By Marianne E. Weaver
Part of the Prince William Living mission is to enhance the quality of life in our community and to inspire our readers to do the same. We highlight organizations that are ‘Giving Back’ in every print issue, creating greater awareness and support of their efforts. Annually, we also invite our readers to nominate outstanding not-for-profit groups in Prince William County, Manassas and Manassas Park through our “Giving Back Awards.”
A combination of public nominations and voting and evaluation by PWL judges is used in determining the winners. By including a
public vote, we hope to build awareness of the many nonprofit organizations working to enhance Prince William while we also
discover new opportunities to give back that we can then introduce our readers to in future issues.
Greater Prince William Community Health Center: Serving the Underserved
We are proud to introduce the 2014 winner of the Prince William Living Giving Back Award: Greater Prince William Community Health Center. A designated Federally Qualified Health Center, receiving 40 percent of revenue from grants, the center has locations in Woodbridge, Manassas, and soon Dumfries. Trained staff provide primary, prenatal, dental and behavioral health care to anybody who walks through the door, regardless of age, income or insurance status.
“We save lives every day,” said Frank Principi, the center’s executive director. “We improve the quality of life for people who have to choose between paying a utility bill and picking up a prescription.”
Principi said his staff, composed of board-certified and licensed doctors, dentists, counselors and certified nurse midwives, provided free and reduced-cost care to nearly 16,000 patients in 64,000 doctor/dental appointments last year. Typically, patient fees are one-third of the actual cost of care and are based on a sliding scale, determined on a case-by-case basis.
“Our staff provides affordable access to healthcare for low-income, high-poverty families in the region,” said Principi. “If you are sick and you don’t have a car and you work part-time and you have a child, the only other option in this area is to show up in [an] ER. That is expensive and not paid for by [the] person who receives care.” In other words, uninsured emergency room visits raise the cost of healthcare for everybody in our region.
The medical staff, he said, provides compassionate care at an affordable price, including providing care in the patient’s native language. The on-site staff speaks nine languages. When necessary, additional interpreters provide over-the-phone translations.
The first location in Woodbridge opened five years ago. The Manassas office opened in March 2014. This year, Principi said plans are underway to open its third site in Dumfries.
“The federal government has benchmarks for health disparity,” said Principi. “And for asthma, obesity, cancer and heart disease, all are greater in Dumfries than the national average.”
He added that the center is not a free clinic and is not exclusive to the uninsured: Insured patients are welcome to experience the “continuity of care” that comes from having an array of medical services under one roof.
The Greater Prince William Community Health Center is located at 4379 Ridgewood Center Drive, Woodbridge; and Evergreen Health Center at 9705 Liberia Avenue, Manassas. Appointments are available at 703-680-7950. For more information, go to gpwhealthcenter.org.
Runner Up: Master Gardeners of Prince William
Master Gardeners of Prince William provide current, researchbased, environmental education programs to county residents. Its
volunteers promote safe use of pesticides and fertilizers to protect water quality and the environment; conduct “best lawn” programs to help residents spend less while growing a great lawn; diagnose plant, insect and disease problems; conduct gardening programs and participate in community beautification and landscape projects.
The nonprofit group also spearheads produce collection from local farmers markets for donation to the hungry. Last year, volunteers
collected more than 100,000 pounds of food from the Dale City Farmers Market, which they delivered to Action in Community
Through Service (ACTS) in Woodbridge and SERVE in Manassas for distribution.
“One of the [farmers market] vendors who gave generously last year told me he gave to ACTS because he was helped by the food
distribution when he was down and out,” said Patti Thompson, a master gardener who oversaw the produce collection.
For additional information on programs and volunteer opportunities, go to mgpw.org or call 703-792-7747.
Runner Up: Prince William County Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
Prince William County Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., members are college educated women, engaged in
public service. Incorporated in December 1984, they sponsor many community projects, including Adopt-A-Family, American Heart Association Walk and Entrepreneurs/Economic Development Project.
The organization’s arts and education programs have touched the lives of residents throughout the community. Its Delta Academy offers girls ages 11 to 14 access to computer training, self-esteem building, etiquette workshops, math field trips, science technology experiences, college exposure, cultural events, museums, plays and concerts. High school girls are encouraged to excel academically, and participate in activities built around a framework of five major components, “scholarship, sisterhood, show me the money, service and infinitely complete,” forming a road map for college and career planning. The chapter also hosts an annual Senior Citizens’ Luncheon to honor local senior citizens.
For more information, including registration for the chapter’s Diamonds & Pearls Gala scholarship fundraiser on Dec. 13 at Foxchase Manor in Manassas, visit pwcacdst.org.
Marianne Weaver is a freelance editor and writer. She earned a BA in English from the University of Pittsburgh, and an MJ from Temple University. She is married to recently retired Air Force Lt. Col. Erik Weaver. Along with their two children they’ve settled into their “forever home” in Gainesville, Va. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.