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Column: Generations of Parents and Children Making a Difference

— An old Chinese proverb says “If you want happiness for a lifetime — help the next generation.” According to that proverb the honorees at this year’s Senior Services of Alexandria (SSA) Gala will all have a full lifetime of happiness to look forward to. Senior Services of Alexandria provides services and programs that help foster Alexandria’s seniors’ independence and self-sufficiency enabling them to age with dignity. This year’s gala will take place on March 23 at the Hilton Alexandria Mark Center. For more information about the gala and to purchase tickets please call 703-836-4414, ext. 11 or visit www.seniorservicesalex.org.

Three of Alexandria’s families will be honored at this year’s gala and according to Janet Barnett, SSA’s executive director, this year’s honorees have been selected because “the parents set an example for their children to give back to the community through volunteering, advocacy and ensuring that each generation carries the torch for the next one.”

All of this year’s honorees not only give back to the community but they also lead others to give of themselves and contribute to the community. This year’s honorees include two father/daughter teams and a father/son/granddaughter combination. These honorees have touched and enriched the lives of thousands in Alexandria for more than 75 years through their leadership, dedication, and contributions to youth sports, education, therapeutic recreation, public service, faith communities, and many civic and charitable endeavors. SSA will also pay special recognition this year to Judy Drewry.

Sanden Swanson and his daughter Lindsey Swanson are inspiring leaders. They are both civic-minded and physically active, serving on the boards of many charitable and community foundations. Their leadership and actions inspire others to get involved with the community. Lindsey helped establish the Kelly Cares Foundation in 2006. SSA is especially grateful to Sanden because he is an original founder of SSA in 1968. Thank you, Sanden.

Kerry Donley and his daughters Kristin, Kaitlin, and Colleen contribute their talents and time to civic, local and national charitable organizations, and community youth athletics. Kerry has served on City Council twice since 1988. Between 1994 and 2003 he served as Alexandria’s mayor twice and vice mayor once. Youth sports programs, Girls on the Run, Head Start, the Childhood Brain Tumor Foundation, and Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church are just a few of the groups that have benefited from Kristin, Kaitlin, and Colleen’s talent, energy, and leadership.

This year’s list of honorees is rounded out by Nelson Greene, Sr., his son Nelson, and granddaughter Nina who all demonstrate through their actions that to them “service to the community is a way of life.” The list of community, civic, charitable, and service organizations that the Greenes have contributed so much to over the years is very long, indeed, and includes Meade Episcopal Church, Alexandria City School Board, Alexandria YMCA, and Omega Psi Phi.

Senior Services of Alexandria is proud and pleased to have The Jen Walker Team of McEnearney Associates as the presenting sponsor of this year’s gala. In a recent interview, Sue Kovalsky, a member of the Jen Walker Team, said, “Alexandria’s seniors have contributed so much to the evolution of this community and The Jen Walker Team believes it is important to support our seniors, whatever their needs are. Senior Services of Alexandria is incredible at making that happen. The Jen Walker Team is happy to support Senior Services of Alexandria’s mission to care for Alexandria’s seniors.”