The finalists for this award, chosen in October, must provide community support in education, fighting hunger and diminishing homelessness, according to a statement from Chick-fil-A North Point Village.
Cornerstones has served the Northern Virginia community for more than 50 years, and they primarily reach communities of color. The non-profit was nominated by the North Point Village Chick-fil-A for their service to the community and action on the three pillars listed, according to the statement.
“There is no better organization than Cornerstones, that we as a community-based restaurant (Chik-fil-A) should partner with,” said Larry Everett, the Operator of Chick-fil-A North Point Village. “I am honored to know that Cornerstones will possibly receive up to $150,000 to continue impacting the Northern Virginia Area.”
Voting can be completed through the Chick-fil-A app until Nov. 21. The Grand Prize winner will receive $150K, while three other winners will receive from $50K to $100K for the Northeast Region.
Chick-fil-A also committed to give more than $5 million dollars this year to local organizations whose primary focus is on communities of color through education, hunger and homelessness, according to the statement.
Photo via Chik-fil-A/Facebook
The drive is introducing two “Stuff the RA Camp Van” events this month, according to a press release from the RCC, encouraging people to bring non-perishable food and other items to the RA Camp Van. The van will be open at these places and times:
- Saturday, Nov. 7 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the SunTrust Bank parking lot at South Lakes Village Center.
- Saturday, Nov. 14 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. next to the BB&T Bank at North Point Village Center.
The Annual Thanksgiving Drive as a whole will run through Nov. 23. There are collection boxes at RCC facilities, the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce and other drop-off points, according to the release. People are encouraged to donate non-perishable food and gift cards, amongst other things.
“The impact of COVID-19 has been profound, and the challenges faced by families struggling to meet their commitments during the pandemic are enormous,” said Leila Gordon, the RCC Executive Director. “We know that keeping our community strong and safe depends on the generosity of those who have the ability to give. We are very grateful for all the support people can offer.”
Those looking to volunteer can sign up to be a Volunteer Loader on Nov. 24 or 25, or a Volunteer Food Sorter on Nov. 26 or 27. The events will be held with social distancing, mask-wearing, and smaller group sizes.
Photo via the RCC website
Phase Two of Election Week to Continue — From this morning to Friday at noon, localities will process mail ballots that were received by 7 p.m. yesterday but not counted that night and hose delivered by USPS and postmarked by Election Day. [Virginia Public Access Project]
Thanksgiving Food Drive Underway — Reston Association is teaming up. With Cornerstones, Reston Community Center, and the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce to help families need. Donations of non-perishable food and other items can be brought to the SunTrust Bank parking lot (11180 South Lakes Drive) on Nov. 7. A second donation site is planned at North Point Village Center. [RA]
Herndon Man Arrested in Connection with Robbery — “Mohamad Alie Bangura, 30, of Herndon, VA, was arrested for the robbery of a fellow passenger on public transportation. Additionally, Bangura was charged with disorderly conduct and public intoxication. He was transported to the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center where he was held without bond.” [Herndon Police Deprartment]
Photo via Marjorie Copson
The Fairfax NAACP announced yesterday (Thursday) that they will be distributing nearly $20,000 in COVID-19 relief funding to several different non-profit organizations in the community, including to Reston’s Shelter House and Cornerstones.
In a statement from the Fairfax NAACP, they explained that the pandemic has disproportionately affected communities of color in multiple ways, from higher infection and death rates to housing and employment insecurity to distance learning inequities.
“This public health crisis has exposed and exasperated the inequities that already existed in our society,” said Sean Perryman, the director of the Fairfax NAACP. “We will get through this together.”
Healthcare-centered donations to Shelter House will fill gaps that the government and other non-profits aren’t able to fill by supporting their Quarantine/Protection/Isolation/Decompression sites, according to Joe Meyer, the CEO of Shelter House. The donations will further help people of color dealing with COVID-19 and homelessness.
Assistance towards Cornerstones will be directed to individuals facing eviction due to COVID-19. According to Greg White, the COO of Cornerstones, the NAACP’s contribution will help support low-income community members in rebuilding their economic, mental, and physical stability.
The Fairfax NAACP also distributed funds towards helping small businesses, as well as providing distanced learning technology for underserved students.
Image via Fairfax NAACP
Donations for the annual Winter Coat Closet Program have officially begun this week.
Cornerstones 50 is working in partnership with the Hunter Mill District Supervisor’s Office this year to help operate the Winter Coat Closet Program, according to a release from the nonprofit.
The collection is asking for new or gently used coats and new hats, gloves, mittens and scarves.
The two locations for donation dropoffs are at Cornerstones (1150 Sunset Hills Road) and the North County Government Building (1801 Cameron Glen Drive).
Cornerstones hours are Monday through Friday from Oct. 13 through Nov. 6, 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. The North County Government Building is collecting Nov. 14, Dec. 12 and Jan. 9 from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m.
The collection can accept plastic coat hangers, but not wire. For more information about the Winter Coat Closet Program, visit the Cornerstones website.
Photo by Daniel Bowman/Unsplash
As winter approaches, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors has taken steps to provide safe temporary hypothermia prevention shelters for individuals experiencing homelessness.
The Board approved an emergency ordinance on Tuesday, Oct. 6, authorizing the establishment of several county-operated temporary shelters between December 2020 and March 2021.
“It cannot be understated how critical this program is, and has been over the years, for thousands in our community who otherwise would have had no defense against the icy grip of winter,” Fairfax County Chairman Jeffrey McKay said in a press release.
“COVID-19 has dealt us all a challenging hand, and this measure is just another example of how we are continuing to use outside-of-the-box thinking and planning to ensure that we can still come through on behalf of those who need our help the most in our community.”
Fairfax County has partnered with houses of worship and nonprofits in years past to provide shelters for individuals experiencing homelessness. Those efforts have allowed people who enter the shelters to receive meals and other assistance.
Due to COVID-19 and protocols advised by the state and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, many houses of worship are closed or functioning in a limited capacity that will not allow for the same shelter options as previous years.
As a result of the protocols now in place, the board has identified seven county-owned sites that can be utilized for the Hypothermia Prevention Program and offer shelter. These include:
- Lincolnia Senior Center (4710 North Chambliss Street, Alexandria)
- Braddock Glen Wellness Center (12011 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax)
- Gerry Hyland Government Center (8350 Richmond Highway, Alexandria)
- North County Human Services Building (1850 Cameron Glen Dr., Reston)
- Fairfax County Government Center (12000 Government Center Pkwy, Fairfax)
- Herrity Building (12055 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax)
- Pennino Building (12011 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax)
“The County’s Hypothermia Prevention Program provides a critical, life-saving service for our county’s most vulnerable residents,” Tom Barnett, Deputy Director for the Department of Housing and Community Development’s Office to Prevent and End Homelessness, said in a press release.
“Last year, through an outstanding community partnership effort, we were able to provide 49 sites to serve an average of 215 guests each night who had no place else to go. Through this action, we can begin planning contingencies to ensure that everyone who needs a warm place to stay and access to supportive services can find it.”
The North County Human Services Building – which is serviced by Cornerstones – is the lone site of the seven that was used in this capacity last year. However, services will be altered at the site as two rooms will be utilized instead of one to allow for 100 square feet per person, according to Maura Williams, Cornerstones’ Division Director for Housing and Community Services.
“This additional space means we need to hire twice as many staff as normal to manage two rooms,” Williams said. “There has been some discussion about providing 24-hour services for the hypothermia program this year, but no firm decision. It really depends on our staffing capabilities.”
Williams also said Cornerstones’ staff will continue to implement the new COVID-19 procedures it has utilized at the Embry Rucker Community Shelter. Those procedures include temperature checks, health screenings, hand sanitizer, gloves, face masks, face shields, sneeze guards and social distancing.
A press release from the county says many of the chosen locations are currently closed to the public or operating at a reduced occupancy that will allow for “a safe, warm location where individuals who are homeless can stay overnight.”
A public hearing is planned for November for the Board to receive public comment on this ordinance. Additional information about the hearing will be posted online as further details are finalized.
For more information about the hearings and how to contribute comments, visit https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/bosclerk/
Photo via Fairfax County Government
The Plank Family Foundation donated $20,000 to Cornerstones 50 to aid with safety-net and human services programs for families and individuals affected by COVID-19.
Scott Plank, an impact investor and philanthropist, celebrated the donation made by he and his family in June at a recent employee gathering at Reston National Golf Course, according to a press release by Cornerstones.
The donation will benefit many local families across Northern Virginia who have been struggling to keep a roof over their heads, feed their families and afford quality medical care.
“For 50 years, Cornerstones has worked with valuable community advocates, like Scott Plank and his family, to empower people living in crisis today with resources to rebuild their stability and resiliency for living healthy, connected lives,” said Kerrie Wilson, the CEO of Cornerstones.
The celebration at the golf course kicked off their latest employee service day through assembling critically needed PPE kits from Cornerstones’ Thanksgiving Food and Gifts for Kids seasonal drives and community food distribution events.
The Plank Family Foundation also hosted a summertime “Stuff the Bus Campaign” at the golf course to collect donations for a Back-to-School backpack and PPE drive and donation from the golf club members. Donations from this event supported Cornerstones’ distribution of 110 PPE kits, almost 900 boxes of produce and 1,000 gas and grocery gift cards in August, which helped support 844 local households, according to the release.
“My family and I are thankful to have the opportunity to support a community that is so full of life!” said Plank. “Cornerstones provides an excellent opportunity for short-term assistance, which turns into long-term success for individuals and their community.”
Photo courtesy of Cornerstones 50
Cornerstones, a nonprofit that aids the Northwestern Fairfax County area, is combining two of its annual drives to eliminate the possible spread of COVID-19.
Cornerstones’ Thanksgiving Food Drive hosted every year, one week before Thanksgiving, and its Gifts for Kids, hosted every December will both run from November 16-20 at St. John Neumann Catholic Church (11900 Lawyers Road).
Both drives will provide extra help to families that are in need this holiday season. Due to the pandemic, Cornerstones will be assisting more families than usual.
“Normal years, we’re serving between 700-750 families,” said Nate King, Director of Urgent Needs and Herndon Resource Center Operations, “And this provides them with the non-perishable food items, as well as we give them a gift card for $25 to one of our local store chains that they can use to buy things like milk, dairy, meat products, and other things to help them with their Thanksgiving food dinner.”
This year, King said Cornerstones is “looking at helping between 1,000-1,050 families.”
The times of the drives will be Monday – Thursday (Nov. 16-19) from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Friday (Nov. 20) from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Although this year’s gifts will look different, more children will be receiving them.
“Normally teenagers ages 13-18 get gift cards through this particular drive this year, all children ages zero to 18, who get registered for this are going to get gift cards,” said King. “Normal years, we help about 1,300-1,400 children. We’re anticipating it’s going be closer to 1,600 this year, due to the upswing in people that are having problems getting jobs or that are losing jobs.”
The drive will be a contactless interaction, so donors and recipients can expect to have little interaction with Cornerstones’ employees.
“Basically, our volunteers will come and take everything out of your trunk if you’re making a donation and take it into the search,” said King. “And if you’re a donor-recipient coming in, you will be able to drive up and we will put it in your trunk you will not have to get out of your car to get the service so that everybody is protected.”
Photo via Cornerstones/Facebook
Cornerstones has opened registration for its annual Gifts for Kids drive. The program is running concurrently with the Thanksgiving Food Drive this year to reduce interactions in the midst of the pandemic.
Gifts for Kids aims to provide gifts for underprivileged kids in the community during the holiday season. In COVID-19 times, their mission to deliver holiday spirit remains especially important.
In lieu of physical gifts, families will be receiving gift cards instead to ensure the safety of donors, volunteers, recipients and staff, according to the organization’s website. The drive will also be running five days, giving donors more time to donate and reducing the number of people dropping off at one time.
Cornerstones will have social distancing measures and other COVID-19 safety protocols in place for the drives, including cutting down the number of volunteers at a time, requiring masks and temperature checks for volunteers, and having much of the work done outside.
Additionally, families will drop off items by a drive-through instead of dropping off donations inside.
The organization will be accepting gift card donations at St. John Neumann Catholic Church (11900 Lawyers Road) on November 16 through November 19 from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m., and November 20 from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m.
Those interested in donating can fill out the registration form on their website. Cornerstones will be distributing personalized gift card wish lists during the week of Oct. 1.
Photo by Element 5 Digital/Unsplash
In the 10 years he has spent working on Reston non-profit Cornerstones’ annual Thanksgiving Food Drive, Nate King has never seen a year like this.
King, the donations and drives coordinator for Cornerstones, said the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has created an increase in demand for food for families in need — one that he hasn’t seen in the past decade of working for the non-profit.
“The downturn in the economy has increased the number of families coming in for assistance to the emergency food pantry,” King said.
Due to the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, King said he anticipates about a 25 % increase in the number of families who will be receiving donations from stones during their annual Thanksgiving Food Drive.
Typically, Cornerstones provides food for between 700 to 750 families in Fairfax County just before Thanksgiving, but this holiday season King anticipates that number to jump to about 1,050 families as more families have gone to the Cornerstones requesting help.
“This far out-stripes the numbers we have seen in the past years,” King said.
With no end of the pandemic in sight, Cornerstone’s Food Drive will look a little different this year. King said Cornerstones will extend the Thanksgiving Food Drive to five days to give more time for those who wish to donate, to avoid crowding.
For the families receiving food, Cornerstones is combining their Thanksgiving Food Drive with their annual Gift for Kids Drive, which provides underprivileged kids with presents for the holidays. But this year, to cut down on crowding during the pandemic, Cornerstones is combining the events, giving families gift cards, instead of wrapped presents, along with a box of Thanksgiving food items.
King said Cornerstones will implement some social distancing measures this year by cutting down on the number of volunteers who will work at one time, requiring volunteers to wear masks and to undergo temperature checks and to do much of their work organizing food boxes outside.
This year, families will receive their food and gifts through a makeshift drive-through, where volunteers will drop the items off in cars, instead of having families go inside to collect them.
Food collection for the Cornerstones’ Thanksgiving Food Drive will take place on November 16 to 19, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and on Nov. 20, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at St. John Neumann Catholic Church in Reston.
Those interested in donating to Cornerstones’ Thanksgiving Food Drive can find more information online.
Photo courtesy Cornerstones
Report on Oral Health in Virginia — “Gaps in oral health access and utilization between lower-income and higher-income Northern Virginians are as profound as they were a decade ago, report cites.” [Northern Virginia Health Foundation]
Cornerstones to Host Forum on Economic Stability — The Reston-based nonprofit organization is hosting a forum with elected officials on economic recovery in Northern Virginia after the COVID-19 pandemic. The forum takes place online tomorrow (Thursday) at 5:30 p.m. [Cornerstones]
Coronavirus Collides with Cardboard Boat Regatta — “Reston Historic Trust & Museum canceled its fourth annual Cardboard Boat Regatta due to the coronavirus pandemic. In its place the organization presents the 2020 Cardboard Challenge during the entire month of August.” [The Connection]
Reston Association Announces More Pool Openings — Season four, which runs from August 24 through September 7, will feature the pools at Glade, Golf Course Island, Lake Newport and Ridge Heights. The pools at Lake Newport and Ridge Heights will be open for season five from September 8-20. [Reston Association]
Photo via vantagehill/Flickr
The organization is working in collaboration with Fairfax County Public School officials to provide backpacks and essential supplies to students, despite the continuance of digital learning this fall.
In addition to backpacks and school supplies for kids grades K-12, they are also collecting financial contributions. Donations can be made online or via mailed check made payable to Cornerstones and sent to 11150 Sunset Hills Road, Suite 210, Reston, VA 20190.
Those with backpacks and supplies can make a contactless donation at Reston National Golf Course (11875 Sunrise Valley Drive) every Saturday in August from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. Cornerstones has a donation drop-off tent set up next to their Laurel Learning Center Bus in the parking lot of the golf course.
Questions can be directed to Nate King, the Donations and Drives Coordinator, at 571-323-9569.
Photo courtesy of Cornerstones
Continuing its series of virtual community meetings, Cornerstones will host a forum with several state officials next month.
The Reston-based nonprofit organization is organizing the event for Thursday, August 13 from 5:30-6:45 p.m. Sen. Janet Howell, Sen. Jennifer Boysko, Del. Ken Plum, and Del. Ibraheem Samirah are expected to attend.
Topics of discussion include: rebuilding economic and social stability, distance learning and the digital divide, getting back to work and living wage economy, and equity and the opportunity divide.
Registration is open online. Log-in information will be sent to registered participants only.
Participants can submit their questions for consideration prior to the forum by emailing [email protected] The deadline to submit questions is Friday, Aug. 7.
Photo via Cornerstones
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
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.
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.