NVFS Shatters Attendance Records and Fundraising Goals at 2014 Road to Independence Gala

(Oakton, Va., May 21, 2014)  With 624 supporters at the 2014 Road to Independence Gala, Northern Virginia Family Service (NVFS) set a record for both attendance and funds raised at its premier event at the Hilton McLean Tysons Corner on Friday, May 9, 2014. The Gala honored Sidney O. Dewberry and Lauren Peterson, and featured an emotional client testimonial and live appeal, as well as live and silent auctions. Bill Hoover, president and CEO of AMERICAN SYSTEMS, served as the Gala’s chair.

NVFS president and CEO Mary Agee welcomed attendees to event by sharing the origins of NVFS: Alexandria volunteers in 1924 collected coats, mittens and coal to help their struggling neighbors stay warm during the winter. And while the organization continues to meet those basic needs 90 years later, Agee reminded attendees that “through your investments, people learn skills to earn a living wage, cars to get them to work, and safe and affordable housing; abused and neglected children find loving and well-trained foster families, people from war-torn countries can receive mental health treatment and seek asylum.”

The emotional high point of the evening followed when Tina, a former resident at NVFS’ SERVE Family Shelter in Manassas, shared her journey to homelessness and back. Overcoming both her circumstances and her choices helped her take responsibility for her road to independence. With the help of NVFS family support workers, she and her children are now living independently in Northern Virginia.  After the event, she thanked NVFS: “It really felt good knowing I had a part in helping someone else who may have a need.”

In accepting his Legends of Northern Virginia award, Sidney Dewberry quipped that he should be on a beach somewhere, but he finds himself active in public service, doing good. He reminded the audience of his many childhood lessons: gratitude, honesty, hard work, family, respect and giving back. “Thank you for this honor, which I humbly accept and share with all of you.”

Lauren Peterson was honored as this year’s Community Champion, and credited NVFS for setting the standard for her subsequent board service. “It is the responsibility of good communities to help and nurture those who are less fortunate. The money raised tonight shows that we are a community that takes care of its own.”

This year’s event included many guests from federal, state and local officials, including Governor and Mrs. Terry McAuliffe; Virginia Senators Charles Cogan, Barbara Favola, Jennifer Wexton, and Dave Marsden; Alphonso Lopez, Vivian Watts, Eileen Filler-Corn and Robert Brink from the Virginia House of Delegates; Walter Tejada from the Arlington County Board of Supervisors; and Chairman Sharon Bulova, John Foust, Catherine Hudgins, Linda Smith and Pat Herrity from the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly placed a statement in the Congressional Record recognizing the 90th anniversary of NVFS and the work of the event honorees, and presented Mary Agee with a copy of the statement.

The $688,279 raised at the Road to Independence Gala provide provide critical unrestricted funds for NVFS programs and services.