Fairfax officials laud 2020 crop of Community Champions

Lisa Jones, a voting-rights advocate and Fairfax County election officer who also is active with United Community, Good Shepherd and Soka Gakkai International, recently was chosen as a 2020 "Community Champion" by Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay (D). (Photo contributed)

Fairfax County supervisors, in conjunction with Volunteer Fairfax, are continuing their annual tradition of honoring “Community Champions” who have improved others’ lives in the county.

• Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay (D) selected as his champion Lisa Jones, a voting-rights advocate and Fairfax County election officer.

Jones also is a neighborhood ambassador and board member with United Community, a building captain with Good Shepherd and a unit leader with Soka Gakkai International.

“Lisa has dedicated countless hours to serving our community,” McKay said. “Her commitment to improving the lives of others isn’t exclusive to her volunteer work. It’s impressive because she carries it to every aspect of her life, including her home and work life.”

• Supervisor Walter Alcorn (D-Hunter Mill) chose William Farrell, who for the past five years has served as board chairman of a local Shepherd’s Center. Farrell meets with community leaders, drives clients to medical appointments, organizes fund-raisers, folds newsletters and serves food at the group’s Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon.

“Bill’s dynamic and friendly leadership style has transformed the Shepherd’s Center into a leading local charitable organization, recognized and honored both locally and regionally for outstanding community service,” Volunteer Fairfax officials said.

• Supervisor Dalia Palchik (D-Providence) picked as her champion Sara Holtz, who has volunteered more than 15,000 hours with various groups. She has participated with Waples Mill Elementary School’s Science, Technology, Art, Music and Philanthropy (STAMP) program; helped conserve local forests; and worked with Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Franklin Middle School, Leave No Trace and the Peace Corps.

“Sara Holtz continues to be a role model for those around her by committing her time and resources to issues she is passionate about, such as environmental sustainability and working with youth to train the next generation of volunteers,” Palchik said.

• Supervisor John Foust (D-Dranesville) honored Renee Maxwell, who is a member of the Service & Mission Team with Trinity Presbyterian Church and serves as a liaison for the church’s partnership with Herndon Elementary School.

Maxwell also has volunteered with Fairfax County Public Schools since 2003, leads publicity efforts for the Herndon Village Network and Food for Neighbors, and as a member of VOICE (Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community Engagement) brings accessible after-school programming to Title 1 schools in Herndon and Reston.

“Ms. Maxwell gives of herself time and time again without the need for accolades or applause,” Foust said. “She epitomizes ‘giving back to the community.’ I consider her one of the most effective volunteers in the county.”

• Supervisor Rodney Lusk (D-Lee) chose Timothy Fleming, who has served with the Franconia Volunteer Fire Department for 36 years and chaired the Volunteer Fire Commission for two decades.

“While I’ve only known Chief Fleming for a short time, I was immediately struck by both his long tenure of service and willingness to be a resource for my office,” Lusk said. “This has been meaningful to me not just as Lee District supervisor, but also as chair of the Public Safety Committee. His insights and advice have been invaluable. Chief Fleming is a perfect example of what makes Fairfax County such a safe and desirable place to call home.”

• Supervisor James Walkinshaw (D-Braddock) picked Thomas McDonald, who has spent four decades volunteering with the Braddock District Council, Braddock District Land Use and Environment Committee, Buckner Forest Homeowners Association and Pender United Methodist Church.

“Tom McDonald exemplifies all that is good about the Braddock District – civility, community and service,” Walkinshaw said. “His decades of dedicated volunteerism have made Fairfax County better for generations to come.”

• Supervisor Patrick Herrity (R-Springfield) selected Yolanda Saenz Atkins, who last year volunteered 1,500 hours with the Friends of Pohick Library. She served as the group’s president, book-sale coordinator and member of its scholarship committee.

Saenz Atkins also has chaired the Fairfax County Public Library Foundation Jubilee.

“Working with Yolanda is a pleasure for everyone involved,” Herrity said. “She always brings a positive spirit to new initiatives as they arise. She asks sensible questions about new projects and offers constructive suggestions.”

• Supervisor Kathy Smith (D-Sully) chose Karen Campblin as her champion.

Campblin is a member of the Tree Commission, Land Unit J Task Force, Joint Environmental Task Force, Fairfax County Federation of Citizens Associations, co-chair of the Transportation Committee, co-director of Green New Deal Virginia, transportation and smart-growth co-chair of the Virginia chapter of the Sierra Club and environmental and climate-justice chair of the Virginia State Conference NAACP.

“Karen is passionate about everything she does, and is more than happy to share her knowledge with others,” Smith said. “Her tireless work on reducing the adverse impacts of climate change and advocacy for racial equity are a benefit to the whole community.”

• Supervisor Penelope Gross (D-Mason) named Ralph and Debra Johnson, who have volunteered for 15 years with Building Forever Families, five years with the Salvation Army and two years with Merica House.

“Ralph and Debra Johnson don’t just talk the talk, they walk the walk,” Gross said. “Ralph and Debra are consummate volunteers, always seeking to identify needs and help those less fortunate in our community. Their hearts are huge, but they always seem to have room for one more, or two more.”

• Supervisor Daniel Storck (D-Mount Vernon) chose as his champion William “Billy” Hilton, who as a longtime participant with the Lorton and Franconia Volunteer Fire Department has responded to and assisted at more fire incidents than anyone else in the volunteer system, Volunteer Fairfax leaders said.

Hilton also performs some of the less glamorous tasks at fire stations, such as stretching and repacking hoses and setting and retrieving cones.

“Billy is always willing to roll up his sleeves and do any necessary grunt work with a smile,” Storck said. “His selfless dedication and devotion to the community make him absolutely deserving of this recognition and he represents the best in volunteerism in all of us.”

Learn more about the honorees on Volunteer Fairfax’s “Kudoboards” at www.volunteerfairfax.org/2020-vsa-winners.

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