Fairfax is losing a good one.
Later this month, FACETS executive director Amanda Andere will leave the Fairfax organization to lead Wider Opportunities for Women, a national, D.C.-based nonprofit that advocates for policies that help women, children and elders.
Based on her accomplishments with FACETS, she should do quite well.
In five short years, Andere helped transform the subject of homelessness in Fairfax County from something discussed in quiet, hushed tones into a communitywide discussion that’s changed the lives of thousands of people.
In a county with roughly 1,500 homeless residents and thousands more teetering on the brink of homelessness, the work that FACETS and other nonprofits do on a daily basis is critical. While Fairfax County gets plenty of attention for its wealth, education levels and amenities, the plight of its neediest citizens rarely made headlines.
Andere helped change that narrative.
FACETS, a leader in the county’s efforts to prevent and end homelessness, played a central role in Fairfax County’s 100,000 Homes Campaign, which aims to identify chronically homeless people in the community and get them into permanent housing. Since 2009, FACETS has seen a significant increase in individual giving, grant funding and volunteer engagement, allowing the organization to expand its services and address an age-old challenge from new angles.
A majority of the region’s homeless are in working families with children. Many are the same folks who bag our groceries, take our dry cleaning order or wait on our table at a local restaurant. With critical help from volunteers and partnerships with the faith and business communities, FACETS, under Andere, helped those struggling to make ends meet with a wide spectrum of services, ranging from financial assistance, counseling and outreach to educational enrichment programs and permanent housing.
Those efforts have taken the county’s blueprint for eradicating homelessness from the “pipe dream” stage to “distinct possibility” in a few short years.
Yes, much work remains, but we’re optimistic that the energy, enthusiasm and vision Andere displayed during her years here will continue to serve Fairfax well in the decade to come.
The lost art of compromise
Once upon a time politics used to be termed “the art of compromise.”
In those bygone days, that meant both sides giving up some of what they wanted to come to a meeting of the minds for the best interests of the electorate.
That way of practicing politics made for some strange alliances, but the system worked — legislation got passed and the business of the people carried on.
Unfortunately, the gridlock that has overtaken the federal government just up the road in Washington, D.C., has filtered down to the government of the commonwealth just down the road in Richmond.
Partisan voices have become so strident and resistant to compromise that both Democrats now seem to feel that moving even a bit from their hardened positions would signify defeat.
The parties holding a budget hostage for nearly three months over whether Medicaid expansion should be part of the state’s spending plan should take the advice Oscar Rodgers gave in a “Saturday Night Live” skit: “FIX IT! It’s a simple two-step process. Step one, FIX; step two, IT.”