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Linda D. Rabbitt, owner and president of Rand Construction Corp. in Arlington, received the first Exempli Gratia ("spirit of grace") Award on Oct. 10. The National Association of Women Business Owners, Northern Virginia Chapter-in-Formation (NAWBO NOVA), honored Rabbitt at its first Anniversary Celebration and Awards Dinner held at the Hyatt Regency in Reston Town Center. SAIC was also recognized with the first Catalyst Award for chapter sponsorship. More than 150 women and men braved the welcome rain to attend.

Linda Rabbitt is the founder, owner and president of Rand Construction Corp. Founded in 1989, Rand is a commercial construction company based in Arlington, which specializes in building renovations and tenant build-outs. In 2002, Rand Construction was ranked both the third-largest woman-owned business and the 10th-largest interior construction company in the Washington metropolitan area. In its 1999- 2001 lists, Working Woman magazine ranked Rand Construction among the nation's top 500 women-owned businesses and the fourth-largest woman-owned general contractor in the country. Vicki Looney, COPY.doc and NAWBO NOVA board member, presented the award to Rabbitt.

Among Rabbitt's many credentials are chairwoman of the Greater Washington Board of Trade and past president of the Women's Forum of Washington, D.C., and Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW). A familiar face and voice in the Washington metropolitan area, she also serves on a number of boards of directors and advisers in the region.

Rabbitt has been honored by the Virginia Chamber of Commerce with the Virginia Vanguard Award as the Top Construction Company and has received the Person of Vision Award from Arlington County. Annually since 1992, she has been named a Top Woman Business Owner by NAWBO National.

A graduate of the University of Michigan with a B.A., Rabbitt received her M.A. from the George Washington University. Rabbit and her husband, John Whalen, reside in Bethesda.

Area residents helped make the holidays brighter for 600 families in Arlington by participating in the Secret Santa program. The program is organized each year by the Department of Health Services and coordinated by the Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Resources. The program identifies individuals and families in Arlington that are in need of clothing, food, and other assistance during the holiday. Participants in the program are chosen by their social workers.

Interested donors were given wish lists from families. Donors purchased gifts for the families, which included toys for children, shoes, work clothes, winter jackets, gift certificates to grocery stores or department stores, sewing machines, computers, etc. Donors are asked to purchase gifts and to either bring them to a drop-off location or are able to meet with their family to wish them a happy holidays.

Stefan Zimmers and Emily Davies of Arlington and Catherine Hovis of Alexandria competed in the 19th annual Make-a-Wish Sea Colony Triathlon in Bethany Beach, Del., Sept. 21. The event raised more than $400,000 in gross proceeds to benefit the Make-a-Wish Foundation of the Mid-Atlantic, a nonprofit organization that fulfills the wishes of children fighting life-threatening illnesses.