When Fairfax Releaf executive director Taylor Beach checked the nonprofit’s email inbox on June 1, she got a welcome surprise: a community donation from TCC, a newly opened phone retail store in Fairfax.
The same email appeared in the inboxes of Insight Memory Care Center, a resource and health community for people with memory impairments, and Rebuilding Together, which provides building repairs to low-income homeowners and nonprofit organizations.
At first, Beach thought the unsolicited donation seemed too good to be true, so she sent an email back to find out what was going on.
As it turned out, Fairfax Releaf, Insight Memory Care Center, and Rebuilding Together had all won a community contest organized by TCC, which is run by Round Room LLC, the largest Verizon authorized wireless retailer in the country.
Located on Braddock Road near George Mason University, TCC formally presented checks for amounts between $1,000 to $3,000 to each of the winning nonprofits at its grand opening on June 9.
“It’s dictated by what’s important to the community,” TCC regional director Ken Urbano said of the winners, who were selected both in person by store visitors and online by local community members. “The community definitely cried out that they want to take care of people. They want their fellow citizens to be comforted and protected, and it was a beautiful thing to see.”
According to its website, there are 853 TCC stores in the U.S., but this is the first location in Fairfax County and only the second in Northern Virginia, with the other store in the region situated in Arlington.
The process of bringing TCC, which was originally known as The Cellular Connection, to Fairfax was a long one, taking about four years from conception to store opening, according to Urbano.
When determining the location of a new store, TCC researches the demographics of a potential area and seeks out information from other nearby businesses to figure out the location’s viability.
Once management settled on Braddock Road as the location for its Fairfax store, Urbano says they wanted to introduce TCC to the surrounding community in a way that reflected the company’s “culture of good.”
“It’s important to us to not only be a service provider to our community, but it’s important to us to be side-by-side with our community in things that matter,” Urbano said.
That idea led TCC to launch a competition where community members would choose local nonprofit organizations that they believed deserve monetary support.
TCC developed a list of nonprofits that included Girls on the Run of Northern Virginia and Comfort for America’s Uniformed Services, along with the three ultimate winners. Community members could then vote for their favorite choices either by filling out a flyer distributed in the store or going online at TCCRocks.com.
The voting period started May 15, three days after TCC Fairfax’s May 12 soft opening, and ended May 28.
TCC publicly announced the three contest winners on May 6 and revealed at its grand opening that Insight Memory Care Center had won the top prize of $3,000, while Fairfax Releaf and Rebuilding Together received $2,000 and $1,000, respectively, for coming in second and third.
“We were surprised and just happy to know that we’re being recognized in the community, which is always nice to have even without the check,” Insight Memory Care Center development coordinator Bianca Spatafora said after accepting the donation.
Founded in 1984 as the Family Respite Center, Insight Memory Care Center provides support, education, and care to individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and other memory impairments along with their families and caregivers.
Insight Memory Care Center is the day center in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area that caters specifically to people with dementia, and it is the only adult day health center in Northern Virginia with programs for people in the later stages of dementia, according to the organization’s website.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S., and its prevalence is rapidly increasing. An estimated 5.5 million Americans now live with this particular form of dementia.
“Fairfax County is no different than the rest of the country in that baby boomers are rapidly aging,” Spatafora said. “Our population is aging up, so demand for our services is going to reflect that.”
The second donation recipient, Fairfax Releaf, started in 1991 as a local effort to mobilize volunteer citizens to plant trees and shrubs in order to offset the loss of woodlands due to urban development.
According to Beach, the $2,000 that Fairfax Releaf got from TCC will be able to support the planting and protection of about 500 trees and shrubs in the Fairfax area.
“We’ve got a fairly bare-bones budget,” Beach said. “Any amount – and $2,000 is a large amount for us – goes directly to buying, planting, stocking [and protecting].”
The final donation recipient, Rebuilding Together, provides critical repairs and modifications for low-income homeowners and nonprofit organizations in Fairfax and Arlington Counties as well as the City of Falls Church.
Rebuilding Together senior advisor Don Ryan says that most of the organization’s clients are seniors, so its work often entails installing grab bars and stair railings, fixing tripping hazards, and taking care of other potential dangers.
The nonprofit recruited 1,400 volunteers to repair 59 homes and seven nonprofit facilities in 2016, according to Ryan.
In fact, Rebuilding Together recently completed another project for a low-income family. A celebration will be held at the family’s home in Fairfax on June 29 at 11:00 a.m.
As with any other nonprofit, corporate donations and support are crucial to sustaining Rebuilding Fairfax in a world where the need for assistance, financial or otherwise, always seems to exceed the availability of resources.
“This contribution will help us…buy the materials and make repairs [for] three low-income seniors,” Ryan said of the $1,000 from TCC. “Almost all of our work is done by volunteers, so we’re an incredibly cost-effective delivery system.”