The environment and volunteerism nearly collided last week in a flurry of activity to recognize a lot of good work that helps make Fairfax County an outstanding place to live, work, learn, play, and worship. Best of all, much of it happens without an outlay of taxpayer dollars, just people who see a need and act to fill it.
The small staff at Volunteer Fairfax (www.volunteerfairfax.org) works with county agencies and community groups to mobilize resources and meet regional needs. Projects were honored at the annual Volunteer Fairfax awards breakfast at The Waterford at Springfield. Benchmark awards celebrated volunteers who gave 100, 250, 500, or 1000 hours of volunteer service during the past year. Volunteer programs were extraordinarily diverse: the Red Cross, Fancy Cats Rescue Team, Northern Virginia Therapeutic Riding Program, Adult Day Health Care, Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, and many library programs were among those highlighted. Of special significance to Mason District was the Volunteer Program of the Year Award, which was presented to the Annandale Christian Community for Action (ACCA), for decades of service focused on the Annandale, Falls Church, and Lincolnia areas of Fairfax County. ACCA programs include a child care center, food pantry, furniture program, and rental assistance. With the exception of the child care center, which is fee-based and has educational professionals on staff, all of ACCA’s programs are run by volunteers, who rely on the generosity of faith communities, grants, and individual donors for support. With no paid staff and no office overhead, ACCA can focus on meeting community needs instead of meeting payroll. Longtime ACCA volunteer and Mason District resident Mary Anne Lecos accepted the award on ACCA’s behalf.
Heavy rains forced the Earth Day observance indoors, but enthusiasm for protecting our environment wasn’t dampened. Due to construction at the traditional Northern Virginia Community College venue, the event was held at the Fairfax County Government Center. An American Chestnut tree was presented to Board Chairman Sharon Bulova for planting on the government complex grounds. The tree is a blight-resistant hybrid that has been scientifically developed to help restore the vast East Coast chestnut forests that were rendered almost extinct by the mid-1950s due to an invasive fungal infection. Fairfax County also received, for the 28th year in a row, the Tree City USA designation and flag. Fairfax County has the most progressive local tree ordinance in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and recently has established a Tree Steward program for volunteers, similar to the existing Master Gardener or Master Naturalist program. Trained volunteers are able to assist county staff, residents, and businesses with their tree planting goals. A “Friends of Trees” award was presented to Peace Lutheran Church in Mason District for its active commitment to the environment on its Lincolnia Road property. A portion of the facility’s lawn was removed and replanted as a meadow and natural woodland. An asphalt access point to the parking lot was taken out of service, scarified, and replanted as a rain garden. The adjustments reduced the amount of mowing and maintenance required, help absorb stormwater runoff, and make the churchyard much more environmentally friendly.
Continuing with the environmental and volunteer theme, two community clean-ups are coming your way next week. Opportunities abound for volunteers on Saturday, April 30, to help clean up and beautify downtown Annandale and the Culmore neighborhood in Bailey’s Crossroads. Both clean-ups begin at 9 a.m. Annandale volunteers should report to the George Mason Regional Library, 7001 Little River Turnpike in Annandale; Culmore volunteers should go to the Woodrow Wilson Library at 6101 Knollwood Drive in Falls Church. Make a difference – volunteer!
Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org