Reston, VA

Since COVID-19 has negatively impacted community members, Community Foundation for Northern Virginia recently awarded $1.5 million in grants to 70 regional non-profits around the Northern Virginia region, including Reston and Herndon.

So far, four rounds of grants have been given out to the non-profits and a fifth-round is currently under review. Reston based non-profit Cornerstones, received $15,000 in the first phase of the grant which will go towards promoting “self-sufficiency by providing support and advocacy for those in need of food, shelter, affordable housing, quality childcare, and other human services,” according to the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority.

In round two, Herndon-Reston FISH, which assists local residents in crisis, was granted another $15,ooo, the page said. FISH, which is short for Friendly Instant Sympathetic Help, assists low-income families and individuals by helping to pay utilities, offering personal finance classes, and assisting with medications and health, its website said.

“The Community Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Fund…is built to help carry the heaviest burdens for those who can’t do this alone — or can’t do this alone anymore,” Eileen Ellsworth, president, and CEO of the CFNV said. ‘Those for whom future planning is a luxury because today’s needs have overthrown it. Those who are suffering the most with the least wherewithal to weather the storm.”

Photo via Cornerstones/ Facebook

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To examine the next steps in community recovery and look toward the future after COVID-19, Cornerstones hosted a virtual town hall earlier this week with Fairfax County officials.

As a Reston non-profit organization, Cornerstones helps community members in need of things like food and housing, they work with leaders around the community to achieve mutual goals like One Fairfax.

Officials from the Fairfax County School Board and members of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors reflected on the economic downturn, consequences for affordable housing and social programs, assistance for those struggling with homelessness, and new resources for students.

Housing

Among some of the largest changes for the board of supervisors, were the cuts to the upcoming fiscal budget, according to Drainsville District Supervisor John Foust.

“The thing that hurt me the most was, as chairman of the housing committee, we had originally planned to put an additional $25 million into the housing fund,” he said.

Many low-income workers, who have been already been hit-hard by COVID will continue to struggle if there isn’t affordable housing available for them, agreed Walter Alcorn and John Foust.

Along the Silver line in Tysons and Reston, Foust said that he and his team are working to lower the income level requirements for workforce housing so more people can afford to live in the area in which they work.

When COVID- 19 shut down the local libraries and other public spaces, Alcon said that this caused the homeless population to become more visible to the public and institutions which aim to help them.

“It made visible a problem our library had been shielding for many, many years,” he said.

Alcorn wants to work with Cornerstones to provide daytime services for homeless people that will allow them to empower themselves and become self-sufficient.

It might take longer to accomplish certain programs but it all depends on priorities, he said. “A priority for me is making sure that our homeless shelter is rebuilt and our library is as well.”

Education and Student Support

For students at-risk students, many of which qualify for free and reduced lunches, the FCPS has instituted a plan to bring in 10 new social workers and a few special education teachers, according to Melanie Meren, the school board representative for the Hunter Mill District.

When the pandemic caused school closures earlier this year, FCPS “nutrition staff began rerouting food supplies and began a very robust program to distribute food,” Elaine Tholen, Drainsville FCPS Board Member said, that county busses were actually dropping food off to disadvantage families at regularly scheduled bus routes.

Until this point, FCPS served around 1.2 million meals and delivered 22,000 laptops to students, according to Tholen.

Going forward, Tholen said that FCPS will be working with teams of bilingual teachers and parent liaisons to ensure that every student has the resources they need to be successful in distance learning.

“We understand that this individualized care is so important,” she said.

Still, county and school board officials remain optimistic about the road ahead.

“When the pandemic first started hitting our community, we really saw a lot of people step up and ask how they could help,” Alcorn said.”We were able to connect a lot of those folks with organizations with Cornerstones.”

Alcorn also noted that he finds it hopeful to see how many people around town who have come out in support of the Black Lives Matter movement after George Floyd’s murder.

“I’ve been to a number of marches and demonstrations within the last week. The feeling is positive without exception,” he said.

Photo via Element5 Digital/Unsplash

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A local nonprofit organization will host a town hall with Fairfax County officials to discuss issues of resilience and recovery as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cornerstones has planned the virtual event for Monday, June 8 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn and Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust are signed on as panelists, as well as Fairfax County Public Schools’ board members Melanie Meren (Hunter Mill District) and Elaine Tholen (Dranesville District).

Residents are invited to join the conversation about the county’s plans to rebuild economic stability and ensure the most vulnerable residents have the resources they need to regain independence and security.

The following topics will be discussed:

  • Affordable housing
  • Extending tenant rights through recovery
  • Family resiliency and sustainability after the crisis
  • Learning loss and the digital divide
  • Getting back to work and a living wage
  • Opportunity Fairfax and the COVID-19 divide

The facilitators are Casey Veath, principal of Veatch Commercial Real Estate; Tracey White, Vice President of Reston Hospital Center; and Kerrie Wilson, CEO of Cornerstones.

Members of the public can email their questions for consideration to [email protected]stonesva.org. Submissions must be received by Friday, June 5.

The meeting will take place via Zoom. Participants can register online.

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(This story was updated to clarify that Reston Strong is an ongoing effort).

Several community organizations are banding together to power a no-contact donation drive in Reston.

Reston Strong, the name of the community-based action group, and the CORE Foundation, a local nonprofit organization, are collecting donations at various storage pods in the area. Community partners include Cornerstones, Helping Hungry Kids, Reston Hospital Center, and the CORE Foundation.

The no-contact storage pods were donated by UNITS, a national moving and portable storage company. Residents can drop off requested items at the pods. The locations are below:

  • Cornerstones (11484 Washington Plaza West): Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • YMCA Reston (12196 Sunset Hills Road): Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • South Lakes Village Center, near Safeway (11120 South Lakes Drive): Wednesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • North Point Village Center (1452 Reston Parkway): Wednesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

All the collected items will be donated to CornerstonesReston Hospital Center and Helping Hungry Kids — which support people within the Reston community who are in need of assistance.

Individuals interested in helping manage the project at specific sites can sign up online but must abide by safety rules and precautions. Volunteer slots are available through May 31.

Ashley Hopko and Fatimah Waseem contributed reporting.

Photo via Reston Strong/Facebook

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Restonians broke from a 16-year-long tradition of celebrating Founder’s Day at Lake Anne Plaza this year.

With social distancing guidelines and a stay-at-home order in effect, the Reston Historic Trust & Museum encouraged residents to find ways to celebrate the birthday of Reston’s founder Bob Simon and the community’s founding.

Alexandra Campbell, the director of the trust and museum, said she was glad the community was able to find embody one of Reston’s founding principles — to live, work and play in the neighborhood — in a new but truly Restonian way.

“While we are sad we could not hold this event on the plaza and could not connect with the community face to face, it has been a reminder that we can enjoy Reston’s history every day in our own homes. The community reflected and celebrated Reston’s unique history with us in a variety of ways,” Campbell said.

Nonetheless, residents submitted videos uploaded social media posts showing how they celebrated Founder’s Day from home.

Foley Academy of Irish Dance, which was scheduled to perform during Founder’s Day, shared a performance from members at home.

Kristina Alcorn, author of “In His Own Words,” shared memories of her book project and friendship with Simon.

Reston Community Center also encouraged residents to enjoy a film created by Rebekah Wingert of Storycatcher Productions for Simon’s memorial in April 2016. The film was commissioned by Reston Community Center.

Nonprofit organization Cornerstones — which has been on the frontline of offering financial assistance and resources to people affected b yCOVID-10 — also wrote the following about Founder’s Day:

When Robert Simon founded Reston in 1964, his pioneering vision helped create a compassionate, thriving, and equitable community where everyone could live and work. Today, during this unprecedented economic and health crisis, our community’s resiliency and generosity remains a shining example of his legacy. We are proud to join the Reston Museum in celebrating Founder’s Day and thanking the many individuals, faith-based organizations, and community partners who have supported Cornerstones over the past 50 years. Our continued work together will help sustain neighbors hurting today and begin rebuilding stability, empowerment, and hope so everyone has a bright, healthy future in our community If you know someone who needs a hand-up, please encourage them to contact us at 571.323.9555 or visit cornerstonesva.org. We are ready to help!

Chuck Veatch, founding and current band member of the Reston Historic Trust & Museum, described this year’s founder’s day as the “most unusual” in Reston’s history. He encourages Rsetonians to continue to take part in celebrating the day.

This is our 17th Founder’s Day and marks my 56th year living working playing and or serving in Reston. I will miss welcoming everyone in person to Founder’s Day this year but really want to see how each of us celebrates in this the most unusual Founder’s Day in our history.”

Photo via YouTube

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Instead of our typical Friday roundup of events, we’ve included ways that you can give from the comfort of your home or vehicle as the COVID-19 crisis continues to unfold in the county, country and around the world.

Below is a list of a few local initiatives and organizations that are seeking funds and donations. If you have other suggestions, feel free to shoot us an email at [email protected].

The Community Foundation for Northern Virginia has launched a COVID-19 fund that aims to provide “flexible funding resources” for nonprofit organizations and other programs in the area. The fund primarily helps those impacted by the virus and its economic consequences.

In addition to funds, Cornerstones, a local nonprofit organization, has an Amazon wishlist for its Reston food pantry. The list is available online. If items are not available for shipment, Cornerstones encourages residents to find another distributed to get the items to the organization. Residents can also drop-off donations at 11484 Washington Plaza-W, Suite 120. Items that are needed include gift cards for grocery stores, gas station, and fast food restaurants; rice; beans; lentils; cooking oil; oatmeal; eggs; milk; Clorox wipes; disinfectants; spray bottles; and paper towels.

The Embry Rucker Community Shelter is also looking for essential items like underwear, shampoo and clothing online.

With school buildings closed, the South Lakes High School Pantry is also seeking donations online. The pantry is seeking items like pasta sauce, canned tomatoes, pasta, dry rice, beans, cereal, oil, granola bars, bar soap, toilet paper, toothbrushes, toothpaste and maxi pads.

Fellowship Square is looking for volunteers to help with food delivery to low-income seniors at Lake Anne and Hunters Woods Fellowship Houses. Guidelines, which are in accordance with State Gov. Ralph Northam’s stay-at-home-order are available online.

Herndon-Reston FISH, which stands for Friendly Instant Sympathetic Help, is also collecting donations. The Herndon Neighborhood Resource Center (1086 Elden Street) and Connections for Hope Partnership (1141 Elden Street) are looking for cleaning products like bleach, Clorox wipes, spray bottles and paper towels. Both programs are operated under Cornerstones.

At Reston Hospital Center, residents can donate blood through the American Red Cross or make a financial contribution to HCA’s Hope Fund. The hospital is not currently accepting homemade masks.

Residents can also check in with the county’s Neighbor to Neighbor Program to help neighbors with services like grocery deliveries and check-in phone calls.

LINK, a volunteer-based Christian organization that offers emergency food to families in Reston, Herndon and Ashburn, is also seeking items via an Amazon wishlist.

Photo via SLHS Food Pantry/Facebook

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UPDATED at 2 p.m. — Tysons Reporter received new information from area hospitals about current needs and shortages. At this time, area hospitals are NOT in need of homemade medical masks, according to the spokesperson from Reston Hospital Center

A Reston father and his two sons teamed up to make a group to help people who could be severely impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak.

After feeling bored in self-isolation, Colin, Hayden and their dad, Ray Whitney, researched how they could best assist their community and discovered a group called Caremongers out of Canada. After some guidance from its volunteers, the trio founded one of their own chapters for the Reston community.

Caremongers Reston VA is a group that writes letters and shares ideas with others on how to help and delivers groceries or medicine to people around the area who are elderly or immuno-compromised, according to Ray.

Ray said he founded the Facebook page for the group around March 18, and already, the group has helped roughly 40 people — and continues to grow its outreach efforts through a partnership with the United Christian Parish Reston, where the family attends services.

“Right now it’s really just me and my sons trying to push things through and get things set up,” Ray said.

The group said they were able to write a letter to a 100-year-old WWII veteran who celebrated his birthday on Sunday (March 22) without a group of friends due to health concerns.

Currently, Ray said Caremongers Reston isn’t accepting donations.

“This is a unique opportunity for everybody to help,” according to Ray, who added that everyone is in a position to do something, even if it’s digitally reaching out to someone who might feel lonely in self-isolation or quarantine.

For people posting on social media, the group is using the hashtag #SpreadLoveNotCOVID19 to promote thoughtfulness during this time. 

To protect themselves, the family is ensuring that they wear gloves during curbside deliveries, leaving the house only when they have to and making sure to practice social distancing — i.e. keeping 6 feet away from people — when they are out, Ray said.

Ray added that they are trying to be cautious but not fearful.

For kids, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that not every child will react the same way to stress from the pandemic and suggests that parents share facts with their kids and reassure them that they will be safe.

Colin is a 4th-grade student at Lake Anne Elementary and Ray said he is simply excited to be helping his community and that he seems to be handling everything okay. Hayden is currently a 9th-grade student at South Lakes High School.

“We are really proud of the fact he wants to step up and help people,” Ray said.

Photo courtesy Ray Whitney 

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Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn is encouraging residents to give back to their communities as growing concerns about the coronavirus prompt event cancellations and working remotely.

Alcorn, who represents Vienna and Reston on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, took to social media last week to let local organizations and nonprofits know that his office wants to connect them to volunteers and needed assistance.

“Whenever we have the opportunity to step up and help, we should,” Alcorn said. “There’s a lot of concern in the community.”

As of Sunday, March 15, the Virginia Department of Health says there are 10 presumptive cases of COVID-19 in Fairfax County — a number that officials say is expected to grow.

Alcorn said that local organizations are expecting higher demands for food and assistance, especially from people who work in the service industries who have limited or no sick leave and for seniors, who are at a higher risk of getting more severely ill from the virus.

“The anxiety level, particularly for seniors, is very high,” he said, noting that there is a “sizable” elderly community in the Hunter Mill District. “I think we can do a lot as we get through this public health challenge by reaching out to our more vulnerable communities and our neighbors and let them know that we care.”

By Friday (March 13), Alcorn’s office had created a “How to Help Your Neighbors” list on the Hunter Mill District page on the Fairfax County website.

“Locally, specifically in Hunter Mill, we’re focusing on giving folks something to do,” he said, adding that his office is helping to connect people who want to help with organizations that need extra volunteers.

Expecting a higher demand for underresourced families, Cornerstones, a local nonprofit organization that aims to promote self-sufficiency, is looking for donations to help with meal delivery and its food pantry.

Embry Rucker Community Shelter, which is run by Cornerstones, is seeking donations of tissues, hand sanitizer and cleaning products, Alcorn said.

The Herndon Neighborhood Resource Center and Connections for Hope Partnership in Herndon are also looking for cleaning products, he said.

Several organizations, like Second Story in the Vienna area, are asking for gift cards instead of volunteers.

Other opportunities on Alcorn’s list in the Reston area include “non-contact” drivers needed for Meals on Wheels deliveries in the Lawyer’s Road area and donations to Reston-based Shelter House.

People interested in the local organizations’ opportunities focused on the coronavirus can also check out Alcorn’s email newsletter and social media accounts.

“You can contact any of the organizations or call [my] office,” he said. “We’re going to continue expanding the list of needs.”

Alcorn emphasized “one overall need that also we want to make sure gets out there” — blood donations.

“A lot of folks donate blood to Inova,” he said. “We don’t want to get into a situation where [there’s] a low blood supply.”

Additionally, Alcorn is urging people to take “normal precautions,” like practicing good hygiene and frequent hand washing.

“My hope and expectation are that our community will rise to the occasion,” he said.

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If the coronavirus spreads in Fairfax County and Northern Virginia, homeless shelters and other services for low-to-moderate-income individuals and families could be hit hard, officials warn.

Cornerstones, a local nonprofit organization that aims to promote self-sufficiency, is preparing for the potential impact of the respiratory disease. So far, 17 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Virginia, a number that officials say is expected to grow.

Kerrie Wilson, the CEO of Cornerstones, says that nonprofit organizations are at risk. The cascading effect of today’s school closure is expected to produce additional strains on services. Wilson said the nonprofit organization will need to balancing competing needs.

“We’ve seen this with other crises such as hurricanes, pandemics, and the federal government shut down impacts a huge number of households in our region. The Coronavirus poses a real and prolonged threat that can undermine the safety net and our undo the upstream workaround opportunity.”

So far, the nonprofit organization is working to protect the health and safety of its employees, staff, and individuals who depend on Cornerstones’ support and services. All non-essential meetings and community events have been postponed and the center is working with local government and schools to develop plans to continue operations for emergency food and shelter, as well as child and family services.

“While we have been fortunate to have only four documented cases in Fairfax to date, we are preparing for when, not if.”

The nonprofit is looking for donations to help with meal delivery after it requested that volunteers refrain from visiting the Embry Rucker Community Shelter until March 27.

Individuals interested in providing raw food donations can email [email protected] and individuals providing bagged meals can contact [email protected] for further assistance.

Other items — which can be dropped off at a shelf outside the center — are also needed:

  • Shampoo
  • Body wash
  • Men’s and women’s underwear
  • Cleaning products (bleach, Lysol, paper towels, laundry pods, Windex, empty spray bottles)
  • Gift cards for fast food, grocery stores, Target
  • Tissues
  • Hand sanitizer

The food pantry is also in need of the following, especially for seniors who may be shut off from family members and under-resourced families:

  • Grocery store gift cards
  • Gas gift cards
  • Rice
  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Cooking Oil
  • Oatmeal
  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Clorox Wipes

“We have to balance risk against decision to expand childcare hours to ensure kids and parents have options,” Wilson said. “For people experiencing homelessness and in need of emergency housing and other services, our doors need to remain open – but with options to protect medically fragile guests from those who might have been exposed to risk and to ensure the safety of staff.”

The organization will continue to monitor the situation, which is evolving rapidly, and make additional changes as needed.

“The Coronavirus poses a real and prolonged threat that can undermine the safety net and our undo the upstream workaround opportunity,” Wilson said.

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Since early 2014, a little over 10,000 residential units were approved in Reston. Just under 15 percent are considered affordable.

As the more residential development begins in Reston’s Transit Station Areas (TSAs) and Metro’s Silver Line ushers in more activity, nonprofit leaders and area community organizers wonder if Reston will hold true to Bob Simon’s vision for housing affordability.

“Reston was originally a very inclusive community. We have to ask ourselves, are we keeping that promise? Yes, we are a changing and growing community. But how can we achieve that balance between old and new?” said Kerrie Wilson, CEO of Cornerstones, a nonprofit organization that helps neighbors overcome economic hardship.

Achieving greater housing diversity is an aim of Reston’s comprehensive plan, which notes that most new affordable housing should be in multi-family units.

“Future development should ensure that a diversity of housing is available in the TSAs,” the plan states. “The residential component of mixed-use development should meet the needs of a variety of households such as families and seniors.”

But as Reston grows, will inclusive affordable housing keep up?

Tackling affordable housing is a regional problem and Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn (D) and other elected representatives have stated they expect to reexamine the county’s policies and procedures soon.

The county’s rejection of a proposal to redevelop Reston Town Center North — which would have delivered affordable housing units and redeveloped a homeless shelter and Reston Regional Library — was a significant setback for some local housing advocates.  The need for affordable housing — particularly workforce units — is expected to grow as more workers take up jobs in new mixed-use centers.

From a policy perspective, the county has aggressively pursuing affordable housing in every development that requires it, according to county officials. A variety of techniques — including land-use policies, federal funds, and nonprofit and for-profit housing partnerships — are used to preserve housing units and create new ones.

Last year, a panel created by the county to study affordable housing outlined several strategies and recommendations to the county’s board for considerations. The 37-page report – which was incorporated into the county’s housing strategic plan — is part of an ongoing conversation on how to tackle housing affordability.

“Reston has traditionally been a welcoming and inclusive community and a leader in affordable housing,” said Tom Fleetwood, director of the county’s Department of Housing and Community Development. “Still, Reston, like the rest of Fairfax County, is a challenging housing market for low-to-moderate-income families because this is a very desirable place to live.”

Per goals outlined in planning documents, the county aims to reach a net 15,000 new affordable units at up to 60 percent of the average median income within the next 15 years.

“We have certainly made significant steps forward. But a significant amount of work remains,” Fleetwood said.

Since early 2014 through June 2019, the county approved 10,045 residential units, including a 2,010-unit proposal by Boston Properties and a 668-unit proposal by Comstock for Reston Station. Developers are set to pitch $18.1 million into the county’s housing trust fund once the first non-residential use permit is issued, according to county data released to Reston Now last year.

Private developers have delivered 453 workforce dwelling units for rent and 188 affordable dwelling units for rent in Herndon and Reston, according to county data.

“We are trying to work through every application to get affordable housing and we have gotten some affordable housing through every development,” said Bill Mayland, branch chief of the county’s zoning evaluation division.

He noted that it can be challenging to incorporate inclusive affordable housing units — whether workforce units or affordable dwelling units — in high-rise buildings, especially if condominium fees are charged in addition to rent.

Creativity is a common word used by experts as a solution for affordability challenges. Working outside of county land use and zoning provisions, some communities across the country have embraced more unconventional means to secure affordable units for rent and purchase in existing and new development.

At Cornerstones, the staff has successfully pursued a scattered-site model by working with developers to make specific units affordable. Recently, the nonprofit doubled its Reston housing stock by adding 48 units from the Apartments at North Point.

But in the town center and other rapidly growing areas, developers are not always open to experimentation beyond the county’s existing requirements. The hope is that the oncoming Silver Line train at Reston Town Center — which could begin operation by early 2021 — will boost developer’s confidence in the residential market and add more pressure to incorporate more affordable units as more people and jobs come to the area.

Others say that the county should consider dedicated one penny of the real estate tax to affordable housing projects.

Fleetwood says that he expects renewed discussions on housing affordability – including reaching more income levels – to continue in the coming weeks.

“My assessment is that the county’s policies have been productive and helpful. I think they are going to continue to evolve so that we have a policy that works over the long-term and for our developers. It is a continuing and evolving partnership.”

Editor’s note: Interviews were conducted in late 2019

Photo by Bako Glonto/Flickr

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Later this month, the Reston Community Center will host a three-day celebration honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday.

On Saturday (Jan. 18), Sunday, (Jan. 19) and Monday (Jan. 20), people can attend a variety of events ranging from performances by the Reston Community Orchestra to community service projects, along with a keynote speaker luncheon. This year marks the 35th anniversary of Reston Community Center’s annual celebration.

Each day will feature different speakers and activities at various venues throughout the community.

Though most of the events are free, a few require registration or are accompanied by a fee, like the keynote address by Bakari Sellers. Tickets are $5 for Reston residents and can be purchased online.

This year’s community service project includes a winter coat drive for Cornerstones, a local non-profit. The RCC is also seeking volunteers for the community service project, the luncheon and a youth volunteer. Anyone interested can explore details online and register for positions.

A gallery will highlight artwork honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s accomplishments and life by local elementary school students. The works will be on display at the Reston Community Center Hunters Woods (2310 Colts Neck Road) from Jan. 11-31.

Image via Reston Community Center

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Restonians have banded together to launch “Light Up Reston,” a community-wide initiative that aims to encourage residents to support charities and decorate homes for the holidays.

The initiative aims to show residents’ community spirit and raise funds for Public Art Reston, Friends of Reston, and Cornerstones. It draws inspiration from Lake Thoreau Entertainment Associations’ “Festival of Lights,” which raises money for local charities and brings lights to the lake.

This year, residents — some friends and others strangers — decided to spread the initiative throughout the.

With expanding this effort across Reston, we are hoping to raise holiday spirit as well as  awareness of these wonderful Reston based charities by raising $25,000,” said Mary Prochnow, one of the organizers.

So far, $400 has been raised as the initiative kicks off. Last year’s “Festival of Lights” raised more than $8,500 for local charities.

Residents can donate funds to charities by contributing the dollar amount used to put up holiday decorations, the number of homes decorated in your neighborhood, or the number of times residents’ have thought about falling off a ladder while putting up lights.

Melissa Romano, who is also helping organize the initiative, said Restonians involved in lighting up Reston were drawn by their common desire to promote “great events in Reston.”

Photo via Charlotte Geary Photography

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The Hunter Mill District’s Winter Coat Closet is open for another season through Jan. 16.

The closet, which is a partnership between the Hunter Mill District Supervisors Office and Cornerstones, offers winter coats for those in need since the program started in 2001.

Donations of new or gently-used winter coats, as well as hats, gloves, mittens and scarves are accepted. Items are needed for all ages.

The closet accepts donations at the Coat Closet, which is located at 1801 Cameron Glen Drive on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5-7 p.m. and on Saturdays from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Individuals in need can get a coat from the closet at the North County Governmental Center through March 14.

For questions, email Cornerstones at [email protected] or call 571-323-1410.

Photo via Unsplash

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As winter approaches, Cornerstones in Reston asks the community to come forward and donate cold-weather gear for those in need.

The annual Winter Coat Closet Charity Drive, which started on Thursday (Nov. 14), collects new or lightly used jackets, hats, scarves and gloves for men, women and children.

People who want to donate or are in need of winter clothing can stop by the Hunter Mill District Supervisor’s Office (1801 Cameron Glen Drive) and ask for the community room on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5 to 7 p.m. and on Saturdays from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

The location will be collecting jackets until Jan. 16, but those in need can come collect gear through March 14.

Kids’ coats, as well as men’s XXL sizes, are in high demand, according to the drive’s website.

Anyone wanting to volunteer their time can contact Morgan Grant, Community Resource Coordinator, at 571-323-3674.

Photo via Unsplash 

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Herndon High School and Cornerstones have received $191,000 from the Virginia Department of Education, a grant that will allow the school to expand afterschool activities for at-risk students.

The 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant will help the Herndon High School 21st Century Community Learning Center, which will provide afterschool programming to improve academic performance and support developmental wellbeing.

Students will receive guidance on college, careers, life skills, community involvement, and cultural awareness. An eight-week program will supplement the school-year program.

The program will be open to between 50 and 60 students. The success of the program will be measured through objectives like improved reading and math skills, increased family engagement, reduced dropout rate, and increased emotional and social learning competencies. Rising ninth-grade students will also be involved in the center.

The grant from the U.S. Department of Education covers 32 percent of the total cost of the three-year program. Additional funding will be provided from the following community partners:

  • Herndon High School
  • Fairfax County Public Schools Food and Nutrition Services
  • Cornerstones
  • Fairfax County Neighborhood and Community Services
  • Childcare Resources
  • Herndon United Methodist Church
  • Town of Herndon

Cornerstones will help develop the curriculum and activities for the project.

Photo via FCPS

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