Volunteer Fairfax and Chairman Sharon Bulova and the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors honored the 2019 Community Champions in their Districts at the Fairfax County Volunteer Service Awards on Wednesday, April 24th at the Waterford in Springfield.
Each year, the members of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors have the honor of selecting a citizen volunteer within their District to be recognized as a Community Champion. This distinguished award recognizes volunteers who are committed to improving Fairfax County through service that fulfills or addresses a pressing community need.
Volunteer Nominees were recognized in three distinct award categories, namely – competitive, benchmark and community champions. The event, themed “Volunteering, It’s Personal” and hosted by Fox5 Anchor Tisha Lewis, welcomed more than 400 community members, leaders of business, government and nonprofits.
The 2019 Community Champions are:
Supervisor John Cook Honors Allan Boswell Robertson, Braddock District
Some parents take their children to the lake for vacation. Children learn to skip rocks, climb trees, swim and appreciate nature while developing those important childhood memories. Close your eyes and imagine a world where this did not happen. Allan Robertson works to ensure that Lake Accotink is preserved for generations to come! As the president of Save Lake Accotink, he has led major grassroots effort to raise awareness about proposed changes that could result in the disappearance of the lake and to mobilize support. Allan organized many community events where he encouraged neighbors to be involved in decisions concerning the preservation of the Lake. As a result, the community supported making the investment necessary to preserve this community gem.
Supervisor John Foust Honors Homer Johns, Dranesville District
Mr. Johns has taken volunteerism to another level. Fighting fires is typically seen as a job for most people, but not for Mr. Johns. For over 52 years, he held nearly every administrative and operational leadership role, including president, chief, assistant chief, treasurer, secretary and board member between the McLean and Great Falls Volunteer Fire Departments. Mr. Johns is committed to ensuring that the best volunteers in our community are fighting fires and saving lives.
Supervisor Cathy Hudgins Honors St. John Neumann Catholic Church, Hunter Mill District
In early January 2018, Fairfax County experienced a brutally cold arctic chill. Adequate accommodations were needed for our homeless citizens and in response to the need, St. John Neumann Catholic Church activated the Hypothermia Prevention Response Program. A safe shelter was provided to the guests, as well all meals, warm clothing and a place to sleep. However, that’s not where the hospitality of St. John Neumann stopped., there was live entertainment and lots of fellowship. The guests reported that The Church was a warm and welcoming place that treated them with dignity. Two former guests who are no longer homeless, dropped in for fellowship and a meal. They remembered he church’s kindness and wanted to give their thanks. By organizing and housing a Hypothermia Shelter, St. John Neumann Church demonstrates a sense of compassion by providing a place where all are truly welcome.
Supervisor Jeff McKay Honors Liz Murphy, Lee District
Liz Murphy works to create fair and equitable chances for kids through her leadership as the President of “People for Equity in Fairfax County Public Schools”. Her work impacts the lives of many by way of increasing equity among our students. This mission falls in line with Fairfax County’s One Fairfax initiative. Through her outreach efforts and mentorship, she has left an impact on many, whether it’s the struggling student in school, a child that needs a Christmas gift, community members who need a helping hand from faith-based organizations, or a kid who needs a home- Liz is there at every corner helping all those she can.
Supervisor Penny Gross Honors Binod Gupta, Mason District
Binod identified a community problem and set out to solve it. His collaborative work with the Supervisor’s office, Park Authority, and the community-at-large produced dividends beyond anyone’s wildest dreams, and restored pride in Backlick Park and the neighborhood. It can be really frustrating to look at a space that is meant for community and to only find it unusable. After many months of Binod’s community advocacy, the Park Authority prepared a plan that not only cleaned up the parkland and removed damaged play structures, but totally revamped the park with new trails, fitness and play equipment, even a gorgeous new picnic pavilion. Binod now is trying to set up a Friends of Backlick Park group to hold annual cleanup events. The newly refurbished park now is a centerpiece for outdoor activity, walkable from surrounding residential neighborhoods as well as a destination that now has a larger, and more welcoming, parking area.
Supervisor Daniel G. Storck Honors Jonathan Kiell, Mount Vernon District
Every great community needs a great emergency preparedness plan. With natural and manmade disasters surrounding us, the Office of Emergency Management Volunteer Corp’s Jonathan Kiell has been instrumental in building disaster resiliency efforts in Fairfax County. His dedication to educating the public on disaster preparedness is second only to his enthusiasm about the topic. Since joining the Office of Emergency Management’s Volunteer Corps, he has been involved with social media campaigns, help present the mission of Emergency Management, and has been at the forefront of the Community Resiliency Groups. From verifying data on the Functional Needs Registry to participating in events such as the Preparedness Awareness Weekend, to creating literature for Community Resiliency Groups in approaching new and continuing members, Jonathan goes the extra mile to make sure the Fairfax residents as well prepared to respond to disasters.
Supervisor Linda Q. Smyth Honors Oakton Women’s Club, Providence District
Statistic show that children who do not eat breakfast are less able to learn. Hunger can contribute to a student’s to lower test scores, attention, behavioral, emotional, and academic problems. Bottom line, it can be hard to focus while trying to learn in a classroom setting on an empty stomach. Oakton Women’s Club works to make sure Fairfax kids, especially those at Luther Jackson Middle School get something nutritious to eat. Their latest project is their partnership with “No Kid Hungry,” and the Fairfax County Public Schools, to help supply breakfast to hungry children through the Second Chance Breakfast Program, a model for other Fairfax County Public Schools Middle Schools.
Supervisor Pat Herrity Honors Jenni Cantwell, Springfield District
Jenni Cantwell is a champion for women’s sports and promotes women’s sports development throughout the county. She serves on the Athletic Council both as Secretary and formally as Vice Chairman. She has worked tirelessly to improve children’s educational and developmental opportunities, in addition to advocating for women’s sports opportunities within the county.
Supervisor Kathy L. Smith Honors Carol Robinson, Sully District
If one were to look up the word Volunteer in the dictionary you will find a picture of Carol Robinson. Her impressive volunteer resume includes a lengthy list of organizations she has devoted her time and energy to serve. Her enthusiastic can-do attitude inspires other volunteers in the many organizations with which she works. In addition to her extraordinary volunteer work, Carol donates food, clothing, books, and school supplies throughout the year to non-profit organizations such as: Western Fairfax Christian Ministries, Katherine K. Hanley Family Shelter, Habitat for Humanity, and BritePaths. Carol is an unwavering champion for her community, and the Sully District greatly benefits from all her efforts.
Chairman Sharon Bulova Honors John Pellegrin, Fairfax County
Your student might have run into “Judge” Pellegrin at some point in their school years. Why you ask? He runs the annual Ethics and Leadership Day for over 70 student and presides over mock trials. John Pellegrin is a stalwart figure not only for his unique style and warm personality, but for his dedication to Fairfax County, having served as Chairman Bulova’s appointee to the Small Business Commission for over 10 years, offering invaluable knowledge and guidance on issues that affect all parts of the County.
Volunteer Fairfax is sincerely grateful to the following event sponsors: Sica Family Charitable Fund, Leidos, Craig & Kristin Parisot, Dave & Busters, FVCbank, Best Western and the Points of Light Foundation. For more information about the 2019 Fairfax County Volunteer Service Awards, please visit www.volunteerfairfax.org.