Encouraging reading has been a key project for us from the start and something we have fostered over our 20 year history. This year, we are pleased to announce the new FASL Book Bank, a permanent showcase at the new Explore It! Children's Museum in Fredericksburg, which will be provided for and supported by FASL. Bringing the Children's Museum of Richmond to Fredericksburg has been a long time passion of our former President Jessica Beringer, who is now President of the Founding Board for Explore It! Children's Museum. FASL have supported this project, facilitating various exhibitions in the community known as Museum on the Go, and raising funds for the new Snug Play system to be installed when the Fredericksburg site opens in Spring!
We first worked with Head Start children in 1998, when the provisional class painted murals at a school in Stafford County and we have continued to volunteered year-after-year. Most recently, in January 2014, FASL members went into Head Start classrooms in the area to read and give out books, which were collected and inscribed as part of our Books in Hand program.
In fall 1995, we began our Junior Cotillion classes. We introduced this course as 'providing a positive atmosphere, in which young people can become acquainted with basic social skills through interaction with their peers'. While the dress has changed dramatically over the years, the course has remained faithful to its goal and has seen many students in the past 20 years!
Between the decorators showcase and Junior Cotillion fundraisers, we were able to raise $50,000 for the new and improved Kenmore Park, which was formally opened by FASL and Mayor H. William Greenup in June 1998.. This playground includes a dedicated playground for toddlers, a safe playground for 6-12 year olds and sidewalks for strollers and wheelchairs. The sidewalk became a fundraiser of its own and has been going strong for over 15 years and is now known as Bricks of Kenmore.
In recognition of all their hard work....
In 2001, we raised $20,000 for our second big project, The Motts Run Nature Center at Motts Run Reservoir. Our initial donation began a 3 year project and in April 2004, the nature center was opened to the public and has seen many visitors who come to enjoy the hands-on nature displays and Pocket, the 5 foot-corn snake who is a celebrity with the children!
We have raised money for many organizations over the years and every donation both large and small has made a difference to the children in our community. These organizations have included; Hospice Children's Camp Rainbow, The Thurman Brisban Homeless Shelter, Kids for a Cure - Juvenile Diabetes, RACSB Teen Parent Program, The Make a wish Foundation, and Hazelwild Therapeutic riding programs.
Our fundraisers have been crucial to providing financial support to our many organizations and programs over the years, but the heart of the service league has always been in volunteering at the placements and being amongst the children we help. Safety has been a key theme over the years and we have held many safety days, such as our Safe Halloween Party back in 1994 all the way up to the recent Bike Rodeo with Head start children in Fredericksburg.
In 1997, we hosted our most ambitious project to date, the 1st Decorators Show House. Doris Buffet Bryant generously donated the early 19th century, Doggett House, on Ameila Street for this event, which involved 20 designers and decorators, showcasing their talents. The house was previewed before before its transformation and again in April for its reveal.. We held a preview party our Black Tie Affair, before Mayor H. William Greenup formally opened it up to the public for a month. It was a hugely successful project and it raised a great deal for the Kenmore Park project, our biggest project to date!
We have also hosted many popular events over the years, like our Home and Garden luncheons, seminars and gala's, which we hosted annually from 1997 and which included a luncheon with Dottie Temple, who was the White house floral decorator during five presidential campaigns. Our Book and Author signings, which brought authors such as Tom Clancy (2003), Rita Mae Brown (2001) and Rosalind Wiseman (2005) to Fredericksburg. We held several Golf Challenges at Fawn Lake and also helped the Fredericksburg Cooks! annual chefs auction. There have been too many fundraising and placement events to mention them all, but here are a few highlights!
We began as a small group of women intent on volunteering our services to organizations that needed our help, but we soon found our feet and hosted our very first FASL fundraiser, our Tossed and Found yard sale in October 1993. With the success of our initial fundraisers we started up the Hazelwild Summer Camp Scholarship program in 1994, sending our first student, 9 year-old Michael Ragin. This scholarship has been a signature FASL placement every year since.
In November 1994, we also held our first Member Guest Auction, which was organized by the 1994 provisional class and successfully raised over $2,000 for local children. What started as a project by our new members, has become a recognized FASL event with donations pouring in from local businesses and people in the community, as well as donations from members themselves. This event is still going strong today. Now known as Bids Helping Kids Member Guest Auction., the 2014 fundraiser is to be held May 20 at the Village Green, Spotsylvania Towne Center.