Officers Bayron Gudiel and Melanie Todd of the Franconia District Police Station with the Fitsume family of Lorton: Girma, Nehemiah, 6, and Netanya, 9, at the Hope and Health Festival in Lorton on Saturday.
Photo by Steve Hibbard.
Begun in 2013, the seventh-annual Hope and Health Festival took place on Saturday, May 4, 2019, behind the Lorton Library. There were 19 different vendors offering everything from vision screenings from the Mason Neck Lions Club to the Mason Neck State Park talking about fitness and events at the park. There was free food, kids’ games and activities, crafts, inflatables and lots of information.
According to Linda Patterson, Lorton Community Action Center (LCAC) Executive Director, the event began as a partnership between LCAC, South County Church, and the Lorton Library. “Potomac Health Foundation has found that the Lorton community is considered a health desert, which means it is very difficult to access services from this community because of transportation-related issues.”
She continued: “The whole purpose of the Hope and Health Festival is to ensure that our neighbors have access to services. The hardest part in Fairfax County, especially if you’re a low-income household or individual, is to find a way to plug in to access needed services – whether it’s health screenings or whether it’s information about WICK or Medicaid or food stamps or finding a way to get sight or vision screening. And that’s what this event is about – it’s making sure that everyone has access to information so there’s parity and equity in Fairfax County.”
She added that LCAC strives to meet the physical and educational needs of its neighbors. “And we do that through a variety of basic needs services like our food pantry where we serve 200 families a week – all the way through the classes that we provide like ESL, resume writing, budgeting, nutrition education – to try to meet the holistic needs of each household in the community.”
Karen Corbett Sanders, Chair, Fairfax County School Board, added: “We are so appreciative of the role that Lorton Community Action Center plays in South County. They truly are the heart of the community in this area. They provide wonderful services to all of our students and families, including food, tutoring support, after-school programs for our kids. And they really are a partner with Fairfax County to enrich the lives of people in this area.”