- Outstanding County Volunteers recognized
- County government volunteers valued at over $7.5 million
- County Board also honors Connect with Kids Champions
ARLINGTON, Va. – The Arlington County Board today honored eight Outstanding County Volunteers for their efforts to strengthen the community and enhance the services the County government delivers. The County Board also honored four Connect with Kids Champions.
“Volunteers help us serve our community in ways that otherwise would not be possible,” said Arlington County Board Chairman J. Walter Tejada. “They are an essential part of the social, economic, and cultural fabric of the greater Arlington community and share my passion to make our great community even better.”
Recognized for their outstanding service to the community are:
- Chris Jones, Arlington County Fire & Rescue Association
- Ray Meyer, Personal Advocate Service
- Cynthia Power, Paws-to-Read
- Bruce Punch, Remove Invasive Plants
- Central Library Circulation Support & Training
- Central Library CyberCenter Computer Help Desk
- CERT Derecho Recovery
- SCORE BizLaunch
Volunteerism is one of Arlington's distinguishing characteristics. The County government has over 5,000 volunteers helping out in its programs – a cumulative effort valued at over $7.5 million each year. The non-monetary value is even greater because volunteer input, ideas and hours of service help keep Arlington's local government one of the best in the nation.
About County Government Volunteer Recognition: Arlington celebrates volunteerism in our community by honoring volunteers who serve in a variety of programs across County departments.
About Volunteer Arlington: Volunteer Arlington is the volunteer action center for Arlington County, an affiliate of the Hands-On Network, and a program of the Department of Human Services. Volunteer Arlington connects volunteers and organizations to meet community needs by promoting volunteerism, mobilizing volunteers and building volunteer capacity.
Spring 2013 Connect with Kids Champions Honored
The County Board also honored four Partnership for Children, Youth and Families Connect with Kids Champions.
Connect with Kids (CWK) Champions are Arlingtonians who go out of their way to develop positive relationships with young people. The Partnership for Children, Youth and Families selects CWK Champions twice annually as a way to acknowledge those who are making a difference in the lives of Arlington youth.
“Our young people are the future of our community,” said Chairman Tejada. “We are grateful to these outstanding Arlingtonians who devote so much of themselves to helping to set our youth on a terrific path forward.”
Francesca Fierro O'Reilly is a den leader, soccer coach, and is active in her PTA. What makes Fran exceptional is her ability to create inclusive teams. She is known for pulling in kids who were unable to join a team or group within their school or neighborhood and making them feel welcome. Her positive, personable approach gives all of her Cub Scouts or soccer players the confidence to participate and do well. She doesn't just connect with kids personally. She also helps them connect with one another. This winter she formed an indoor soccer team with kids from across the county. Before long she knew every kid's name, and then made each player feel like a valued member of the team, regardless of their skill level. The atmosphere was so positive that many of the boys continue to see each other after the season ended.
Lori McFail has been connecting with the children at Carver Community Center for 12 years. As the Director of Kids in Action, the Department of Parks and Recreation's elementary after-school program, she makes it a point to get to know each child. She always looks for the best in each child and, when they're not at their best, will readily meet with parents so they can work together to support the child. Her well-structured program is filled with fun and creative activities, many of which are designed to help participants practice getting along with one another. She demonstrates the same positive, friendly demeanor with students at Wakefield High School, where she works during the day.
Monica Lozano is seen by many students as a ‘second mom' at Swanson Middle School where she works as a Minority Achievement Coordinator. She runs several after-school clubs and regularly provides recreational activities for the students. Kids regularly pop into her office on the way to the cafeteria or the next class. She always takes a moment to greet them by name and check in with them. She holds them to high expectations, but is understanding, warm and caring. She is equally as friendly with parents as well, bridging language barriers and helping to keep them informed of their children's performance.
Juan Peredo serves as the Family Liaison at Yorktown High School Juan is responsible for communicating with families on behalf of teachers and administrators. Beyond the job description, Juan (aka Tio/Abuelo/Don Peredo/Mr. Peredo) is a treasure. In addition to interpreting for parents and staff, much of his day is spent talking to the teens that populate the school and his life. There are always kids in his office, sharing their hopes, dreams and fears. “Can I go see Mr. Peredo?” is a regular request to teachers throughout Yorktown. He seeks opportunities for all to succeed, nudging wayward ones toward the straight and narrow and applauding the successes — personal, academic, athletic, and artistic — of all.
These four represent a very small portion of the hundreds of adults who are building strong, positive, and nurturing relationships with youth every day. You can be one of them; here are a few ideas:
- Include youth in everyday decisions.
- Apologize when you do something wrong.
- Seek their help with a project, or even a crossword puzzle.
- Listen to their music. Ask questions about it.
- Love them just the way they are.
Do you know a Champion? You can nominate a person, business or organization that goes above and beyond in building relationships with young people. Nominations are accepted anytime; current nominations will be considered in the Fall 2013 cycle. For more information, contact Michael Swisher, Assets Liaison, at email@example.com, or 703-228-1671.