• Thanksgiving this year coincides with the first night of the Jewish celebration of Hannukah, or the Festival of Lights, and I am thankful for the diversity of religious thought in our area. Our faith communities provide great support to the entire area, not just their own congregants. From food pantries and providing temporary shelter for the homeless on frigid nights, to child care and combatting human trafficking, we all share in thanks.
• We should be thankful, too, for all the local government employees who provide reliable everyday services. First responders, including the folks at the dispatch center who take our 911 calls under great stress, are singled out for providing 24/7 seamless service, but so, too, are the public works and human services workers ready to deal with a resident’s drainage or flooding problem in the middle of the night, or find a safe place for a family affected by domestic violence. County employees work tirelessly to keep Fairfax County residents and businesses safe and thriving.
• An engaged citizenry is vitally necessary to that same effort. Civic associations, PTAs, park and library Friends groups, youth athletic teams and scout troops – could not function without volunteers. There are plenty of tasks to go around, and a great deal of satisfaction is derived from participating with your friends and neighbors on a common task or goal. We can always use more, but are thankful for those who have stepped up the challenge.
• There is dignity in work, regardless of the wage or salary. Ours is a knowledge economy, with many well-educated workers, and correspondingly high salaries. But our community couldn’t function well without workers at all levels, from retail clerks and wait staff, to nurses and caregivers, and many others, seen and unseen. All are important, and many are working today to provide services, even on a holiday.
• Finally, a nod to the arts community, whose creations soften the hard edges of life. Music, dance, painting, architecture, and a myriad of other artistic forms provide the cultural amenities that define humankind. Last week, the Art in the Mason District Governmental Center program welcomed a show of bright abstract paintings by Joyce McCarten, who received a Strauss Fellowship Award in 2012 from the Arts Council of Fairfax County. Joyce notes that abstractions allow the artist a greater freedom of expression. The show is open Monday – Friday from 8:30 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor, in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.