Local Commentary

A Penny for Your Thoughts

Just when you wonder if generosity has been replaced by selfishness or monetizing everything (as many comments on social media seem to imply), something happens that restores your faith in humanity, and the values treasured by generations preceding us. In recent weeks, multiple examples of philanthropy have reflected that generosity, indeed, is alive and well in Fairfax County and Northern Virginia.


The very word “philanthropy” conjures up images of Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Jose Andres, or MacKenzie Scott, their foundations, and their largesse that is reported in media around the world. That largesse is deserving of thanks and emulation, as many of those donations are made to improve the lives, health, and education of people they may never know or meet. Smaller donations, like those you and I might make, also are considered philanthropy, but usually without the media interest. Nevertheless, every bit helps, whether a check with lots of zeroes, or a winter coat and package of socks for Ukrainian relief. It all reflects a generosity of spirit and a desire to make a difference in someone’s life.


Last week, on May 4, the INOVA Schar Cancer Institute celebrated a multi-million contribution by Paul and Linda Saville with the opening of the INOVA Saville Cancer Screening and Prevention Center. In his remarks at the ceremonial ribbon-cutting, Paul noted that “We’ve all been impacted by cancer. Too many of us know someone who died from cancer due to a late diagnosis. We are humbled to partner with INOVA Schar to bring vital cancer screening and prevention services to more people so that we can reduce the burden of cancer and make our community healthier.” The 26,000 square foot INOVA Saville Center is the first of its kind in the Washington metropolitan region, providing a home for cancer screening and prevention, advocating for those at all levels of cancer risk, eliminating barriers, and maximizing health and well-being in our diverse community. The Saville family may never know how many people their generous community investment will help over time but, most likely, it will be generations of new families. Thank you, Paul and Linda Saville.


A few weeks ago, I reported that donations for Ukrainian relief deposited at the Mason District Governmental Center totaled 40 giant shipping boxes. The Northern Virginia Regional Commission (NVRC) coordinated donation drop-off sites in NVRC’s membership area and, when all was completed, more than 27 tons of blankets, coats, gloves, and socks were sorted and packed by volunteers at the Oakton Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. About 1800 boxes of donations were filled and packed into six tractor-trailers for the trip to Wilmington, N.C. for shipment to refugee sites in Poland and Ukraine. Factoid: if stacked on top of each other, the boxes would be the equivalent of 6 ½ Washington Monuments! No estimate of the number of donors is available, but the result verifies that small donations can add up to help untold numbers of displaced residents in war-ravaged Ukraine and its neighbors. If you missed the Ukraine donation drive, you can make tax-deductible monetary contributions to the American Red Cross (www.redcross.org), the Salvation Army (www.salvationarmyusa.org), Jose Andres’ World Central Kitchen (https://wck.org), or your favorite charity.


The Art in the Mason District Governmental Center program features photographs by Connor Cummings, a local published artist who also is autistic. Connor uses a camera as a way of communicating through still photography. One of my favorite photos in Connor’s exhibit is “New Orleans Glow,” an indoor arrangement of what looks like an old bar with row upon row of backlight glass bottles that truly impart a “glow.” The artwork will be on display through June 30, 2022.

Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor, in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be emailed at [email protected]