Eight people and organizations were honored Wednesday evening for their contributions to the Braddock District community. Braddock District Supervisor John Cook and the Braddock District Council of Community Associations (BDC) hosted the annual picnic and awards ceremony.
BDC Chairman Bill Barfield served as master of ceremonies, and invited Congressman Gerry Connolly to present opening remarks.
"Tonight is about blooming where you are planted," said Connolly to the standing room only crowd in the conference room at the Braddock District Offices. "Everyone has an obligation to get involved in their community," he said, recognizing the service provided by the eight honorees.
Board of Supervisor Chairman Sharon Bulova said serving at the community level was the "most noble, most grassroots level of government." "You are building a sense of community," she said. "Then when things get hard, you already have intact a community that knows each other and is ready to help each other."
The 2012 Best of Braddock Awards were presented to:
Club or Organization Making a Difference in the Braddock District: Shepherd’s Center of Fairfax-Burke
The Shepherd’s Center provides life enrichment opportunities and life support services to older adults in the Fairfax-Burke community, so they can continue to live independently with a sense of purpose and dignity. In addition, the center seeks to empower older adults to use their wisdom and skills to help their peers in the community.
Most Can-Do Public Employee in the District, State Level – Katherine Stramel, Northern Virginia Community College (NVCC)
As the Community Relations specialist at the Annandale Campus, Katherine Stramel has been instrumental in informing Braddock District residents about NVCC actions and events that could affect the community. She has also been helpful in resolving concerns or issues that residents have raised, including construction noise, nighttime light pollution, and traffic. Stramel has worked hard to establish a dialogue with the community through neighborhood meetings, email, an outreach web page, a newsletter and communication with and through Supervisor Cook's office.
Most Can-Do Public Employee in the District, Local Level: Gaela Hime, Laurel Ridge Elementary School Crossing Guard
When her son started kindergarten 27 years ago, Gaela Hime applied for the position of crossing guard. She thought she'd work the job for a couple of years. Hime came to love the job so much, she made a career out of it.
"What makes Hime exceptional is her ability to remember the names of the students and parents she has dealt with over the years," said Bill Barfield. "Children, boys and girls alike, stop to give her hugs or a high-five. She will always be remembered for her smile as she assured all of us safe passage when we crossed the street every school day for the last 27 years. She is retiring this year, and will be missed for so many reasons, including her radiant smile."
Most Outstanding Business Person: Patrick Gloyd, Executive Director, The Burke Centre Conservancy
Serving as the chief administrative officer of The Burke Centre Conservancy, Patrick Gloyd manages staff, coordinates administrative support for various Burke Centre resources, maintains contact with Fairfax County officials on Burke Centre matters, and implements the annual budget. He is The Burke Centre Conservancy agent for all contracts. In addition, he:
• Serves as liaison to the Business Development Committee, is a member of the Pohick Creek Watershed Advisory Group, and liaison to the Burke Centre Parkway Pedestrian & Motorist Safety Task Force.
• Has overseen the updating of all five community centers, which are used for a variety of activities including Boy Scouts, Burke Centre 55ers, VFW and other organizations.
• Worked with the county to improve access to the VRE station by adding and updating Burke Centre paths.
• Used sound fiscal management practices to be able to make many improvements without increasing annual HOA assessments for the last several years, while building a cash reserve for future projects.
Neighborhood Enhancement or Beautification by a Community Association - The Burke Centre Conservancy
The Burke Centre Conservancy cleared the sediment in the five conservancy owned ponds and rebuilt the gazebos and bridges in those areas. "A three year long process from start to finish, the ponds dredging project is a perfect example of a community association successfully undertaking an important, complex and costly neighborhood enhancement project," said Barfield. "It netted positive results for not only the Braddock District, but the entire Pohick Watershed."
Special Recognition Award: Marian Hardy
Marian Hardy was honored for her unwavering and continual support to Annandale Christian Community for Action (ACCA) by organizing an annual food drive at the Briarwood Court Condominiums for the last 22 years. She is also a former board member of the Briarwood Court Condominium Association.
Braddock District Citizen of the Year: Kathy Augustine
For over 20 years, Kathy Augustine has worked quietly and effectively under the radar in a variety of roles which have served the Braddock District community and the larger Fairfax County community.
Working with Catholic Charities, Augustine opened her home to over two dozen unwed and/or at risk pregnant women, often for several months at a time, providing them shelter and support through the term of their pregnancies until they could get back on their feet. "A particularly selfless act by a single mother, especially when she had children of her own at home," said Barfield.
Augustine uses her talents as a financial specialist and LAN administrator as a member of the Brandywine Pool Association Board. She was a key person involved in bringing a cell phone monopole onto the property, which provides the pool with about two-thirds of their annual budget income. "Living nearby the pool, she is often the first one to respond during an emergency on the property," said Barfield.
"When the Olde Forge and Surrey Square Associations decided to combine into one association about four years ago, Augustine's leadership was instrumental in making that idea a reality," said Barfield. She has served as treasurer for the new association for the last four years.
Upon her retirement from Federal Government service five years ago, Augustine volunteered with AARP helping seniors prepare and submit their income taxes. She now serves as the Volunteer Site Lead/Coordinator for 20 tax preparation assistants in two separate county locations. Her volunteer commitment to Fairfax County and Braddock District older citizens actually adds up to a full time job for one third of the year.
Young Person of the Year: Dawson Taylor, Frost Middle School student
One day, Dawson Taylor saw Mr. Cason spreading mulch in his yard, and came over to offer his help. Mr. Cason suggested he come by the next day, but when the day was drizzly and rainy, he presumed Dawson wouldn’t come over. Much to his surprise, he found that Dawson had indeed come and done the job he had offered to do.
This is just one example of Dawson’s generous and responsible nature. Dawson, age 13, cuts grass for his neighbors to earn spending money, is an assistant patrol leader in Boy Scout Troop 1525, and plays string bass in the school orchestra. For his school service project this year, he played solo piano concerts at a number of retirement communities. He also sings in his school chorus and church choir.
Dawson Taylor was not able to attend the awards ceremony, but will be honored by Supervisor Cook at a later date.
Staff members in Supervisor Cook's office contributed biographical information on each honoree for this article.