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Celebrating Hope, Recovery, Respect

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Frank Tetrick, assistant commissioner Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, speaks at the 40th anniversary of the Alexandria Community Services Board, March 19 at George Washington Middle School.

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Dr. Michael Gilmore, executive director of the Alexandria CSB, in ‘60s costume was emcee for the 40th anniversary celebration which brought out about 500 guests.

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Mayor Bill Euille issued a proclamation honoring both the Community Services Board for their 40th anniversary and the Alexandria Friends of Mental Health Center, celebrating their 25th anniversary. Receiving the proclamation is Mary Anne Weber, chair of the CSB.

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Guests dig in to the food provided by local restaurants, bakeries and grocery stores.

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All smiles over the unexpectedly large turnout are Tiffeny Sanchez and Susan Drachsler, co-chairs of the Friends of the Alexandria Mental Health Center, and Masharia Holman, co-chair of the 40th anniversary committee and vice-chair of the Alexandria Services Board. Sanchez is also vice-chair of the CSB.

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Miss Alexandria, Erika Elaine Thomas, second from left is introduced by Jason Robinson, executive director of the Miss Alexandria pageant and a teacher at George Washington Middle School.

About 500 people went back to the 1960s last Thursday night, March 19, at George Washington Middle School to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Alexandria Community Services Board and the 25th anniversary of the Friends of the Alexandria Mental Health Center.

Encouraged to come in costume, guests got into the mood when offered peace signs and flowers to wear in their hair as they listened to ‘60s music, ate from a buffet provided by local businesses, watched historic slide shows provided by the CSB and Friends and looked at the art on the walls of the GW cafeteria provided by clients from Vocational Services, the Clubhouse and Juvenile Detention.

The cafeteria was transformed with tie-dyed draperies, balloons and hanging beads while Dr. Michael Gilmore, executive director of the CSB, got into the mood of the evening with a complete ‘60s costume down to sandals and granny glasses, a la John Lennon. After hearing several jokes and puns, some of the council members suggested he could help with the city's shortfall by taking the show on the road.

Mayor Bill Euille presented the CSB and Friends with a proclamation honoring their service while Vice-Mayor Del Pepper and Councilman Rob Krupicka recalled their days as members of the CSB. Pepper was involved in the very beginning of the CSB, "the first board I ever served on," she said while Krupicka served in the ‘90s and navigated the minefield of persuading his Del Ray neighbors to accept a group home.

Proof that attitudes have changed for the better is the fact that Krupicka is now a councilman and Del Ray has more group homes than any other part of the city.

Other councilmen in attendance were Tim Lovain, Paul Smedberg and Justin Wilson along with Alexandria Fire Chief Adam Thiel, City Manager James Hartmann and assistant city Manager Debra Collins, also head of the Department of Human Services.

After the food, the speeches and the poetry came what everyone was waiting for, the dancing. As ‘60s music blasted, the crowd took to the floor and although many were not even born in the ‘60s, they certainly knew the music. For many of the clients who attended, a party is a rare thing, and they were determined to enjoy every minute of it.

Food and some decorations were provided by Alexandria Whole Foods Market, All At Once Hair Shop, Baja Fresh, Baskin Robbins, Best Buns Bread Company, Bittersweet Catering-Cafe Bakery, Buzz, Caboose Cafe, Chipotle, Cheateau Gateau, Diversions, Evening Star Cafe, Fairlington pizza, Fern Street Gourmet, Foxchase Harris Teeter, Great Harvest Bread, Hank's Oyster Bar, HOPS Restaurant Bar and Brewry, King Street Cafe, La Casa, Layla's Lebanese Restaurant, Los Tios, Mango Mike's, Masaya Thai Restaurant, Monroe's An American Trattoria, One Good Tern, Panera Bread, Ravi Kabab House, Raw Silk Indian Restaurant and Lounge, Red apron, Reunions, Starbucks, Potomacv Yard, Taqueria el Poblano, Thai Peppers Restaurant, The American Cafe and the Light Horse.