When it comes to being a hometown hero, Centreville's Ron Koch certainly fills the bill. And it's not only for what he does in the public eye, but for all his behind-the-scenes good deeds, as well.
Therefore, it was not surprising when Commerce Bank in Centre Ridge honored him Saturday as a "Hometown Hero." And for his prize, he received a $500 check to donate to the charity of his choice.
KOCH CHOSE FACETS (Fairfax Area Christian Emergency & Transitional Services), for which he's volunteered for several years. Each month, he drives the organization's RV — bringing a social worker, nurse, food and clothing to homeless and low-income families. He even entertains the homeless children and, the past few years, has played Santa Claus for them.
When choosing a "Hometown Hero," explained April Dehn, assistant vice-president and manager of Commerce Bank's Centreville branch, "We picked someone in the community [who] we feel is deserving of a donation. When I did a survey and asked a whole bunch of people who they see as a hometown hero, Ron Koch's name kept coming up."
With his wife Lois by his side, he received the award Saturday morning during the bank's official, grand-opening ceremony. (It opened Dec. 22 in the Marketplace at Centre Ridge Shopping Center).
"This award is especially meaningful to me because I know how many people in our community qualify for it," said Koch. "And it also gives me an opportunity to make a donation to FACETS — an organization that has afforded me the opportunity to give a little back to a county that has provided my family and I such a wonderful quality of life."
"This is nice; I'm very proud," he continued. "And I'm very appreciative of Commerce Bank's outreach to the community." He then turned over the check to Stephanie Howard, FACETS' family enrichment services team leader. The money will help fund the group's programs serving those in need in Fairfax County.
In 1982, Koch was appointed by then chairman of the county Board of Supervisors Jack Herrity as an at-large planning commissioner and served until 1988. Then in 1992, Supervisor Michael R. Frey (R-Sully) reappointed him to the Planning Commission to represent Sully District, and he's held that post ever since.
Previously, he worked 33 years for the federal government and served 26 years in the Virginia National Guard. He's also a charter member of the West Fairfax County Citizens Association (WFCCA) and served as past chairman and vice-chairman of its Land-Use Committee. And since 1988, he's chaired the Newgate Forest Homeowners Association.
IN 2000, Koch received the WFCCA's award for Outstanding Achievement in Community Service, and he was a 2001 nominee for the Fairfax County Volunteer Service Award. He's also conducted classes for boys in the county Boys Probation Home and taught parenting classes at the county jail and pre-release center.
For the past nine years, he's mentored three at-risk youth — two are now 17 and one is 15 — from low-income families. And in his capacity as planning commissioner, when the Victoria's Landing townhouse community was built in Centreville, Koch got the developer to redo the recreational area for the low-income Barros Circle neighborhood. As a result, children there got picnic tables and a basketball court.
For more information about FACETS or to volunteer, call 703-352-5090 or see www.facetscares.org. "There's nothing more rewarding than working with that group," said Koch. "They're wonderful."