Fairfax County Volunteer Program Wins National Award


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12000 Government Center Parkway, Suite 551
Fairfax, VA 22035-0065
703-324-3187

March 17, 2003

 

Fairfax County Volunteer Program Wins National Award

The Fairfax County Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court just received an “Act of Caring” award from the National Association of Counties (NACo) for its Volunteer Interpreter Program. The award honors community-based initiatives convened by county governments that enhance or preserve the quality of life.

The Volunteer Interpreter Program provides interpretive services for all programs and services provided by the court as well as for the court’s programs located in other areas of the county. While Spanish is the primary language provided, the program also provides interpretation in Korean, Vietnamese, Portuguese, French, Arabic and Italian.

Volunteers are recruited from immigrant communities in the county. Often, the culture of these communities is one of distrust of the legal system. The court process can be confusing and intimidating, especially for citizens who do not have a high proficiency in English and who have come from cultures very different from our own. The presence of the volunteer interpreters helps people feel at ease. The volunteer interpreters work along side the court service staff to identify issues for each client, determine the appropriate course of action and then complete the necessary paperwork. The volunteer program has brought dignity and professionalism to the court and community.

Prior to the creation of this program, court staff had to rely on friends and relatives of defendants and victims to provide interpretation services. Volunteers provide the equivalent coverage of two full-time interpreters at a value of approximately $170,000 per year. There are 30 volunteers and one paid volunteer coordinator.

All Acts of Caring honorees will be recognized at a national ceremony in Washington, D.C. during National County Government Week in April. For more information about this NACo award, call 202-942-4222, TTY 711 (Virginia Relay Center). For more information about the Fairfax County Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court Volunteer Interpreter Program, call Letha Braesch at 703-246-4370, TTY 703-691-7320.

 

 

 

 


 

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