Volunteers Get Their Moment in Spotlight

Volunteers Get Their Moment in Spotlight

When a Springfield citizen ran out of options with no job and no place to live, Adolfo Pacheco found room in his own house for her to live while she got herself back on track. It was that sense of community that landed Pacheco one of the Bob Westmoreland Community Service Awards.

Although helping out that particular woman was just one of his feats in the community of central Springfield, Pacheco talked about it like it was no big deal.

"I helped her out for a few weeks living in my house. She's working and has her own place to live now," he said.

Pacheco's wife, Bonnie, noted his dedication to community service.

"He's a very caring person, it's just his personality," she said.

Bob Gray, chairman of the revitalization committee presently known as CSPARC, was recognized for his work with revitalization, as well as the time he's put into the Springfield Cultural Center and "Community of Readers" program at Crestwood. He's also the executive vice president of Prosperity Bank and Trust. His dedication to mentoring a fourth-grader from Crestwood in the reading program has a special spot in his busy schedule.

"I know he looks forward to it, I wouldn't miss it. He knows I'm going to be there," Gray said of the student he reads with.

ALSO RECOGNIZED by the Inter-service Club Council of Springfield were the Springfield-Franconia Host Lions Club and the Springfield Cultural Center Inc. during an awards breakfast, April 2, at Greenspring Village. Board of Supervisors chairman Kate Hanley (D), Supervisor Dana Kauffman (D-Lee), Del. Dave Albo (R-42nd), Fairfax County Police Lt. Dennis Wilson, formerly of Franconia station, and other pertinent members of the Springfield community were at the ceremony. Crestwood Elementary School principal Pat Zissios acted as master of ceremonies.

Hanley talked about the importance of volunteers in the community.

"Much of the quality of life in Fairfax County depends on volunteers. There's not enough chances to recognize them. It's harder to recruit volunteers than it used to be. In Fairfax County we're lucky people are willing to give up their time," she said.

Mahvash Keshmiri is a former president of the Springfield Chamber of Commerce, a volunteer position, and is now president of the Springfield Cultural Center. She juggles her volunteer time with her full-time position at Washington Gas Co. She talked about the volunteer spirit at the chamber.

"They're all volunteers. The purpose of the chamber is to improve the business community and then the rest of the community," she said.

BONNIE PACHECO was surprised when she heard her husband was up for an award.

"I didn't even realize this club existed until my husband was chosen to be awarded," she said.

Kauffman's administrative aide, Linda Waller, organized the ceremony. She noted the presence of volunteers in today's society.

"We're a society that's recognized by money. It's not money that builds a community," she said.

Back at Crestwood Elementary School, Pacheco mans the volunteer trailer in back of the school. It is the only one of its kind in the area, funded partially by the county and partially by donations. He's noticed people are less reluctant to come there for employment assistance, legal advice with a volunteer service or law issues with the police.

"I spend 10-12 hours there sometimes. People come in for help, advice. They need a place to come and find out what kind of program they [community services] have," he said.

One program Pacheco organized was soccer for the children and police officers from the Franconia District Station. Crestwood assistant principal Lauren Sheehy sees the community reaction to Pacheco.

"He's really that community pillar, a lot of people come in specifically looking for him," she said.

The namesake of the award, Bob Westmoreland, was a longtime Springfield resident and avid volunteer. He was a former president of the Springfield Civic Association and a member of CSPARC.

"He was unofficially called the ‘Mayor of Springfield,’" Waller said.