The Road to Independence – NVFS Annual Fundraising Gala

One way to recognize and help a community is to listen to its stories. Listen to the stories of independence, growth, and gratitude. The road ahead is easier to travel when we listen to our neighbors.

Each year, Northern Virginia Family Service (NVFS) hosts the Road to Independence Gala. It’s a night to lift up the transformational work at NVFS while thanking sponsors, volunteers, and team members for their support. NVFS has over thirty thousand neighbors each year. From delivering high-quality early childhood development, resources for those who need food, assistance for local entrepreneurs, and mental health services, NVFS touches many lives. 

The Gala is a time to acknowledge the hard work, the support, and those in our community on the road to independence. It’s also a night of stories that inspire. Today, we bring you two of those stories.  

Meet Lucas and Carla, His “Super Proud Mom”

Meet Lucas and Carla, his “Super Proud Mom .”Lucas and Carla’s powerful video was showcased at the 2023 Road to Independence Gala. 

Early Head Start and Head Start provide education and services to kids under five years old and their families to promote academic, social, and emotional development. As the program supports the kids, it also supports the parents.  

Carla’s road to independence includes working full-time as a dispatcher with the Virginia State Police while maintaining a goal to become a lawyer. She and Lucas have an NVFS family advocate within the NVFS Early Head Start, Head Start, and Preschool Program, and the advocacy helps relieve some of the stress of Carla’s busy life. When the pressure is removed, Carla has more time to participate in Lucas’ education. Both Carla and the staff at NVFS can watch Lucas grow, develop and learn. 

Thank you, Carla and Lucas, for sharing your story. And thank you for the smiles. 


“When my small community came together, the impossible became possible.”

Gala attendees also met Lamiaa Farrag and listened to her story. As a new mom in Northern Virginia, Lamiaa needed support. Here is an excerpt from her story. 

“The support I thought I had fell through, and I had no choice but to make it work, not just for myself but for my child. During this trying time, the question was – where do I find support when there seems to be none?”

The answer came in the form of the NVFS Healthy Families program.

“I was given skills and knowledge that helped me immensely. I learned about newborn care – from diapering to feeding to bathing to sleep patterns. My home visitor provided information on every stage of child development, including conducting developmental screenings to see how Adam was progressing. I learned about brain development and positive parenting strategies. They also imparted to me the importance of practicing self-care, so I could be the best mom I could be.

For me, at the heart of everything is Adam. My goal is to build a fearless, empowered, healthy next generation. To do so, we must encourage and educate parents and support them in raising these kids. To keep fighting through the struggle. To remind each other of our resiliency. And to be there to raise the torches for those having a hard time seeing the path in front of them.”

Thank you, Lamiaa, for sharing your story of hope and resilience. You are a light that helps neighbors find the path ahead of them.  

Everyone’s Story is Important 

We hope that you find Carla and Lamiaa’s stories inspiring. Each year, thousands of stories in Northern Virginia go untold. Many are on the road to independence and need the support of their community.  

Life is often a two-way road. Those that are supporting are also being supported by giving to neighbors.   

“NVFS has allowed me to lean into my own life’s philosophy and mission, which is to do all the good you can, in all the ways you can, for all the people you can, and for as long as you can.”

–Malinda Langford, NVFS Senior Vice President of Programs


A Heartfelt Thank You 

The Road To Independence 2023 Gala would not be complete without a heartfelt “Thank You” to our sponsors, volunteers, and team members. Your generosity helps NVFS provide services to neighbors in the Northern Virginia region.  

About Northern Virginia Family Service

Northern Virginia Family Service’s (NVFS) breadth, depth, and scope of services offer the resources and support to ensure that everyone in need, at every stage of life, maximizes their potential and fully contributes to a thriving community. We provide the essential building blocks for financial, emotional, and physical well-being, serving as leaders and innovators for the Northern Virginia community. Every year, we empower more than 30,000 individuals to achieve self-sufficiency. With these essential resources, our community is better equipped for future success and engagement among our neighbors.

If you want more information about NVFS, to volunteer, or to donate, visit our website