Community Raises Money for Family of Hit-and-Run Victim — A GoFundMe started on Friday (Sept. 3) by the sister of Reston resident Andrew Willingham, who was killed in a hit-and-run incident on Fairfax County Parkway last week, has received more than $257,000 as of 7:30 p.m. yesterday (Wednesday). The money will go toward helping Willingham’s wife and two sons with expenses, including a future college fund. [Patch]
County Launches Data Hub for Reston Parks — “You can now access the latest information on urban parks and athletic fields associated with redevelopment in the Reston Transit Station Areas through the new Urban Parks Activity Hub. The new online hub is one of three components of the Reston Data Visualization project created by the Department of Planning and Development in coordination with the Park Authority.” [Fairfax County Government]
Herndon Police Chief With Rare State Award — “Chief [Maggie] DeBoard and Executive Director Dana Schrad were recognized by the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police & Foundation with the 2021 Outstanding Contribution to Law Enforcement Award…This award recognizes an individual’s conspicuous act or achievement in the performance of their duty that results in an exceptional and responsible contribution to the law enforcement profession here in VA.” [Herndon Police/Twitter]
Reston Contractor CEO Recalls Company’s 9/11 Origins — Reston-based defense technology contractor EverWatch Corp. CEO John Hillen says his life “is very oddly wrapped up with 9/11.” His experience in downtown New York City on Sept. 11, 2001 propelled him from Wall Street to the State Department under the George W. Bush administration, and his company now provides tools for defense missions that directly stem from the attacks. [Washington Business Journal]
Photo via vantagehill/Flickr
(Updated 3:35 p.m.) Mark Sugden, a familiar face to customers and employees of the Target on Sunset Hills Road in Reston, has died, family and friends have told Reston Now.
Known for his ever-present smile and balloons, Sugden had been a constant sight at the back of the Target parking lot for the last six years. He usually sat on the curb and waved at passersbys, who sometimes stopped to hand Sugden money or groceries.
Sugden had been experiencing homelessness, and a GoFundMe had been set up to help with the costs of staying in a nearby hotel. He also suffered from bipolar disorder, depression, and several other physical limitations, as he told Reston Now back in May.
Despite these challenges, Sugden continued to have a positive attitude.
“He was just a really, down-to-earth, good person. He always treated everybody well,” his brother George Sugden told Reston Now. “[He was] one of those things that’s pretty rare these days — a good soul.”
A memorial and tribute was set up this morning (Thursday) in his honor in front of the Sunoco station on Sunset Hills Road. It’s expected to be there for at least the next few days for those who would like to pay their respects, friend David Ritter tells Reston Now.
There may also be a remembrance service at a later date, but the logistics are still being figured out, Ritter notes.
According to the original GoFundMe page, Sugden died on Aug. 27. The Fairfax County Police Department confirmed the death, though a cause is not immediately known. FCPD does not suspect foul play.
A new fundraiser has been launched to help with funeral costs. The goal is to raise $2,000.
Ritter met Sugden a few years ago and was immediately struck by Sugden’s positivity. He believed that attitude rubbed off on everyone Sugden met.
“It never ceases to amaze me how Mark affected people,” Ritter said.
Once, when it was snowing during the winter, Ritter went to check on Sugden and make sure he had everything he needed. When Ritter arrived, he found a line of cars already waiting to give supplies and food to Sugden.
In May, Reston Now joined Sugden for about an hour at his usual spot between the Target and Sunoco on Sunset Hills Road. Six people in cars stopped to say hello and help him out.
Each time, Sugden greeted them with a wave, a smile, and a thank you.
“Your smile makes me happy,” one woman told Sugden. After she drove away, Sugden said, “I love to see them smile back.”
Over the last several days, both Ritter and George have been hearing from the community about how much Sugden meant to them.
“[From] the stories and the people I’ve met in the last 24 hours, it’s obvious that he touched a lot of people without really going out of his way,” George said. “It was just the way he was.”
Fundraiser Launched for Family of Homicide Victims — “A family member of the mother and two children killed over the weekend in Herndon has launched a GoFundMe campaign to pay for funeral expenses…As of 1 p.m. on Tuesday, the campaign had raised more than $3,600 toward its goal of $30,000.” [Patch]
Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art Reopens Gallery — “We are pleased to announce that Tephra ICA at Signature, our satellite gallery space highlighting work by local and regional artists, has reopened for visitors. The gallery is located at the Signature apartment building in Reston, VA, and visitors are welcome Tuesday-Saturday, 11am-5pm.” [Tephra ICA]
Leidos Lights Up HQ for Pride Month — Leidos will light up its headquarters building at Reston Town Center in rainbow colors today “as a tribute to PRIDE Month and the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots,” the information technology contractor says. This is the second year that the company has put on the display, which will run around the clock through June 30. [Leidos]
Nearby: Person Arrested at Loudoun County School Board Meeting — “The Loudoun County School Board shut down a public meeting Tuesday on a new policy involving transgender students after people at the meeting reportedly started speaking over public commenters and refused to cooperate. One person was arrested and there was at least one person injured, authorities say.” [NBC4]
Photo via vantagehill/Flickr
No South Lakes HS Vaccine Clinic Next Week — Contrary to notices from Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay’s office and Dogwood Elementary School, there will not be a COVID-19 vaccine clinic for students at South Lakes High School next Wednesday (May 26). FCPS spokesperson Lucy Caldwell told Reston Now that the site was changed and will be at Langley High School in McLean, as previously reported. “We are adding sites as needed and as school space availability/staffing allow,” she said.
Amazon Hiring for Hundreds of Jobs in Herndon — “Amazon.com has more than 3,000 job openings in Northern Virginia. More than 2,100 of those openings are in Arlington, many attached to HQ2…Almost 800 are in the Herndon area, where [Amazon Web Services] has its East Coast headquarters.” [Fairfax County Economic Development Authority]
Reston Man Raises Money to Send Oxygen to India — A GoFundMe started by Reston resident Afzal Memon and five other organizers has raised over $36,000 to buy and ship more than 100 oxygen concentrators to India on behalf of The Saiyed Foundation, a nonprofit that provides health care and emergency aid to remote villages. India is in dire need of oxygen and other medical supplies as the country struggles with a COVID-19 surge that claimed a reported 4,329 lives just on May 17. [Patch]
Elden Street Business Burglarized — The Herndon Police Department is investigating a burglary that reportedly occurred in the 1100 block of Elden Street overnight between May 15 and 16. Police say “an unknown number of subjects gained entry” to the business through a rear door and took “cash and various equipment.” [Herndon PD]
Litter Clean-up Coming to Glade Drive — “Reston Association, @FairfaxCountyPD, Southgate Community Center, & Dogwood Elementary School, FCPS will be hosting a community cleanup May 26-29th along Glade Drive from Reston Parkway to Sunrise Valley. For more information or to get involved contact Ha Brock at [email protected]” [RA/Twitter]
Photo via vantagehill/Flickr
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
The Herndon High School marching band is reaching out to the community as it renews its annual fundraising effort.
The band, dubbed the “Pride of Herndon,” has launched its Tag Day campaign to help fund music instruction, uniforms, sheet music, instruments and instrument repair.
The fundraising effort is typically done in-person as band students go door-to-door handing out flyers about the band and tags for the concert schedule while asking for donations. Tag Day is the largest fundraising event for the band.
Due to the pandemic, the band is hosting its fundraising effort virtually through the end of February. The band’s target is to raise $25,000.
As of Friday morning, the fundraising site shows the Pride of Herndon has raised just over a quarter of its goal.
Contributions to the band may be made directly on the band’s site via PayPal, on the fundraising site for this year’s Tag Day, or checks may be mailed to PO Box 1293, Herndon, VA 20172-1293.
“With all the learning being virtual this year due to COVID, we are trying creative ways to keep our students engaged and excited to continue making music together,” Kathleen Jacoby, Director of Herndon High School bands, said in a video promoting the fundraiser.
“To perform at the high level we do, we need instruments and other equipment, plus instrument specialist to come help out, and that costs money. Instead of knocking at your doors this year, we have created this online Tag Day site. Your contributions mean a lot to us, for the band means a lot to our students.”
Image courtesy Herndon High School
Around Reston and Herndon, community members are setting up GoFundMe pages to support servers and other workers affected by the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Reston Now has rounded up GoFundMe pages that are working to support restaurants and staffers who were recently laid off. Some crowdfunding campaigns are run directly by restaurant managers and owners. Others may be run by various community members as well.
Here are the latest fundraisers we found:
Uncle Julio’s of Reston employee relief aims to collect $20,000 to help employees who no longer have jobs or health insurance, according to the page. If people would prefer to support the restaurant in other ways, it is also still open for take-out and delivery, the website said. People can check out the website online.
“Some of you may recognize the friendly faces of our servers, bartenders, and hosts- but the most important part of the Uncle Julio’s family is our dedicated back of house staff,” the page said.
Cooper’s Hawk in Reston has almost already met its fundraising goal of $4,500. Currently, people have donated a total of $4,055 so far, according to the GoFundMe page.
All the proceeds will go to the nine bartenders at the location who rely so heavily on tips, according to the page. “Not just the best bartenders in town, but also our friends,” someone who commented on the page along with a $50 donation said.
Sweet Green created a pack on April 6 and has raised $245 of its $5,000 goal, according to the page, which added that “The funds will be divided equally amongst all 19 workers.”
Edwin Thorpe, a member of Morton’s Steakhouse bar team in Reston, created a page to support himself and his colleagues, the page said, which added he hopes to raise $5,000.
Pica Deli in Reston is also asking for financial support. So far, only one person has donated to the page.
Jimmy’s Old Town Tavern in Herndon is putting together a digital employee tip pool where patrons can help out staff and servers during this time. Of it’s $10,000 goal, 101 people have already donated $9,695 as of this writing.
“Each and every one of our employees is invaluable to us and we care deeply for their safety and their financial well-being,” the page said. “Some of our key employees have voluntarily left the company so that others can continue to work. Sadly, we’ve had no choice but to lay off a handful of our colleagues.”
Crafthouse is also asking for donations. The location’s GoFundMe has raised $6,167 raised of $20,000 goal so far, according to the page. One donor even gave $1,000 to the cause roughly a month ago.
“Ensuring the well-being of our guests and staff meant that we could no longer open our doors to the community we have served for 10 years,” the page said, adding that donations will go to bartenders, servers, cooks, dishwashers and managers.
On The Border in Reston is trying to raise $4,000, according to its GoFundMe page, which appears to be organized by the manager at the restaurant who was also laid off due to COVID19.
This week, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam extended restrictions for non-essential businesses, which were set to expire next week, to May 8.
Small businesses based in the county can also apply for county loans of up to $20,000. The program was approved by the county’s board this week.
Photo via Jimmy’s Old Town Tavern/Facebook
Fatimah Waseem contributed reporting.
Local residents and family members are remembering South Lakes High School teacher Simon Chang — who was killed in a motorcycle crash last week — for his spirited energy, enthusiasm and caring personality.
Friends and family have launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for Chang’s son Benaiah.
Chang, 38, of Ashburn, died after his motorcycle crashed near a wooded area along Alliance Drive in Fairfax. A groundskeeper discovered his body on August 22. He was reported missing on August 19.
So far, the campaign has collected nearly $13,000.
“Simon will be remembered for his spirited energy and enthusiasm. He had a gift of blessing those around him with his encouraging words and humor. His laugh was contagious and brought people together,” wrote Greg Lee, the campaign’s organizer. “He served God with passion and sacrifice wholeheartedly as a missionary for International House of Prayer. He had a passion for positivity influencing the youth as a teacher and basketball coach for South Lakes High School. He was dearly loved by those who knew him.”
Chang was an emotional disabilities teacher and basketball coach at SLHS. Kim Retzer, the school’s principal told Reston Now that Chang will be remembered for his caring personality.
“Mr. Chang was a beloved staff member who touched the lives of the students he taught and coached. He will be remembered by students and staff alike for his caring nature and he will always be a part of the Seahawk family,” Retzer said.
Although Chang had only been with the basketball program for a short time, Andrew Duggan, the school’s assistant director of student activities said he had a big impact on the time.
“He was a valuable person in our program for the last three seasons. While his time in our program was short, he had a big impact on our players. His contribution on the court and classroom will be missed at South Lakes,” Duggan said.
Proceeds from the GoFundMe will facilitate Benaiah’s “healthy growth and development.”
Photo via GoFundMe
A GoFundMe page is raising funds for the family displaced after a fire broke out in their home in Herndon yesterday.
The campaign, which was created and activated today (Feb. 1), aims to help Tim Gaffney’s family cover the costs of “small things that add up” — clothes, toiletries, shoes, coats and more — with the hope that insurance will cover the larger losses.
In just a few hours, the GoFundMe page has raised nearly $2,000.
The Red Cross has put the family up in a hotel, according to the fundraiser.
The GoFundMe page says the following:
January 31, 2019 Tim Gaffney woke to the smell of smoke. The entire garage was engulfed and it was quickly moving to the house. He woke Ryan and Tara and they were able to get out. Janeen and Sofia were in MA at a skating event.
Flash forward 24 hours and my oldest friend in the world and her family are homeless.
The Red Cross has put them up in a hotel and friends have rallied around them. But this is just day one.
Our hope of course is that insurance will cover the larger losses. House. Cars. Boat. It’s all the small things that add up. Clothes. Toiletries. Shoes. Coats.
We are asking for any help you can provide to get this family through the next really difficult months until they find their new normal.
Anyone not comfortable with sending money is more than welcome to send gift cards. Anything — I mean anything — will be so appreciated.
Thank you on on behalf of Tim, Janeen, Ryan, Sofia and Tara.
Firefighters had the fire under control in about two hours after arriving at the house in the 12100 block of Westwood Hills Drive around 6:38 a.m. on Jan. 31.
The three people in the home at the time of the fire were able to self-evacuate. Two of the occupants received treatment for smoke inhalation, according to the fire department.
Photo via @ffxfirerescue/Twitter
His name is Jonathan Chicas. But his friends call him “Primo.”
“‘Primo’ means ‘cousin’ in Spanish,” said Ryan Alcorn, a senior at Herndon High School and a Reston resident. “He’s like family.”
And when he was going through some tough times recently, his local “family” was there to help him out. He had fallen sick with pneumonia and was facing a seemingly insurmountable medical bill.
His worries were alleviated when the bill was covered in less than 24 hours, thanks to a GoFundMe page and a community that supports those in need.
“I was sure that I was going to need to leave school to pay this,” Jonathan said. “Wow, I was so happy.”
Jonathan, a junior at Herndon High School, came to the U.S. with his family from El Salvador. Living in Herndon, they sometimes have trouble making ends meet. To pay the bills, Jonathan sometimes has to help out by doing odd jobs.
Recently, he was working on a concrete job in unfriendly weather.
“It was cold — very, very cold,” he said.
It wasn’t long after that he started to feel sick — very, very sick.
“I was sneezing and I was getting headaches,” he said. “The next day, it was getting worse.”
Jonathan tried to fight the illness without taking medicine or going to the doctor. Instead, he visited the school clinic.
“I didn’t want to go to the hospital, because I knew it was going to be very, very expensive,” he said, adding that he does not have health insurance.
After a few days, his health turned from bad to worse.
“I went to the clinic and I told the nurse that now I was feeling miserable,” he said. “I went to the bathroom and I was vomiting, and I saw some red spots, and I knew it was blood.”
An ambulance was summoned to transfer Jonathan to the emergency room. He spent a morning there, where he received a pneumonia diagnosis. He was given antibiotics and quickly felt better. After about a week of recovery, he was good as new.
That is, until the bill arrived.
“Just from the hospital, not including the ambulance, it was $4,196.75,” he said. “For three hours.”
Jonathan felt sick again, this time for another reason.
“We were supposed to have dinner, and I wasn’t hungry at all,” he said. “I had lost it, to be honest.”
Ryan had been used to hearing from “Primo” regularly. They spent a lot of time together after becoming friends in personal fitness class.
When he hadn’t seen his friend around or heard from him for several days, he texted to ask what was going on.
“He was like, ‘Aww man, I was really sick,'” Ryan said. “He didn’t really go into detail, so I was just like, ‘All right, I’m glad you’re feeling better.'”
But when Jonathan brought the bill over to show Ryan, the true scope of the problem came to light.
“He looked really depressed, and that was something I’d never really seen before,” Ryan said. “I kept telling him on the way home, ‘I think everything’s going to be all right, it’s going to be OK.’ But I knew at that point he didn’t believe me, and I don’t know if I totally believed myself.”
Jonathan’s mother makes $380 a week at her job, and his dad makes some cash here and there through handyman work, but not much in the winter. In addition to helping to pay the bills, Jonathan sends money back to El Salvador to help his grandmother.
“I kind of know his financial situation, about having to pay other bills,” Ryan said. “The amount of work he has to put in just to get by is incredible.”
Ryan floated the idea of a GoFundMe campaign to raise money to pay the bill.
“I knew, just from the people that Jonathan is friends with and people he’s met, they all love him,” he said. “I knew they would come out and support him.”
Jonathan wasn’t as optimistic, but Ryan was able to convince him. The page launched Jan. 4.
And it took off, Ryan said.
“At first it was people we knew, good friends of Jonathan, and then it was people who had heard about him or just heard the story, and they all wanted to get involved,” he said. “That’s truly a testament to this community that we have here. I knew there were some really great people, but I didn’t realize how much support they could bring for someone they barely knew. I just thought that was awesome.”
From the GoFundMe page:
“Our friend Jonathan, known to many as ‘Primo’ needs our help. In early December Jonathan caught pneumonia and despite trying to soldier through it, he ended up in the Emergency Room. Primo doesn’t have insurance and he’s now facing a staggering medical bill. In addition to being a student a Herndon High School, Jonathan works multiple jobs to support himself and his family. He’s considering dropping out to take on yet another job to pay this bill. If we can all pitch in, even a little bit, we might be able to cover the expenses and keep Primo on the path to graduation. If you know Primo, you know just how wonderful a guy he is. He needs our help. Please consider donating today.”
Donations of $10, $50, $100 and more came pouring in. The GoFundMe page hit its $4,197 goal within a day, and the total has now risen to nearly $5,000.
The money is currently in a special account, being handled by Ryan’s mother, Kristina. It will soon be transferred to pay the bill in full, with some cash left over to help Jonathan’s other expenses.
Jonathan said he is hopeful that he can pursue a career in the U.S. Marine Corps once he is done with school. He is involved in the ROTC program at Herndon High and he has been talking with a recruiter about making his dream a reality.
“(I’d be) serving the country that has helped me,” he said. “I just want to protect my family and my friends, so they can have the rights that they have.”
Ryan said that selfless determination is further proof of the type of human being “Primo,” his “cousin,” is.
“He’s just a nice guy, really kind,” Ryan said. “He really is loved by this community.”
Update, 10:34 a.m. Thursday — Candice Duggar says the family has some immediate needs as they are staying with her temporarily. If those wishing to contribute could help today, donations could be dropped off at 11585 Southington Lane, Herndon.
The family, who wishes to remain anonymous, needs: Pajamas (boys 10-12, girls, 10-12, women’s M-L), toiletries, pillows, blankets and towels. Gift cards to local stores are also welcome.
“She literally left her house with the clothes on her back,” says Duggar.
Original story: Two groups have organized fundraising and supply drives to help a Reston family whose home suffered extensive damage in a fire on Tuesday.
Firefighters say a candle that was accidentally knocked over in the garage sparked the blaze, which caused $260,000 in damage. The first and second floors of the townhouse at 11410 Summer House Ct., as well as the family car, were burned. The family rented the North Reston townhouse and did not have insurance.
“A Reston single mom with two young children, ages 9 and 8, lost everything they have in a house fire on Dec. 10 in Reston,” writes Candice Duggar, a family friend who started a GoFundMe page. “Her friends are trying to help he rebuild her life with the immediate need of housing, clothes and food. There is no insurance to help with expenses and everything they have left can fit in one trash bag. Please consider making a donation to help with a first month rent and security deposit, first months rent, food money, and clothes. Their car was also destroyed in the fire. Thank you for any support you can give no amount is too small.”
Duggar is hoping to raise $15,000. Go to Duggar’s Go Fund Me Page for more information and to make a donation.
Another local group, Our Love Project: Hope Restored, has organized a supply drive for the family, which needs everything from clothing (women’s size 10-12, Boy size 10-2, Girl size 10-12) to toys (Pokemon cards, Barbies), to blankets and toiletries. A complete list of supplies can be found here.
The organizer of the Hope Restored project is hoping to have relief supplies organized by this coming Sunday, Dec. 15, 3 p.m. Donations will be accepted until Dec. 22 at 3 p.m. You may drop-off your items in a drop box at 506 Sherry Ann Court, Leesburg, VA 20175 or contact them for other arrangements by emailing [email protected].
Photo: Our Love Project