A penny for your thoughts

Fifty years is a long time – for weddings, for nonprofits, and for many other institutions. Last week, two of these groups celebrated 50 years of service in Fairfax County, reflecting on the progress made since their founding.

Fairfax County has changed dramatically since 1971. Its population then was just 450,000, a third of today’s population; the median age in 1971 was 25.2 years; today, the median age is over 37 years. Seventy percent of the dwellings were single-family detached homes; townhouses accounted for less than six percent. Today, those figures are 46 and 24 percent, respectively. Only three percent of residents were 65 years of age or older (13,674 residents in 1970); the current population of residents 65 and over is 14%, but the actual number is 164,033. That’s more than the whole city of Alexandria!

The Fairfax County Commission on Women was established by the Board of Supervisors on September 8, 1971, with the goal of promoting full equality for women and girls in the county. The name was later changed to Commission for Women in 1976. The Commission was established before the Roe v. Wade, before Title IX, before the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, before the Equal Credit Opportunity Act of 1974 which prohibits credit discrimination based on sex, marital status and other classifications. Many of the opportunities available to everyone today simply did not exist when the Commission for Women was established. Single women could have a credit in their birth name, but when they got married, that credit would be issued, or reissued, in their husband’s name only. Most female staff who worked in Congress were not allowed to sit in the Senate and House of Commons; the few authorized were to wear stockings, heels and sleeved dresses as appropriate attire. Women were not admitted to service academies until 1976.

Sadly, violence against women, one of the issues that led to the creation of the Commission, is still a serious problem in our community. To advance the work of the Commission, partnerships have been established with the Campaign for a Family Friendly Economy, the Domestic and Sexual Violence Service, the League of Women Voters of the Fairfax Region and the National Associations of Women. commissions for women. Their advocacy supported the Turning Point Suffrage Memorial, paid family medical leave, and the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment (successful in the first two, but not the third). In 2020, the Commission recognized women as heroines on the front lines of the Covid-19 pandemic and the public health crisis. Congratulations!

Likewise, in 1971, Fairfax Opportunities Unlimited, known as the Op Shop, started as a small non-profit organization to serve young adults with disabilities and provide them with skills and day programs that would help them be “The best possible”. From those humble beginnings, the Op Shop has grown into ServiceSource, which has expanded to serve more people across the country, while maintaining many of the original day programs that allow parents and adult caregivers to continue in their jobs. outdoors and, in many cases, placing clients in paid jobs. ServiceSource customers work in the EPA mailroom, a café at the Quantico Marine Base, and other government agencies.

ServiceSource has moved to a new office in Oakton, but many of its programs are maintained in the Mason District, where they have been hosted for decades. A video made for their 50th anniversary echoed common themes: “What a blessing! and thank you. ”Indeed, thank you, ServiceSource!

Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. It can be sent by e-mail to [email protected]

Jerry B. Hatch