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Neighborhood leaders share success stories | Community Spirit

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Neighborhood leaders share success stories
Neighborhood leaders share success stories

Several of the outstanding neighborhood projects profiled Feb. 9 at a forum of the Braddock District Council of Community Associations could easily be adopted by community groups in Annandale. After all, we are all dealing with similar issues—such as the need to maintain common areas and recruit more volunteers.

The presenters at the forum, at Kings Park Library, developed their projects after taking part in Fairfax County Supervisor John Cook’s Neighborhood College for civic and homeowner association leaders. They came away from those sessions inspired to improve their communities.
Cheron Rhodes and Rita Faudale of the Kings Park Civic Association Beautification Committee described how they used a $5,000 Fairfax County Neighborhood Enhancement Partnership Program grant to replace the four brick walls at the entrance of their Springfield neighborhood. A contractor installed the new walls, with new signs, and neighborhood residents cleaned up the area around them and did the landscaping. People will volunteer, but they need to be asked, Rhodes says.

Participants in the Neighborhood College were asked to come up with an action plan for their communities, and George Klein decided to focus on diversity and find a way to reach out to the increasing number of immigrants in the Olde Forge/Surrey Square community in Burke.

The civic association joined forces with the community’s recreation club to host an international potluck dinner at the pool. About 200 people showed up, Klein says, including some residents from Korea, Pakistan, China, India, and Australia, and he hopes they will become more involved in community projects. His advice to neighborhood leaders: Be flexible, make sure you have the community’s support, and don’t overreach.

Jon Miskell of the Bonnie Brae Civic Association described how he negotiated discounts for his Fairfax Station neighborhood—savings of nearly $100 a year for trash collection from American Disposal Services and a $10 discount for membership in BJ’s Wholesale Club.

Miskell also got his neighborhood involved in the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department’s Adopt a Hydrant program. When hydrants are covered by snow, firefighters waste precious time trying to find them. People who adopt a hydrant are responsible for clearing a three-foot area around “their” hydrant.

Mollie Loeffler of the Parklawn community in the Mason District attended the Braddock District Neighborhood College after urging Supervisor Penny Gross to sponsor a similar program for neighborhood districts in the Mason District, to no avail.

That program inspired her to work on revitalizing the Mason District Council, with the goal of getting community associations in the area to share ideas, spotlight successful projects, and work together to tackle such issues as blight reduction, zoning issues, and volunteer recruitment. The council showcases its members’ projects and offers a wealth of resources on its new website and is sponsoring a roundtable discussion on property maintenance March 3, 7:30 p.m., at the Mason District Government Center.