April is National Volunteer Appreciation Month, and to celebrate, Cornerstones applauded the dedication of its over 3,600 volunteers who provide 30,000 hours of service per year, enabling Cornerstones to extend our impact in direct service to clients, community building, advocacy, and other areas of work. Cornerstones’ volunteers do everything from tutoring children and adults and planning fundraising events, to answering phones, cleaning windows, stocking the Food Pantry, and preparing homes for future tenants. There are truly no skill sets that cannot be used to further our mission of helping neighbors to self-sufficiency.
On behalf of the organization, I would like to take a moment to honor some of those volunteers who represent the many ways any one member of the community can use his or her talents and time to join in the effort to support our neighbors in need. These special individuals are being honored this month by Volunteer Fairfax and the Town of Herndon. From a Board member to clients, retirees to local community members, our volunteers make Reston founder Robert E. Simon’s vision a reality: to live, work, play and serve in our community.
Gail Greenberg, an active member of the Board of Directors, coordinated the Board-sponsored Help the Homeless Community Walk in 2014, which was our most successful ever in raising critical funds and awareness to help move people from homelessness into permanent housing. Gillian Sescoe uses her skills to design and teach a Citizenship class to help immigrant clients achieve greater stability and U.S. citizenship. To-date, Gillian has helped 53 students from 15 countries attain citizenship. Mike Harrison’s ability to connect with people from all walks of life has earned him a solid reputation at the Embry Rucker Community Shelter. Mike serves nearly 250 hours per year working at the front desk, serving meals, and encouraging the residents. The Brown Bag Delivery Drivers are a diverse group of retirees, business people, teens and families who meet once a month to deliver groceries and offer TLC to seniors who have limited mobility or resources to get food at the pantry. These are just a small fraction of the people Cornerstones salutes for their time and effort to support the community.
Honored April 12th by the Herndon Mayor’s Volunteer Appreciation Award for Distinguished Service, Carolina Calderon reminds us that helping others does build a stronger community. A former Cornerstones client, Carolina now volunteers through the programs that offered her family a new start. Walking over 20 miles a week between Herndon and Reston sites, she prepares food at the Herndon Neighborhood Resource Center and sorts donations at the Cornerstones Food Pantry. Having once been in need of help, she helps others see that accepting assistance does not mean a loss of self-respect. Through her kindness, she shows that we all have a role to play in ensuring the well-being and connectedness of our neighbors.
As an employee of Cornerstones, I know that volunteers are critical to helping us reach community members with the hospitality and care that lets people know that there are those who care and who freely offer resources to help them overcome obstacles.
As CEO, I know that it is the often under-acknowledged role of a strong Board of Directors—everyone a volunteer—that determines the true character and success of an organization. We salute the Boards of Directors of Cornerstones and Cornerstones Housing Corporation. Your leadership has helped us through difficult times and will help us now as we respond to evolving community need and opportunity to serve.
Finally, I would like to acknowledge my incredible colleagues at Cornerstones who work side by side with volunteers to make that difference, and especially those staff who are responsible for supporting our volunteers—at our program sites, during events, as board members, trainees and service interns! Thanks to Cornerstones employees Alacia Earley, Susan Alger, Nate King, Monica Gibson, Amelie Bailey, Therese Kaldas, Jan Pohl and Jeanette Phillips for helping our volunteers discover and share their unique gifts.
Cornerstones’ volunteers serve as caregivers, ambassadors, governors, stakeholders—serving and strengthening our community by providing Hope for Tomorrow Today!
Kerrie Wilson, CEO