Mary and David Supley-Foxworth embody the true spirit of community involvement through their efforts to ensure a better future for our neighbors in need. Immediately after seeking out opportunities to get involved, Mary and David jumped into several projects throughout Cornerstones programs. Since September 2005, they have faithfully delivered groceries to multiple households each month, contributed and prepared backpacks, Thanksgiving food baskets and personalized holiday gifts through our Emergency & Self Sufficiency Program. The couple has also established an annual tradition of preparing delicious home-made desserts for over a hundred families during our programs’ annual holiday celebrations.
It takes a special type of volunteer to not only serve but motivate a whole community to come alongside them and pitch in too. Patti Schule is the embodiment of effectively inspiring others. Patti heard about the need for warm meals and winter supplies at the North County Hypothermia Prevention Program seven years ago and quickly got her entire church involved making dinners for 25 homeless and hungry adults once a week December through March. Patti takes on the coordination of this effort for the congregation, and due to her organizational skills and influence has been able to find a way to take on additional dates each year as needed. Through her service in the youth group and other ministries at her church Patti has also coordinated monthly Donations of 120 bagged meals for the Embry Rucker Community Shelter; allowing those who are not at the shelter because of work or school to have a great lunch and those who drop-in for services to not go away hungry. She also recruits chefs from the congregation once a month to prepare and serve a warm dinner and breakfast to the over 70 people who call the shelter home.
Ornella Yasuhara doesn’t slow down; if a rolling stone gathers no moss, Ornella is the volunteer equivalent in Fairfax County. At least once a week she can be found greeting clients in need of food or financial assistance at Cornerstones’ Emergency and Self-Sufficiency Program and filing away the vast amounts of paperwork staff has generated since her last visit. She also spends at least 2 hours a week tutoring a 2nd grader whose family is transitioning out of homelessness. Every weekday morning during the school year Ornella assists struggling Kindergarteners at Fox Mill Elementary School. She provides the one on one attention the students crave and teaches them the basics of English and even things as simple as how to correctly hold a pencil so their first attempts at writing are something of which they can be proud. A former librarian, Ornella spends the early afternoons volunteering to assist the librarians at Terraset Elementary, Herndon Elementary and Langston Hughes Middle Schools. Many days she’ll volunteer at three different schools in rapid succession all before going to her job in the evenings; she is truly willing to work whenever and wherever needed.
Imagine all your belongings fitting into one suitcase. For many individuals leaving the Embry Rucker Community Shelter this is their reality. Due to a county-wide emphasis on housing clients as quickly as possible more individuals and families have found themselves being placed into apartments, and homes these past two years than ever before. While this is an excellent development it means clients are suddenly facing having their own space but very few of the items necessary to use it effectively. Just in time for this uptick in need the volunteer group His Hidden Treasures developed an innovative answer to the problem. A husband and wife team Lois and Troy Hughes started His Hidden Treasures, securing donated furniture for shelter clients through Tory’s junk hauling business, Junk B Gone, two years ago, and since then the couple’s efforts have filled two 2,100 square foot warehouses and furnished over 27 apartments in 2013. They have also involved friends, coworkers and community volunteers. These volunteers refurbish and repair items—both to sell in order to use the profits to buy things like new linens, shower curtains, and kitchen wares for the newly housed, and to give away to furnish the new homes. Also, volunteer efforts go into loading up a large box truck for each home, and moving everything in and setting it up. Each individual receives an appropriate sized bed, pillow-top mattress, bedding and bath linens and each household is given dining room, living room and bedroom furniture, as well as lamps, small kitchen appliances and dishes. His Hidden Treasures has enabled former clients of the Embry Rucker Community Shelter to feel truly at home for the first time in a long time.
Fox Mill Elementary School is committed to engaging students in a wide range of community service initiatives that benefit our local community. Both students and teachers actively support Cornerstones programs throughout the year. Each fall the members of the Fox Mill Student Council Association take a special field trip to learn about the Embry Rucker Community Shelter and then return to school and spend the next few weeks giving presentations about what they learned to their classmates. The SCA also coordinates a “wish list” drive for the most needed items at the shelter each winter, and a canned food drive in the spring. Since 2008 the student body has rallied around the Embry Rucker Community Shelter by hosting an annual Help the Homeless walk. Beyond generating funding for the shelter the students are also engaged by their teachers and librarians in learning the causes of homelessness, statistics surrounding poverty in our area, and most importantly shown how they can help even at a young age.