and is an unsung hero in our community.
The same morning, Hispanics Against Child Abuse and Neglect (HACAN) celebrated its volunteers in programs designed especially for children and families in our Latino community. This event grows every year, as more volunteers provide more services in more programs to keep children safe, help them learn how to make good decisions, and teach parents and caregivers loving and safe parenting skills. Awards included charming decorated bird houses made by children in Morningstar, a Saturday morning program created by Carmen Fernandez and housed at the Woodrow Wilson Library.
On Saturday, adult volunteers for the county’s Community and Recreation Services (CRS) were honored at another breakfast (lots of bacon and eggs were consumed by and for volunteers in the past several days!) at The Waterford in Fair Oaks. More than 200 people gathered to celebrate volunteerism ranging from therapeutic riding instruction and senior citizen programs to master gardeners and dollmakers for sick children.
Also on Saturday, the Earth Day/Arbor Day event at the Annandale Campus of the Northern Virginia Community College celebrated Friends of Trees, including Kathy James, formerly Mason District’s representative on the Tree Commission. Also receiving a Friends of Trees plaque were the Lake Barcroft Association, for underwriting the development of a demonstration garden, and Betsy Washington, who designed and planted that same garden of native trees and plants on the shores of the lake. Fairfax County also received a “Tree City” designation for the 27th consecutive year.
Finally, on Sunday at the Fairfax County Government Center, wildlife rehabilitators and caregivers were honored at the first Wildlife Care Appreciation Brunch, hosted by the county’s Wildlife Biologist Vickie Monroe. Thirty or so caregivers shared their experiences and frustrations to save wildlife that were injured or in danger in our suburban and urban environment. One attendee brought with her a baby bird, wrapped carefully in a soft white cloth, so that the tiny creature’s hourly feeding schedule would not be interrupted. Stories of flying squirrels, baby opossums, foxes, and ducklings were fascinating to hear, despite sometimes tearful endings.
Upcoming events in Mason District include the ever-popular used book sale sponsored by the Friends of the George Mason Regional Library (another volunteer group) this week: Thursday from 5 to 9 p.m., Friday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, noon – 5 p.m. The library is located at 7001 Little River Turnpike in Annandale.
The Culmore Clean-up will be held this Saturday from 9 a.m. until noon. Join other volunteers to clean up litter and beautify the Culmore neighborhood. Teams will depart from the Woodrow Wilson Library, 6101 Knollwood Drive in Falls Church.
Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be e-mailed at [email protected]