The federal shutdown is over, for now, but the ramifications of a 35-day furlough for hundreds of thousands of employees still are being measured by local and state governments. The metro region stands to lose the most, since we are home to a majority of the furloughed employees. The Office of Personnel Management has assured that those employees will be receive back pay promptly, but thousands of federal contractors do not have those same assurances.
In Fairfax County, health and human services agencies have identified relatively slight increases in service requests directly related to the government shutdown. Coordinated Services Planning, which operates and answers the 703-222-0880 intake phone number, received approximately 7500 calls during the shutdown, but only 84 of those calls were from residents impacted by the shutdown. Assistance with rental payments was the most significant request, with emergency food assistance running a distant second. Total leveraged dollar amount of assistance granted was less than $10,000, but some longer-term needs still are being assessed.
Even without the shutdown, local food pantries need community support to continue their mission to provide rudimentary nutrition to needy residents. The annual Stuff the Bus campaign continues on Saturday, Feb. 9, at the Annandale Giant, 7137 Columbia Pike, from 9:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m., benefitting the Annandale Christian Community for Action; and on Saturday, Feb. 16, at the Falls Plaza Giant, 1230 West Broad Street, from 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., benefitting the Falls Church Community Service Council. Look for the FasTran bus in the parking lot. It’s easy to participate. Just buy some extra non-perishable foods during your weekly grocery shopping trip, and drop off those cans and packages at the bus. Volunteers have helpful shopping lists and will accept cash donations (or checks) for the food pantries at Stuff the Bus locations.
Fairfax County government is beginning a Strategic Planning process with the community to shape the future for the county. What are your hopes and aspirations for the future of our community? What challenges do we face, and what priorities must be addressed first? Where should the county be in the next five years? The next 10? The next 15? Take the survey, then plan to attend community conversations in person during the next several weeks. You also can share the survey and conversation invitation with neighbors, co-workers, family, and friends. Your input will help frame performance indicators and create a roadmap to achieve the desired outcomes identified by the community. To get started, or to register to attend the community conversation at the James Lee Center, 2855 Annandale Road, Falls Church 22042, on Wednesday, March 6, from 7 – 8:30 p.m., log on to www.fairfaxcounty.gov/strategicplan.
The art featured in the Mason District Governmental Center, 6507 Columbia Pike in Annandale, is a collection of photography by Chris Fedderson, who focuses on unusual compositions of natural areas in parks, arboretums, and botanic gardens. Fedderson is a Virginia-based photographer, who captures images featuring elements of nature that are often hidden in plain view. The artwork will be on display until Thursday, Feb. 28.