February 15, 2021
Faces of Fauquier: She has a passion for service
Photo/Don Del Rosso
“When I saw the FISH position, I just jumped on it,” Kathryn Lamonia says. “I knew that this was something I would really want to do. It feels like the place that I was supposed to end up.”
It’s a privilege to be part of something so meaningful and impactful to our community. And, I just love being part of something that’s so much larger than one person.
For more than two decades, the Marshall woman thrived in the private sector.
Kathryn Lamonia’s resume includes work as a business advocate and business analyst for two big corporations in Northern Virginia, retail manager of the Inn at Little Washington and operations manager of her family-owned Warrenton Main Street shop until it closed about four years ago.
Mrs. Lamonia liked the business world well enough.
But, her husband’s satisfying experience a few years ago as a local nonprofit IT specialist “inspired” Mrs. Lamonia to pursue a similar path.
“When I saw the FISH position, I just jumped on it,” she recalled. “I knew that this was something I would really want to do. It feels like the place that I was supposed to end up.”
Last August, Mrs. Lamonia, 46, became the first paid executive director of Fauquier FISH — a Warrenton-based nonprofit dedicated to helping feed the county’s needy.
“It’s neighbors helping neighbors in need,” she said of the organization’s mission, values and vision. “That’s at the very core of what we do. We’re taking care of our community. It’s compassionate; it’s nonjudgmental; it’s kindness; it’s about doing whatever needs to be done to help.”
The work “combines everything for me,” Mrs. Lamonia added. “And, it’s fulfilling a passion I have for service.”
Founded in 1983 by the late Dorothy Rust and others, FISH has a six-member board and more than 100 volunteers.
In 2020, the organization provided meals to more than 5,000 Fauquier residents through its pantry, Weekend Power Pack program that serves students and their families and seniors’ supplemental nutrition program.
That represents a 66.6 percent increase from the 3,000 people the nonprofit helped the previous year, largely because of the coronavirus pandemic, according to Mrs. Lamonia.
The organization serves about 10 households a month through the seniors’ nutrition program.
But FISH, with the support of Fauquier Community Food Bank and the Fauquier County Social Services Department, this year plans to expand the program to serve many more seniors, Mrs. Lamonia said.
The nonprofit’s 2020 budget totaled $450,000. Key revenue sources include the PATH Foundation, the Northern Piedmont Community Foundation and individual donations.
Executive director, Fauquier FISH (For Immediate Sympathetic Help), August 2020 to present; retail manager, Inn at Little Washington, 2018-19; general operations manager, Piccadilly Ltd., Old Town Warrenton gift shop, 2004-17; client advocate, EDS Corp., Herndon, 2001-04; business analyst, AMS Inc., Fairfax, 1999 to 2001.
• Why do you do the job?
It’s a privilege to be part of something so meaningful and impactful to our community. And, I just love being part of something that’s so much larger than one person. It is immensely rewarding work.
Husband Todd, 48; sons, Thomas, 12, and Andrew, 10.
Bachelor’s degree, foreign affairs, University of Virginia, 1999; Deerfield Academy, Mass., 1993.
• How long have you lived in Fauquier?
About 36 years.
• Why do you live here?
There is nowhere else I’d rather call home.
I think we have the best of both worlds in Fauquier. We have access to D.C. and all the attending cultural opportunities. But out here, you can breathe. We’ve still retained our rural roots, and I just don’t think there’s a more beautiful landscape in the world.
• How do you describe this county?
What strikes me most is its remarkable generosity of spirit.
During COVID, it’s just been incredible to see how Fauquier County has closed ranks to really take care of the people who need help. We had one gentleman come into the pantry and pull out his checkbook and write a check for $600, handed it to us and said, “This is my stimulus payment.”
• What would you change about Fauquier?
We need more affordable housing.
• What do you do for fun?
Read. I love all things related to food. I like reading about food, eating food. I used to love to cook. But that was before I was doing it three times a day, every day. Since the pandemic — with the kids home and all of us home all day — it became more of a chore and less of a pleasure.
• What’s your favorite place in Fauquier?
Just passing through Rectortown — on Rectortown Road — headed north, there is this expansive, unbroken vista off to the west of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and I could sit on the side of the road and stare at it for hours.
• What will Fauquier be like in 10 years?
I hope it’s much like it is today. Growth is inevitable, and I think good. But I hope it continues to be smart, balanced growth.
• Favorite TV show?
“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”
• Favorite movie?
Any Pierce Brosnan James Bond movie.
• Favorite book?
“Personal History” by Katherine Graham.
• Favorite vacation spot?
• Favorite food?
• What is the best advice you have ever received? From whom?
I’ve lost both of my parents. There’s a couple I’ve adopted to be my parents, or godparents. And it’s not spoken advice, but it’s modeled advice. And they advise me by example.
They model kindness and extraordinary generosity. They have their core values, compassion and integrity. And I try to live by their example, because they’ve been such wonderful role models for me. They’ve shown me the way I want to be to others.
• Who’s your hero and why?
My mother. She was fearless. She was a pioneer, in her own way. She went to Bryn Mawr and after college stayed in Philadelphia. Way back in the ’60s, she was one of the first female programmers for IBM. She was in a 100-percent male-dominated field. Nothing deterred her.
She was just really a champion of her children. She would fiercely protect us and advocate for us. And, she was funny.
• What would you do if you won $5 million in the lottery?
The first thing I would do is keep my mouth shut and accept it anonymously. The second thing would be to donate a sizable chunk to FISH and the Fauquier County Public Library. The third thing would be to take a lot of trips to a lot of different places with my family and friends and just go see more of the world.
And, I’d stash the rest and continue on with my life, as it is. I’m happy with the path that I’m on.
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