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CCF Rekindles its Spark, Looks Forward to a New Centreville Day

The Centreville Community Foundation (CCF) originated when the town celebrated its bicentennial anniversary in 1992. The event was so successful the foundation decided to host "Centreville Day" each year. Held for many years on the Fourth of July, CCF provided a fireworks display at Centreville High School. But high costs of professional fireworks, hot summers, and the burnout of volunteers ended that a few years ago.

Centreville Day has since undergone additional changes. It was moved to September and, more recently, to a new location in the Historic District. Though these changes have been positive ones, Centreville Day was recently in doubt. After Sue Davis, who served as chairperson for two years, moved away, no one wanted to volunteer to take on the tremendous job of chairing the event. The CCF Board of Directors decided it was time to take a new approach to Centreville Day, indeed to take a new approach to CCF itself as well.

The Board decided to hire Maryanne Toal, a professional event coordinator, to direct Centreville Day. The intent was to take some of the burdens off of volunteers, to improve the event as an experience for fair-goers and vendors, and to win new sponsors, increase fund-raising, and increase the number of people in attendance.

Toal recently graduated from George Mason University with a major in tourism. And she's the event coordinator for Historic Manassas Inc. and runs six events for that group, each year, with attendances of 20,000 to 60,000 people.

Maryanne has brought her professional knowledge, experience and contacts to Centreville Day. She has been organizing vendors, identifying new approaches to entertainment that involve more of the Centreville community, explaining ways to design the space and get people to move through all parts of the fair. Maryanne also hopes to get the word out about Centreville Day's shopping opportunities. Many of the vendors at Centreville Day are crafters selling hand-made items — everything from jewelry to peanut brittle. But few people come to the event thinking that it's an opportunity to get some holiday shopping done, or pick up a few indulgences for themselves.

But Centreville Day is not just a great day of shopping and family entertainment; it also supports CCF efforts to support the community. Hiring Ms. Toal has helped the board to focus less on running Centreville Day and more on rebuilding CCF as a community foundation. Once boasting a robust board of more than 20 members, the number of directors on the board has dwindled in recent years. The organization received an additional blow when founding member and chair, Pat Lawless, retired two years ago. Board member Marvin Powell stepped up to fill Lawless' position and has been adding new board members and working to define CCF's future ever since.

In particular, Powell wants to see CCF, and Centreville Day, reflect Centreville's rich and vibrant diversity. Though Centreville Day is held in the Historic District and includes many activities related to Centreville's history, the day is also very much a celebration of the Centreville community of today. For the CCF board, one of the most important priorities is to find new board members who can bring a diversity of experiences and perspectives to the foundation. But one of the difficulties is explaining just what a community foundation is.

Unlike other non-profits that have a mission to help a particular group or specific end, a community foundation connects sponsors and donors with local non-profits that have worthwhile programs. Powell, recently named Lord Fairfax in part for his leadership of CCF, emphasizes that CCF can accomplish little on its own. Partnerships with local non-profits on the one hand, and with donors and sponsors on the other, are the key to making the foundation work.

CCF's present focus is building its scholarship program. Introduced by board member Sharon DeBragga, the CCF Community Service Scholarship works in partnership with Centreville's three high schools, Centreville, Westfield, and Mountain View, to identify students who have given of themselves to their community.

Partnerships with local businesses and corporate sponsors are equally important. Powell hopes to CCF will soon organize monthly "Leadership Breakfasts" for local entrepreneurs. Events such as Centreville Day give corporations such as Carteret Mortgage, Cox Communications, Kaiser Permanente, WMZQ, Citibank and others an opportunity to showcase their community spirit, to support the Community Service Scholarship, Centreville area non-profits, and CCF's mission to build a diverse and vibrant Centreville.