I was planning to take the week off from blog posts with no City Council meeting. But as I have been processing the results of the most consequential national election of my lifetime, I wanted to use my weekly outreach to share what’s on my mind, how I’m choosing to move forward, and offer a few outlets for those who are ready too.
First, hearing from many in the community the past few days – many of you are uncertain or apprehensive of your future or fearful of your neighbor’s safety. I want to take the opportunity to let citizens to know that your local government will continue to stand up for your safety, no matter the national context. Public safety is the responsibility of local government. As a member of the leadership in Falls Church, I re-affirm our long-standing community values of inclusion and diversity. We remain a welcoming and safe place for all people – all faiths, all cultures, all sexual orientations, and all backgrounds.
So what now? As we approach the holidays and a season of reflection and thankfulness, I am grateful that I am raising my family in a safe, inclusive, and progressively-minded community. I believe talk about inclusion is not enough. And voting is only a one day activity. While I am proud that Falls Church again had an amazing 85% turnout on election day, I challenge you and your families to turn out with the same conviction to do good throughout the year. There is no better time than now to rise up – serve our community, be a part of the process. Falls Church can set an example of unity, light, and kindness for our children and for the nation. Here is my personal pledge:
I pledge to make an effort to step outside of our comfortable bubble and make connections outside of what is familiar. I pledge to do my part – advocate, legislate, volunteer – so that we are truly a country of opportunity for all and where compassion and tolerance bridges our differences.
I hope you will join me in channeling your emotions into positive, tangible action right here in Falls Church and help the vulnerable and less fortunate. I’ve collected a list of upcoming service opportunities, organizations that could use your help, and ways to get involved in your Falls Church government. If you know of other local opportunities, let me know and I’d be glad to add to this list for reference. If you are interested in organizing a Day of Service with me or another way to bring Falls Church together, your ideas and help are welcome.
Thanks for allowing me to use my weekly soapbox to share the good work that is happening all around us. I hope you’ll choose action. It starts with us.
(1) Join a Board or Commission. I’ve made the plug before, but this really is a great way to dip your toes in local government and share your passion or expertise in a low time commitment, yet impactful way. Even if there is no current vacancy in the B&C you’re interested in, all meetings are open to the public so you are welcome to attend, observe, and share your thoughts. http://www.fallschurchva.gov/130/Boards-Commissions
(2) Fill the Pipeline. November 2017 is not so far away. Start paying attention to city issues and consider running for office. Share my blog with friends and recruit them to get interested and involved in local government. Here is the list of upcoming City Council meetings http://www.fallschurchva.gov/471/Watch-City-Council-Meetings and upcoming School Board meetings http://fccps.org/index.php?option=com_gcalendar&view=google&Itemid=658&lang=en
If you are considering a run for local office – I am no expert, but I am happy to share my personal experience and help you however I can.
(3) Give Back Locally
Today, November 11th
- Girl Scouts Stop Hunger Now Service Project – Falls Church Episcopal Church – 6-8 pm. They are looking for additional financial contributions (helping hands also welcome) to meet their goal before the meal making event tonight. A $15 per hour donation is requested to cover cost of meal ingredients. http://www.signupgenius.com/
Tomorrow, November 12th
- Habitat Restoration (plant native plants) at Howard E. Herman Stream Valley Park on from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. This is an excellent opportunity for families and groups to get their hands dirty (literally!) and make a difference in a beloved park. http://www.fallschurchva.gov/Calendar.aspx?EID=4976&month=11&year=2016&day=6&calType=0
- Boys Scouts Scouting for Food – door to door non perishable food pick ups. Remember to set out your bags before 9 am.
Saturday, November 19th
- Help the Environment – VPIS Neighborhood Tree Planting at 8:30 am. Contact Seth Heminway at email@example.com
- Spend Yourself 5K Run/3K Walk – 8 am – supports a local food pantry and fights hunger in Haiti and India http://www.columbiabaptist.org/sy5k
- Deliver Thanksgiving Meals to Falls Church families (7416 Arlington Blvd) – Volunteers needed to deliver food to over 100 households in the Falls Church area on Saturday, November 19th. If you are interested, call Linda Rice-Johnston at 703-560- 5288 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Even if you don’t contact FCS ahead of time, you can come to Knox Presbyterian Church beginning at 10 a.m on November 19th. Bags will be ready with names and addresses of the recipients on them. You may take as many or as few as you wish.
Later and Anytime
- Falls Church Homeless Shelter (217 Gordon Road) opens on November 15th and needs volunteers for November 21, 22, 23, and 24 and many other dates. Volunteers come in to help with shelter operations from 5:45 pm to midnight. The primary duties are to serve dinner to the residents, store leftovers, make sure that the areas are in good order and to assist the full time staff in other areas as needed. Contact Robyn Stewart at Robyn@fallschurchshelterfriends.org to sign up. There are also many other flexible ways to support the FCHS – preparing bagged lunches or dinners, donating food supplies. http://www.fallschurchshelterfriends.org/volunteer/
- Hope NoVA (610 Park Ave) supports women in crisis pregnancies. They are collecting unwrapped gifts for the holidays before December 10th and have other volunteer opportunities in sorting clothes, cleaning items. http://www.hopeinnova.org/volunteer.html
- Spend Yourself Food Pantry at Columbia Baptist in Baileys Crossroads – Saturday mornings from 830 am to 1215 pm. Learn more and sign up here: http://columbiabaptist.org/foodpantry
- Homestretch – Helping homeless families get back on their feet and find permanent housing, right here in Falls Church. Donations are needed and volunteers are also welcome. http://www.homestretch.org/donations-equipment-supplies-furniture.htm
- A is for Africa Shoe Drive (701 Jackson) – cleaning out your closets? A local Falls Church City family is running a shoe drive that benefits children in Tanzania. Shoes in any sizes and any condition are welcome to be dropped off at 701 Jackson. Learn more about A is for Africa.
- Other volunteering opportunities are available through Falls Church City government: including being a mentor at the Aurora House or a bingo caller at the Community Center for seniors on Wednesdays. Find the list here: http://www.fallschurchva.gov/352/Volunteer-Internship-Opportunities