Chris and Debbie Cloud of Marshall believe more issue-awareness and information-sharing is needed to build stronger families. They’ve formed a nonprofit called the Family Alliance Network of Fauquier and last week held the first of planned twice-yearly community forums.
The initial forum held at the Marshall Ruritan building on Oct. 3 drew an audience of about 35 for the topic “Family and Community – What is being done, what needs to be done and how to be involved.”
There was a panel of speakers consisting of Marshall District Supervisor Mary Leigh McDaniel, Windy Hill Foundation Director Bob Dale, Just Ask Trafficking Prevention Foundation Director of Development Jacquelin Pinilla and commissioner of the revenue candidate Eric Maybach. After their presentations, questions from the audience were invited.
McDaniel ran through a list of government and non-governmental organizations where people might look for assistance, including the county’s social services department, SpiritWorks addiction recovery, the food bank and Community Touch – a service in Bealeton aiding the homeless and hungry.
Dale detailed the Windy Hill Foundation’s efforts to provide affordable housing in Fauquier and Loudoun counties. A total of 310 units have been built since the foundation’s founding in 1983. Of those 49 in Marshall and The Plains.
Retirees, veterans and working families are among those in Windy Hill housing, Dale said.
“The first thing you need to do is get a roof over their heads” to bring some stability to their lives, Dale said. Though many of the residents are working, their wages can be half that of the average wage in Fauquier, he explained.
Like all parents, parents of children living in Windy Hill housing want a better life for their children. Windy Hill has partnered with Fauquier County Public Schools to provide after-school programs using a $150,000 grant from the Virginia Department of Education. The money will support tutoring and enrichment opportunities such as outdoor and environmental education, fine arts, STEM education, field trips and summer camps.
Pinella explained that the Just Ask Trafficking Prevention foundation works to bring awareness to the issue of sex trafficking.
She said that 80 percent of those who responded to a survey said that an attempt to lure them had been made through comments such as “you’re pretty, you could earn some money.”
She said that signs a young person has been successfully lured could be a change to “sexy” clothing and sudden interest in material goods and money.
More information about the threat and the efforts of Just Ask to combat it can be found at justaskprevention.org.
Maybach said young people need to get more involved in serving the community and spend less time on cellphones and in front of computer screens.
“You learn so much visiting people in nursing homes and hospitals,” Maybach said. Family meals have also gone out of fashion, he said.
A suggestion was made from the audience that young people be invited to the next forum, which is planned for next May on a date to be announced.
Another suggestion from the audience was that a community pool be built in Marshall.
McDaniel said that that is something that will need private funding. She explained the difference between “wants and needs.” She said the supervisors decided sewer service to Catlett and hiring new deputies and fire and rescue personnel were priorities in the current budget.
Some who attended the forum filled out a sheet requesting topics for subsequent gatherings, such as housing, education, the opioid crisis, abuse and violence, suicide prevention, civil rights, cyber safety, local taxes and gun safety training. The form also allowed attendees to indicate a topic for a focus group they’d like to participate in.
Reach James Ivancic at firstname.lastname@example.org