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Marian Van Landingham Lifetime Achievement Award - Ginny Obranovich

Ginny has been a volunteer since 2011 and has been leading the Alexandria Police Foundation since 2014. She manages and oversees the Board of Directors, the day-to-day operations of the Foundation, as well as serves as the Volunteer Coordinator for the Police Department. The Foundation supports the Police Department’s efforts of strengthening and building community and keeping our community safe by hosting several community events and assisting officers in their efforts to reach out to families and children. The citywide programs such as “Shop with a Cop”, which matches police officers with under privileged Alexandria youth so these they can enjoy and appreciate shopping for themselves and their families during Christmas, are important to build community. "She has also been instrumental in the development of the Department's Community Police Academy which informs residents on the programs and activities of the Department. The Foundation provides incredible assistance to the Department in community outreach, support of youth programs and other important activities which support the Department's mission. We could not have advanced in these areas without the leadership and dedication of Ms. Obranovich, " says Police Chief Micheal Bown.

Under Ginny’s leadership and her husband Richard’s support, the Foundation raised funds and created the Fallen Officers Memorial that fronts the Alexandria Police department headquarters. Ginny lead the charge to make sure that all officers, past and current as well as the families represented on the memorial were given the opportunity to participate in the concept and final design and their voices are all reflected in this marvelous memorial.

The K-9’s (the 4-legged officers) working with officers play a very important role and the relationship between a dog and an officer is remarkable. Ginny saw the importance of taking care of the fellow 4-legged partners and took on the medical insurance for retired K-9’s (our 4-legged officers).

Providing scholarships to officers to foster excellence in policing and providing ballistic/stab proof vests for active K-9 dogs are additional programs fostered by Ginny. The growth in the number of city children that can attend the Alexandria Youth Camp for free is the pride of the Foundation, which is chaperoned by Alexandria police officers in Kilmarnock, Virginia.

Ginny’s contribution makes the Alexandria Police Foundation a great success and supports the Alexandria’s Police Department and our community overall. Alexandria youth, officers and canines being the recipients of their leadership and wonderful morale compass. Both, Ginny and her husband Richard who supports her efforts, have dedicated their lives to making Alexandria a better city.

Congratulations to all of the following nominees. The winner of each award will be announced at the event. 

2019 Joan White Grassroots Volunteer Service Nominees

Christina Evans: Christina spends hundreds of hours every year working with Best Buddies International and is always asking what she can do to help.

Best Buddies International is an organization dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment, leadership development, and inclusive living for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Christina has, over the past two-and-a-half years, helped especially with the Best Buddies PROM and Friendship Walk. She also assists the Maryland office with their Tastebuds event. She reaches out to hundreds of companies and individuals asking them to make a donation to our expansive silent and/or live auction. Recently, she volunteered as a fundraiser for the local Friendship Walk. Some of her successes include securing more than 500 items (including a cabin on a Bon Jovi cruise and an autographed Dolly Parton guitar) for live and silent auctions. She also led a team in raising $5,000 through the Friendship Walk. Because of the money she’s raised, Best Buddies has been able to expand its programming to many more people, including those in elementary school.

Volunteers and staff rave about her kindness, organizational skills, big heart and selfless spirit. She believes in the organization’s mission and work, and her dedication shows.

Kathie Fricke: Kathie is active as a volunteer with The Campagna Center, which serves thousands of families each day here in Alexandria.  The Campagna Center’s mission is to “inspire a commitment to learning and achievement among children, teens and adults that has the power to change their lives and our community.” The organization does this through early childhood programs, after-school programs, English as a Second Language (ESL) classes and programs such as Building Better Futures and New Neighbors. The Campagna Center partners with parents and community members, faith-based organizations, local and state government programs, corporation and foundations to achieve its mission.

For at least 12 hours each month, Kathie assists with the preparation and mailing of more than 700 parent statements per month, including monitoring and editing auto-pay information. Her work helps ensure the financial stability of this crucial organization and allows Campagna Center paid staff to focus on other duties.

Described as pleasant, dependable and a quick study, The Campagna Center sees Kathie as part of the family. She is just as committed to The Campagna Center’s mission as any employee — and she occasionally brings in homemade ice cream to show her appreciation for staff and other volunteers.

Dr. John Kling: As a dentist, Dr. Kling donates his time, expertise and services to individuals in need through The American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry Charitable Foundation. Dr. Kling assists in rebuilding the smile, lives and confidence of adults who have suffered dental injuries from violence. The organization’s vision is: “Restore a smile, restore a life.”

Dr. Kling has been involved with the "Give Back a Smile" program since 2008. The testimonials he receives from patients are entirely positive. One of his Give Back a Smile patients described her experience as "He gave me my life back. I'm ready to go back into the world." His professionalism and individual care, bedside manner and service work routinely go above and beyond.

He an active community member, with memberships in both the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce and the Alexandria Rotary Club. He is an annual sponsor of the Alexandria Walk to Fight Breast Cancer, and was the former chair of the Alexandria Public Health Commission. He volunteered for many years at the N. Virginia Dental Health Clinic and the citywide program of placing sealants on children's teeth.

Helen Morris: Helen spends a significant amount of time volunteering for the Alexandria Seaport Foundation. She joined the organization in 2013 as a board member and served as president in 2018. She is a selfless, compassionate and effective leader.

The Alexandria Seaport Foundation serves 16-22 year old Alexandrians who need a new start in life. ASF provides a safe haven where youth can learn career and life skills through one-on-one mentoring, instruction, and project-based learning. The ASF Apprentice Program guides local youth through curriculum that teaches them the crafts of woodworking and boat construction; the soft skills of resilience, problem solving, and communications; and the life skills of relationships, self-care, and empathy necessary for them to become resilient and productive adults and assets to their community.

During Helen’s tenure as ASF, she worked hard during a difficult time for the organization to help ensure the future success of ASF – serving not just as an organizational leader but also as a hard worker.

Today, thanks in part to Helen’s leadership and dedication, ASF has an apprentice program that is filled to capacity. Her commitment to the foundation and Alexandria’s young people who are served through ASF is unparalleled. She is hands-on in virtually every facet of the organization.

Helen has been serving our community since 2005 in various capacity. She served on the Board of Directors of the Giving Circle and Alexandria Campaign on Adolescent Pregnancy, Salute to Women Public Policy Commission, as well as served as an elected member to the school board for three years.

Maria Sanchez Carlo: Maria has volunteered with both Groceries to Go and the Friendly Visitor Program through Senior Services of Alexandria (SSA) since 2017. Senior Services of Alexandria is the nonprofit organization whose mission is to “foster independence and self-sufficiency, enabling seniors within the City of Alexandria to age with dignity.

Maria spends hours grocery shopping for seniors and visiting with them, in addition to willingly substituting when there’s a need for additional volunteers. Her fluency in Spanish and Portuguese and her role as a former Foreign Service Officer allows her to connect with two special seniors in their native language. One of the seniors she visits with said, “There’s lots of things I can see about her, and one is that she is intelligent. We sit together and have great conversations, and she really listens to me.” Another senior said Maria is personable, intelligent, well-traveled, helpful and engaging.

Maria’s dedication to these seniors, admiration for them and giving spirit goes far beyond the program’s mission. She spends more than 150 hours per year volunteering through these two programs and has given selflessly without seeking anything in return. Maria has also expressed an interest in being a Senior Ambassador, the role of which is to advocate for seniors and spread the word about senior programs and assistance available to them.

Her dedication to seniors is personal, too. She said when she volunteers and visits, "I see my Mom when I help these seniors.”

2019 Youth Volunteer Service Award Nominees

Aiman Hamid: Aiman has served as a leader in service in a variety of capacities throughout her career at T.C. Williams High School, especially through the school’s Key Club, through which she gives hours each week serving the Alexandria Community.

The T.C. Williams High School Key Club has been active since at least 1960, providing unique opportunities for high school students to build leadership skills, serve the community and build character. The organization works in partnership with the Alexandria Kiwanis Club. Key Club members volunteer for 125 to 150 hours each year.

Aiman has been an active member of the Key Club since 9th grade, serving as its leader this year. She has been described as a “consummate volunteer, always ready” to serve. Through the Key Club, she has volunteered for a variety of Del Ray events including the Halloween Parade and Turkey Trot, in addition to Meals on Wheels, the T.C. Food Pantry, Salvation Army, William Ramsay’s Trunk or Treat and more.

In addition to the Key Club, she has volunteered at the Jerome Buddy Ford Nature Center, Best Buddies and is a scholar (including the National Honor Society, Math Honor Society, National English Honor Society) and a leader as treasurer and secretary of her class throughout high school.

Aiman comes from a service-oriented family. She exemplifies the potential of today’s youth and tomorrow’s leaders. She has been described as caring, having a strong character, inclusive and a positive leader.

Cadence Claypoole: Cadence has a desire to be engaged in the community and have a voice on how to reduce and prevent substance usage by youth in the Alexandria area.

That’s why she has served on the Board of Directors of the Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition of Alexandria (SAPCA) since 2017, and took on a leadership position (Secretary) in November 2018. Her insight regarding the day-to-day experiences of herself and other high school students has greatly influenced the shaping of SAPCA’s strategic plan. 

SAPCA is an alliance of parents, youth, schools, city health and recreation agencies, media, nonprofits, businesses, policymakers and law enforcement. The organization’s mission is to engage diverse sectors of the community in collaborative, cross-cultural and comprehensive substance abuse prevention efforts that result in a reduction of underage substance use and abuse in the City of Alexandria.

In addition to her role as a board member, Cadence assists with events held by SAPCA, including quarterly Drug Take Back Days. During these events, SAPCA volunteers staff tables at one of four sites to provide information about safe disposal of unused and expired medication and promote the coalition’s work surrounding substance use and abuse prevention.

Additionally, in November 2018, Cadence volunteered to spearhead the creation of a short video showcasing SAPCA’s community meeting in celebration of the coalition’s 10th anniversary. She worked independently to recruit a production crew for this event, develop a video script, cover the event, and produce an excellent final video.

2019 RSVP Northern Virginia Volunteer Service Award Nominee

Mary Kay Wallk: She has been an outstanding volunteer for Community Lodgings, dedicated to improving the lives of the families the organization serves. Community Lodgings is an organization dedicated to helping homeless and low-income families through a variety of affordable and transitional housing options. In addition, Community Lodgings offers Youth Education programs and Community Outreach, and it here where Mary Kay has excelled.

Mary Kay has spent many hours serving our area’s 1st and 2nd grade students in the Community Lodging’s after-school program. In addition to getting to know the students and responding to their needs, she assesses their academic needs areas and tutoring in reading and other areas. She has also taken the initiative to purchase materials she thinks would help in improving the student’s education, including books. 

Elizabeth (Liz) Teles: Liz enjoys the time that she spends at Huntley Meadow Park, primarily as a volunteer naturalist leading school field trips for preschool and elementary age students. Huntley Meadows is part of the Fairfax County Park Authority park and is managed as a wildlife sanctuary for enjoyment, education, and discovery. Among field trips she has led or co-led are ones that focus on the importance of wetlands to the environment; beavers; snakes, turtles, and frogs: and vertebrate classifications. She has learned about the life of the Powhatans at Huntley Meadows and hopes to lead field groups on those tours in the spring. At Huntley, she has also assisted senior naturalists with camps and boy scout badges and was an active participant in Wetlands Awareness Day. After retiring from the National Science Foundation as a program director for 28 years in January 2019 and before that as a mathematics faculty member at Montgomery College, Liz wanted to find a way to share her love of nature and the environment and feels lucky to become part of the Huntley Meadows family.

In the spring of 2019 Liz also volunteered at the Alexandria Mount Vernon Recreation Center at the front desk talking with people about what the Rec Center has to offer as well as scanning cards for members who wished to use the pool, ice rink, and exercise facilities. Liz packed food boxes as part of Food for Others. She and her husband regularly volunteer as ushers for performances at the Little Theater of Alexandria. These opportunities provide us a chance to help make northern Virginia a wonderful place to live.

2019 Emergency Preparedness Volunteer Service Award Nominees

Julie Keegan: Julie’s participation in public health exercises such as Capital Fortitude, flu vaccine clinics, Regional Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority Exercises, the 2017 Dark Water exercises and many more make a real difference in emergency preparedness in our community and region.

As an evaluator to these exercises, Julie has helped the Health Department improve their plans and practice their skills in the event of a public health emergency. Through her participation and leadership in outreach events, Julie was able to raise emergency preparedness awareness and educate residents.

Her impact was immeasurable when helping with outreach during the fire alarm installations. Julie was able to work in collaboration with the Fire Department and The Red Cross by supporting Health Department distributing emergency preparedness information to residents, reaching as many as 50 residents in one single day. Supporting the "Sound the Alarm" Fire Alarm Installation residents of Alexandria, helped ensure dozens of residents had working fire alarms and were informed of procedures to keep themselves and their family safe.

In addition, she volunteered with many other organizations in Alexandria, including the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria, Alexandria Police Department and has attended multiple City Academies. She works countless hours to keep residents safe and has proven herself as both a leader and in her service work.

Mimi Konoza: Keeping our community healthy during a public health community is a central part of Mimi’s role in Alexandria. She has worked as a nurse vaccinating during multiple flu clinics and outreach events at community festivals and parades.

As a vaccinator, Mimi helped the Health Department improve its plans and practice skills and capabilities that will be needed during a public health emergency. During outreach events, Mimi was able to raise emergency preparedness awareness and educate residents about how to prepare for any emergency.

She has also donated her time and professional knowledge to several other Alexandria organizations, including the Alexandria Fire Department and Volunteer Alexandria.

Deborah McGhee: Deborah is a volunteer and resource for the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) and the Alexandria community.

Deborah is a regular role player in emergency response exercises, helping first responders practice the skills and expertise necessary to respond to real emergencies.

But she also does so much more with more than 100 hours of volunteering in the past year: She is an assistant instructor for “Until Help Arrives,” a one-hour training course designed to help teach basic life-saving skills to their community. She also provides Hands-Only CPR training and she has supported the Arlington-Alexandria Disaster Recovery Center for persons seeking loans and information related to the July 2019 flooding. She has also provided rabies information at an outreach event, supports Point of Distribution activities and much more.

Through Deborah’s many roles, she helps the general community be better prepared for crises, and the extensive training she has taken has made her a better volunteer responder. She spends at least 10-15 hours per month on community activities, and is regularly one of the first people to volunteer for Until Help Arrives, participation in exercises and preparedness outreach and fairs.

Plus, she’s an excellent actress! As a role player in exercises, others have said Deborah’s acting is outstanding and she really gets into her roles. Volunteer work is a central part of her active retirement life. She truly enjoys working with and talking to people and learning new things that will help the community respond to disasters and crises.

Taryn Wilkinson: As assistant to the co-coordinator, Taryn has a special focus on communication and has been developing a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) communications plan that addresses both internal communications to CERT members and external communications to the general public.

Taryn joined Citizen Corps Council in January 2019 and has become one of its most involved

Members. She has also become a leader and advocate for for Citizen Corps Council's nascent project, Resilient Alexandria. The project will assess and report on the City's preparedness status, looking at the whole of the community.

In addition, she has done numerous outreach activities for CERT — these include marching with Volunteer Alexandria and handing out CERT and other emergency preparedness literature at the George Washington Birthday and St. Patrick's Day parades, even bringing along the young woman she has been mentoring through the "Space of Her Own" program. (In addition to volunteering for these emergency preparedness groups, Taryn has been an involved and committed mentor for 5 years to a young woman through the "Space of Her Own" program here in Alexandria.)

She also supported National Night Out at Park Place Condos, and did a presentation on preparedness for the Holmes Run Civic Association during September's National Preparedness Month. While doing all of this, she is working toward a graduate certificate in security policy analysis and has been a contractor with FEMA's Individual and Community Preparedness Division. Both of these have a positive effect on the projects and communications planning efforts and the contributions she makes to our community.

Click HERE to view award categories and past winners.

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