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FairfaxVienna Rotary highlights outstanding public service

Vienna Rotary highlights outstanding public service

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The Rotary Club of Vienna on April 20 continued its long tradition of honoring outstanding workers with the town’s government, police and volunteer fire department.

Club leaders bestowed four Rotarian M. Jane Seeman “Service Above Self” Awards, which were named after the former mayor who died in 2014.
Vienna police officials nominated Pfc. John Sterling, who joined the department in 2016 after retiring with more than 25 years’ experience with the Fairfax County Police Department.

During his county-police career, Sterling worked his way up from patrol officer to undercover detective and homicide-unit supervisor.

Sterling exemplifies community policing and receives the most thank-you letters from residents, who appreciate his kindness, friendliness, calm demeanor and understanding, according to the department’s nominating letter.


“With his booming voice and heavy Long Island accent, few people ever forget their interactions with Pfc. Sterling,” the letter read. “He has been known to stop when on duty and join in games of pickup hockey being played by neighborhood kids or even coming in off-duty to attend a birthday party someone invited him to while he was working.”

Leaders of the Vienna Volunteer Fire Department nominated Grayson Garbini to receive a Service Above Self Award.

Garbini, who joined the department in November 2019, pitched in during late 2020 and early 2021 to install plastic shielding throughout the station’s upstairs Flame Room to allow bingo – the department’s No. 1 fund-raiser – to resume during the pandemic.

Garbini belongs to several of the fire department’s committees and last year logged more than 775 hours – more than three times the minimum required for operational members.

“The Vienna community, volunteers within our department and career personnel have all received tremendous benefits from Grayson’s selfless service,” officials wrote in their nominating letter.

The Vienna town government usually nominates one employee for a Service Above Self Award annually, but this year asked Rotarians to accommodate two recipients.

One award went to Deputy Town Clerk Shelley Kozlowski, who started in that role in January 2020 and approached Town Clerk Melanie Clark about designing the town’s first-ever holiday ornament. Kozlowski worked with Chem Art, which designs the annual White House ornament, and met with Clark and Vienna Mayor Linda Colbert about designing and marketing the town’s ornament.

The final result, which depicts the “Taking Flight” statue in front of the Vienna Community Center, sold more than 270 copies, earning nearly $3,500 for the Vienna Public Art Commission.

Kozlowski “is very enthusiastic and always willing to go the extra mile,” Clark said in her nominating letter.

Also receiving a Service Above Self Award was Lily Widman, special-events coordinator for the Vienna Parks and Recreation Department. In addition to her regular duties last year, she helped implement the town’s first-ever Liberty Amendments Month celebration, which entailed coordinating 60 events and a large multi-cultural festival, wrote Vienna Parks and Recreation Director Leslie Herman in her nominating letter.

Widman also helped the Rotary Club comply with COVID-safety measures for last year’s ViVa! Vienna! festival.

“In working with all the different organizations and volunteers, Lily has engaged the community and local organizations to provide educational, safe and enjoyable events for residents,” Herman wrote.

Rotary Club leaders also gave checks to the Vienna Police Department, Vienna Volunteer Fire Department and Vienna Parks and Recreation Department to support various initiatives.

“Fire apparatuses are very, very expensive,” he said. “We’re incredibly appreciative of Rotary’s support. You can take some pride when you see it going down the street that you guys helped fund a part of it.”

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