Op-Ed: Thanksgiving and Empathy in Reston

Lake Anne Fellowship House This is an Op-Ed by Connie Hartke of Reston Citizens Association. Have something to say? Send us a letter at [email protected].

This is the week Americans are expected to especially count our blessings.

It is a time for family. For some, their community is their family. Several of us at RCA have gotten to know residents at Lake Anne Fellowship House (LAFH), the senior, low-income apartments that went through turmoil recently due to proposed redevelopment.

This has taken a recent good turn of events — more news to come on that soon, we expect. The cultural subgroups that live there have united into a vibrant community with the goal of ensuring that no one will lose their home. Those who were “safe” united with those who were threatened, creating community. Empathy was the catalyst.

Empathy. Merriam-Webster defines this as “the feeling that you understand and share another person’s experiences and emotions: the ability to share someone else’s feelings.”

While counting your blessings this Thanksgiving, please take a few moments to imagine you are a senior who has lived at LAFH for 10+ years after living as a contributing Restonian for 30+ years. You are told that your home may not be the permanent place that you had expected. Putting aside other thoughts, can you fathom how you would feel if you were faced with this situation? Empathize.

Now imagine for a moment that you purchased a home on Reston National Golf Course. Picture your view changing from rolling greens surrounded by edge habitat to anything else. I say “anything” because many like to speculate how the land could change to this or that … I ask you to EMPATHIZE.  Take five minutes to imagine this is YOU. Personally.

RCA, along with Reston Association and Hunter Mill Supervisor Cathy Hudgins, supports our Fairfax County Zoning Administrator’s determination that the privately owned 166 acres of Reston National Golf Course is zoned as permanent open recreational space. Developers coming in to Reston need to hear one message loud and clear — respect our Reston Master Plan.

On Thanksgiving, I will take a few moments to think about the folks at LAFH and hope for continued blessings for them. I will be thankful for our County Planning staff who added wording to the Master Plan to strengthen the place of both of our Reston golf courses. I will be grateful for the army of volunteers who live in this special place called Reston.

Please read Rescue Reston volunteer Ray Wedell’s stirring call to action regarding Reston’s latest recreational open space crisis.

Lake Anne Fellowship House/File Photo

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