Local Commentary

A Penny for Your Thoughts: News of Greater Falls Church

Where did the summer go? It seems like we just got started with pool parties, more relaxed schedules, free summer concerts, and good things from the garden – and now it’s almost over! Schools in Fairfax County begin again on Tuesday, so please be careful as you drive through our neighborhoods and near schools. Watch for children, and slow down in school zones. And never, ever, pass a stopped school bus with its red lights flashing. If you try, our county’s finest will be close by, to issue tickets with hefty fines for violations. Let’s keep our children safe on their way to and from school.

In the next month or so, there are several opportunities to serve your community that may surprise you, but are worth a closer look. The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) educates people about disaster preparedness for hazards, and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations. Three CERT Basic Training classes, of eight sessions each, are scheduled. Monday night classes at the Fire and Rescue Academy, 4600 West Ox Road, will begin on September 9; Wednesday night classes begin on September 11. There also will be a Wednesday night class at Greater Springfield Volunteer Fire Station #22, beginning September 11. CERT basic training does not require any special strength or agility, and is FREE. You can enroll in any of these classes on-line at www.fairfaxcountyCERT.com. Register as a new volunteer; when confirmed, you can log in and register for CERT class 73, 74, or 75. You also may call 703-246-3926 for further information. Many Mason District residents already have taken the training, and are to be commended for their initiative and willingness to help neighbors in an emergency.

Saturday, September 21, is Day to Serve 2013 in Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia. Day to Serve is a unique annual event uniting people of all backgrounds to help improve the communities we call “home.” The focus for this year’s Day to Serve is feeding the hungry. Nearly 12 percent of Virginians are “food insecure,” meaning they don’t know where their next meal will come from. Sadly, many of those affected are children. Food drives organized by the faith community and others will take place at local grocery stores, especially Safeway and Shoppers Food Warehouse, on the 21st, to restock food pantries that serve needy families. Check with your place of worship or local non-profit provider to find out how you can help in this worthy effort.

Improving mental health in the community is the focus of an October 11 conference at the Annandale campus of Northern Virginia Community College. “Together on the Pathway to Wellness” will examine mindfulness techniques, physical approaches to wellness, and resources and supports available in Fairfax County. Register at http:/pathwaytowellness.vpweb.com; cost is $20, and a limited number of scholarships are available. The conference is open to all – service providers, consumers, and those simply interested in knowing more about the subject.

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