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October 24, 2014

Families4Fauquier grows from simple desire to help

Contributed Photo
In September, Families4Fauquier led a team in the March of Dimes annual walk to raise funds for the care of premature infants in Fauquier.
We want to unite and connect people that live in the Fauquier community, get families involved by helping others, and raise responsible and caring citizens for the next generation.
— Rachel Pierce
Upcoming Programs
Families4Fauquier seeks volunteers and sponsors for:

• Operation Christmas Child
• Christmas family sponsorship
• Tree of Life ornament orders (fundraiser)
• Toothbrush/toothpaste drive for Fauquier Free Clinic
• Weekend Power Pack Program
• Beanie Babies and disposable cameras collection for NICU
• Wounded Warriors candy and cards collection
• March of Dimes Walk
• Easter egg hunt

To get involved, contact Rachel Pierce at 540-219-1842 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
By Danica Low
Contributing Writer
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

She had no idea five years ago how well-known her fledgling organization, Families4Fauquier, would become.

Many recognize Rachel Pierce as the lady giving children popsicles on July 4th or snow cones on First Fridays in Old Town Warrenton. Or, they know Mrs. Pierce as the organizer of an annual preschool fair. Or, they remember her name from flyers for food drives year round.

Folks know Families4Fauquier as helping hands in our community. But, few really understand the multitude of things the organization does and what it plans to become.

Soon after founding Families4Fauquier, Mrs. Pierce got asked to participate in the WARF’s Fun for All Playground fundraising committee. She saw first-hand the impact that project had on so many families in the community, especially those with special needs. The experience deepened her connections with others looking for and providing resources in Fauquier.

“Rachel’s positive-can-do attitude and teamwork mentality brought so much to the table, everything began to click,” said Linda Reid, who also served on the playground committee.

Mrs. Pierce organized an Easter egg hunt that raised $2,000 for the playground. She coordinated smaller fundraising efforts with her Mothers of Wonder group to raise another $1,000.

More than money, her compassion and knowledge as the parent of a special needs child helped guide the effort, Ms. Reid said.

The playground includes sensory and physical disability accommodations.

Mrs. Pierce saw the community come together to help make recreational facilities accessible to everyone — inspiring her to apply that mantra through her own organization many times over.

In March 2011, after Families4Fauquier had grown increasingly popular, with about a dozen successful volunteer events annually, she and her husband, Michael Pierce, incorporated the organization.

What drove her to start the effort in the first place?

“It found me,” because a desire to get her family involved and connected in the community, while serving others, she explained.

Connecting and helping people remain the primary goals.

Mrs. Pierce believes everyone has something positive to share and enjoys matching resources with needs. It can be as simple as a sense of community and belonging.

Efforts can range from raising funds to support a family with a premature baby in intensive care to organizing food drives and field trips.

In its early years of incorporation, Familes4Fauquier attracted 60 official members. Those “charter members” commit to support the mission:

“Helping families by serving as an educational and social warehouse of information to connect folks in the community who need an existing resource.”

Mrs. Pierce hopes to grow the group over the next year with paid memberships.

“We want to unite and connect people that live in the Fauquier community, get families involved by helping others, and raise responsible and caring citizens for the next generation in Fauquier,” she said.

Mrs. Pierce cares especially about families with special needs. She routinely posts information on http://www.families4fauquier.com about resources and support groups, tutors, sports programs and services, along with how-to articles related to caring for a family member.

She has lots of experience with those topics. Before moving to Fauquier 16 years ago, Mrs. Pierce lived in Manassas and Woodbridge. She has worked with scouts, PTOs, moms’ groups, the Partnership for Community Resources and the Alliance for Youth. She knows the demographics, social climate and opportunities available.

All of that contributes to an ear-to-the-ground approach to learning about every resource available for families in Fauquier.

Mrs. Pierce hopes families will find her website helpful as they seek information across many subjects related to raising families and living in Fauquier – as well as serving others.

She provides a list of endorsed local resources, many of which her family has used, including: All About Kids Therapy, KidTalk and Colette Reynolds, a speech therapist.

The Families4Fauquier site lists summer camp opportunities, school fun fairs and free park events.

It recently hosted an “Art in the Park” event for children, coordinated a tour of the local SPCA shelter and conducted a field trip to Papa John’s Pizza. Open to everyone, the events seek to support and build awareness of local businesses and organizations.

One of Families4Fauquier’s largest events, the Pre-School/Private School & Family Resource Fair, will take place Saturday, Nov. 15, at the Warrenton Community Center.

“The event’s purpose is to help parents gather information and resources, all under one roof,” Mrs. Pierce said. “It helps them sort through and talk with many local schools – and recreational activities – in our area in their quest to find things that are a great fit for their child.”

Schools, dance studios, sports leagues and other organizations participate and get listed in a directory that Fauquiers4Fauquier distributes around the county.

Although describing herself as “a stay at home mom of 13 years,” Mrs. Pierce volunteers with scouting, Fauquier Habitat for Humanity and P.B. Smith Elementary School while caring for her family of five.

She couldn’t drive for three months after breaking both arms in an accident earlier this year.

But that didn’t prevent Mrs. Pierce from organizing a March of Dimes walk team, keeping Families4Fauquier members up to date and planning late summer/early fall events.

She still attended as many community events as possible to spread the spirit of connection and service.

That pace speeded her recovery, Mrs. Pierce said.

“The community was really supportive during that time, as I healed and as my family needed extra hands, literally,” she added.

Others brought her family dinner, sent gift cards for meals, picked up children from school and provided company while her husband ran errands or worked.

What goes around, comes around.

Mr. and Mrs. Pierce fund most of Families4Fauquier’s efforts. She hopes to grow and earn 501(c) 3, tax-exempt status. With donations and grants, the group would offer summer camp scholarships and expand its work, according to her vision.

“Just a stay-at-home mom . . . with no fancy degrees, who wants to make a difference,” Mrs. Pierce hopes to attract volunteers with financial, legal and marketing expertise who can help Families4Fauquier do more.
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