Lauren Austin has led a lifetime of service. The Annandale resident, a College of William and Mary student, began working with home repair projects in North Carolina. Her passion for helping others took her to Food for Others in Fairfax, where she now interns. She is this week's People Profile.
Number of years in the community: I have lived in Northern Virginia since I was born in 1985. Almost 21 years.
Family: Mom, Nancy Austin; dad, Rick Austin; step-mom, Kathy Austin.
Education: I attended Annandale High School and graduated in 2003. I will be a senior at William and Mary in the fall, and will receive my B.S. in psychology in May 2007.
Your first job: My first "real" job was with ReCreation Experiences in Asheville, N.C., leading youth groups doing home repair service projects in the mountains of western North Carolina. Last summer I worked for Appalachia Service
Project in Breathitt County, Ky., also leading youth groups in home repair service projects.
Current job: Internship with Food for Others in Fairfax through the ExxonMobil Community Summer Jobs Program. Food for Others is the largest distributor of free food in Northern Virginia; the Web site is www.foodforothers.org. My primary occupation the rest of the year is college student.
Activities/interests/hobbies? In high school, I was in band and color guard, which took up all of my time; but I also have a passion for theatre which I was able to pursue at William and Mary. I've worked backstage for countless theatre productions in many different capacities. I am also the service coordinator for the Wesley Foundation and I love doing service projects and getting other people excited about service.
Favorite local restaurant or place in the community? One of my favorite places is Mango Mike's in Alexandria; I love the atmosphere, and from appetizers to dessert I'm never disappointed.
What are your community concerns? I'm concerned about homelessness and poverty in general; I hope to go into social work and help people get back on their feet and deal with whatever has put them in their situation. I think the best way to improve our community is to continue encouraging kids to volunteer; when we help each other, it goes a long way, and if that is instilled in people early in life, it can make a huge difference in the long run.
What is the last movie you watched? The last movie I saw was "The Devil Wears Prada."
What brought you here? Growing up in Northern Virginia, I learned a lot about diversity and economic disparity in an area that most people think is just upper-middle class. I came back here for this summer because I wanted to learn about what is being done in this area about homelessness, hunger, and poverty, and to help an organization that provides people in need with vital services.
What community "hidden treasure" do you think more people should know about? I'm not sure if it counts as our community, but Skyline Drive is just so peaceful and gorgeous. I think everyone should get out there at least once a year, if not more.
When you were younger, what did you want to be when you "grew up?" At various times in my life I wanted to work with animals or children as a veterinarian or pediatrician; at one point I wanted to be a physical therapist, another time an astronaut.
If you were to take a road trip anywhere right now, where would you go? Back to Appalachia. I want to visit the families whose homes I helped work on last summer. And the area is absolutely beautiful.
Personal goals? I would like to work in the non-profit/social services field and do my part to make a difference in people's lives. Short-term goal: get a puppy to live with me in Williamsburg.