Green Valley Day 2019

Shown from left are Charles Meng of the Arlington Food Assistance Center; Green Valley Civic Association president Portia Clark; honoree Benedetta Kissel; and Cicely Whitfield, executive director of the Bonder & Amanda Johnson Community Development Corp.

Two individuals and a social-safety-net organization were honored at the 2019 Green Valley Day celebration, along with four local students who garnered scholarships for their higher-education endeavors.

Benedetta Kissel, Marie Van Ness and the Arlington Food Assistance Center were honored with “Gold Awards” by Green Valley Civic Association president Portia Clark at the celebration, held Sept. 21 at Charles Drew Elementary School.

• Kissel “is truly a community example – the voice of inclusion for all Arlington residents,” said Clark, praising her efforts on behalf of voting rights and the restoration of civil rights.

Kissel, who last year was honored by the Arlington NAACP for her activism, said she planned to maintain her efforts for years to come.

“I love this community. I hope that I can continue to do it for a long time,” she said.

• Van Ness, a retired social worker, is “an amazing asset” to the Bonder & Amanda Johnson Community Development Corp., which is active in South Arlington development and social services.

A resident of Arlington for more than three decades, Van Ness has been active assisting in food distribution, organizing events and more.

“She loves this community,” said Cicely Whitfield, executive director of the organization, in accepting the award in her absence.

• The Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC) was saluted for its efforts serving families in need with healthy food for more than 30 years. Over the past year, more than 5,700 families totaling 13,000 individuals were assisted.

“It’s all for residents of our county,” AFAC executive director Charles Meng said. “We band together to help. We are doing our best.”

Also at the celebration, college scholarships were bestowed on local students Klaudia Escobar Villatoro, Alyssa Scott, Mikayla Williams and Swarnali Das, who are pursuing studies ranging from business to pre-med.

The Green Valley Civic Association usually presents three annual scholarships, but the four recipients each had outstanding academic and community-service profiles, Clark said.

“We expect them to come back to the community and give even more,” she noted.

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