Local Commentary

A Penny for Your Thoughts: News of Greater Falls Church


The 31st Annual Mason District Park Festival will be held this Saturday, September 25, at Mason District Park, 6507 Columbia Pike in Annandale.  Festival hours are 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.  The family festival features free admission and parking, arts and crafts vendors, live entertainment on the showmobile stage, and a hayride. A full complement of children’s rides, including ponies, as well as food from the popular Magill’s restaurant in Annandale, will be available.

Police and fire displays are planned, and Hidden Oaks Nature Center will have a few  “critters” for you to see.  Stage performers include Kristina Furey at 11 a.m.; Furey’s vocals and style have been compared to Sheryl Crow.  Eric Peters Straight from Nashville! is from south Louisiana originally, and will take the stage at 12:15 p.m.  The sounds of Joe Rathbone and Band  follow in the emotional presentation style of Elvis Costello and Tom Petty at 1:15 p.m.  Bill Mallonee, at 2:15 p.m., placed 65th in the “100 Greatest Living Songwriters Poll.”

The Mason District Park Festival got its start in 1980 when then-Mason District Supervisor Tom Davis gathered local PTA and civic leaders to discuss how to help get more people into the 121-acre park that had opened in the late 1970s.  The group eventually became the Friends of Mason District Park, and sponsored the first festival that October.  I recall vividly that we wanted to raise enough money to buy a weed eater for maintenance staff.  We not only got the weed eater, but bought a John Deere tractor that was used at the park for at least two decades.  In recent years, the Friends have supported the free summer concert series, Spotlight by Starlight; upgraded playgrounds; and funded a trail to allow disabled persons easier access to the pond.  Spend an hour, or spend the day.  See you at the Mason District Park Festival on Saturday!

September is Direct Support Professionals Appreciation Month in Fairfax County.  Earlier this week, I visited Goodwin House Bailey’s Crossroads (GHBC) to meet and thank the many professional caregivers who work with senior residents. GHBC provides a wonderful continuum of care program for seniors of all abilities.  Many retirees live independently in the beautiful apartments there, and carry on a full regimen of activities.  For those who require some assistance with daily tasks, or need temporary or permanent skilled nursing, GHBC has special “household” floors that allow residents to stay in familiar surroundings.  The caregivers on these floors, from housekeepers to certified nursing assistants, from medication specialists to RNs, provide the daily, conscientious, hands-on care and support that promotes independence, health, and safety.

As I visited with dozens of professional caregivers, I was struck by three things: wonderful smiles and approaches to their jobs; the diversity of homelands, from Northern Virginia to Chile, Ethiopia, and Pakistan; and the fact that many had risen from the ranks of housekeeping to certified health care providers.  GHBC has a robust tuition reimbursement program that encourages its employees to further their education, and many have taken advantage of the program, becoming proud, long-time, and skilled GHBC employees.

Earlier in the day, I attended the LifeCircle Alliances breakfast, which also honored caregivers.  Lee Woodruff, whose ABC-TV reporter husband, Bob, was gravely injured by an IED while on assignment in Iraq.  Mrs. Woodruff said that there is honor, grace, and beauty in caregiving; that everyone will need a caregiver at some point in life; and that caregivers are unsung heroes.  I heartily agree.


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