Members of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors present Marilyn Silvey of the United Christian Parish with a Volunteer Service Award on behalf of her organization.
Photo by Alex McVeigh.
Springfield Several Reston residents and organizations were honored at the 20th annual Fairfax County Volunteer Service Awards Friday, April 27. The United Christian Parish, a faith-based group consisting of four denominations as well as Richard and Peg Brown, Sarah Samuel and Jean Pacelli were all awarded during the ceremony.
The United Christian Parish was given the Adult Volunteer Award. Consisting of members of the United Methodist Church, Presbyterian Church of the U.S.A., the United Church of Christ and the Christian Church, it donated more than $150,000 to county causes and activities last year.
"The United Christian Parish congregation is a steadfast community partner that not only contributes time, energy and compassion, but even renowned culinary skills to our programs," said Mandy Guernsey, volunteer manager with Reston Interfaith. "The volunteers are so vibrant because of the committed involvement in their community… their spirit is a driving force behind our organization as well as so many other area nonprofits."
The parish also commits manpower in addition to their monetary contributions. They organize game nights at the Embry Rucker Community Shelter, performed improvements at the Ronald McDonald House at INOVA Fairfax and prepare dinners for local shelters.
In 2011 they also commenced a partnership with Lake Anne Elementary School, providing lunch money for low-income students and implementing a tutoring program.
THE RISING STAR AWARD was presented to another Reston Interfaith volunteer, Jean Pacelli. Pacelli serves on the front lines of the Embry Rucker Community Shelter, distributing winter clothes, greeting donors, answering calls and more.
"Jean has the same calm demeanor in every situation, whether it’s taking a call from someone in crisis who’s sleeping in a car or replacing a lost toothbrush with a new one from the supply closet," said Susan Alger, volunteer manager with Reston Interfaith. "She’s marvelous with children, patient and encouraging with clients who have mental health problems and good with almost every kind of volunteer. She just rolls with everything and that wonderful smile of hers never slips."
The shelter served more than 650 men, women and children last year, and Pacelli’s knowledge and expertise has helped the staff focus more on clients.
Richard and Peg Brown have spent almost four decades serving the Reston area. They transport clothes and furniture to residents of Reston Interfaith Shelters and knit baby blankets for low-income families leaving local hospitals.
"The Brown family demonstrates the joy of giving firsthand to everyone with whom they interact," Guernsey said. "Whether carrying cardboard from offices to be recycled adding a musical touch to an event or helping put together a donated bunk bed for a family transitioning from a homeless shelter, Richard and Peg invest their talents and compassion in any task they undertake."
In addition to their work with Reston Interfaith, the Browns volunteer with FACETS, Meals on Wheels, Senior Employment Resources and Volunteer Fairfax. They have also gotten their grandchildren involved in their various activities.
ANOTHER RESTON RESIDENT and FACETS volunteer, Sarah Samuel was given the Senior Volunteer award. Samuel has worked in many aspects of the nonprofit since 2009, updating databases, working on donor acknowledgements and volunteering at local hypothermia shelters.
"When we are really busy, Sarah is always willing to come in an additional day to help us," said Stacy Boden, development coordinator for FACETS. "She helps me troubleshoot problems with the database so that I can accomplish all my work. Sarah has taught me so much, I don’t know how I could do anything without her help."
Showing up is one thing, but Samuel is also known for her warm personality while volunteering, and a go-to consultant with almost all of the FACETS programs.