Ana Gloribel Pereira of Burke is one of five high school students from the Washington, D.C., area who will be honored Nov. 15 at the Children’s Defense Fund’s Beat the Odds Awards Ceremony.
A senior at Lake Braddock Secondary School, Pereira will receive a $10,000 college scholarship, guidance through the college admissions process and an invitation to join CDF’s leadership training programs.
Pereira, 18, was born and raised in El Salvador, where she lived with her grandparents until she was 12. When she moved to the United States, she had to adjust to a new country, language and school. With the help of teachers and classmates, she began to excel.
Still, her home life was marked by poverty and abuse. Pereira worked to help put food on the table and buy clothes for her younger brothers.
“In school, I felt protected. There’s no violence,” she said. “All I can see every time I walk the hallways, it’s a smile.”
Pereira made the honor roll six years in a row, maintained a 3.8 GPA, and won awards in science, the humanities and public speaking. She dreams of becoming an immigration lawyer or prosecutor.
The CDF Beat the Odds program honors outstanding high schools students who have overcome tremendous adversity, demonstrated academic excellence and given back to their communities. Since 1990, CDF has supported more than 700 young people and been the catalyst for them to become doctors, lawyers, engineers, teachers, advocates, Peace Corps volunteers and productive citizens.
“60 Minutes” correspondent Byron Pitts hosts this year’s ceremony, which takes place at the Carnegie Institution of Science in D.C. Speakers include Marian Wright Edelman, president of Children’s Defense Fund; Cedric Jennings, D.C. Council’s director of Youth Programs; and Joshua Johnson, tap dancing sensation from “Dancing with the Stars.” Gospel singer Vanessa Renee Williams will perform. Pereira will share her Beat the Odds story and dreams for her future.
For more about the event, visit www.childrensdefense.org.
Fairfax Realtor lauded for Laura’s Houses
The National Association of Realtors has chosen Ortrud “Trudy” Harsh, a broker-associate at Long & Foster Real Estate in Fairfax, as one of five winners of Realtor Magazine’s 2012 Good Neighbor Award.
Harsh was selected for establishing The Brain Foundation in Fairfax, which provides supportive housing for mentally ill adults to help reduce homelessness in that population.
“Trudy’s devotion to creating safe and supportive homes for those suffering mental illness epitomizes what a Good Neighbor Award winner and Realtor stand for,” said NAR President Moe Veissi of Veissi & Associates in Miami.
Harsh will receive a $10,000 grant for The Brain Foundation and a $2,000 Lowe’s gift card.
Complications from brain tumor surgery left Trudy’s daughter Laura at the developmental age of 8. As she grew into adulthood, Laura’s sometimes violent behavior made independent living impossible and time spent in group homes precarious. Persistent health problems meant frequent hospitalizations. Finding permanent housing became a constant problem.
Harsh thought she might use her real estate knowledge to bring change. In 2003 she formed The Brain Foundation in Fairfax, but by 2006 it looked like her dream might fizzle for lack of funding. When Laura died at age 38, Harsh was the foundation’s only member.
She remained determined to help others and at Laura’s funeral requested donations to the foundation. A real estate investment partner responded with a $50,000 gift. Harsh leveraged the funds to buy the first of six homes, collectively known as “Laura’s Houses.”
“If I could nominate her for sainthood, I would,” said William Kreher of Falls Church, whose 41-year-old son was one of the foundation’s first tenants. Kreher and his wife had searched for stability for their son, who has bipolar disorder.
“He has come a long way as far as being self-assured,” said Kreher. “[Residents of Laura’s Houses] are actively contributing to society, which they probably couldn’t do if they were living under a bridge somewhere.”
Harsh says housing needs are becoming more acute nationwide as mental institutions close and are not replaced with alternatives. She adds that she has secured donations and grants for three more houses, space enough for 12 more people.
Vienna announces Halloween Parade winners
The following were judged winners in the 2012 Vienna Halloween Parade, according to the town of Vienna and the Tysons Regional Chamber of Commerce, and were recognized at the Nov. 5 Town Council meeting.
— Best in Show: Creativeworx/SDF
— Youth Band: James Madison High School Marching Band (first place); George C. Marshall Marching Statesmen (second place)
— Adult Band: Northern Virginia Firefighters Emerald Society Pipe Band
— Floats with music: Creativeworx/SDF (first); Green Hedges School (second); Northwest Federal Credit Union (third)
— Floats without music: Oakcrest School
— Youth Performing Groups: Cuppett Performing Arts Center (first); Unistars Unicycling Showtroupe (second); Vienna Dance Academy (third)
— Adult Performing Groups: Fairfax County Police Motor Squad (first); Fairfax Virginia Chapter Harley Owners Group (second); Bikes@Vienna (third)
— Antique Vehicles: Northern Virginia Corvette Club (first); Glen Bates (second); Chuck and Karilyn Kunstbeck (third).
National childcare center opens in Chantilly
The Learning Experience, a national franchise of childcare centers, recently opened its first Northern Virginia center in Chantilly at 4150 Pleasant Valley Road.
Supervisor Michael Frey (Sully District) was the ribbon-cutter at the school’s October opening. The center is currently enrolling new students.
The award-winning franchise has opened seven centers in Virginia, with more slated to open in Northern Virginia during the next few years.
Owners Jennifer and Sean Vieira of Fairfax say they believe in the value of high-quality early education in the development of children, and are dedicated to providing the best for those enrolled at TLE.
“The Learning Experience is special in so many ways, but what really stands out is how we deliver our cutting-edge curriculum and all-inclusive programs to our children and parents,” said Jennifer Vieira.
“Our brand-new state-of-the-art facility is the best in the area,” said Director Tina Coulson, who has more than 19 years of preschool and childcare management experience.
TLE will host a grand opening from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Nov. 10. For more, visit www.chantilly.tlechildcare.com.
Veterans Day coupons support wounded warriors
SmartSource Magazine’s Nov. 4 coupon insert — distributed in honor of Veterans Day to some 53 million households, including Washington Post subscribers — was dedicated to the Wounded Warrior Project’s “Believe in Heroes” campaign, said News America Marketing, a division of News Corp. “Believe in Heroes” focuses attention on all that today’s veterans have done for our country.
Fifty-six brands who pledged their support are offering coupons with a total value exceeding $50. Consumers may print the coupons at www.woundedwarriorproject.org or donate directly to the Wounded Warrior Project.
Conceived in 2010 by Acosta Sales & Marketing, the “Believe in Heroes” campaign helped raise more than $3.5 million for WWP last year. The goal this year is $4 million.
“The ‘Believe in Heroes’ campaign offers everyday consumers the ability to give back and enhance the lives of Wounded Warriors who sacrifice so much for the rest of us,” said Adam Silva, WWP’s chief development officer.
WWP’s vision is to foster the most successful, well-adjusted generation of injured service members in our nation’s history.