December may be a popular time for shopping, but it also is a popular time for donations to favorite charities. Just as stores depend on holiday shoppers to keep their ledgers in the black, so, too, do non-profit organizations rely on holiday philanthropy to maintain their programs. Whether human services, the environment, animals, or civil rights and justice, there is a local non-profit just waiting for your generous support.
In Mason District, the Annandale Christian Community for Action, or ACCA, has been providing support since 1967, when Emily and Fred Ruffing identified a need for quality child care, at a time when women were beginning to enter the workforce in larger numbers. The Ruffings worked with the faith community to create the volunteer organization that continues to serve to this day. ACCA’s Child Development Center (CDC), in the former Annandale Elementary School on Columbia Pike, serves hundreds of preschoolers, and their families, who need the quality care and school readiness that ACCA provides. Other programs include a furniture ministry, which provides beds, bedding, and other needed items for needy families; a food pantry, rental and utility assistance, and other needs. Most of ACCA’s programs have no offices, so you are likely to reach a volunteer at home; as one volunteer coordinator once told me, “I might still be in my bedroom slippers when you call!” More information about ACCA, and how to donate, is available at accacares.org.
Merica House, an independent living environment where severely physically disabled adults can live in a home setting, with aides, staff, and volunteers, was created in 1995 through the efforts of Harry Merica, a young man who wanted to live as independently as possible, not “warehoused” or dependent on elderly parents for care. Partnering with the Alliance for the Physically Disabled, Merica House acquired and modified two apartments in Skyline Plaza that can accommodate up to seven adults. At the time, such housing with associated care was virtually non-existent in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Today’s Merica House residents are bright, engaged adults who enjoy being around other people and their peers, not relegated to the isolated life that once was thought to be the only option. Merica House, funded through residents’ rent and private donations, needs support to maintain the apartments, provide items of daily living for the residents, and expand this worthwhile endeavor. Merica House truly operates on a shoestring. More information can be found at www.theapd.org.
I’ve written about the Culmore Clinic before, and it remains a favorite Mason District non-profit organization. The clinic began in 2007 to serve uninsured community members who had no other options for health care. Founders Ann Cartwright and Terry O’Hara LaVoie started the clinic in a mosque, moved various times to volunteer space, and have outgrown their space once again. That’s good news! The clinic also needs support to continue its work. You can learn more at www.culmoreclinic.org.
Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor, in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.