Centreville Angel Fund President Lu Ann McNabb thought of Reema Samaha as a daughter so, for her, the annual Remembrance Cabaret for Reema is personal. It also raises money for a cause hoping to help young people deal with mental-health issues, thereby averting any future tragedies like the one at Virginia Tech.
“Every year, I’m impressed by the caliber of the young people who perform at the cabaret,” said McNabb. “They’re uniformly talented and professional, and creative in their expression and choice of song, dance and skit. Some of them knew Reema and return every year to keep her love of the arts alive. But many did not; they just want to be part of this collective experience of joy and beauty.”
“It’s a way to remember Reema, and we give people a chance to come onstage and be in the spotlight,” said her mother, Mona Samaha. “And the artists in the silent auction get to show their works.”
Regarding Angel Fund, McNabb said, “Last summer, the board of directors decided to focus on the mental-health issues that have impacted our community: suicide, depression, anxiety and drug and/or alcohol addiction. We decided to effect change through advocacy, education and programs and were gratified that two of our bills passed, this past legislative session.”
Angel Fund also participated in the Access to Health Services Committee for the Live Healthy Fairfax plan to make Fairfax County a healthier community. And it’s seeking to fund a pilot program for adults, 18-21, with emotional disabilities, and to implement Actively Caring 4 People, a positive reinforcement program, in the local schools.
In addition, Angel Fund wants to duplicate Loudoun County’s Internet Safety program in Fairfax County and increase the number of FCPS school psychologists and social workers.
“Our goal is simple: to create an environment for young people to feel respected, self-confident and tolerant towards others,” said McNabb. “We believe our vision of a community that takes action against bullying, addiction, depression and suicide will be realized because we believe young people have the power to touch the lives of others and make a difference.”