Fairfax County officials gathered recently to honor the late Carmen Fernandez, a longtime pillar of the Culmore community who also has strong ties to Arlington, renaming a conference room at Woodrow Wilson Library in Falls Church in her honor.
The Fairfax County Public Library board of trustees voted in June to confer the honor on Fernandez, who died last year.
Born in Cuba, Fernandez came to the U.S. in 1960 and worked as a social worker in Arlington for 25 years before founding the nonprofit Hispanics Against Child Abuse and Neglect (HACAN).
She spent many Saturday mornings in the Woodrow Wilson Library room that now bears her name, facilitating community programs and activities for elementary school-aged children through a HACAN program known as Morning Star, as well as parenting education classes through the Morning Star Mothers program.
“That was Carmen, always willing to give time and effort to her community,” said Fairfax County Supervisor Penny Gross (D-Mason). “Her legacy is here, in the faces of the many children she inspired.”
In addition to her work with HACAN, Fernandez also was active in a number of organizations, such as the Kiwanis Club of Arlington.
HACAN is a nonprofit educational and advocacy organization dedicated to strengthening families in Northern Virginia through parent education and out-of-school activities that serve and support youth, according to its website.
Carmen Paredes, HACAN’s executive director, also had words of praise for Fernandez, calling her “an extraordinary woman who could see people’s potential and believe in them.”
Fernandez’s children – Silvia Brugge, Celia Fruchterman, Javier Fernandez and Jorge Fernandez – were on hand for the unveiling of the plaques.