Several Reston for a Lifetime volunteers participated in a wonderful holiday lunch for the 100+ residents of Lake Anne Fellowship House on Monday.
What made this really unique and special is that the lunch was not organized by a church or organization it was initiated by one person, Cherie Lejeune. After attending a meeting at Lake Anne Fellowship House -a government- assisted apartment complex designed for individuals with limited income who are over 62 or who are handicapped or disabled - Cherie was instantly drawn to the residents. She was inspired to do something nice for them and started working with management to host a holiday lunch. She recruited her family, friends and “cyber buddies” via social media, and we helped her spread the word via Reston for a Lifetime. Using her connections, she started knocking on doors and was able to garner the support of Whole Foods Reston and others to underwrite the entire lunch.
As you can see from the attached photos, the event was a huge success. One of the best photos is of a poster created by the residents titled “I am thankful for . . .” in 10 different languages. The decorations were made by a 9-year-old granddaughter of a volunteer making this a truly international and intergenerational display!
Not only was the food delicious, a volunteer played the piano (and was accompanied by a Fellowship House resident with vocals). However, the best thing was seeing the residents getting to know their neighbors (the volunteers) and vice-versa. This interaction is one of the primary goals of Reston for a Lifetime, for us to begin viewing these communities and their residents as our neighbors and not facilities or institutions’ for the elderly and disabled.
Although there were many connections, one volunteer at the event, Ralph Sklarew, shared his story, “As I entered the building I met a women who said that she enjoys teaching seniors to use computers...something I'm very interested in so I gave her my card and went on my way. Later she showed up at the luncheon and I learned that she had multiple advanced degrees including a PhD from MIT. She had to stop working due to Lyme disease. After serving, I went to sit with her and talk further. She related her interests and background and mentioned space colonization. Well, I had participated in a Summer Study on space colonization at NASA Ames lab in the Bay Area in 1975. She said she was there, too!”
Ralph’s story just scratches the surface to illustrate the wisdom and resources that are living right down the street from all of us in communities like Lake Anne Fellowship House. Our next step is to honor Cherie’s initiative by helping connect these resources with the community at large.