Interchange – Fall 2007 – Alexandria

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Woodlawn Friends began the summer with our now traditional children’s picnic. The Children’s Religious Education Program organizes an annual picnic on our lawn that ends the CRE school year. This June, we all enjoyed the fresh air fellowship as well as the burgers and dogs– both the meat and veggie varieties– grilled outdoors and served with all the usual picnic fare. The weather was very cooperative, and the picnic was very well-attended. Each year, the children select one or more charities they wish to support and, at the June picnic, ask for donations from all who attend. This year, they collected well over $700, to be sent to AFSC, half designated for work within the United States and the other half for their work in Africa.

Over the summer, Woodlawn Friends were involved in several meetings with officials from Fort Belvoir (the Army installation that surrounds our Meetinghouse property, after buying or appropriating the land of all nearby Quaker farms during the periods of WWI and WWII). Belvoir is implementing a major shift of additional programs and personnel to their facilities. Because we are a historic property, they must comply with federal historic preservation laws by working to avoid or mitigate negative effects to us of their new construction. We have been fortunate to have strong support from the Virginia Department of Historic Preservation, also a participant in the process. Their office has stated that part of what must be protected, as historically important, is our silent worship. The Fort has honored this through proposed limits of construction noise on First Days. All involved appreciate the interesting irony of the Army’s and the Friends’ shared efforts to be good neighbors for this complex process.

September brings our attention to projects ahead. A major effort that Woodlawn Friends expect to continue is with Ventures in Community’s Hypothermia Outreach Program. Last winter, twenty-seven of us volunteered to staff an overnight shelter for the homeless, providing meals and overnight presence one night a week for two months. Because the effort stretched thin our modest-sized Meeting, we hope this winter to share the responsibility for our time with another small local church. Also, we will continue another VIC project of the past few years, in that a team of five or six Friends has been preparing meals several times a year for troubled families. Family groups of approximately fifty adults and children participate in a year-long “Nurturing Parenting” program sponsored by Fairfax County. The courses and events of this program strive to promote family functioning and to fight child abuse. Among the values demonstrated is that of sitting down together as a family for a common meal which area churches provide and share with the families.

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