Parent liaisons go above and beyond

From left: Duke Butkovich, Corey Burns and Taryn Simms

Corey Burns doesn’t know where he would be today if it hadn’t been for Duke Butkovich and Taryn Simms.

As parent liaisons at Seneca Ridge Middle School and Dominion High School in Sterling, Butkovich and Simms are resources for parents trying to guide their children through the school system. But their reach extends far beyond that basic job description. They also provide academic and moral support — and even necessities such as food and clothing — to many students.

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Washington Post, December 20, 2015

Vigil for diversity


More than 200 people gathered in front of the old courthouse in downtown Leesburg Thursday, Dec. 17, in a silent vigil for a diverse and united community. Participants represented a diverse blend of faith traditions, including Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, Bahá’í, Unitarian, Hindu and Buddhist groups.


The participants convened at Leesburg Presbyterian Church before walking three blocks to the intersection of Kind and Market streets, where they stood silently during the vigil.

Lifting off in a hot-air balloon

The most suspenseful moments of our hot-air ballooning adventure came a few minutes before our scheduled liftoff.

In the eyes of our pilot, it was a bit too windy to fly. The winds had been diminishing, he said, but if they didn’t come down some more, we might have to scrap the flight. And the window of opportunity was closing rapidly. If our flight didn’t start in the next half-hour, there wouldn’t be enough time to complete it before dark.

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Washington Post, December 20, 2015

Volunteers make repairs to Clifton woman’s home

Dixie Dawson ascends her new wheelchair ramp, assisted by Beth Walters of Sun Design. 

Christmas arrived almost two weeks early for Dixie Dawson.

A group of about 50 volunteers — most of whom are employees of Sun Design, a Burke-based home-remodeling company — spent Saturday repairing Dawson’s home and constructing a new deck and wheelchair ramp for her.

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Washington Post, December 17, 2015

Interfaith hosts provide a rare night out

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

Teen’s nonprofit tutors hundreds of kids

Arvind Chava (left) tutors Katherine Fonseca, 10

Arvind Chava believes that a good education is the pathway to a better life. And the 17-year-old high school senior is doing something about it — not only for himself, but also for hundreds of children in southeastern Fairfax County.

Two years ago, he started STEMWISE, a nonprofit organization that provides after-school tutoring and online classes to about 400 children, many of whom are from low-income families. Through the program, Arvind and about 50 of his classmates at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology help children with math and science at 10 community centers.

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Washington Post, December 9, 2015

They’re no dummies!

Simulation lab at GWU’s School of Nursing

It was harrowing, student nurse Lisa Bowen said.

Her patient was undergoing a medical procedure on his kidney. Shortly after Bowen attached an IV to give him blood, he began showing signs of a severe allergic reaction.

“I can’t breathe,” he gasped. His arm felt itchy, he said, and his heart began racing. Bowen quickly detached the IV and called for a doctor.

Although allergic reactions can be life-threatening, Bowen never worried that her patient would die — because he was not alive. He was one of a growing number of high-tech, lifelike manikins that the George Washington University School of Nursing in Ashburn uses to train students.

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Washington Post, December 6, 2015