Interfaith hosts provide a rare night out

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Jennifer Romps of Beth Chaverim serves dinner to the Gad family.

Members of Ashburn-based Muslim, Jewish and Christian faith communities united last Sunday evening to serve a free restaurant-style meal to people who seldom have the opportunity to dine out.

The event was the most recent in a series of Community Table dinners organized to provide a fine dining experience for low-income individuals and families. Members of two or more faith communities have joined to host most of the dinners, giving them the opportunity to build interfaith friendships while serving people in need, organizers said.

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Washington Post, December 13, 2015

After-school program helps low-income families

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Volunteer Lauren Barber (center) helps kids with reading and homework at INMED’s new after-school program. 

Volunteer tutor Lauren Barber (center) helps children with their reading and homework in one of the after-school classrooms at INMED’s Family and Youth Opportunity Center in Sterling.

As part of its growing presence in the Sterling area, INMED Partnerships for Children has begun offering a free after-school program for children from low-income families.

INMED launched the program, which provides tutors and mentors to help children with homework, at its Family and Youth Opportunity Center on Ridgetop Circle this month. The center serves children ages 6 to 12 who live in Sterling-area neighborhoods with a high percentage of low-income families, said Maria Vasquez, executive director of the Opportunity Center. Many of the children’s parents do not speak English, she said.

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Washington Post, November 29, 2015

Nonprofit helps with school supplies

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Two decades ago, Susan Ungerer was volunteering at a Fairfax County nonprofit group that helps financially strapped families when she noticed a pattern: Parents tended to fall behind with their finances in August and September, just when they had to buy school supplies for their children.

That realization, combined with 23 years of experience as an elementary school teacher, motivated Ungerer to start Kids R First, a nonprofit group that provides basic school supplies to families in need. The organization has been growing ever since. This year, Ungerer anticipates that Kids R First will help 25,000 students in 96 schools across Fairfax and Loudoun counties.

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Washington Post, July 29, 2015

Fighting childhood obesity

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Children will be able to learn more about where their food comes from — and how eating locally grown food contributes to a healthy lifestyle — through a program that is coming to the Mosaic Central Farm Market in Merrifield on Sunday.

The Junior League of Northern Virginia’s Market Explorers program is part of a larger effort to combat childhood obesity.

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Washington Post, July 15, 2015

Hooking kids on robotics

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The two busloads of seventh- and eighth-graders from Sterling who arrived at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Bethesda were on a mission. They had come to test the underwater robots they built and to see which teams could maneuver their robots most effectively in a simulated oil-spill scenario.

The students were participants in a Naval research program to interest children in science and technology.

Washington Post, May 22, 2013

School community rallies to help student

After years of instability, abandonment, abuse and homelessness, Kieu-thu Kim Tran’s life hit bottom during her junior year at Dominion High School in Sterling. Living with the latest in a series of unstable relatives had become unbearable, she said, so she took her belongings and walked out, not knowing where she would go.

A year later, Tran is thriving, thanks to a high school community that rallied around her.

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Washington Post, March 16, 2013