2021 Charitable Community of the Year: Potomac Green Community Association

Potomac Green Community Association of Ashburn, Virginia was named Charitable Community of the Year in the Community Association of the Year Contest. They are managed by FirstService Residential. This is the essay submitted with the community’s application.

By Brenda Waller

Since the first homes were occupied in 2005, Potomac Green has been home to residents who are well-known for their generous contributions to the greater Loudoun County community. Covid-19 changed the manner of outreach in 2020 and 2021 but did not dampen the level of volunteerism.

A primary service project is the weekly donation, collection and delivery of food and other items to Loudoun Hunger Relief (LHR). Volunteers empty the LHR donation bin in our community center daily. The volume of donations requires one or two trips weekly to LHR with full carloads. Since the pandemic began, streamlined procedures prevent donated food from being weighed, but volunteers estimate approximately 150 pound per week is donated. Potomac Green for years directly collected cash donations for LHR, totaling $14,000 from 2008 to early 2019. We now encourage direct donations. One resident donated her entire government stimulus check!

Prior to Covid-19, the Bear Brigade would get together monthly at the community clubhouse to sew bears for children at Inova Loudoun hospital. More than 5,000 bears were donated in the three years prior to Covid-19. When social aspects had to stop, Bear Brigade members worked in their homes instead and switched focus to sewing more than 100 face masks at a time when it was difficult to find masks for purchase. Later, at the request of a hospital nurse, the Bear Brigade sewed 600 headbands with buttons for the purpose of attaching masks to the buttons rather than looping them around tender ears.

The Helping Hands arm of our Social Committee collects donations for three local charities, LAWS, Fisher House, and Mobile Hope’s “Coats for Kids.”  From 2016 through 2019, many boxes of supplies, 491 coats and $23,635 in cash were donated to these organizations.

Additionally, in 2019 Potomac Green’s Grand Illumination event raised more than $6,000 for the American Cancer Society, bringing the community’s eight-year total to $78,000.

With in-person social activities brought to a halt in 2020, both the Helping Hands and Grand Illumination fund-raising events could not take place, but we eagerly anticipate their return.

Residents’ big hearts are also focused within the community. When neighbors are ill, injured, or bereaved, more than 100 community volunteers of the Sunshine Group provide transportation to medical appointments, meals, snow shoveling and pet care. The recipients of these services often want to pay it forward and are encouraged to do so by making a donation to one of the aforementioned charitable organizations.

Individual residents have been generous with their time as drivers for Meals on Wheels; blood donors and volunteers for the American Red Cross; docents and visitor service specialists at museums, theaters and historical places; ushers and administrative support at area churches, synagogues and temples; and volunteers with the USO Dulles Airport.  Potomac Green residents volunteer with programs under the aegis of the Loudoun County Government, including as election officers, in public schools, as Master Gardeners and with Fire and Rescue.  Covid-19 temporarily eliminated some of those outreach opportunities but opened up other avenues for humanitarian work by residents.  Many took on child-care and homeschooling of youngsters and ran errands for high-risk seniors who could not safely leave their homes.  Others volunteered with the Loudoun Reserve Medical Corps to assist with the Covid-19 vaccination effort and subsequently were honored with The President’s Volunteer Service Award for their contributions.

We don’t know the extent of all the charitable endeavors undertaken by residents, but by promoting outreach opportunities every week in the community newsletter, Potomac Green nurtures the generous spirits of its residents.