House of Delegates candidates answered questions on a range of issues that they could face in Richmond, giving voters a firsthand look at their viewpoints.

The nonprofit Cornerstones hosted the forum online with 36th District candidates Matt Lang, a Republican security consultant and veteran, and incumbent Ken Plum, a Democrat who has held the office since 1982.

For the 86th District race, the forum also featured candidates Julie Perry, a Republican high school history teacher, and Irene Shin, who won the Democratic Primary in June to take the nomination away from incumbent Ibraheem Samirah.

Candidates fielded questions from panelists and the audience in the hourlong event. A recording of the forum was slated to be posted on Cornerstones’ website.

Extending child care subsidy

Panelist Nasia Ashkir noted a federal subsidy for child care will end in December, and she asked if candidates would support extending it with leftover American Relief Act Money.

Plum shared his support for doing so and noted that he wrote about the issue for a column this month. He cited research showing how kids who received pre-school education have been linked to less societal costs, mainly in the area of crime.

Lang also said he’s support such an extension and would want to look for how to fund it once the federal aid runs out in ways that don’t raise taxes.

“Like Del. Plum just said, children are the future,” the Reston resident said. “Their education and their foundation is going to be our success down the road.”

Addressing affordable housing

Pastor Stephen Smith-Cobbs, who served as the forum’s second panelist, noted how $4.3 billion in flexible funding is available through ARPA but hasn’t been spent so far in affordable housing.

“Many people who work in Fairfax County simply can’t afford to live here,” Smith-Cobbs said, asking what candidates’ plans were for increasing the stock in affordable housing.

Both Republican candidates noted concerns with long-term assistance.

“If we help them forever, they’re never going to have the incentive to want to try their best and shine in society,” Perry said, adding that everybody can live the American dream.

Shin, the executive director of the nonprofit Virginia Civic Engagement Table, which looks to support progressive organizations, said she would support fully funding the Virginia Housing Trust, saying it incentivizes developers to make affordable housing.

Lang also said that increasing the supply of rental units or homes could help reduce the sales of existing homes, and lowering prices of other things, such as fuel taxes, would help put more money in people’s pockets.

His opponent said Cornerstones serves as a model for how to go forward by providing comprehensive services, such as child care and job training. Plum also said he expects the governor’s upcoming budget proposal to increase affordable housing investments, such as by working with organizations, setting up land conservation trusts and pursuing other efforts to leverage public money.

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Morning Notes

People at Lake Anne plaza (Photo via vantagehill/Flickr)

Cornerstones Celebrates 50 Years — The nonprofit organization will celebrate its 50th anniversary at Reston Community Center tonight. The event begins at 6 p.m. [Cornerstones]

Reston Community Players Launches New Program — The organization has launched a new apprenticeship program for students between the ages of 12 and 18. The opportunity involves 10 performances at Reston Community Center’s CenterStage. [Reston Patch]

Fire Department Cancels Fill the Boot Event — The Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department has once again canceled its in-person “Fill the Boot” event for muscular dystrophy this year. The decision was made due to increasing cases of COVID-19. [FCFRD]

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An entity that launched to serve those in need over 50 years ago is celebrating its successes and looking at what’s ahead in order to help others.

What began as religious organizations coming together, the outreach once known as Reston Interfaith has evolved into community centers providing everything from recreational needs to social services, a 24/7 70-bed homeless shelter, over 100 affordable homes and more.

“The single-most-important thing we built is a reputation for reliable, low-drama services to our neediest neighbors,” said Larry Schwartz, chair of Cornerstones’ Board of Directors.

The homeless shelter now bears the name of Embry Rucker, a businessman turned pastor who sought to avoid building churches and instead focus on social services.

As the region changes, the nonprofit expects to double the housing stock it owns, which currently allows people to live in affordable housing while capping families’ costs at 30% of their income.

The Reston-headquartered organization has grown with its donors and volunteers, where before the COVID-19 pandemic it had around 6,000 people helping annually. Their efforts range from aiding Thanksgiving food drives to helping out with winter clothing campaigns.

During the pandemic, the organization also obtained $1.6 million in CARES Act relief to people in need, Schwartz said.

The pandemic was a factor in delaying the organization’s celebration of its 50-year milestone, causing a fundraising gala to be held during the organization’s 51st year now in 2021. It will take place virtually and in person on Sept. 30.

The organization is also highlighting its progress throughout the decades with a gallery of photos capturing key moments, including the opening of the Laurel Learning Center (11484 Washington Plaza West, Suite 200 in Reston) and its expansion with an infant and toddler day care named after former Reston Interfaith CEO Connie Pettinger.

As the cost of childcare can cost over $12,000 per kid before they reach preschool, Cornerstones scholarships and Fairfax County assistance help families get the support they need.

“The families can afford quality childcare while they’re outside the home trying to build the home,” Schwartz said.

Cornerstones’ Herndon Neighborhood Resource Center (1086 Elden St.) at the Dulles Park Shopping Center serves as a one-stop-shop for social services ranging from financial counseling to legal services for immigrants and job training as well as housing a health care center.

While the organization has its roots with religious groups, it changed its name in 2013 as it’s sought to be more inclusive with businesses, civic and community organizations, foundations and other supporters. Nevertheless, the group noted the new name, Cornerstones, is one that “has meaning in many of our faith traditions,” a letter by CEO Kerrie Wilson said.

Currently, Wilson describes Cornerstones as being at the front end of responding to eviction challenges amid the pandemic and helping families stabilize and ensure they have the support they need.

She noted that policies put in place years ago as a country have influenced how people are stuck in poverty and created barriers for home ownership.

“We will continue to serve on the frontlines,” she said, “But I think the biggest additional change and emphasis for us has to be the work in changing policies and systems that will let us truly end hunger and ensure that all families … have that first chance at home ownership.”

Photo via Cornerstones/Instagram

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Mary Ann Flynn, a long-time Fairfax County Public School teacher and community leader, died last week at the age of 85.

Flynn was an educator at Hunters Woods, Dogwood, and Terraset elementary schools for more than two decades, primarily teaching first grade. She was among the first teachers at Dogwood and Terraset, when that school first opened in 1977, her family says.

“She used to say she loved teaching first grade because she could still do the math,” daughter Merri Flynn told Reston Now. “Really, it was because…it was the year she got to see such huge improvement because it was the year that most children learned to read. And she really loved being able to help them learn to read.”

She was beloved as a teacher. Her son Christopher attended Terraset while his mother taught there and has received notes with fond remembrances from former students all week.

“You can’t get away with a whole lot [at school] when your mom’s down the hall,” Christopher said. “A lot of people I went to school with remember her as a teacher.”

The family says “dozens of folks” have commented on a post they made on Facebook about Flynn, who was loved by family and pupils because of her compassion, generosity, thoughtfulness, and listening skills.

“I think people felt comfortable with her because she was quiet and an excellent listener,” Merri said. “She was always interested in what people were saying about their lives and she would remember details.”

She also loved sharing and seeing photos of loved ones.

“She was one of those rare people who really loved seeing pictures of other people’s family, especially babies and children,” Merri said with a laugh.

After spending time in San Francisco, D.C., and Norfolk, Flynn and her husband Tom, a Naval officer, settled in Reston in 1970. It became their home for the next several decades.

Even after Flynn retired as a public school teacher in 1992, the couple remained very active in the Reston community. The Flynns helped out at St. John Neumann Catholic Church, running its Angel Christmas and Birthday Club. Both of these programs worked through the local nonprofit Cornerstones to provide gifts to children.

The couple was honored by the Virginia General Assembly in 2003 for their community service efforts.

Flynn also assisted with weddings at the church, sometimes walking up and down the aisles.

“She wanted to make sure no one was chewing gum,” Merri Flynn said.

As a mother and grandmother, she was always present.

“She had a big smile whenever anyone she loved entered the room,” Thomas Flynn, Mary Ann’s grandson, said. “She just made you feel very special whenever you were talking to her. There was a kind of beam shining on you because everything was just about you.”

Flynn’s commitment to education went beyond her career. She helped to set up a library at Falcons Landing, a military retirement community in Potomac Falls that she and her husband moved into in 2014.

“She was a lifelong educator, but she did it in a really gentle way,” Merri said. “She never talked down to someone or made them feel less than.”

According to those who knew her, Flynn’s defining quality was her dedication to being an advocate for her family and students.

“She was your champion,” Merri said. “She always had your back.”

Mary Ann Flynn is survived by her husband Tom, three children, and two grandsons, Andrew and Thomas. Her death was preceded by that of her parents and a son, Thomas Edward Flynn IV.

The visitation and funeral mass will be held tomorrow (Aug. 31) at St. John Neumann Catholic Church at 11900 Lawyers Road, starting at 10 a.m.

The burial will take place at a later date at Arlington National Cemetery, where Flynn will join her son Thomas.

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Morning Notes

Zinneas bloom outside Vantage Hill Condos (via vantagehill/Flickr)

Reston Triathlon Raises Money for Nonprofit — The Reston Sprint Triathlon returned on Sunday (Aug. 15) after going entirely virtual last year due to COVID-19 restrictions. Now in its 15th year, the race saw athletes compete across Reston pools, streets, and paths with the goal of raising $25,000 for the local nonprofit Cornerstones, which would bring its all-time fundraising total to $400,000. [Patch]

Childhood Reston Friends Reel in Big Fishing Goal — “In the summer of 2020 — antsy from pandemic lockdowns and in no hurry to start their upcoming freshman year of college staring at computer screens — Luke Konson and Daniel Balserak set themselves a goal: to travel the United States and catch the official state fish from all 50 states…The pair have known each other since they were second-graders at Dominion Christian School in Reston. Avid anglers, they first fished together a couple of years ago.” [The Washington Post]

Reston Library Book Sale Returns Today — In time for the new school year, the Friends of the Reston Regional Library is bringing back its Children and Educators’ Book Sale starting today through 2:30 p.m. on Sunday (Aug. 22). The group isn’t taking donations this time, and patrons must comply with masking and other COVID-19 requirements while perusing the stock of gently used or good books. [Reston Library Friends]

Water Mine Sends Out Summer With a Bark — “The Water Mine at Lake Fairfax Park is going to the dogs on Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, when Dog Daze returns from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. As pool time comes to a close for humans, canines get their day to splash in the water. Dog Daze features dogs-only swimming, a Canine Resource Fair and fun for all members of the family. The cost is $10 per dog. All proceeds go to the Fairfax County Park Foundation to benefit parks.” [Fairfax County Park Authority]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Fruit (via Melissa Belanger/Unsplash)

Two Fairfax County organizations have been awarded grants from a national nonprofit aimed at increasing access for food service programs for children and their families.

The Falls Church-McLean Children’s Center and Cornerstones in Reston both received grants from No Kid Hungry, a campaign from the national nonprofit Save Our Strength, whose mission is to end hunger and poverty.

No Kid Hungry announced on July 26 that it has distributed $1.16 million in grants to more than 30 Virginia school districts and organizations to combat food insecurity and provide more access to food to children and families.

The Falls Church-McLean Children’s Center received $25,000, and Cornerstones was granted $30,000.

Cornerstones provides assistance with food, shelter, child care, and other basic needs. Based at 11150 Sunset Hills Road, the nonprofit operates community centers in the Cedar Ridge, Crescent, Stonegate Village, and Southgate neighborhoods as well as the Herndon Neighborhood Resource Center.

According to CEO Kerrie Wilson, Cornerstones has distributed more than 21,000 bags of food, produce, diapers, and household supplies to families in fiscal year 2021 so far.

“While this region has navigated major economic and health crises before, never has something like this pandemic had such an immediate and destabilizing impact — particularly on families already struggling with food insecurity, homelessness, and poverty,” she wrote in a statement.

Cornerstones will use its grant to rent an outdoor storage unit to expand its pantry program, pay off-site storage facility costs, and purchase a new cargo van to deliver fresh food to households in need, Wilson says.

Food insecurity remains a huge challenge in the D.C. region. About 1% of residents in several pockets of Reston, Vienna, Tysons, and Herndon were food-insecure in 2020, according to Capital Area Food Bank research.

One in eight children under 18 in Virginia live in a household where they may not be getting enough to eat, according to No Kid Hungry.

“If it weren’t for the free meals being offered by schools and community organizations, that number would be much higher,” No Kid Hungry Virginia Associate Director Sarah Steely said.

Food insecurity disportionately impacts communities of color and immigrants. Cornerstones says about 70% of the people it serves are people of color and 40% are children, half of whom identify as a member of a minority or immigrant community.

The nonprofit surveyed some of the residents it works with and found that food stability remains a huge, immediate concern.

“Food stability is a continued top priority and source of stress for themselves and their families,” Wilson said. “The concerns about access to healthy and adequate food and nutrition was significantly higher in respondents who identified as people of color and immigrants.”

Falls Church-McLean Children’s Center Executive Director Lucy Pelletier says existing food access challenges have been exacerbated by the pandemic due in large part to employment uncertainty.

“We are seeing that our families are in widely varied states of employment recovery,” Pelletier said in a statement. “Our parents who are restaurant servers are exhausted from all their overtime hours because restaurants can’t hire enough employees. Parents in other direct service jobs such as house cleaning are either working less than pre-pandemic levels due to clients’ fears of covid, or they are traveling further to fill their schedule with families willing to accept cleaners into their homes.”

Rising food prices also means that paychecks are not going as far as they used too, she added.

Falls Church-McLean Children’s Center Development Director Renee Boyle says the early childhood education program will share its grant money with the Seven Corners Children’s Center, a preschool in Falls Church.

$15,000 will go towards providing low-income families at both centers with grocery cards that can be used at their discretion. That way, children and their families, including parents and older siblings, can have easier access to food even outside of the schools’ walls, Boyle says.

“Oftentimes, it can be difficult getting to school to get food, or [the kids] don’t attend pre-school,” she said. “This allows [families] to purchase fruits, veggies, and meats of their choice and reflects their ethnic preferences.”

The other $10,000 will go towards contracting Good Food Company out of Arlington to provide high-quality lunches at the center. They provide meals full of fresh vegetables, proteins, and wholesome dishes, Boyle says.

“The menu varies everyday and they’re higher quality meals than county public schools,” she said.

Community organizations like Cornerstones and the Falls Church-McLean Children’s Center are critical to ensuring children have enough healthy food to eat, because they can provide access outside of schools, especially during summer and winter breaks.

“These meal programs work together with nutrition programs like Pandemic EBT and SNAP to ensure kids have enough to eat,” Steely said by email. “We know that summer can be the hungriest time of the year for children and families across the Commonwealth and beyond.”

via Melissa Belanger/Unsplash

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Reston community members have set up a GoFundMe to help an individual experiencing homelessness pay for a local hotel room.

On a sunny May morning, 62-year-old Mark sat on the curb at the back of Target’s parking lot on Sunset Hills Road in Reston.

When a gray Honda CR-V pulls up in front of him, he smiles and waves. The car’s window comes down, he stands up, limping to the car. The woman inside hands Mark some money.

“God bless you,” Mark said.

“Your smile makes me happy,” the woman responded.

“I love to see them smile back,” Mark said, sitting back on the curb as the woman drives away. “It’s a little bit of interaction.”

With his balloons, signs, and a smile, Mark — who asked Reston Now not use his last name out of privacy concerns — has become a well-known fixture at this spot. He has been sitting there six days a week, with Mondays off, since he started experienced homelessness five years ago, going on six.

Earlier this year, Oak Hill resident David Ritter set up a GoFundMe to assist Mark in paying for a room at a nearby hotel. Currently, the fundraiser amassed over $900, but it has a goal of $10,000.

Ritter tells Reston Now he’s helping because he’s gotten to know Mark over the last several years.

“A lot of homeless people don’t interact, don’t engage, and are not positive like Mark,” Ritter said. “I think that’s a testament to his character.”

Mark tells Reston Now that he’s a veteran and a Columbia University medical school graduate who has a past criminal record that has prevented him from getting a job.

“I’ve sent out 1,500 job applications in five years,” Mark said. “Nobody will hire me…The computer probably just spits it out once you check that box.”

He also has physical limitations stemming from diabetes, a bad hip, and a shoulder surgery gone bad, putting his left arm in a sling. He additionally suffers from bipolar disorder. He says he’s applied for disability and is still waiting to hear back about help.

Behind the smile and loquacious nature, Mark admits that the difficulty of his situation can affect his mental health.

“It’s definitely difficult at times,” he said. “I’m bipolar. I can have massive depression episodes. I go down hard.”

In general, Mark says, people are very kind to him.

The nearby Sunoco gas station owns the land where he sits, Mark says, and they let him sit there every day (Reston Now independently verified this with Sunoco). Target employees are also very nice, teasingly calling him the “goodbye person” since he waves to everyone exiting the parking lot.

He says Fairfax County police check in on him regularly, always treating him with respect and dignity.

And people in cars often stop to give a few dollars, food, and other supplies. On good days, he says he makes about a hundred dollars a day.

Over the course of his hour-long interview with Reston Now, no less than six people in cars stop to help Mark out. He greets everyone with a wave, a smile, and a hearty thank you.

“I get a lot of food from Target and all the restaurants from around here,” he says, chuckling. “I haven’t had to buy my own lunch or dinner in a long time.”

The hope with the GoFundMe is that it would provide Mark the means to get a room every night at the local hotel where he’s staying. Read More

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Morning Notes

New Police Chief to Speak at Public Input Session — Community members will get their first chance to talk to new Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis at 7 p.m. on Thursday (May 6). Local civil rights groups have criticized Davis’s past record and a hiring process they say lacked transparency and public involvement, prompting the county board to issue a statement last night reaffirming its support for Davis. [Supervisor Rodney Lusk/Twitter]

Fairway Apartments Sold to Swedish Investor — Swedish investment firm Akelius has acquired Fairway Apartments, a 346-unit apartment community near Reston Town Center, from JBG for $93 million. Akelius says it plans to add new washers and dryers, renovate some kitchens and bathrooms, and make other minor upgrades to the property, which is 97% occupied. [Bisnow]

More Spots Open for Tour de Hunter Mill — More registrations are now available for the Tour de Hunter Mill bicycle ride that will take cyclists through Reston, Vienna, and Tysons on May 15. The event has expanded in response to Virginia easing restrictions on public gatherings that day, according to Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn’s office. [Walter Alcorn/Twitter]

Herndon IT Firm Acquired by McLean Contractor — “McLean, Virginia-based government contractor Booz Allen Hamilton will acquire Herndon, Virginia-based Liberty IT Solutions LLC for $725 million. Liberty IT Solutions has about 600 employees…Its work includes IT modernization projects for government agencies and in the health care industry.” [WTOP]

Nonprofit Food Pantry Distribution Helps 260 Local Families — “We’re happy to have assisted 260 families from the Herndon, Springfield, Chantilly, Alexandria, and Centreville area with groceries, toiletries, fresh produce and store gift cards to help with pantry staple purchases.” [Cornerstones/Twitter]

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Morning Notes

Virginia to Change Vaccine Scheduling Systems — Fairfax County residents will finally follow the same approach to obtaining COVID-19 vaccine appointments as the rest of the state, as the Virginia Department of Health says its statewide system will also be retired on Sunday (April 18) in favor of self-scheduling through Vaccine Finder. [Patch]

Lawsuit Filed over Virginia’s Unemployment Benefits — “Several legal groups filed a federal class-action suit on Thursday against the Virginia Employment Commission for its failure to reach residents with unemployment benefits, and abruptly cutting off payments to others without explanation.” [DCist]

Fish Released into Lake Thoreau — Reston Association stocked Lake Thoreau with 80 triploid grass carp this past Sunday (April 18). RA says that the fish are part of its plan to “help manage aquatic plants such as hydrilla” in the lake and must be released if caught while fishing. [RA/Twitter]

Reston Nonprofit to Give Free Food to Those in NeedCornerstones will hold a free food distribution event tomorrow (Saturday) in the parking lot of the Fairfax County Department of Family Services building at Lake Anne (11484 Washington Plaza West). The grocery bags will contain toiletries as well as fresh produce, and they will be distributed from 10 a.m. to noon, though spaces are limited. [Lake Anne Elementary School]

Hunter Mill District Bike Tour Sold Out — Tickets for the inaugural Tour de Hunter Mill sold out yesterday. Scheduled for May 15, the event will take cyclists on a scenic tour from Reston to Vienna and back, but attendance was capped at 150 riders to ensure social distancing. [Fairfax Alliance for Better Bicycling/Twitter]

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Morning Notes

Herndon Police Cites Drivers for Violating Cellphone Ban — The Town of Herndon Police Department says its officers issued 22 citations last week for violations of Virginia’s new law against driving while using mobile devices. The ban took effect on Jan. 1 of this year and imposes a $125 fine for a first offense, followed by $250 for a second offense. [Herndon PD/Twitter]

Northam Signs Deal to Expand Virginia’s Railroads — “Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam signed a $3.7 billion deal Tuesday with Amtrak and CSX Transportation that officials say will break loose a major East Coast chokepoint and allow for a dramatic expansion of passenger and commuter rail.” [NBC4]

Lawsuit Filed over Virginia Guidelines Supporting Transgender Students — Conservative groups are suing the Virginia Department of Education over its new policy requiring school districts to accept students’ gender identities and provide access to facilities and programs in accordance with those identities. The policy took effect on March 6 after the General Assembly passed a law last year directing the department to develop guidelines. [The Washington Post]

Reston Nonprofit to Benefit from Jersey Mike’s Purchases Today — “Jersey Mike’s Subs store at 2254 Hunters Woods Plaza in Reston is donating 100 percent of sales to Cornerstones on Wednesday…The effort is part of the sandwich franchise chain’s Month of Giving, which has raised $32 million for local charities since 2011.” [Reston Patch]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Morning Notes

(Updated at 5:05 p.m. on 4/2/2021) Fairfax County Seeks Public Input on Police Chief Search — “Next Tuesday, April 6, @SupervisorLusk and I are holding a public input session on the selection of our new Police Chief. Provide your comments on what you hope to see in our next police chief ahead of time or live.” [@JeffreyCMcKay/Twitter]

Northam Signs Free Community College Legislation — Signed in Alexandria, the bill creates a “G3” program that makes community college tuition free for low- and middle-income students who pursue jobs in high-demand fields. The initiative has $36 million to cover tuition, fees, books, and support services for eligible students who attend two-year public institutions in Virginia. [Office of the Governor]

Cornerstones Monthly Food Giveaways Draw Lines — A recent food giveaway hosted by the Reston nonprofit Cornerstones illustrates the still-urgent need for food assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic and how it is increasingly straining nonprofits and volunteers. [The Washington Post]

Advocates Raise Concerns about Training on Restraint and Seclusion Policy — “Parents were pleased that in addition to banning seclusion in all schools by 2023, the school system promised to train staff on alternative methods to physical restraint and seclusion. But several founders of the Fairfax County Special Education PTA have raised concerns that staff did not receive comprehensive training before students returned to classrooms in person earlier this month.” [Inside NoVA]

Reston Restaurant Delivery Company Integrates with DoorDashWaitbusters LLC has augmented its delivery service by adding an integration with DoorDash Drive, a move that the Reston-based company says will allow it to serve more locations, give customers and restaurants more options, and ensure drivers are available “almost 100% of the time.” [Restaurant News]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Morning Notes

County Seeks Help with Vaccinations — The county’s health department is hiring roughly 250 vaccinators. Interested candidates should have experience vaccinating and hold a current license or multistate licensure privilege. [Fairfax County Government]

Reston Association Election Underway — Voting ends on April 2 at 5 p.m. Four candidates are running for two at-large seats and one person is vying for the South Lakes District seat. A 10 percent quorum is required for the results of the election to be considered valid. [Reston Today]

Local Organizations Receive Homeless Reduction Grants — Twelve projects in the Northern Virginia area received a total of $2.1 million in state grants from the Virginia Housing Trust Fund. Reston-based nonprofit organization Cornerstones received $100,000 to fund housing stabilization case management. [Patch]

State Bans Single-Use Styrofoam — Gov. Ralph Northam has signed a bill into law that bans the use of Styrofoam cups and food takeout containers. Food chains with 20 or more locations cannot package or dispense food in the containers beginning July 2023. [Patch]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Friday Morning Notes

Northam to Extend School Year into Summer — Gov. Ralph Northam will announce a plan to extend the school year into the summer today. N details have been released, but the plan is intended to help students catch up. [Inside NOVA]

Reston Association Board to Meet Next Week — RA’s Board of Directors will hold a special online meeting on Monday evening to have a consultation with counsel. [RA]

Food and Coat Drives Set for Tomorrow in Reston — Cornerstones’ Coat Closet is accepting winter items from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday at the North County Government Center while Stuff the Bus will have buses parked at the center from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. for donations. [Reston Patch]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Monday Morning Notes

Toiletries Drive to Benefit Cornerstones — Reston Community Center is collecting supplies on behalf of Cornerstones to support local families. Items needed included shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, and deodorant. The drive runs from Jan. 4-18. [RCC]

Vaccination Numbers Available By Locality — ‘The Virginia Department of Health is tracking COVID-19 vaccination numbers as vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna are being distributed around the state under FDA emergency use authorization. As of Sunday, 38,172 vaccine doses have been administered in Virginia. No one has received the second dose, which both Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines require.’ [Reston Patch]

Around Town — Input Sought on American Legion Bridge — ‘The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation and the Maryland Department of Transportation recently finished a study on the American Legion Bridge’s future, and are now asking the public for comment on the findings.’ [WTOP]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Cornerstones, a Reston-based nonprofit organization that offers housing stability program in Northern Virginia, has won a $125,000 grant award from Chick-fil-A.

The organization was one of 34 national winners selected for Chick-fil-A’s True Inspiration Awards. The grant will support Cornerstones’ homeless prevention, emergency shelter, and housing stability programs, including the Embry Rucker Community Shelter.

Kerrie Wilson, Cornerstones’ CEO, said her team is “incredibly honored” to receive the award.

“The foundation’s investment in our community will amplify our capacity to swift triage people struggling in our community,” she said.

The True Inspiration Awards program was created five years ago to honor the legacy of Chick-fil-A founder S. Truett Cathy. The program supports nonprofit organizations that work in the areas of education, hunger and homelessness.

Larry Schwartz, chairman of Cornerstones’ Board of Directors, said the grant will help support the organization’s wrap-around services and programs “so vulnerable neighbors can rebuild stability and resiliency by securing affordable, long-term housing, provide quality education programs for their children, and obtain valuable living-wage job skills so they can go back to work in our community.”

Cornerstones’ was nominated by Larry Everett, owner and operator of the Chick-fil-A in North Point Village Center.

Photo via Cornerstones

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