In accepting the Volunteer Arlington award for community service on July 12, Les Garrison spread the love to all those who participate with him as part of Arlington’s Community Emergency Response Team, or CERT.
“This award belongs to all of the Arlington CERT teammates. It’s a real team effort,” Garrison said during the annual Arlington Cares celebration of volunteerism, held for the third of its six years in an online format due to pandemic conditions.
Arlington’s CERT effort (overseen by the county government but supported largely by community volunteers) grew out of the 2001 terrorist attacks. Local residents then wanted to provide assistance, but had limited outlets to do so.
The result was a training regimen designed to provide the background necessary for local residents to do their part in natural or manmade disasters, from hurricanes to COVID.
Garrison’s efforts in CERT leadership roles have been exemplary, said Will Flagler, acting director of the county government’s Public Safety Communications and Emergency Management agency.
“Arlington County is fortunate to have a leader such as Les,” Flagler said.
But Garrison, again, spread the accolades around.
“This is not about me,” he said, praising “the enormous amount of time invested by all my teammates.”
At the awards program, Lisa Fikes – CEO of the Leadership Center for Excellence, which runs Volunteer Arlington in collaboration with the county government – said honorees “found their passion, they identified their gifts and they put them into action.”
“Civic engagement can mean a variety of things. It might mean hunger for some, homelessness for others,” Fikes said. “There are many ways to get engaged.”
But first, Fikes said, “take the time to listen and to learn” while “finding that cause, that passion.”
Honored during the program were 460 individuals who provided at least 100 hours of service to social-safety-net organizations over the past year. Their combined 48,000 volunteer hours for the 13 reporting organizations are just one part of a broader volunteer network across the community, Fikes said.
Also at the event:
• Meg Tuccillo was presented with the Lifetime of Service Award. Among other endeavors, Tuccillo has been active with PathForward (formerly the Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network).
• Robin Norman Depaoli was honored for her leadership roles with National Capital Treatment and Recovery, while the Arlington Neighborhood Village volunteer group received accolades for its service to seniors.
• AvalonBay received the Distinguished Corporate Service Award for its effort on behalf of the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing, while Patricia Hupalo received the RSVP Award for her work on behalf of Rebuilding Together.
• John and Adrienna Scribner received the Group Service Award for support of Boy Scout Troop 106.
• J.D. Spain Sr., president of the Arlington branch of the NAACP, was presented with the inaugural Racial Equity Civic Engagement Award.
A recording of the awards ceremony will be posted soon at volunteer.leadercenter.org/arlington-cares.