Volunteers in Fairfax County help the homeless, improve libraries, guide land-use discussions, prepare people for disasters and emergencies, serve those in need and perform countless other tasks that make the community kinder and more livable.
“Our volunteers have more talent and experience than we realize, and they give that to the community,” said Elise Neil Bengtson, CEO of Volunteer Fairfax. “They write the most interesting, impactful and inspiring stories.”
Volunteer Fairfax honored 144 nominees at the 26th Annual Fairfax County Volunteer Service Awards, held April 27 at the Waterford at Springfield. Those people and groups contributed 328,760 hours’ worth of service last year, equal to a value of about $7.9 million, officials said.
Peggy Fox, WUSA-TV’s Virginia bureau chief, served as master of ceremonies at the event, which drew more than 400 attendees. This year’s theme was “Once Upon a Volunteer: Celebrating the Magic of Giving Back.”
The following people received Volunteer Service Awards in competitive categories: Jerry Dykstra, Adult Volunteer Under 250 Hours; Marco Johnson, Adult Volunteer Over 250 Hours; PRS CrisisLink’s CareRing Volunteers, Adult Volunteer Group; Ken Kozloff, RSVP Northern Virginia; Jim Dillon, Senior Volunteer; Ecumenical Community Helping Others (ECHO), Volunteer Program; and Racheal Appiah, Youth Volunteer.
Other competitive-category winners included Stony Brook Junior Volunteers, Youth Volunteer Group; Rev. Morris Hargrove and Polley Hargrove, Family Volunteer; Walter Jackson, Fairfax County Government Volunteer; Fairfax County Community Emergency Response Team, Fairfax County Government Volunteer Program; Fannie Mae, Corporate Volunteer Program; Josh Stillman, Rising Star; and Richard Alderson, Lifetime Achievement.
All 10 Board of Supervisors members also designated people or groups as “Community Champions”:
• Chairman Sharon Bulova (D) selected longtime Fairfax County Library Board of Trustees member Charles Fegan as her champion, citing his quarter-century of advocacy and outreach for the library system.
• Supervisor Catherine Hudgins (D-Hunter Mill) picked as her champion May Bernhardt, who owns a small business and works with the Cornerstones planning committee to end homelessness.
• Supervisor Linda Smyth (D-Providence) chose the Tysons Partnership as her champion because of the group’s Community Responsibility Council, which improves the lives of under-served people in the Tysons area.
• Supervisor John Foust (D-Dranesville) selected as his champion William “Ed” Pickens, who has spent many years trying to improve the area’s trails and streams.
• Supervisor John Cook (R-Braddock) honored Joanne Walton as his champion, citing her work with the Burke MOMS Club and Braddock Dogs and efforts as fund-raising chairman for the Fairfax County Special Education PTA.
• Supervisor Jeff McKay (D-Lee) picked as his champion Ed Joseph for his work as chairman of the Lee District Land Use Advisory Council.
• Supervisor Penelope Gross (D-Mason) selected as her champion the Fairfax County Sheriff’s Office’s Community Labor Force. Inmates in the program, which is led by Capt. Derek DeGeare and Maj. Tammy Gold, save the community thousands of dollars by clearing underbrush in parks and power-washing gang graffiti from transit-center ramps.
• Supervisor Daniel Storck (D-Mount Vernon) chose as his champion Shirley Steenstra, who leads volunteers at the Lorton Community Action Center’s thrift store, Lorton’s Attic.
• Supervisor Patrick Herrity (R-Springfield) selected as his champion Thomas Bash, who serves as Springfield’s commissioner on the Fairfax Area Commission on Aging and volunteers with the county’s Disability Services Board and other organizations.
• Supervisor Kathy Smith (D-Sully) picked as her champion Glynda Mayo Hall, who has volunteered for more than 20 groups, including Women at Work for the National Capital Area, Centreville-Chantilly Rotary Club, Northern Virginia Business and Professional Women’s Club and Western Fairfax Christian Ministries.
Bulova, who read a proclamation from the board honoring the nominees, noted many of the outstanding volunteers were older residents.
“It seems people never really retire in Fairfax County,” she said.