(Sept. 19, 2018) Catherine Read interviews Rebecca Kolowe, Executive Director of Western Fairfax Christian Ministries (WFCM). WFCM provides compassionate, life essential services to reduce hunger and the risk of homelessness amongst vulnerable residents of Western Fairfax County. WFCM serves individuals and families of all ages, religions and nationalities from the communities of Chantilly, Centerville, Clifton, Fairfax Station and Fair Oaks.
Thirty-one years ago, 12 local churches came together to found WFCM. Today, the organization has the participation of over 40 local communities of faith, including mosques and synagogues. The food pantry is the primary focus, although they do also offer assistance with utility shut-off and eviction notices. Kolowe notes that they will never turn anyone away, and all who walk through their doors will be served a meal. Most of their clients come to them through referrals from the County, and most return on a monthly basis to stock up on essentials.
Hunger knows no bounds, and WFCM serves those of all age groups. Kolowe points out that 15% of the people frequenting WFCM are seniors. Recently, there were two large fires in the community, which displaced many residents. The senior home that caught on fire destroyed 88 units, and WFCM helped to support the displaced residents. They worked hand in hand with other organizations within the community to help replace items such as medication, dentures and medical equipment.
On October 12th WFCM will hold its 11th annual gala dinner in order to raise funds to support their very important work. Ken Harvey, former linebacker from the Washington Redskins, will be the keynote speaker and Tracie Potts of NBC News will be the Mistress of Ceremonies. Kolowe is excited about the event, and hopes to grow attendance in order to raise money for the organization. If you would like to join them, or become a sponsor, tickets are available on their website.
One of the largest obstacles that many of her clients face is traveling to the pantry, since many of her clients do not have their own cars. It can sometimes take an entire afternoon of bus travel to make a 5-mile trip to the pantry. Kolowe would love to think outside the box, and work with their partners in the community to help solve these problems. For example, she could envision volunteers who are able to transport clients from their places of worship to and from the pantry, to ease the burden on her clients. There are many possibilities when everyone comes together to help tackle these obstacles, and Kolowe is open to exploring all of the possibilities.