After all the accolades, the tribute films and honoree speeches, the 2012 Best of Reston Gala concluded with its always much anticipated bottom-line announcement. The annual event, this year held April 12 at the Hyatt Regency Reston, raised $405,000 for the work of Reston Interfaith.
Cheering the announcement at the gala, which honors individuals and businesses for their exceptional community service, was an exuberant crowd of more than 700, who packed the Hyatt’s largest ballroom.
The coming together of business and community, the money raised by the gala, co-sponsored by Interfaith and the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce, goes toward supporting Interfaith’s transitional housing, Embry Rucker Community Shelter and Laurel Learning Center.
Founded in 1970 by area religious organizations, Interfaith also encourages the development of affordable housing, offers parent education and provides food and financial assistance. On average, Interfaith helps more than 250,000 clients each year.
Kerrie Wilson, Interfaith’s CEO, told the crowd that Interfaith would continue to serve until “we can shut the doors on shelter.”
She also suggested that while some might fear the changes coming to Reston because of Metro’s new Silver line, she regarded it as “an opportunity for job growth.”
Wilson enthusiastically added, “Reston will never change. It will always be a great place.”
Mark Ingrao, president and CEO of the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce, promised that the chamber would do all that it could to “put the shelter out of business.”
He insisted, “There is no reason with the growth due to rail that we can’t raise money so there is no more homelessness in Reston.”
Presenting Wilson with a special proclamation, Del. Ken Plum (D-Dist. 36) said, “In Richmond we brag about our community.”
This year’s recipients of Reston’s most prestigious honor included:
ŸJanet and the late Vade Bolton, individuals — Reston Interfaith volunteers since 1985, both Boltons have been a constant presence at the Embry Rucker Community Shelter, offering “unconditional friendship that helped so many people find the strength to keep going.” They persuaded the Beth Emeth congregation to fund dental work for shelter clients and solicited reduced rates from area dentists. Vade Bolton, who died in December 2011, devoted his life to volunteerism after retiring in 2000 as director of leadership development training at the National Education Association. In addition to serving on the Interfaith Board, he participated in Fairfax County’s Penny Fund for Housing, which preserved 2,300 affordable homes, and the Partnership to Prevent and End Homelessness. Janet Vade also volunteers with the Closet in Herndon and organizes hypothermia programs for FACETS.
ŸBoofie and Joe O’Gorman, individuals — The O’Gorman’s mantra is “roll up your sleeves and get involved.” Boofie O’Gorman, a real estate agent at Long & Foster, serves as chair of the Board of Managers for the Reston YMCA. She spearheaded the first Reston Kids Triathlon, co-sponsored by the YMCA and Reston Association, in 2011. Two hundred children participated, 50 on scholarships. She also is chair of Interfaith’s Capitol Steps benefit and is a member of the Wolf Trap Associates Board. Joe O’Gorman, senior negotiator for Sprint Nextel, has volunteered with the Reston Triathlon for 10 years, and he was instrumental in creating the Reston Sprint Triathlon, which has raised $100,000 for Interfaith. For the past five years, both O’Gormans have supported the participation in the triathlon of up to 30 Fairfax County police and firefighters. The also have contributed to HomeAid and Habitat for Humanity Northern Virginia and Reston’s St. Anne’s Episcopal Church.
ŸReston Youth Little League, civic/community organization — Reston Little League, a 40-year-old all-volunteer program, has a unique structure that teaches not only respect for community and lessons in sportsmanship, but also regard for individuals. Rather than drafting players once, as other leagues do, Reston players at all age levels are placed on teams through an unusual annual “common pool” system. By the time players have graduated from the RLL program, they have played with more than 100 different children. Their parents have interacted with just as many families. Although playing together a shorter amount of time compared to teams playing together for years, the Reston Nationals team won the 2011 Virginia State Championship. RLL also boasts an active Challenger Division for children with physical and mental disabilities. RLL’s Challenger Division was the first of its kind in Virginia.
ŸGraceful Spaces, civic/community organization — Jean Boston, Karen Hale and Anne Strange assist families who are transitioning from homelessness with furnishings and by identifying what is important to each family to foster a true sense of ownership and belonging. They also teach housekeeping and organizing skills. Their skills also have helped clients with disabilities. Since 2008, they have served 59 families, including 143 children, and have dedicated 2,700 volunteer hours.
ŸWee Play, small business leader — Designed for children up to the age of five, Wee Play extends the positives of playing in a bright, colorful, enriched and interactive environment to children who might not otherwise be able to afford it. It opened its 3,000-square-foot studio space to the children of Interfaith’s Laurel Learning Center and Embry Rucker Community Shelter, and when there were transportation limitations, Wee Play went to the shelter, bringing with it art, music and dance. Kathy Brennan, Wee Play’s owner and director, also has used her community resources to help shelter mothers in a variety of other ways. On Mother’s Day 2011, Brennan and her Wee Play parents organized and funded a “Mom’s Night Out,” treating shelter mothers to manicures and dinner out. Wee Play also hosts twice-yearly baby showers for new mothers who participate in the Healthy Families Fairfax Program for first-time, at-risk parents.
ŸDominion Virginia Power, corporate business leader — Dominion’s EnergyShare program helps families with financial hardships to keep the lights on and the house warm in winter. In the fall of 2011, 40 Dominion employees helped to weatherize seven of Interfaith’s transitional townhomes and the shelter. Dominion supports the Girls Excelling in Math and Science at Reston’s Dogwood Elementary School. A $5,000 donation in 2011 expanded that program. Since 2009, Rachel Carson Middle School has received $15,000 for its Future Renewable Energy Effort project that involves installing solar panels on the roof and learning about alternative energy forms. Dominion employees participate in Ethics Days at three area high schools, including South Lakes. In 2011 the Dominion Trail Mix program supported cleanup projects on the W&OD trail in Reston and Herndon, and a $10,000 matching grant was given to the Northern Virginia Regional Park Foundation’s “Nature Nuts” environmental education programs. Its leadership team serves on the boards of Herndon-Reston FISH and the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce.