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Votes

Help Needed More Than Ever

UCM supporters thanked at reception.

Thanks for all that you've already given; more help is still needed.

That was the message guests heard while enjoying a reception for UCM's Most Generous Contributors. Held at the home of State Senator Linda "Toddy" Puller (D-36), about 50 guests were greeted at the door by Puller, State Delegate Kris Amundson (D-44), UCM Executive Director Sharon Kelso and Marie Canny, President, UCM Board of Directors.

After enjoying wines from Mount Vernon and food from Soiree, they heard from Canny. She thanked Puller for her hospitality and for supporting United Community Ministries' (UCM) mission in the Virginia Senate. Canny then talked numbers — 48.6 percent of the people relying on pantries and soup kitchens in the Northern Virginia area have lost their jobs in the last six months. Sixteen percent of children younger than 18 and 9.6 percent of the total population are living in poverty.

At UCM, the food pantry serves more than 250 families a week, nearly double the rate it served two years ago. In addition to the food donations that UCM receives, they still spend an additional $2,700 a month to make up the deficit.

CANNY THEN proceeded to show a typical food package given to a family for a three-day period. While it contained fruit, vegetables, meat and a few canned goods, there were no Twinkies, no juice boxes, and no wine and cheeseóthe luxuries that many of us take for granted. Yet, it is what these families rely on to get them through, and the fact that UCM continues to maintain their program is due largely in part to Kelso and the rest of the UCM staff; also the work of its supporters.

"Through budget cutting by UCM staff and advocacy before government agencies by staff, Board members, elected officials and other advocates such as those of you here this afternoon, we have been able to maintain all our programs," said Canny.

Canny thanked everybody for their generosity and turned the spotlight over to Kelso. One of the first things that Kelso mentioned was the recent article in the Washington Post about non-profits. The article predicted more rough times ahead for non-profits and their ability to raise money. She suggested that everybody write letters and make phone calls to their legislators. Kelso also talked about an issue of local concern.

"Everybody is worried about Mount Vernon Hospital. It's an important part of our economy," said Kelso.

Ginny and Mary Thorpe then spoke to the group; they are one of the many families who are helped through the services that UCM provides.

"UCM has always been there for us," said Mary Thorpe. "We have always been treated with dignity, I can't tell you how important that is."

Jim Dunn talked about the benefit dinner that the Mount Vernon Knights Of Columbus is co-hosting with the Mount Vernon-Lee Chamber Of Commerce on Saturday, November 8. "Mount Vernon According To The Georges' is about two Georges—George Washington and George Madison. There will be a colonial dinner and dance, starting at 6:30 p.m. at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 8592 Richmond Highway. Cost is $25 per person; RSVP at 703-360-1964.

"Here's a chance to have fun and be donors," he said. "Come on out and have fun."

Deborah Halla then reminded people to register for the Help the Homeless Walks, either one of the local ones or the national one; UCM needs to register 1250 walkers in order to qualify for the $25,000 bonus from Fannie Mae.

Congressman Jim Moran (D-8) joined the reception and said that it's going to be difficult to get Federal dollars in this tough-times economy.

"We need to pull together and reach in our pockets," he said.

Marie Canny closed by saying, "We're very glad that you're here and that we have you as supporters."