A penny for your thoughts

Just when you wonder if generosity has been replaced by selfishness or monetizing everything (as many comments on social media seem to imply), something happens that restores your faith in humanity and the values ​​cherished by the generations that preceded us. Over the past few weeks, multiple examples of philanthropy have shown that generosity is alive and well in Fairfax County and Northern Virginia.

The very word “philanthropy” conjures up images of Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Jose Andres or MacKenzie Scott, their foundations and largesse reported in media around the world. This largesse deserves to be thanked and moved, as many of these donations are made to improve the lives, health and education of people they may never know or meet. Small donations, such as those you and I might make, are also considered philanthropy, but generally without media interest. Nevertheless, every gesture counts, whether it’s a check with lots of zeros or a winter coat and a pack of socks for Ukrainian relief. All of this reflects a generosity of spirit and a desire to make a difference in someone’s life.

Last week, May 4, the INOVA Schar Cancer Institute celebrated a multi-million contribution from Paul and Linda Saville with the opening of the INOVA Saville Cancer Screening and Prevention Center. In his address at the inauguration ceremony, Paul noted that “we have all been touched by cancer. Too many of us know someone who died of cancer due to late diagnosis. We are honored to partner with INOVA Schar to bring vital cancer screening and prevention services to more people to reduce the burden of cancer and improve the health of our community. The 26,000 square foot INOVA Saville Center is the first of its kind in the Washington metro area, providing a home for cancer screening and prevention, advocating for people at all levels of cancer risk, breaking down barriers and maximizing health and wellness in our diverse community. The Saville family may never know how many people their generous community investment will help over time, but it will most likely be generations of new families. Thank you Paul and Linda Saville.

A few weeks ago, I reported that donations for Ukrainian relief dropped off at the Mason District Government Center totaled 40 giant shipping boxes. The Northern Virginia Regional Commission (NVRC) coordinated donation drop-off sites in the NVRC Member Area and when complete, over 27 tons of blankets, coats, gloves and socks were sorted and packed by volunteers from the Oakton Stake. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. About 1,800 boxes of donations were filled and packed into six tractor-trailers for the trip to Wilmington, North Carolina, to be shipped to refugee sites in Poland and Ukraine. Factoid: if stacked on top of each other, the boxes would equal 6 ½ Washington monuments! No estimate of the number of donors is available, but the result confirms that small donations can add up to help countless numbers of displaced residents in war-torn Ukraine and its neighbours. If you missed the Ukraine donation drive, you can make tax-deductible monetary contributions to the American Red Cross (www.redcross.org), Salvation Army (www.salvationarmyusa.org), Kitchen Jose Andres World Central (https://wck.org), or your favorite charity.

The Art in the Mason District Governmental Center program features photographs by Connor Cummings, a published local artist who also has autism. Connor uses a camera as a means of communication through still photography. One of my favorite photos in Connor’s exhibit is “New Orleans Glow”, an interior arrangement of what looks like an old bar with rows of backlit glass bottles that really give a “glow”. The work will be exhibited until June 30, 2022.

Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. It can be emailed to [email protected]

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