Star FISH for 2023
Every year during the FISH Fling, we recognize and honor people or institutions that have made outstanding contributions to FISH and the Bargain Loft. These outstanding FISH volunteers and supporters are recognized for their many contributions to our organization. Their dedication has made Herndon-Reston FISH the vibrant organization it is today. We applaud them for their tireless efforts on behalf of our community. We are grateful to them for generously sharing their talents to respond to their neighbors in need. For 2023, we honor the following people.
Jack Gazlay, FISH Treasurer since 2016, is valued for his ability to anticipate FISH’s needs before they arise. When asked about the work FISH does, he told the story of a homeless veteran living in her car. She found a job but didn’t have an address for the job application. FISH stepped in to assist with a rental deposit, so she could have an address and get back up on her feet. “That’s what FISH does,” he said, “not ongoing help, but that emergency assistance to get people going again.”
Gail Bejarano, Emergency Assistance Volunteer, for over 20 years. Gail and her husband came to Reston in 1985. Her love of people and the desire to make a difference keep her going. She worked as a substitute teacher and later became a Parent-Teacher Liaison in Fairfax County, where she really enjoyed reaching out to families. Gail thinks that Herndon-Reston FISH should, “… keep doing what it’s doing!”
Leslie Hurdle, Bargain Loft Volunteer since 2019. After retiring, Leslie wanted to give back to the community by doing something that got her out of the house and interacting with adults. The Bargain Loft turned out to be a perfect fit. Leslie has served the Bargain Loft three days each week, cashiering, stocking, and taking care of the upstairs shop. She started a paper recycling program at the Bargain Loft and always looks for ways to improve the shop.
Leslie Kane, an independent Sales Director for Mary Kay Cosmetics. She and her volunteer helpers provided 220 bags containing Mary Kay hand or foot cream, gloves, gift cards, and other personal items to the Herndon-Reston FISH Holiday program in December. Over the years, she has put together thousands of gift bags for women who would not otherwise receive gifts. Their children are delighted to give these gift bags to their mothers. Leslie has inspired and engaged others to join her in giving back to the community.
Hartke Building-Connie & Paul Hartke have been collecting and donating toys to FISH’s Holiday Program since 2013. Paul and his brother Keith Hartke have run a mid-size independent real estate business in Reston for decades and bought The Hartke Building at the corner of Sunrise Valley Drive and Reston Parkway in 2006. The Hartke building offers desirable office space to several local small businesses at reasonable rates.
Senator Janet D. Howell, our State Senator since 1992. She is the longest serving female Virginia Senator. Prior to running for office, Janet was a PTA president, Reston Community Association President, and Chair of the State Board of Social Services. She is the first woman to chair the powerful Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee, and serves on the Courts of Justice, Education and Health, Privileges and Elections, and Rules Committees, and is a Senate budget conferee. Education, children, and families have always been the Senator's top priorities.
Delegate Kenneth R. Plum has represented the 36th District in the Virginia General Assembly for 44 years. Ken has many distinctions in his career including being the second-longest serving delegate since the House of Burgess in 1619! Here in Reston and Herndon, Ken will best be known for his generous and enthusiastic support of his community and of Herndon-Reston FISH. Ken and his wife Jane have been reliable FISH supporters and donors for many years. Whether he’s conducting the “Auction for Hope” or inspiring others to contribute with him, Ken leads the way.
Supervisor John W. Foust was first elected to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in 2007. John has used his commitment to hard work, advocacy for his community and problem-solving leadership to serve families and businesses in the Dranesville District, He has been a big advocate for Herndon-Reston FISH on the Fairfax County Board and has supported FISH for many years.
For 2022, we honor the following four StarFISH:
Robert Reed, Clara Chambliss Nancy, McCormick, and M&T Bank
Bob Reed first came to Herndon-Reston FISH as a retirement project, listing Bargain Loft items on eBay and managing their sales.
Bob’s career was spent as a Director of Engineering and a project Developer, including work for Fairfax County on public service projects and upgrading and development of low-income housing. He found a purpose in the opportunity to improve living conditions for the lower-income members of our community.
Nine years Bob ago was recruited to serve on the FISH board. It was a great fit! In addition to his work on eBay sales, Bob joined the Development Committee, researching, writing and submitting many grants.
Four years ago, Bob stepped into the role of President of the Board of Directors and brought his leadership and management skills to FISH. Bob’s tenure as president has included several challenges, like the loss of our largest funding source when Fairfax County changed their funding priorities. But Bob helped the board strategize new funding sources, and his efforts led FISH to a more diversified funding stream.
When the pandemic began, Bob led FISH through the changes needed, including virtual meetings and the temporary closing of our Bargain Loft thrift store. He oversaw a major expansion when Herndon-Reston FISH was selected by Fairfax County to help distribute funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) and Consolidated Appropriations acts and other pandemic assistance. In 2020 and 2021, Herndon-Reston FISH distributed almost ten times more funds into our community than in previous years and was recognized for efficient and speedy work with exceptional record keeping and processes.
Bob is being recognized as a StarFISH for his devoted service to Herndon-Reston FISH and our community.
Bob says, “FISH is a unique important never-ending charity in the safety net of non-profit organizations that provide critical services to the local community. It has great potential with a simple mission statement. FISH is worthy of the dedicated volunteers, hard-working small staff. What could be better? Regardless of your education, religion, or economic status you will find satisfaction in helping neighbors needing assistance. Herndon-Reston FISH is a long time respected local charity worthy of your donations of time, talents, and treasures. Our proven assistance procedures and coordination with local organizations assure your efforts and donations are very effective in helping neighbors in crisis. Generations of Herndon Reston residents have been helped because people like you are willing to do what they can through Herndon Reston FISH. Thank you for your continued support. “
Clara Chambliss has been an active Herndon Reston FISH volunteer for more than ten years. As a professional accountant, she and her husband developed and ran the auction checkout system at FISH Fling Auctions. While everyone else enjoyed a leisurely dinner and dancing, Clara and her team worked behind the scenes to process every auction item, prepare checkout sheets for each bidder, and then log their payments into the system.
In 2015, Clara joined the Executive Board of FISH as the Treasurer and served in that role for the next two years. Upon stepping down, she became our check writer and has written most of the assistance payments issued by FISH for the past five years. This job grew in frequency and importance over the course of the pandemic, when FISH was selected to help disburse a couple of million dollars of direct assistance into our local community.
Clara and her husband enjoy spending time with their three grown children, and seven grandchildren, plus she maintains a full time accounting practice.
Clara views Herndon-Reston FISH as a caring, helpful and well-run organization that has enabled local governments and organizations to work with FISH to provide Friendly Instant Sympathetic Help.
Her message for everyone watching is that even though COVID is relaxing its hold on our community, and our residents are finally able to try to get back to a somewhat ‘normal’ life, we cannot let our guard down. Contributions, donations, visiting and shopping at the Bargain Loft, etc., needs to continue at the same or greater pace to reach all the families and individuals in need in our community.
Nancy began as a Bargain Loft volunteer in late 2019 following retirement from the federal government.
She is a twice-a-week volunteer at the Bargain Loft, and she does a little of everything. She sorts donations in the back room, prices the easy stuff, researches information on more involved items, and works the register, although she says she hasn’t done it much recently. If it gets really quiet and there are no donations to sort, Nancy likes to clean and keep the shop’s back area neat. Our Bargain Loft managers count on Nancy because she is always willing and ready to help with a smile.
When asked what FISH means to her: Nancy responded, “As a relative newcomer, I am still learning all the wonderful things FISH does. I was drawn to help at the Bargain Loft because I love thrift stores that support worthy local efforts. And FISH does this 100%! It is hard to believe that in such an affluent area there exists such hardship, so I like to donate merchandise to the Bargain Loft (as well as buy stuff!) because I know the profits will help someone in our area.”
“I am so very thankful to be a part of a great Bargain Loft team doing fun work that helps those in need. I enjoy the managers and the other volunteers. And I'm thrilled that my loud laugh hasn't frightened anyone, or at least as far as I know. I can bring my whole self to the Bargain Loft and know that I am accepted and loved and appreciated. What else could I ask for!”
M&T Bank has been Herndon-Reston FISH's "go to" bank for several decades now. The institution has helped us keep abreast of the changes in commercial banking from paper checks to ATM machines and from debit cards to online banking.
Over the years, M&T has sponsored some of our key FISH Flings. It was even recognized for its generous contributions to 2010 and 2015 Flings.
More recently, M&T was our liaison with the Small Business Administration to obtain a Paycheck Protection Program loan in the early stages of the COVID pandemic. This program was key to helping us maintain our payroll and cover applicable overhead, and M&T walked us through the process and kept us up to date with program changes.
As the pandemic continued, FISH was selected by Fairfax County to help distribute federal funds to landlords and other providers on behalf of COVID-impacted families and individuals. These funds totaled more than $5 million. M&T Bank was our bank of choice to help. In fact, when the first of these extremely large payments began hitting our account, the bank called us to verify that we actually wrote the checks.
On a more personal basis, Bill Berg, an M&T Vice President and Senior Branch Manager for Reston and Herndon, has always been available to answer our questions by phone or email.
M&T Bank has built their business on a tradition of reliability, accuracy and responsiveness to the needs of their customers. At M&T, they pledge to work hard to earn their customers trust and business. They are committed to understanding what’s important, so they can provide the best solutions for their customers financial needs.
We certainly feel they have done that for FISH. Thank you M&T Bank for being there and for your support!
In 2020, we honored the following StarFISH:
BARGAIN LOFT STARFISH
Susan Kelly started volunteering for Herndon-Reston FISH’s Bargain Loft in 2016.
She focuses mostly on jewelry. She supplements her extensive knowledge about jewelry with research conducted online and by visiting jewelers for appraisals, which she uses to price jewelry for resale at the Bargain Loft.
Susan takes the time to clean each piece thoroughly before pricing it and adding it to the beautiful jewelry displays in the store.
Her displays of jewelry differentiate the Bargain Loft from its peer thrift shops, and they are often complimented and mentioned as a draw that brings customers returning regularly to the Bargain Loft.
Beth began volunteering at the Bargain Loft in 2017.
She started out by working with the women’s clothing donated to the store and then moved into working with jewelry.
Beth also started purchasing pieces of jewelry from the Bargain Loft, fashioning them into sought-after festive trees, and then donating those works of jeweled art back to the Bargain Loft, where they command large prices at the store. In addition, she donates a tree to the FISH annual auction.
The Bargain Loft management appreciate Susan and Beth’s contributions to the store and their friendly presence in the volunteer corps.
EMERGENCY ASSISTANCE STARFISH
Bonnie first knew Herndon-Reston FISH through her mother, who used to arrange rides for medical appointments for years in the early days of FISH.
In 1992, community pillars Emory and Priscilla Rucker urged Bonnie to consider becoming a phone assistance volunteer for FISH, where she has served our community with dedication and compassion.
Bonnie notes that there have been many changes the past 28 years—for example, not as much contact with the clients as in the earlier days, which she misses. But now, she says, the stakes are so much higher and the needs are so much greater and our service is so much more essential.
Judy first became acquainted with Herndon-Reston FISH through a water aerobics class eight years ago. When one of her classmates discovered that Judy was a nurse, she urged her to join FISH as a telephone assistance volunteer because Judy “would know how to answer” the needs of our clients.
Judy also noted the many changes since those days when there were no manuals and no directions. She is so grateful to Diane Mandel who trained and supported her and gave her confidence. Now Judy does the scheduling for the assistance volunteers as well as working on cases, and she has given invaluable insights to the Assistance Committee and the Board.
Like Bonnie, Judy sometimes misses the days of talking directly to the clients, but she would encourage any new AV that the help FISH gives is vital to our clients with so few resources, and that’s what keeps her going.
Diane has worn many hats at Herndon-Reston FISH since she retired as a physical therapist and began volunteering at FISH in 2011: telephone assistance volunteer, AV trainer, medical appointment driver, scheduler, and Assistance Committee, but her first love is working on the cases of real people with real needs.
Diane’s passion is “getting people the help they need…I wish everyone could volunteer at FISH
FISH Executive Director Mary Saunders and Board Vice
President Janet Hyman Featured on InclusiviTEA Podcast
The Elden Street Tea Shop selected HRFISH as the first nonprofit to be part of its new InclusiviTEA program. The InclusiviTEA mission is to promote “Diversity, Acceptance, Community.” The podcast describes the program and showcases FISH's mission in the Herndon-Reston community (click here to listen).
FISH Recognized by Fairfax County for Service to the Community
At the FISH Fling Gala on May 18, 2020, Fairfax County Supervisor John W. Foust presented FISH President Robert Reed with a Resolution of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors congratulating FISH for "50 years of exceptional, noteworthy and compassionate support to those in need."
Activities of the Holiday Season
Amazing food donations ready to make holidays bright for local families!
During the 2019 Holiday Season, FISH helped needy families by distributing donated food and Christmas gifts for children. In total we served more than 1200 individuals and 313 households.Some of the people who helped collect the food and gifts are pictured below. Thanks to all who donated and to the volunteers who helped distribute the items.
The toys for children included many wonderful books.
Thanks to Armstrong Elementary School
Thanks to the Armstrong Elementary SCA leaders and their community for awesome efforts in food collections!
FISH Thanks Dominion Energy
On November 13, 2018, Dominion Energy donated backpacks stuffed with new school supplies to FISH for Holiday distribution. The picture to the left is their committee posing with the donations. Thank You to Dominion Energy.
Thanks to CDW from FISH
CDW Volunteers help to load food donated by CDW for the FISH Holiday distribution. Thanks to CDW from FISH.
FISH Thanks SallieMae
SallieMae Volunteers load food donated by SallieMae for the FISH Holiday distribution. Thank you to SallieMae.
Thanks to Scouts from FISH
FISH extends thanks to the Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts for supporting FISH for Food Holiday collections. Several troops collected food out in the Reston neighborhoods and then delivered and sorted it at the United Christian Parish Church.
Thanks to the Swim & Dive Teams from South Lakes and Herndon High Schools
They collected cans of tuna for FISH Holiday programs on Friday night, November 30th.
FISH Thanks Students of Terraset Elementary School
These students organized food donations from Terraset Elementary School in Reston. They collected 1000 food items for the Holiday Program of FISH. Students from Terraset have collected food for 20 years for this program!
FISH participated in the CFC Giving Campaign, December 12, 2018 at U.S. Geological Survey
FISH Thanks Students of Armstrong Elementary School
Students collected approximately 24 boxes of food for the FISH.
FISH Thanks Holder Construction in Partnership with the United Way of the National Capital Area (UWNCA)
For donating 150 string bags full of healthy after-school snacks! The bags will be provided to kids receiving holiday assistance from FISH!