Local Commentary

A Penny for Your Thoughts: News of Greater Falls Church


Happy Thanksgiving! As we gather with family and friends to celebrate the advantages we enjoy in our county and our country, special thanks must be reserved for all the volunteers who generously help others and contribute to our quality of life. This past weekend, ceremonies celebrated three special groups: park volunteers, the Baileys Crossroads Health Access Partnership (BxHAP), and Shelter House.

Friday night was all about parks, and the activities supported by hundreds of park volunteers, as the Elly Doyle Park Service Awards were presented by the Fairfax County Park Authority. “Volunteers Make a World of Difference” was the theme of the evening event, which honored several Mason District residents and/or activities. Mason District residents scored two of the three major “Ellys.” The Friends of Hidden Oaks Nature Center, known affectionately as FOHONC, supports a wide array of educational endeavors, and spearheaded the effort to certify all of Fairfax County as a certified wildlife habitat by the National Wildlife Foundation. Founders Scott Birdwell and Kevin Holland received the Elly on behalf of FOHONC. Also recognized with an Elly was Chris Robichaux, founding member of the Mason District Dog Opportunity Group (DOG), for his ten-year effort to develop off-leash dog areas. His citation noted that “he was at the vanguard of a movement that made dog parks a routine park amenity. Outstanding Volunteers included Bob Dinse, resource naturalist and Hidden Oaks Nature Center; Charlie Hummel, Fitness Monitor and Front Desk Volunteer at Providence RECenter (now in Mason District as a result of redistricting); and Mary Alice Huybrechts, gardener and advocate at Green Spring Gardens. Lynne Glasser, a volunteer as Green Spring Gardens since 2005, received a Special Recognition Award, as did Judy Kirby, a volunteer Master Gardener and Eco-Savvy program leader at Green Spring. Other awards included the Sally Ormsby Environmental Stewardship Award, which I was pleased to present to Environmental Quality Advisory Council chairman Stella Koch, and two Eakin Philanthropy Awards, to Craig and Belinda Stevens and Cox Communications.

The Saturday afternoon ribbon-cutting to open the new offices of the Baileys Crossroads Health Access Partnership was all about partnerships. The clinic has moved across Route 7 from its former small location at the Culmore Family Resource Center to larger space at Columbia Crossroads Church on Glen Carlyn Road. Mason District residents Ann Cartwright and Terry O’Hara Lavoie founded BxHAP and continue to lead the effort. Partners in the non-profit clinic, which serves low income residents without insurance, include Columbia Baptist Church, St. Anthony of Padua Parish, The Falls Church, Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center, CrossLink International, INOVA Health Systems, Fairfax County, and many others. Donations are tax-deductible; find out more by sending an email to CulmoreClinic@gmail.com.

Shelter House, Bailey’s Community Center, and Food for Others sponsored the “Show Up to Stop Hunger” Talent Showcase on Saturday evening. Dozens of children performed their special talents for parents and friends, while learning more about programs to end homelessness and hunger in Fairfax County. Food pantries are in special need of food and funds to help an ever-growing number of families in crisis. As your family celebrates the bounty of our community at Thanksgiving, please remember those who are less fortunate, and give, give, give.


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