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Donations Sought for School Supplies and Backpack Drive

Fairfax County Public Schools has partnered with Collect for Kids, an umbrella organization for an annual school supply and backpack drive.

Donations are requested for the drive, which will provide supplies for students who qualify for free and reduced-price meals. Around 55,000 county students qualify for the program.

There are two ways to support the drive. Monetary donations are being collected online in order to purchase supply kits in bulk. Backpack donations can be dropped off at any Apple Federal Credit Union location in Fairfax County, Cornerstones, Britepaths and Western Fairfax Christian Ministries.

Monetary donations are accepted year-round and backpacks are accepted through August.

For more information, contact Kathy Ryan at 571-423-1206 or [email protected].

Photo by Cornerstones

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First-Ever Reston Pride Festival to Celebrate Local LGBTQ Community

The Unitarian Universalist Church in Reston is sponsoring the first-ever Reston Pride Festival on June 2 from 2-6 p.m.

The family-friendly, alcohol-free event aims to support and celebrate Reston’s LGBTQ community, said the Rev. Debra Haffner, a minister at UUCR.

Her son, Greg Tartaglione, will emcee and perform as Mama Celeste, a drag performance artist, at the festival. Mama Celeste will also host Oakland’s first drag festival this month.

As someone new to Reston, I was surprised to discover that despite Reston’s founding commitment to diversity and inclusion, there had never been a Pride festival in Reston. I am delighted by the enthusiastic response and support we are receiving for Reston Pride, often from groups and organizations that have never spoken out before on LGBTQ issues,” Haffner said.

The festival, which takes place at UUCR, includes more than 10 performers, presentations by area political and faith leaders, exhibits, booths, food, and music.

Reston Community Players will perform “Rock the Ages and “Hairspray” at the festival. State Del. Ken Plum and state Sen. Janet Howell will speak alongside Lisa Merkel, the mayor of the Town of Herndon.

Eighteen cosponsors are supporting the event, including six churches and synagogues,  Cornerstones and the YMCA.

To volunteer, email [email protected]. The complete program is available online.

Photo via Myers Public Relations

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Contributions Sought for Winter Coat Closet This Month

The Hunter Mill District Supervisor’s Office (1801 Cameron Glen Drive) will be collecting winter coats and cold weather items for the annual Winter Coat Closet drive this month.

Donations will be accepted through Jan. 31 at the office. Acceptable donations include new or clean, gently used men’s, women’s and children’s coats, hats, gloves and scarves.

The closet will remain open through March 8 in the community room of the North County Government Center (1801 Cameron Glen Drive) on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons from 4 to 7 p.m.

The drive is in partnership with Cornerstones, a non-profit organization that promotes self-sufficiency by providing support and advocacy for people in need of shelter, affordable housing, food, childcare and other services.

For more information, contact Andy Sigle at 571-323-9553.  

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As Temperatures Dip, Local Shelter Offers Additional Shelter Services

As temperatures dip and the risk of hypothermia increases, local cold weather and hypothermia prevention programs are coming into full swing.

Beginning this month, all three of Fairfax County’s emergency centers that serve single adults instituted a “no turn-away policy.” Through March 31, the North County Human Services Building on 1850 Cameron Glen Drive will be open to individuals through the hypothermia prevention program.

Additional sleeping space will also be available at the Cornerstones’ Embry Rucker Community Shelter, a 70-bed residential shelter, throughout the winter season. Services include hot dinner, breakfast, bagged lunches, showers, laundry, bus tokens and basic self-care supplies.

On Wednesdays from 3 to 5 p.m., the organization will also provide employment services at the main shelter. The shelter, which opened in 1987, has 42 beds for families, 28 beds for unaccompanied adults and 10 beds for cold weather overflow.

If an unsheltered individual is seen at night who may be at risk of hypothermia, the Fairfax County non-emergency phone line accepts calls at 703-691-2131. Emergency personnel will determine the shelter most suitable for the individual as needed.

For more information, contact Cornerstones at [email protected] or [email protected] 

To volunteer or donate, please contact Susan Alger at [email protected].

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Nominations Open for 2018 Cornerstones of Our Community: Best of Reston Awards

Nominations are now being accepted for the 2018 Cornerstones of Our Community: Best of Reston Awards, presented by Cornerstones and the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce. Nomination forms are due by 5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 3.

According to information provided by Cornerstones:

Awardees will be selected for working selflessly without consideration of recognition to improve communities served by Cornerstones and the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce. Nomination applications can be found at www.cornerstonesva.org/BOR. Finalist selections and notifications will be completed by early January 2018.

In 2018, finalists will not be broken into categories, as they have been in previous years. Rather, they will be recognized collectively as “Best of Reston Finalists.” According to Cornerstones, this will enable them “to consider the merits and diversity of community service, volunteerism and/or philanthropy, whether demonstrating an immediate impact or sustained over a period of time, without the restrictions of being defined by a category.”

The 2017 awards event raised more than $515,000 for Cornerstones, in support of the organization’s strategies of starting individuals on a pathway to sustainable living-wage employment, and to identify and address other barriers to move from surviving to living prosperous, healthy lives. Highlights from last year’s event are available at Cornerstones’ website.

The awards have been given out each year since 1992.

The 2018 ceremony will be held Thursday, April 12 at the Hyatt Regency Reston (1800 Presidents St.).

Anyone with questions about the nomination or selection process can contact to Likitta Crawley at [email protected] or by calling 571-323-9570.

Image from 2017 Best of Reston Awards courtesy Chip McCrea Photography

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‘Back 2 School Bash’ on Saturday Designed to Help Kids Get Ready for Fall

An event this weekend will help get kids ready for that dreaded time of year — the end of summer and the return to the classroom.

The “Back 2 School Bash” is an opportunity for families to receive important information to help prepare children of all ages and grades for the coming school year. Students and parents will have the chance to learn about resources, programs and services provided by community agencies and partnerships that will help with the transition.

The free event will feature local schools, government and nonprofit providers of services, resources and activities for Reston community members. It is co-sponsored by Fairfax County Public Schools, Cornerstones, Reston Community Center, YMCA Fairfax County Reston, and Fairfax County Neighborhood and Community Service.

The event is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at South Lakes High School (11400 South Lakes Drive).

Due to construction at the high school that is limiting parking, Fairfax Connector is offering free shuttles to the event. One shuttle will run between Dogwood Elementary and SLHS, and a second will run from Forest Edge Elementary School to Lake Anne Elementary School to SLHS. The first pick from Dogwood and Forest Edge will be at 10:45 a.m.

For more information, contact LaTanja Jones, collaboration and outreach director at Reston Community Center, by calling 703-390-6158 or emailing [email protected]. You can also follow the event’s Facebook page.

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Backpack Drive Allows Any Student Who Needs One to Get One

The school year in Fairfax County isn’t quite over yet, but schools are already looking forward to the generosity of the community to help equip students next year.

John Torre, Fairfax County Public Schools spokesperson, said schools involved in the Cornerstones Back to School Drive look forward to being able to provide backpacks and other supplies to any students that need them.

Cornerstones provides services for lower income families in the southwestern Fairfax County. The backpack drive is part of a partnership with Kids R First to provide the supplies to Reston-Herndon area students who qualify for free and reduced meals at school.

“The number of backpacks requested does not always match directly with the number of students in the free and reduced-price meals program because backpacks typically last for more than one year,” Torre said. “Students do have the option to not accept the donated item. The staff member may ask for a few extras to keep on hand for new students or as replacements for a worn-out item.”

Cornerstones community resource associate Nate King said that even though the official drive doesn’t start until August, donations are already coming in.

“It’s going really well, we have probably 50 backpacks already donated out of what we need,” said King.

Cornerstones is still waiting to get a quote from the schools to determine the exact number of backpacks they’ll need for this year, although they believe it will match last year’s number, 3,500.

“The basic idea behind the backpack program is that if a student needs one, they get one,” Torre said. “Of course, [that] depends on the generosity of the donors.”

In addition to backpacks, Cornerstones is accepting donations for underwear for elementary school aged kids and Payless ShoeSource gift card donations of $25.

Those interested in donating can register online or order bags online and have them shipped to the Cornerstones (11150 Sunset Hills Road, Suite 210) directly from Amazon for free.

For more information about the drive, call King at 571-323-9569 or email [email protected].

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Cornerstones Again Collecting Backpacks for Thousands of Students

Cornerstones is once again gearing up to collect thousands of backpacks to give out to students at local schools.

The annual drive is a partnership between Cornerstones and Kids R First. Nate King, community resource associate for Cornerstones, said the program collected about 3,500 backpacks last year and is aiming for the same number this year.

“We generally get a really good turnout,” King said. “It’s a combination of individuals, religious groups and businesses that help us out.”

Anyone wishing to participate in the drive is asked to register online to let Cornerstones know how many backpacks they or their group will be donating. Backpacks are being collected for elementary, middle school and high school students, with the high schoolers being the age of the greatest need.

Backpacks can be delivered to Cornerstones (11150 Sunset Hills Road, Suite 210) the week of Aug. 7-11. Volunteers will sort them out by schools, colors and sizes in the week that follows, and they will be distributed to the schools the week after that.

In addition to backpacks, Cornerstones is also requesting donations of new underwear for elementary school-age children, and Payless ShoeSource gift card donations of $25.

Donations go to all schools in the greater Reston-Herndon area, King said.

For more information about the drive, call King at 571-323-9569 or email [email protected].

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Reston Comes Up Big in Virginia Living’s Annual Best of Virginia Awards

Reston businesses, services and events were the recipients of nearly two dozen honors in Virginia Living magazine’s 2017 Best of Virginia awards.

According to the Eden Stuart, the magazine’s assistant editor, the awards issue, which is on newsstands today, is a “statewide guide to all that is ‘best’ in Virginia — from dining to shopping to doing.” More than 50,000 ballots were cast in a reader survey to find the honorees in 106 categories, Stuart said.

Lake Anne Plaza was particularly honored, with five businesses selected as being among the best of the best in the Northern Virginia region. Those winners include Lake Anne Brew House (first place, Best Local Craft Brewery); Lake Anne Coffee House and Wine Bar (first place, Best Locally Owned Coffee Shop); Reston’s Used Book Shop (second place, Best Book Store); Small Change Consignments (first place, Best Children’s Clothing Store; second place, Best Consignment Shop); and Chesapeake Chocolates, Wine, Gifts and More (third place, Best Chocolatier).

“Please join us in saying congrats to these awesome Plaza merchants,” reads a post on Lake Anne Plaza’s Facebook page celebrating the honors.

In addition, the Reston Farmers Market at Lake Anne Plaza was honored with a second-place award for Best Farmers Market.

The full list of honorees from Reston in the 2017 Best of Virginia awards are:

FIRST-PLACE HONOREES

Taste of Reston
Best Food Festival

Edibles Incredible Desserts (11917 Freedom Drive)
Best Bakery
Best Chocolatier
Best Dessert Menu

Bacon N’ Ed’s
Best Food Truck

Lake Anne Brew House (11424 Washington Plaza W.)
Best Local Craft Brewery

Lake Anne Coffee House and Wine Bar (1612 Washington Plaza N.)
Best Locally Owned Coffee Shop

Life Time Fitness (1757 Business Center Drive)
Best Gym

CST Group (10740 Parkridge Blvd.)
Best Accounting Firm

Small Change Consignments (1629 Washington Plaza N.)
Best Children’s Clothing Store

Austin-Weston, The Center for Plastic Surgery (1825 Samuel Morse Drive)
Best Cosmetic Surgery Practice

The Eyewear Gallery at Reston Town Center (11900 Market St.)
Best Eye Care Provider

Miye Wire LLC (1818 Library St.)
Best Financial Planning Firm

AKG Design Studio
Best Kitchen Design Firm

Davelle Clothiers (11921 Freedom Drive)
Best Men’s Clothing Store

Virginia Therapy & Fitness Center (1831 Wiehle Ave.)
Best Physical Therapy Group

SECOND-PLACE HONOREES

Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival
Best Art Event

Cornerstones
Best Charity

Reston Farmers Market
Best Farmers Market

Small Change Consignments (1629 Washington Plaza N.)
Best Consignment Shop

Reston’s Used Book Shop (1623 Washington Plaza N.)
Best Book Store

THIRD-PLACE HONOREES

Chesapeake Chocolates, Wine, Gifts and More (11426 Washington Plaza W.)
Best Chocolatier

Trader Joe’s (11958 Killingsworth Ave.)
Best Grocery Store

The Wine Cabinet (1416 North Point Village Center)
Best Wine Shop

Image courtesy Virginia Living magazine

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Community’s Top Contributors Honored at ‘Best of Reston’ Ceremony

The community’s best were honored Thursday evening during the 26th annual Best of Reston Awards Gala, a partnership between Cornerstones and the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce.

Twenty-two finalists for the awards were announced earlier this year, and honorees at the gala included:

  • Small Business Leader Award: The CST Group
  • Civic/Community Organization Awards: Women Giving Back, Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts
  • Large Business Service Award: Odin, Feldman and Pittleman, P.C.
  • Individual Community Leader Award: Bill Keefe
  • Family Service Award: Vincent and Gillian Sescoe

In addition, the Vade Bolton-Ann Rodriguez Legacy Award, presented for only the third time since its inception, went to Herb Williams-Baffoe. According to Cornerstones, the award “honors acts of volunteerism and leadership that motivate and inspire a new generation of leaders and create a legacy of service. Herb was recognized because he inspires us all, and shows the power of believing in our youth and what that does for their self-belief.”

The Robert E. Simon Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Vicky Wingert “for her lifetime commitment to Reston values, for cementing the legacy of Bob Simon and for capturing the history and future of Reston,” according to Cornerstones.

A check for more than $515,000, representing funds raised through this year’s Best of Reston, was presented to Cornerstones to support the organization’s strategies of starting individuals on a pathway to sustainable living-wage employment, and to identify and address other barriers to move from surviving to living prosperous, healthy lives.

“Cornerstones counts on your support of its work to stabilize those who are struggling, empower those who may not have a voice, and bring hope to our community,” said Charlene Wheeless, Bechtel principal vice president and a 2016 Best of Reston honoree who co-chaired the event along with Doug Bushee. “Now more than ever we need organizations who work to ensure everyone has access to food, shelter and opportunities for a stronger future.”

Kerrie Wilson, Cornerstones CEO, said community support has helped the organization made great strides toward curtailing homelessness.

“We believe that our job is to end homelessness — not just manage it — by developing housing that is affordable for people over their lifetime,” Wilson said. “We are so grateful for the incredible support that helps Cornerstones and its partners to reduce homelessness in our community by 47 percent in the past eight years.”

For more photos from Thursday evening’s gala, visit photographer Chip McCrea’s website.

Photos courtesy Chip McCrea Photography

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Town Center to Host Opportunity Neighborhood Fundraisers in March

Reston Town Center logoReston Town Center will host family-friendly events each Saturday in March, to benefit Opportunity Neighborhood: Reston.

The first such event is scheduled for March 4, from 1-4 p.m., and will include free rides on a vintage carousel, free s’mores and hot chocolate, and a performance by the Fairfax Jubil-Aires.

Future events, according to information provided by Town Center owners Boston Properties, will feature complimentary music, pet adoption, balloon artists, carriage rides, funnel cakes, RTC mascot “Resty the Dog,” mini train rides, caricature artists and more.

Opportunity Neighborhood: Reston began in October. It is part of a countywide movement that aims to identify areas of need and provide resources that will allow all children to gain a strong academic foundation, family resilience, and a culture of engagement and success. It was developed and launched by planning partners including Cornerstones, Leadership Fairfax, Reston Association, Reston Community Center, YMCA Reston/Fairfax County, Fairfax County Public Schools and various county departments.

“Opportunity Neighborhood: Reston (RestON) is about community partners working together to foster the health and wellbeing of the next generation. We are grateful to Boston Properties for choosing to support RestON through their March weekend family events at Reston Town Center,” said Toni Francis-Bowie, director of Opportunity Neighborhoods. “When we invest wisely in children and families, the next generation will pay that back through a lifetime of productivity and responsible citizenship.”

For additional information about Opportunity Neighborhood: Reston and these upcoming events at Reston Town Center, contact Cornerstones CEO Kerrie Wilson at 571-323-9571 or [email protected].

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Finalists Announced for 2017 Best of Reston Awards

In a break from previous tradition, 22 finalists for the 2017 Best of Reston Awards were announced Thursday night. In past years, only the winners have been honored.

According to Cornerstones, which puts on the awards along with the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce, the new process serves to recognize the importance of the “many fine people, businesses and organizations involved in giving back in greater Reston/Dulles corridor.”

“At a time of uncertainty and change in our nation, the Best of Reston Community Service Awards serve as a powerful reminder that there is so much that unites us,” said Kerrie Wilson, CEO of Cornerstones. “This new approach to the awards was recommended as a way to lift up those who are bringing our community together, and affirms principles of service that are core to the work of Cornerstones and the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce.”

Nominees for the awards are as follows:

INDIVIDUAL OR FAMILY SERVICE

  • Robert Goudie
  • Vernon and Kathy Joyner
  • Bill Keefe
  • Shreya Papneja
  • Maggie Parker
  • Bob Schnapp
  • Vincent and Gillian Sescoe
  • Herb Williams-Baffoe

CIVIC AND COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT, VOLUNTEERISM THROUGH NONPROFIT SERVICE

  • Herndon Community Leo Club Youth
  • Omicron Kappa Kappa
  • The Reston Chorale
  • Touching Heart
  • Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts
  • Women Giving Back

LARGE BUSINESS

  • JK Moving Services
  • Navient
  • Odin, Feldman and Pittleman, P.C.
  • SOSi

EMPLOYEE-OWNED AND SMALL BUSINESS

  • SpeedPro Imaging Northern Virginia
  • Storycatcher Productions
  • Synergy Design & Construction
  • The CST Group

Up to two awardees will be selected from each category and will be honored April 6. Proceeds from the celebration benefit the programs and people served by Cornerstones.

Mark Ingrao, president and CEO of the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce, said the candidates are all vital parts of the community.

“We believe that service is a cornerstone of any thriving community, and this event… says it all,” he said. “Through their volunteerism and philanthropy, the past Best of Reston honorees and the candidates for the 2017 Awards work throughout the greater Reston and Dulles corridor region to make it a stronger community.”

Leidos, which hosted Thursday night’s reception, has partnered with cornerstones as the Annual Champion Partner. The company presented Cornerstones with a $100,000 check during the event.

“It is our hope that this support will be a beacon and spread the light of the good work Cornerstones does on behalf of Reston and beyond,” said Melissa Koskovich, Leidos senior vice president and marketing director. “Partnering with Cornerstones, who empowers people in our community to become self-sufficient, allows us to have a lasting impact in Reston and the greater Dulles Corridor.”

For more information about the awards, visit Cornerstones online.

Photos courtesy Chip McCrea Photography

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Capitol Steps Fundraiser Nets Nearly $300K for Community Shelter

2017 Capitol Steps fundraiser/Chip McCrea Photography

The 34th annual Capitol Steps fundraiser performance Sunday raised nearly $300,000 for Cornerstones, to help families in the Embry Rucker Community Shelter.

Capitol Steps, a D.C.-based political satire troupe, puts on the benefit show each year. More than 600 people attended the event Sunday night at the Hyatt Regency Reston.

“We are thrilled to see a full house, especially after this year in politics,” said Sarah Leonard, chair of Cornerstones’ Board of Directors. “You help Cornerstones accomplish our mission to encourage stability, empowerment and hope. It takes thousands to help within our connected community and for each of you we are grateful.”

At the end of the night, a total of $294,697 had been raised for the cause. According to information provided by Cornerstones, that money will be used “to meet critical needs of those in the [Embry Rucker] shelter as they progress toward affordable housing.”

Since 1970, Cornerstones has reached out to 250,000 neighbors in need, helping them overcome tough economic times in an already high cost-of-living region. Through advocacy and support services, it connects its clients to the resources they need to help build more stable families and self-sufficient lives. It also strives to provide a comprehensive array of programs that solve urgent or on-going requirements for housing, childcare, food or financial assistance.

Photo courtesy Chip McCrea Photography

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Capitol Steps Returning to Reston for 34th Cornerstones Benefit

Capitol Steps 2016/Credit:Chip McCrea

No matter where you find yourself on the political landscape, there is always something to lampoon. The current state of politics in the nation leaves no shortage of targets.

Political satire troupe Capitol Steps will be in Reston once again this month to throw their barbs at those targets, all to benefit a good cause.

For the 34th straight year, the D.C.-based group will perform here to benefit Cornerstones. This year’s event is scheduled for Sunday, Jan. 29 at 6 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency Reston (1800 Presidents Street).

Tickets for the show are $100, with full tables and sponsorship opportunities also available.

Proceeds from the performance will benefit Cornerstones’ efforts to provide affordable housing, emergency shelter, food, financial assistance, childcare and other essential resources to individuals and families in need. Last year’s show raised over $230,000 for those efforts.

Photo via Chip McCrea Photography

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Monday Morning Notes

Bronze Bob in winter

‘Best of Reston’ Applications Due Today — Nominees for the 2017 Best of Reston Community Service Awards, sponsored by Cornerstones and the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce, must be submitted by 5 p.m. today. The awards will be presented Thursday, April 6. [Cornerstones]

Cybersecurity Company May Make Passwords Obsolete — Daon Corporation, based in Reston, is working on technology that would allow for unique human factors such as voice and face structure to take over for passwords in smartphones and beyond. [WJLA]

Reston Women Collecting Hats for D.C. March — Carrie and Molly McKnight have made their home the collection point for pink knitted hats. The hats will be worn by thousands participating in the Women’s March on Washington on Jan. 21. [WUSA]

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