The Democratic Women of Clifton (DWC) celebrated their seventh anniversary at the home of Gretchen Klimoski on Sunday, Feb. 12.
Since seventh anniversaries are usually associated with copper, guests were asked to bring pennies. The coins, as well as checks and other change, were placed in ceramic bowls at a table staffed by Chris Randon.
Enjoying the refreshments and talking to each other were first on the informal agenda. Jane Barker next called the members together to introduce two important guests from Our Daily Bread (ODB), Executive Director, Lisa Whetzel, and Food Program Manager, Christina Garris.
Our Daily Bread, which is located in the Massey Building, helps Fairfax County residents preserve their financial independence and survive.
“We rely on the community to support our programs,” Whetzel explained. “Every penny in donations from the Democratic Women of Clifton goes to support our clients.”
And who are these clients? The “working poor,” who receive the minimum wage and bring home $14,000 to $15,000 a year. With apartments renting for approximately $1,400 a month, it is indeed hard to feed a family of four on that salary. “In affluent Fairfax County, more than 70,000 people do not know where their next meal is coming from,” reads literature distributed by ODB.
ODB sponsors four major initiatives: a weekly food program for needy families; one-time emergency financial assistance to pay rent, utilities, medical and other unexpected expenses; financial literacy classes; and special projects. Providing food and gifts for families during the holidays and school supplies in the fall fit into this last category, Whetzel continued.
Christina Garris related a heart-rending story about a nicely dressed, seemingly middle class client, who was picking up groceries from Our Daily Bread. After loading everything into his truck, he broke down.
“I don’t know how I got here. I don’t know how I got here,” he repeated, banging the side of his truck. “I don’t know how I’m going to get out. I can’t even feed my wife.”
This account was a vivid reminder of how fortunate so many of us are in Fairfax Station and Clifton.
Co-chair Jane Barker noted that the DWC is a political group, not a service group. However, the association has undertaken a significant service project each year since 2008. During his inauguration, President Obama asked Americans to volunteer in their own communities, helping with local projects for the National Day of Service. Since so many of ODB’s clients are women and mothers, working with them seemed “a good fit” with the DWC.
For their annual holiday project in 2011, the DWC collected grocery store gift cards for Our Daily Bread. “We were very pleased to exceed our $2,000 holiday project goal,” Barker stated.
Barker, Whetzel and Garris also discussed ODB’s next fundraiser, Empty Bowls, which is scheduled for Feb. 23 at the Sherwood Community Center in Fairfax City. A donation of $25 allows a guest to choose a handsome, handcrafted ceramic bowl and enjoy a simple meal of bread and soup. A silent auction, raffles, music and flowers will add enjoyment to the evening.
As a symbol of their support for the Empty Bowls project, the Democratic Women of Clifton gave their heavy bowls filled with coins to Whetzel and Garris. The $365.64 which was collected at the party will help pay utility bills for a family in Fairfax this winter.
Barker concluded the DWC’s Seventh Anniversary Celebration with a stirring endorsement of Our Daily Bread: “It is a great group, a lovely group of people whose heart is in the right place.”
The party was organized by the Steering Committee, which includes the recently elected DWC officers, Co-Chairs Jane Barker and Marianne Scippa, Secretary Debbie Nagy and Treasurer Barbara Miller. Committee Chairs and Co-Chairs for 2012-13, elected at the DWC annual meeting in January, also helped with the celebration: Barbara Bennison and Barbara Tuset, Communications Co-Chairs; Gretchen Klimoski, Political Action Chair; Doreen Christian, Campaigns and Elections Chair; Larilyn Andre and Gay Shane, Events Management Co-Chairs; Chris Randon, Membership Chair; and Annette Koklauner, Ad Hoc.