Special Program: Community Opportunities

SCA’s October 16th special presentation on community opportunities at Grace Presbyterian Church laid out a myriad of opportunities both for volunteering to help and for benefitting from the services offered by our local organizations. The purpose of the meeting was to bring together those organizations in our SCA area with our membership to explore ways in which we can support each other. Sixteen organizations shared their volunteer opportunities and services they offer with the audience of about 50.

Grace Presbyterian Church, www.gracepresby.org

Following the Pledge of Allegiance, led by Pack 691 Cub Scouts, Pastor Jay Click (3007pastor@gracepresby.org) of Grace Presbyterian (7434 Bath Street, 703-451-2900) was the first speaker. He extended a welcome to the group, noted the long association and working relationship of Grace with the neighborhood and SCA specifically. Grace Presbyterian is one of the founding churches of ECHO (Ecumenical Community Helping Others), and remains actively engaged through food collection, member participation and funding. He also highlighted Grace’s “Aging with Grace” outreach directed by Beth Hershner (703-451-2900 x3013 or 3013aging@gracepresby.org). The organization offers a month full of programs such as the Caregiver Support Group for adult children who are caring for their aging relatives (2nd Monday, 7-8:30pm); monthly brown bag luncheons (usually the 3rd Wednesday, 12:15-1:30pm); weekly exercise class (12:10-1:00pm; $5 fee); and Proverbs 17:22 Club, aka BUNCO (last Tuesday 1-3pm).

St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, www.stmarks-elca.org

Rev. Albert Triolo (atriolo@stmarks-elca.org) of St. Mark’s Lutheran Church (5800 Backlick Road, 703-451-4331) spoke about his church’s programs, especially its tutoring partnership with Lynbrook School.

Elementary Schools

School Counselor Sara Crummett (SLCrummett1@fcps.edu) of Crestwood, Principal Mary McNamee (memcnamee@fcps.edu) and PTA President Gary Bangs (gary.bangs@verizon.net) of Lynbrook, and Principal Maureen Marshall (MEMarshall1@fcps.edu) of Garfield Elementary School all gave thumbnail sketches of their schools, the wonderful programs in each, and their desire for community volunteers. All encouraged the audience to call the school office to see how they could help, emphasizing that it can be as much or little time as the individual has to offer.

Crestwood Elementary School, www.fcps.edu/CrestwoodES
6010 Hanover Avenue, 703-923-5400

Lynbrook Elementary School, www.fcps.edu/LynbrookES
5801 Backlick Road, 703-866-2940

Garfield Elementary School, www.fcps.edu/GarfieldES
7101 Old Keene Mill Road, 703-923-2900

ECHO, www.echo-inc.org

Meg Brantley (echoadmin@verizon.net), Executive Director of ECHO (Ecumenical Community Helping Others), explained the various ways ECHO serves our community and welcomed any and all help from volunteers. The purpose of ECHO is to help people in need in our community by assisting those who suffer the effects of long-term poverty as well as people who are experiencing an emergency need. Its Articles of Incorporation permit ECHO to engage in seven specific areas of service: aiding families in emergencies; providing family guidance and assistance; supplying transportation to adults and children for needed services; providing adequate shelter for clients; educating citizens with regard to social and charitable needs; operating a day care center for children; and other lawful activities. These areas provide a menu from which ECHO selects activities which seem to be most needed in the geographic area which it serves in the Burke and Springfield communities, south of Braddock Road, west of I-95/395, north of Lorton and east of Route 123.

ECHO is also associated with a mentoring and tutoring program but is actually just the middle man. It sent out emails to all 400+ of its volunteers, asking if they would like to consider doing either or both, as well as their normal volunteering hours, and received a tremendously positive response. The first “wave” of mentors and tutors were walked through the process by ECHO’s School Program “champion” and were then paired up with those schools in need.

Lake Accotink Park, www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/lake-accotink

Lake Accotink Park Supervisor Julie Tahan (Julie.Tahan@fairfaxcounty.gov) and Friends of Lake Accotink Park (FLAP) President Jim Hickey (jimhickey12@gmail.com) outlined the wonderful programs the park has to offer and the volunteer opportunities that help our park continue its neighborhood outreach. FLAP holds monthly meetings at Richard Byrd Library on the 3rd Thursday of each month. Contact the park at 703-569-0285.

Woman’s Club of Springfield, www.womansclubofspringfield.org

Susan Edson (scelande@aol.com), President of the Woman’s Club of Springfield, began by sharing a little of the long history of the Club. It was chartered in 1954 and played a major role in the creation of Richard Byrd Library. The purposes of the Club are to study topics of general interest, to promote fellowship, foster cultural interest in the Springfield community, advance general welfare, carry out charitable projects, and help our community. The Club received the 1997 Springfield InterService Club Council Organization of the Year Award for the Pink Elephant Thrift Shop operation. The Pink Elephant (located in Springfield’s Concord Center) opened for business in 1964, with the Club becoming the sole owner and operator in 1974. The shop is staffed entirely by the unpaid volunteers who are members of the Woman’s Club of Springfield, Inc. All profits are used for philanthropic projects.

Richard Byrd Library, www.fairfaxcounty.gov/library/branches/rb

Branch Manager of Richard Byrd Library Sandy Freund (sandy.freund@fairfaxcounty.gov) praised her library volunteers: “Our library volunteers enable us to provide services that otherwise we couldn’t offer to the public. Examples of volunteer-led programs at the Richard Byrd Library are our English conversation group, our Classics book club, and the Springfield Writers’ Group. We have a dedicated technology volunteer who teaches basic Internet and Microsoft Office skills by appointment. We could use another tech volunteer, perhaps on a morning or an evening. We are also looking for an e-book tutor to show customers how to download library books to their Kindle, Nook, or other devices. We provide the devices and the training. Reading Buddies volunteers help students in grades 1 to 6 with their reading on Monday and Tuesday afternoons. The demand is great, so we can always use more volunteers, especially people who are willing to be substitutes when one of our regulars can’t attend. The library, like ECHO, offers community services hours to students. Due to the large number of students looking for hours, it’s important to put in an application early. Student volunteers prepare library welcome packets for new card holders, cut scrap paper, sharpen pencils, check DVD and audiobooks to make sure that all the disks are in the case (and that they are the right disks). They also clean media and shelf-read. During the summer, students in rising grades 7-12 can sign up to volunteer for the Summer Reading Program. They help children sign up for the program, take completed logs, help with library programs, and assist with other tasks as needed. Contact the library at 703-451-8055.

Friends of Richard Byrd Library President Christine Peterson (christine.peterson@hotmail.com) explained that the Friends raise money for our community library by selling used books. You can help us in three ways: donate your gently used books, volunteer for our Special Sale, and come to our Sale – all the money you spend on those terrific holiday purchases goes to the library's children’s program. 

Girl Scout Council of the Nation’s Capital

René Megill (rmegill@gscnc.org, 703-3762-4344), Membership Specialist for the Girl Scout Council of the Nation’s Capital, was represented by Maria Murphy, Association 52 Assistant Chair of the Girl Scouts. Currently there are no Girl Scout troops at any of our three elementary schools but the Girl Scouts are looking for adult leaders so we can have troops at Crestwood, Garfield and Lynbrook.

Boy Scouts

Joseph Silver (josephsilver3@hotmail.com), Cub Master of Pack 691 (which meets at Grace Church), offered an invitation: “If you have a boy between first and fifth grade, stop by on Tuesday night at 6pm. Come join the FUN with Pack 691! For more information contact: Cub Master Joe Silver 703-963-4757 for our English, German, and Russian Speakers or Sr. Glean Gonzalez at 301-892-0501 for our Spanish Speakers. Pack 691 would love to see more boys involved with this great organization. The pack is also looking for cash donations to send more boys to summer camp.

Trails for Youth, www.trailsforyouth.org, www.facebook.com/trailsforyouth.org

Trails for Youth, represented by Julie Childers (julie@trailsforyouth.org, 703-209-5721), gave this synopsis of what the organization is all about: “TrailsforYouth.Org is a 501(c)3 Springfield-based children's health organization. Our mission is to mentor youth to overcome obstacles on the trail and in life. Quite simply, without our programs, there are at-risk youth within Springfield that would not get outside to enjoy fresh air, a bike ride and the opportunity to be active outdoors. As one child recently said, “this is way more fun than playing video games!” Our mission is to mentor at-risk youth and provide opportunities for all children to experience the joys and benefits of being active outdoors. Our programs focus on getting all youth outdoors and active. We have levels of involvement for everyone from a variety of backgrounds — find one that works for you!

What a wonderful investment of your time, talent and energy being a volunteer in one of these organizations would be! If you need a service, it’s likely one of these organizations can provide just the thing! And, yes, SCA can use your help, too!