Providence Perspective

Interview with Marlene Blum
Conducted by Linda Byrne for the Providence District History Project Providence Perspective

Linda: My name is Linda Byrne and today is June the 12th 2008 I am sitting in the offices of Supervisor Linda Smyth with Marlene Blum for the purposes of an interview for our Providence Perspective. Good morning Marlene.

Marlene: Good morning it's great to be here.

Linda: If you would start off telling us about you.

Marlene: Well you know my name already.

Linda: Where do you live now?

Marlene: I live in Vienna but in Providence District on Luckett Avenue which has a 22180 zip code so people tend to think it's in the town of Vienna but it is not it is part of Providence. But if you go a few blocks I guess north, I have to visualize that for a minute, I think its north you are in the town. So we are a section and we're a part of Thoreau precinct.

Linda: Let's start with your childhood, growing up - where did you grow up.

Marlene: In a lot of different places. I was born in Longbranch, New Jersey and then when I was about five we moved to Newark, New Jersey which is where both my parents had actually grown up and where they had met. So we moved there, and I pretty much grew up in Newark and really didn't leave Newark until I went off to college.

Linda: And you went to?

Marlene: I started out at what is now Carnegie Melon University, it was then called Carnegie Institute of Technology; and after two years transferred to Barnard College which is where I graduated.

Linda: Wonderful, and how did you end up here in Virginia?

Marlene: Ah, well there are a lot of difference reasons. My husband grew up in Maryland, in the District of Columbia and in Maryland. He was born in the District and lived there until he was about 10 or 11 and then they moved to the suburbs. His dad had worked, his dad worked for the justice he worked for a number of different - he came during the Roosevelt years, Franklin Roosevelt years. He was one of the young people who came to Washington to idealistically to work with Roosevelt and in the new deal and stayed and ended up he went to law school here and then ended up in the Justice Department. And so my husband was very familiar with this area; and in fact my in laws lived here. At the time we moved here in 1976 they were still living here. They ended up moving to Florida a few years after.

Linda: How did you meet your husband?

Marlene: I met my husband at Carnegie, he was a senior and I was a freshman. So that's where we met. And let's see so we lived in a number of different places after we were married. He was working with the Rand Corporation; first in California and then in New York. And Rand loaned him quote unquote to the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis which is in Laxenburg, Austria which is a suburb of Vienna Austria. And we lived there for two years and my husband decided to leave Rand and come and work for the Federal, he decided to come back here. And he wanted originally to work for the entity, and I can't remember its' name but it eventually became, once the Carter administration was in place, became Department of Energy. So he worked for the Carter Administration and we just stayed. That's when we moved here in 1976.

Linda: And have you been in your current house

Marlene: Yes, since 1976. That's right.

Linda: And children?

Marlene: I have two children both of whom were born in New York when we lived out there. My older son and his wife and my grandson live in a suburb of Boston and my younger son and his wife and my two grandchildren live in Reston.

Linda: Nice to have some close by.

Marlene: It's very nice indeed.

Linda: One of the things I want to do first off is just read this little excerpt here - you are one of the most civic minded people that I think I have ever met. And you were put in for an award in 2006 but I want to read just a little excerpt from - just a sentence and it says: "Marlene is the epitome of a citizen who has had and continues to have positive impact on the quality of life in Fairfax County for all of its' residents." Tell me how you have been able to do that for so many years - I look back and I see since 1985 you've been on the Health Care Advisory Board.

Marlene: Well like a lot of people who get involved in the community life, I know I have run into lots of people like me. I got involved because of the schools originally and that happens to a lot of people. You know you move here and you don't know a lot of people but you have young kids and I think it is still happening I mean it happened a lot when I was young and we first moved here - but I think it is still happening - I see that with my own son and daughter in law that they are very involved in their kids school. In my grandson's school and in other things and in politics too they write. And I had been involved, I had done some, I had had some involvement in a minor way in politics in other places we had lived before we went off to Austria so I had some experience.

I had also been in the League of Women Voters when we lived in New Jersey and there was a little bit of that but once we got here and we had kids in school I got involved in things like that and that's really - so once you get involved in the schools you start understanding how things are so connected and if you really care about the schools then you need to care about other things that are going on. And other issues that are impacting on the schools and on your community. And I also found that there were a lot of really terrific people who were great to work with and fun to spend time with who were also working on these issues and I could learn a lot from them and enjoy it at the same time and yes we have an impact on the community. You know you get that feed back even if it is a little bit. Even if all you are doing is helping improve things at your kids' school for a bunch of kids.

You know its reinforcement, its positive reinforcement and so you know one person or a few people working together which is really what it is. And just a small group of people as Margaret Mead said can make things better. And once you get that kind of feedback you get committed to doing more of it. So - And we had fun too - I really want to add that. When I look back at it I think a lot of us, you know, we were serious about the work we took it seriously but we didn't take ourselves so seriously and we enjoyed one another and we enjoyed the work. We had some fun doing it, we enjoyed. I remember some of the people that we worked with in the schools. You know some of them the professionals; many of them were excellent people; they were superb at their jobs they were well worth taking the time and effort to help. And that's true, as you know I work lot with the health department in Fairfax County these days and they are super. They are just wonderful people and they are excellent at their jobs and you know you sort of feel that anything you can do to support that is a good thing.

Linda: Go back to Barnard and your college days. What was your degree in?

Marlene: Oh English and I have a master's degree in English too from Rutgers the State University of New Jersey. So that was - and I taught when I was in graduate school at Rutgers. I taught freshman English for that entire, for three years when I was in graduate school and then when we lived after I was married and had one child, my older son I taught in one of the local State University's in the evening in the adult school. So that's what I taught was English; not much to do with what I do now, but yeah.

Linda: That so often happens

Marlene: Well yeah, although it would certainly, I managed to pass on my love of literature and books and all of that and theatre to both my kids who are not in the field. Both of them are computer experts - are working in information technology, in computers in designing programs and software and all that stuff. They don't, but they both write well, extremely well. And still have a love of, you know they pick up a good book and read novels and plays and go to the theatre when they can afford it - I think that's good.

Linda: Well I know there are local groups who have been recipients of some of the books that you have read and been willing to pass on for instance the Friends of Oakton Library for their used book sale.

Marlene: laughing - yes.

Linda: And the collection - books to send to the Iraqi vets

Marlene: Yes, I am always glad to do that.

Linda: which we do at the James Lee Center.

Marlene: Oh, yeah, I think that's, yes, I have donated books also to, what's that thrift shop Yesterday's Rose. Are you familiar with that one; that's the one that Karen Milligan is very, that's how I got to know about it, Karen Milligan is very involved with that she's a volunteer there. It's on Little River Turnpike.

Linda: Is that the one that's near Loehman's Plaza?

Marlene: No it's the other direction; it's in Fairfax City or on the way to Fairfax City.

Linda: Oh okay

Marlene: It's called Yesterday's Rose; I have donated books to the too. It's one of those composite ones, you know where a number of different organizations and charities combine their forces and yeah.

Linda: That's great. And Karen Milligan does?

Marlene: I think she's, I don't know if she is still involved with it. She use to be very involved, but you know she works there; she spends time selling there in the shop sorting and then selling. I am not sure if she still does it, but she certainly use to.

Linda: Great. How about some more information or detail about your volunteer work. Let's go back to 85 and you were working - you started out earlier in the school system PTA and moved on over to Health and Human Services?

Marlene: Well it was a little more complicated than that; I think that I was - when I was working on school issues I was somewhat involved in human services but not really directly because the school activities were taking up a great deal of time. But it was very simple the way it happened. In 1985 Jim Scott who was then Providence Supervisor and an old friend - well what had actually happened he wanted me, he wanted to have me do something. At that time the school board positions were appointed as you know right?

Linda: ahuh

Marlene: We now have elected school board in Fairfax County but in those days it was an appointed school board. And the Providence Supervisor who was at various times - Ann Conn who had been the Supervisor, not Supervisor but was the school board member who was wonderful for many years and had actually been the chairman of the school board at various times and was super at that too; decided to retire she was going to move to Williamsburg to be with grandchildren and she decided to retire so there was an open seat. And three of us decided to compete for that seat: Kate Hanley, me, and Valerie Sutter who you probably, I don't know if you've run into Valerie, she has, I think she still lives; yes she does live in Providence. We were all exactly the same age we joke; the three of us kind of thought that was hysterically funny because it was just an interesting coincidence. And so there were the three and Valerie has worked for Jim Scott. That's where you might have run into her; she has been his Richmond staff not currently but she has been in the past.

Linda: That's Delegate Jim Scott?

Marlene: Yes, now Delegate Jim Scott that's correct. And so anyway the three of us competed - and you know we went and did all the things you did; there were debates and I remember me going to the - and Kate, the three of us going to the meeting of the local chapter of the NAACP and meeting with folks and answering questions. And it was actually a lot of fun. And Jim ended up asking Kate to be the School Board, and he picked Kate to be you know he appointed Kate. But we were all sort of friends. Kate and I weren't as close then, I mean we were friends, we weren't as close as we became after that.

Linda: And Kate went on to be - she is our

Marlene: Well she then went on to be the Providence District Supervisor. When Jim retired she was then elected in a special election to be Providence Supervisor and spent a number of years doing that and then was elected Chairman also in a special election when then Chairman Tom Davis was elected to Congress in 1992 no 94, I take it back 94 and then took office in 95 and that's when we had a special election and Kate was elected Chairman. Okay, so anyway Jim then, as often happens, I think he appointed Valerie, he had, what he did was - his appointee on the his current appointee on the Health Care Advisory board Mary Grace Lynch who you probably do know or know of right - who was a friend of mine through the League of Women Voters - it's all very connected here was the Providence representative on the Health Care Advisory Board at the time and she wanted to make a switch. She wanted to do school stuff and so Jim came to me and said look Mary Grace wants to be more involved in school, and she had kids in the gifted program as I did too, and she would like to - here's the deal - she'll take your slot on the your position on the G.T. Advisory Committee, the Providence slot on the G.T. Advisory Committee.

Linda: GT meaning Gifted and Talented?

Marlene: Yes, the Gifted and Talented and I will appoint you to the Health Care Advisory Board are you interested? So I said well let me think about it a little bit. I talked to him a little about what and I went home of course and called Mary Grace and said tell me everything you know about you know tell me what's going what are the issues; is it fun, is it interesting, can you really contribute something and she said yes to all those things. She said - she told me a lot and I had sort of been thinking my kids were getting older. I wasn't going to stick with the schools forever and I thought - I had always been interested in health issues - partly just as an interested citizen. But my Dad was a pharmacist and so we'd always, and you know he talked a lot about what he was doing and we were very much part of that world and so - I had always been interested in that so I thought you know it is kind of a natural. And then I had found it hard to say no to Jim Scott, I still do. Jim is somebody I admire tremendously. I think he is an example of the best in public service he was then and he still is now - he's such a great guy and I found it hard to say no. I thought you know if Jim thinks this is something and he had some specific things that he felt needed to be accomplished and he wanted he said he wanted his appointee - that was the time when we were really on the verge of trying to set up an affordable health care program in Fairfax County.

We had very little for people who were uninsured and he said that's what - if you take this appointment that's what I want you to fight for and so you will make a commitment and I said okay - okay I'll do it. And so that's how it happened; that's exactly how it happened. And it was good I was I ended up being very glad that I did it. It was exciting, it was interesting and well worth the effort and I and then when Kate became Providence Supervisor she reappointed me. And when Kate was on the School Board she appointed me to things too; I served on a - I had been, I had said to her when she first took that office - listen if there is ever a text book selection - are you aware that the school system does when text books when they are selecting text books they set up citizen committees to work with staff to select the vender, say for an English a language arts English text book say from K through 12 or for 9 through 12 or whatever it is - I think that's how they really do it. And I had had ome concerns about what I thought were not very, my older son was, I guess he had just graduated from high school and he and I were both concerned about what we thought were some not very, shottie is maybe too strong a word, not up to the quality of Fairfax County text books in English. And so I said to Kate if you ever have a text book selection committee in English, in language I would like to be on it. And she appointed me to and that was very interesting that was when we went after - we had a whole big thing on Vienna and I said to her well, once I was on the committee and I saw what was going on I said - I'm going to make a stink - is that okay. And she said yeah, absolutely what's it about - and I said censorship. The text books I said I was not aware at how they booglarize, at how much they booglarize for high school students. And I did with a little help from some other people including the staff and some other folks on the state board of education we made a real big fuss. And it went up to the state - actually nationally it was a lot of fun.

Linda: wonderful

Marlene: yeah it was good, it was very good. Kate was very supportive. She said of course go for it.

Linda: Tell me what she's doing now.

Marlene: What Kate Hanley is doing now - she is now, she retired from being Chairman of the Board of Supervisors in Fairfax County and for a while she was the Executive Director of the Greater Reston Arts Center. She lives in Reston now and did that for a couple of years. And currently she is serving as Secretary of the Commonwealth in the Kaine Administration in Richmond.

Linda: Now back to you.

Marlene: Back to me.

Linda: This is - okay you as you are talking you touch on little snippets of other things that you are doing as you are moving forward from 85 with the Health Care Advisory Board and having an impact there. What comes to your mind as to things that you would like to share with people that will be listening to this in the future?

Marlene: About the Health Care Advisory Board specifically?

Linda: No just - making a difference - the things that you've done. How it all works

Marlene: Well I think one of the things that - there are a number of things that looking at it in general terms without getting into specific issues that I have worked on and I sort of alluded to that earlier - is that Fairfax County in many ways is a great overall is a great place to live in and to raise your family in. But it is a place where citizens, and I don't think this is true of every community, I don't think we are the only community where this is true but I certainly don't think it is true of every community and it is that the tendency in Fairfax County - One of my friends but it this way - she was talking about Reston specifically but I think you could say it about Fairfax County as a whole. She said that in Reston if you are at a meeting and a piece of paper falls on the floor it becomes a petition. And I thought you know that's a good description because people here do tend to get involved. They, you know I have lived places where and I have certainly talked to friends all over the country and I've lived other places where people are sort of willing to let someone else take care of it. And in Fairfax County there is a real good tendency for folks to say - there is a problem in my little community, right here in my neighborhood in my community and the larger community and to pick up their papers and go to a meeting and work with other folks or call other folks and find out what they can do to help fix it. Which is a fairly - which is why I think we're such a progressive community. A lot of our local politicians not only support that and are receptive to it but come out of it - are themselves and Providence is as far as I am concerned is a perfectly good example. People like Jim Scott and Kate Hanley, Gerry Connolly, Linda Smyth all started - became politicians thru their work as community activists. They started out that way. And so of course they are receptive to it they have been on both sides of the table. So from the point of view if you are a citizen activist you at least know, you know that it is valuable work. You know that it is good cause, it works. You can see that there are positive changes that happen cause people get involved. You also know that you are going to be respected by and listened to - they may not always agree with you but at least you will be treated with respect. At least somebody is going to be paying attention to what you and your allies, your colleagues, are saying because they've been on both sides of the table. And to me that's great, I mean that's partly why Fairfax County is such a great place to live and work and bring your kids up in. And it continues to be - my younger son the one who lives in Reston and his wife and family moved here from the Boston area specifically because of the good schools; the fact that schools are really good here and he wanted his kids to go to school here. And I have talked to other folks my age whose families, you know whose kids have moved back here for the same reason. Which is really a very you know it is really something very positive to think about when you are thinking about life here in Fairfax County.

Linda: What other organizations besides the Health Care Advisory Board have you been involved with?

Marlene: Well, I mentioned the League of Women Voters. And like a lot of people I got a lot of my training in being effective - in effective advocacy I guess I should say in the League. Cause the League in those days and I think still does a very good job of everything. You know everybody involved and they really make an effort to help you figure out how to do it well. Let's see, County Council of PTA's, the Fairfax County Association for the Gifted which was my really first involvement and we were very very active. Oh, let's see I should go down the list here - The Fairfax County Alliance for Human Services which I helped found, the Northern Virginia Access to Health Care Consortium, I have been on the board but and not currently on the board of the Northern Virginia Jewish Community Center, and I am just trying to think of what else to mention - I have been involved in affordable housing too the County Affordable Housing Advisory Committee. In prior years there were a number of advocacy groups involved in affordable housing and homelessness and I have worked on those and some of those exist continue to exist and some of them don't or are no longer in existence. And another issue I have been very involved with is affordable housing and homelessness.

Linda: Talk about the foundation or the founding of the

Marlene: The Fairfax County Alliance for Human Services.

Linda: yes

Marlene: The Alliance is an umbrella advocacy and education group for human services in other words it's not, there are a number of human services organizations that are focused on affordable housing or the needs of folks with mental illness or mental retardation and other specific childcare needs. The Alliance was founded in 1991, 92, I was not the first chair somewhere around there partly in response to a budget crisis. There are so many of them. But it was also, there was no, at the time there was no umbrella group. And their was concern and actually the Deputy County Executive for Human Services Verdi Haywood who was in that position then too - was one of the people who felt who really pushed for this - he really felt and he was right, and a number of other folks in high positions thought it was needed. It was sort of a coming together of people who said to some extent the various advocacy groups in human services were competing with one another for resources that were scarce. And they always are scarce even in good years - they're not abundant for human services. And we need somebody to speak for all human services and to remind everybody that it's all connected. And so a number of us we had a - I have forgotten how that started - there was a group that formed; we had a big - we had a conference. We had speakers; it was essentially a rally in essence and then we said who wants to - you know this was all preplanned. Some of us think that this is something we should be doing. Who would like to get involved? And there were a number of people who - Jim Scott was there and oh who we have talked about, Jerry Hopkins who you probably don't know. No, okay - he lives in Providence District. Actually, remind me and I will tell you - he is somebody you should probably talk to. Who at the time he lived in Falls Church I think he was living in the city at that point; but he had, Jerry had been on the RHA.

Linda: RHA meaning -

Marlene: Redevelopment and Housing Authority. He wasn't at the time and was very involved in affordable housing, good friend of Jim Scott's and a number of other people who were community activists. And basically we pulled together. That's how we started. We started out of that we were a very loose sort of group - that's why we are called an alliance and we just kept that name. And we've kept going, we developed, we do advocate on behalf - we work mostly at the local level at the County level, although we do do some State advocacy as well on human services issues. And we kept going - we have a number of distinguished Senator George Barker is also one of our founding members and is still on our board; and still comes to board meetings. He is just very committed to it. And he has been an officer and he is currently still on the board. And um so we keep going, that's what we do we advocate and educate on behalf of all human services not any one issue. And we've over the years we have been in existence so long we've developed a lot of expertise and credibility with the Board. They know that we do good research and because we're not in any one camp it also gives us some credibility. They know we are going to be balanced in our approach. We will never skew anything. And so we get when we come in and talk to the Supervisors about the budget we tend to get at least listened to and we try to provide solid materials.

Linda: I read or heard somewhere you are like the brain trust for Fairfax County in this area.

Marlene: I am not the brain trust. I certainly have developed - if you do this long enough you know enough of the history and you develop a certain amount of expertise. There are a number of us who have been doing this for a long time. That's kind of a worry too you know my concern is, one of my concerns and probably worth mentioning is that a lot of us who are involved in these organizations are my age maybe a little younger and maybe a little older but we are not getting a lot of really - the young folks are very involved in schools - in PTA and some other - for obvious reasons. But there is not a lot - I think all - from the League of Women Voters, to the Federation of Citizens Associations - I have heard the same comment from all the groups is that families these days - we always had a lot of demands on families. You know family life is complicated, but it is more complicated now. It's just for a lot of reasons partly the economy, partly the way, partly how families work these days. I mean our kids had activities; I think today's kids have lots - you know double, triple the number of activities. So they don't have a lot of time. And in many families nowadays both parents are working, either full time or part time. So there is less time for that and so what you see in a number of organizations is a lot of folks around the table who have developed all this expertise and have a lot of credibility and do know how to get things done; I worry that there aren't, you know that we keep trying to get involved and it is hard to get some younger people involved because we want to make sure the work continues when we retire - say - you know we have done our part. And I know every single group that I know of except maybe the P.T.A. cause they always have a renewable resource of human beings. But every other group that I talk to has the same concern.

Linda: yes. Let's go back to the Health Care Advisory Board.

Marlene: Okay.

Linda: Talk more about that from your beginning association with it - to now and changes and working with County government.

Marlene: Okay. Well, when I first was appointed to the Health Care Advisory Board I had a lot to learn I didn't know much about human services - in general I didn't even know the context. I had to learn that I had to learn where I fit in. Fortunately there were a lot of people willing to educate me: Both Jim Scott you know I use to go over and talk and he would educate, and County staff, Health Department staff and fellow members of the Health Care Advisory Board some of whom had been on for a long time and were very knowledgeable. Our current, I cannot remember his name, Carter, Bill Carter was currently the Chair; he's a physician; I think he is still in practice. He is a physician, Family Practice physician and he was the Chair at the time. He was an excellent Chair. So I learned a lot from him. And we were working on a number of different issues. I remember sitting down with the Health Care Advisory Board main staff member who was a wonderful person - named Katie Conrad who no longer works for the County. She works; she works for a private consultant. And sitting down with her; she did a great deal to educate me. She had worked for the County in a number of different capacities for a long time. She had worked directly with Verdi Haywood, as an assistant to him for a number of years. And she knew the whole county - so she did a great job. She really helped me understand how things fit together. And I remember sitting down with her, she use to tell the story, she said and it was absolutely true, I was reading and trying to learn as much as I could. And my first meeting Ilene and I went out and had lunch and so I said "what's the Health Department doing about HIV about Aids", cause we didn't even call it HIV at the time we called it aids. What's happening about aids in Fairfax County because this was the beginning? Actually not the very beginning in 1985 we were into the epidemic big time. And she said "Oh it's not going to be a problem in Fairfax County. Nobody is paying any attention to it; and I said seriously, and I said "Oh I don't see how you can possibly avoid it; if for no other reason that we are right next to the District of Columbia and it's already a huge problem in the District". And it was. And so Katie use to like to tell the story because she said you were prescient. And I said I wasn't prescient I was just reading the newspapers and Newsweek magazine; I mean you didn't have to be a genius. I wasn't reading technical stuff; I was just reading the newspapers and the magazines. The County really thought that, of course they were not alone, the suburbs all over the country at that time thought - this is an inner city problem - it's - gays are the only ones, who are affected by it, and we don't have any gays out here - little did they know. Of course people made a lot of assumptions that just did not hold water at all; and within a very few years that changed dramatically.

So within a few years and those are some of the issues that I got involved with early on were developing affordable healthcare program which Jim had said that was what he wanted me to push for and I wasn't the only one; he knew he needed a strong voice. Because he knew that it was going to be somewhat controversial; because it would require a big investment of county funding and aids. And I also got involved in aids in services from the school system side as well. So I'm still involved with the school, I was very involved with the County Council of P.T.A.s, I kept that up. And there were a lot of controversial things that went on at the time. Nowadays it's kind of old hat, and we are all so use to it; but a lot of it was controversial both on the County side and the school side as far as how to handle personnel who might have aids; how to handle students and the services to be provided. And a lot of it was controversial and I ended up being very proud of the way the County handled it but initially it wasn't clear. I use to, I remember as the Chair of the Health Care Advisory Board several times having to testify to the Board of Supervisors on those issues; on services, on needs and you would inevitably get into talking about and prevention cause prevention was a big part of it and when you talk about prevention you had to talk about not graphically but you did have to talk about how aides was contracted okay and how it was communicated. How it was a communicable disease and here's how. Well every time I use to say that every time I would testify I would look up from my papers and I would look at the board the dais and all the men would be gone. And the only people on the dais were you know would be Martha Pennino, and Kate Hanley and Audrey Moore and you know who ever and then. Anyway it would only be the women board members who were sitting there, all the men I use to say oh they all need to go to the men's room at the same time. I mean they were embarrassed, they were embarrassed and at some point I remember chatting with Chairman Davis; he was by that time Chairman at - I think he was the Chairman at the at point - yes or maybe no maybe he was still the Mason District Supervisor.

I remember chatting with him at a um, at some social event and he said to me now his first wife was and is a gynecologist and he said to me you know Peg tells he said you probably notice that none of us - that we're embarrassed. I said hum and he said Peg tells me that I need to grow up; and I said oh I would agree with that. He said so from now on I'm going to sit there and listen to it. And he did and then that sort of set the tone for the rest, it set an example for the rest of them that we got them to listen to. It was amusing in a way, but in a way it was not so amusing. Anyway - so those were some of the issues that you know some of that is hard to think back about that and the school system had a lot of controversies because it was very controversial because we had the consideration - we had teachers who might have aids and there was a lot of misunderstanding at the time and fear that has to a large extend nowadays most people are much more familiar with it and with the disease and know how it's communicated so they don't worry about it.

But in those days in the late 80's and early 90's people were still scared about if your, if a teacher or somebody that a kid came in contact with just in the classroom or another child had - you know there were kids who were HIV positive because they had been born that way or had gotten it through a transfusion. We had a couple of cases where there were kids who had gotten, who had developed aids, who were testing HIV positive because they had transfusions before the transfusions were under control. People were scared to death. And so it was actually very controversial. So, it was interesting and the other - the other big issue was the affordable health care program. What I was going to say - speaking of Mr. Davis - the way I got involved in affordable housing was I was back in nineteen (is it on here) I think 86, yes I do believe it's 1986 - right. In 1986 Tom Davis was the Mason District Supervisor and he was chair of the Board of Supervisors housing committee. And he, it's hard to remember because things - I mean it's hard to think about that because political lives change over time and political behaviors change. But anyway he, the board and he decided and the board supported setting up an affordable housing committee, a task force, a task force I think we called it. And so that was his baby and he was the head of it and it was a special to develop some guidelines, some policies and goals for the County in affordable housing. And I was the League of Women's Voters representative on that and that's how I - and he - he assigned people - he decided who was going to chair what committee so he called me up and said I want you to take chair - I think it was called the codes - I think it was the Codes and Enforcement. Something to do with Building Codes Committee. He said "do you know anything about that"? I said no. He said well I want you to chair it anyway, you're a fast learner - you'll learn all about that. I need somebody I can trust to do a good job and I know that you and the League are - I can trust you. So I said okay. Laugh - okay. Anyway it was very good - it was a really good effort. He put together - I will give him a lot of credit - he put together a really good committee. I had a lot to learn on affordable housing, but that is really where my interest in it started. I had not been very involved in the issue. I really had no idea that it was a major need in Fairfax County. I had heard Jim Scott talk about it but I really hadn't gotten involved in it. But you know there were some wonderful people on that committee including Tom Davis; and I learned a lot and that's how I got involved in that issue. So that was for the League, that wouldn't have happened without the League of Women Voters.

Linda: Great - the Affordable Health Care Program.

Marlene: Yes

Linda: Talk in more detail about that.

Marlene: Well, Um, the County; when I was appointed to the Health Care Advisory Board in 1985, at that time, there were, there have always been people - significant numbers of folks in Fairfax County - who are low income and have no health insurance. There are far more now then there were then; and because as the population grows it just grows you know the numbers just grow. And I am not sure, I think probably - to some extend the percentage has grown as well partly because over the years what's happened unfortunately and it's now just here it's everywhere in the Country. Employers have stopped offering health insurance - affordable health insurance.

So actually not only the numbers have grown but the percentage of folks who are low income and uninsured has actually grown here as well. But at the time we had a population of folks who were - who did not have health insurance and had therefore no really good did not have access to health care in an appropriate way. They could get hospital care if they had acute - if they needed to go to the hospital because then as now Fairfax Hospital and Mount Vernon Hospital which were the only two at that time - I don't think Fair Oaks, I am trying to remember when Fair Oaks was built. Fair Oaks may have been in the process of being built at that time - offered very good charity care and certainly took care of anybody and they still do. But that's not sustained consistent health care, that's if you have an acute case or if you have something it's sporadic. And so folks did not - a lot of folks did not have access to what we would consider adequate sustained consistent health care. And - um there were some programs the Medical Society had set up a program in conjunction with you know the physicians themselves were aware of this problem and had set up a program. And in fact Laura McDowell whose name you undoubtedly know if you don't know her who is, was I think she was at the time on the School Board, whose husband is a physician a very prominent - was one - she and her husband were people - it was called the red cap program - I don't remember why it was called that but anyway there were a couple of other things like that - Doctors and community organizations had set up small clinics to help people in a particular part of Fairfax County, very small. Some of the non profits were attempting to do that - attempting to link people up with services. It was very fragmented and it was managing to help a few people but not a lot and it was fragmented. There was no coordination; there was no real effort to take a look at the whole picture.

So what the County did was, and that happened just about the time I was appointed to the Health Care Advisory Board, the County contracted with Lewin and Associates which is a big consulting firm and they still do it, they do a lot of health consulting research. And they hired them to do a number of things one of which was to find out how many people will fit the low income, how many low income uninsured people their really were in Fairfax County; to see if they could get a handle on that. And then also to provide the County with some alternatives for how to meet the need. You know what would - they asked them to do some research to benchmarking - we didn't call it benchmarking then but that's what it was. You know where they looked at other programs around the Country and tried to do some assessment of what it would cost the County and how would it be feasible etc. etc. So in 1988 and by that time I was the chair, that report was presented to the community and to the Board of Supervisors and the numbers were fairly impressive. I don't remember what they were but it was clear and the good news it could be documented. See now we had - that's the value of something like this - is you don't have to say well think there are a lot of people who have this need, we knew there were a lot of people. We knew how many they were - we knew what the percentage of the whole population was, we even knew to some extent where they were - although not completely - but we knew they were basically all over the County. But there were pockets where there were more people like that. And so we could document it and once you can document something you can you can start developing a justification for developing a program and spending money on it. And the study also showed how in fact ultimately it was to the benefit - to some extent it was to the benefit of the entire community to provide services. So they came up with a number - rather Lewin Corp. provided a number of recommendations. One of which was to try to develop an insurance their own insurance program and that never went anywhere.

There were attempts made but it fizzled and it became very clear that no local government no local even community even if the chamber of Commerce were to be involved which was the big plan at the very beginning but it never panned out. It just can't - it's even difficult for a state to do it on its own although some states as you probably know have had some success with it. The other proposal, another other piece of the recommendation, one other recommendation and a very important one is that a lot of people who are on this list of uninsured, would be eligible for Medicaid and were not receiving Medicaid because of the difficulty of application of - for a lot of reasons. The County should invest some dollars in additional staffing and effort to reach out to these folks and help them get enrolled. And that happened and it really did pan out because if you are eligible for Medicaid then Federal and State dollars and once people medicate - may not be great in Virginia but it's actually pretty good but then the benefits the people - the coverage's at least basic medical health care especially for kids is available. And so that was a really good thing; and that happened and they sustained that effort over all these years. So that actually was very good and the other piece of it was to develop their own program. A program that would provide a medical home for folks who were low income, uninsured and the County then set up its' own group which I was on to help develop this program and the first affordable health care center - It's called the Community Health Care Network. There are three centers: one in the Mount Vernon area on Route 1, one in - originally it was in Bailey's Crossroads now it has been moved and it is sort of in Culmore - but in that area of the County in Falls Church. And the third and the newest is the one that was the last one to be developed is in Reston. And the first one that opened was the one at Mount Vernon. And they have changed locations, you know physical locations but that's the basic the Reston one is where it always was I believe. Anyway, they are medical home it's a network in a sense - and when we sat down to plan this program we said we don't want them to be just drop in clinics, we want it to be a real Doctors office. We want this to be a place where people can get basic health care, where they can get what they call primary care, and if they need a specialist - that's why we call it a network - there is a network of specialists who either volunteer their services or receive some compensation from the County to provide their cardiac specialists and dermatologists and practically any kidney and urologists, and all kinds of specialists to provide services to these folks as well. And it's on a sliding fee scale, most people pay almost nothing. There is a small charge for prescriptions. Some of the prescriptions are provided, there is a pharmacy; some prescriptions are provided on site. Others, some of them are not part of the program and they get a - the County has a contract with the Giant pharmacies to - I think it's still Giant - I think that's who they still do it with - maybe it's a couple of different ones now - where people can get at a very strong discount their prescriptions.

So that's and it is a very good program. It - as I said it started with one and we opened up the one at Baileys and the third one is in Reston. A lot of folks are served by them - many thousands of people are enrolled and it is a really good program. It has been - a lot of other communities around the country have tried to imitate it and have used it as a model because that's - what was unusual about it when it first started was that it provided not only primary care but also specialty care. Because we said you know if you tell somebody you've got congestive heart failure and you need a specialist and the program doesn't provide any access to the specialist - so what good is it. You know we felt that people needed the same quality of health care that you and I would have who have health insurance. We thought if we are going to do it - this is going to be a quality program and it is a quality program it really is a very good program. Not everybody, it should probably - we would like to see it expanded. The County and the County gets no Federal or State dollars for this program. Initially there was a small grant from the State Health Care Foundation, the Virginia Health Care Foundation. That was just to help get it started. But there is no Federal and State Funding. We don't -Fairfax County doesn't qualify, you know there are Federally qualified health care centers. We don't qualify because we are too affluent a community.

Linda: It is hard to thank you for all of the volunteer work that you have done over the years. And to reward people like yourself for what they do -obviously you - the reward is in the work you do

Marlene: absolutely

Linda: and what you get out of it.

Marlene: you bet

Linda: But um - you have been presented with - let's see 89 Fairfax County Citizen of the Year citation of merit. Some other things with the gifted and talented program - presentation in appreciation for your service with the advisory committees for gifted and talented in 81 - your work 81 to 88 by the public schools and that was presented to you in 1988. A special award presented in recognition of services to the gifted education in the Commonwealth of Virginia by the Northern Virginia Council for the Gifted and Talented education at a conference in March of 86. You also received in 2005, and I had the pleasure of being at that awards ceremony which was a lovely dinner and

Marlene: it was very nice

Linda: it was Citizen of the Year, Fairfax County Citizen of the Year. Tell me a little about you feeling about awards.

Marlene: Well it's - first it is nice to know - it is hearting to know that the folks you've worked with think well enough of what you have been doing to give you an award. On the other hand - so it is nice - first of all it's very nice to know that somebody's taken the trouble to think about it and in some cases it's a fair amount of work involved, as you know, to do these - to put a package together on behalf of someone for an award. So one is you know I always feel very grateful that somebody's taken the trouble to do that cause I know it's a lot of work. And it is very nice to hear that people appreciate the work you have been doing. I am always a little bit concerned about it because it makes it - sometimes makes it sound - the award makes it sound - it could give the impression that you have accomplished all this on your own. And you know very well and I always try to say that cause it is absolutely true that the work you have been doing, you certainly - not only standing on other people's shoulders of the people that have gone before but people you are working with are - my - are largely responsible for any accomplishment. So my feeling is - it's not really just my award but it's also recognition of the work that a lot of other people have been doing.

So I try to talk about that when I have an opportunity to speak and just say thank you - you know to make sure everybody is thanked because in some ways it's an opportunity - I have used it and I really feel this way - what's nice about it is it is an opportunity to say, you know to say publicly thank you to all the people who I've been working with and who do such great work. Or I haven't been working with and also have been doing great work in the community. When you go to that Federation dinner you look out at the audience you see people who are not necessarily people I have been working with but who I know are doing outstanding work in the community. And some of it's recognized and some of it's not recognized so in a way you get you opportunity - your moment to stand up in the spotlight and say thank you to them. And you don't always get to do that so it's nice. I mean that's one of the nice things about it you get a chance to do that. I think it's nice, it's also a way for the community to - you know we are all involved in a lot of work, ongoing work and now and then you step back from the work and say and recognize that some things have been accomplished. Cause you can get a little downhearted it's not always - sometimes it's successful - the advocacy in education and all that hard work that we all do and sometimes it's not or only modestly.

So it's good to stand back from it sometimes and say oh you know we did get some things done. Cause as others have said it heartens you. You know somebody I remember that got one of these awards said you listen - the good news is it's only going to make me work harder and I kind of feel that way too - that when you get an award like that it's hearting and you think you know I'm just going to work harder - I 'm going to even deserve it more because - if people - you know - it makes you think yeah we did accomplish some really good things - but more needs to be done and I'm glad to do it. So that's why they are nice - they give you - they strengthen you a little bit too. They offer you that little strengthening piece.

Linda: What is the more that you would like to accomplish in your future?

Marlene: Well, I would like to, I mentioned earlier that I am very involved in affordable housing and homelessness. And one of the things that has happened in recent years is there has been and increasing recognition and actual coming together of those the things I am involved in housing and healthcare. And the County - and it's now necessarily due to me it's due to a lot of work that a lot of people - and issues grow and awareness and understanding grow. And political leadership you know has a lot to do with it and Chairman Connolly really had a lot to do with that because he was willing to put political will behind the issue of affordable housing and homelessness and also paid attention to the lack of health care particularly for the street homeless. So when a lot of that comes together you can take - the advocates can take advantage of it and put some programs together. So we had - we have definitely improved those services. I'd like to see more of that. I also, I've been very involved in the effort to develop the initiative in Fairfax County to end to prevent and end homelessness and I really want to see that continue. That's something - and healthcare is and integral part, the healthcare that's provided with in that is a very important piece of it. The entire Health Care Advisory Board really supports that and that's been and education process too - years ago it would have been hard to get anyone interested in that issue.

Now a days - you know it's partly what's out there it's partly what's going on nationally and locally. People start paying attention their understanding of the issues changes and then you get some new people serving, new people appointed and they bring new things to the effort. So that's been very good and I'd like to see that effort. I really hope that we can make a big difference in Fairfax County. The other thing that needs to happen on every level from national on down is that we need to expand healthcare to everybody - everybody. And I know that Fairfax County, Fairfax County - we can be very proud that we stepped up to the plate back in the late 80's or early 90's and did what a lot of other communities were not doing. The Board of Supervisors basically said we are not going to wait until there is universal healthcare. A good thing to because we are still not there and how many years later it is and we still don't have it - right. So the County decided to independently do what very few local governments were doing and invest in an affordable healthcare program, which has had great results. So I am glad that that exits but it's not enough, we need it for everybody and everybody who was low income and can't afford health insurance or doesn't have opportunity for health insurance cause many people who are homeless and many people who have jobs, some of them holding down jobs two jobs - none of those jobs and who have very low income and have perfectly good jobs don't pay very well and don't provide either any insurance or affordable health insurance. So they are hard working people, they deserve and their families deserve health care; the same healthcare quality healthcare that you and I have access to. And I'm not sure that the County can do anymore but the community certainly can. And you know the Federal Government, we need to do it - we do need universal healthcare. Linda: Yes, I agree. The County has become more diverse

Marlene: Oh yes

Linda: in population - could you speak to that issue.

Marlene: Oh yes, well the affordable healthcare program is a really good example of adaptation. When the program was first started we had some clients in the program who were not English speaking and so they had to scrounge around a little bit and get maybe a few people. Well within a few years and of course some of us who were involved said this is changing rapidly and over the years the diversity in the County has just burgeoned and the entire Human services system of Fairfax County has had to - you know if they are going to be responsive and provide services has needed to adapt to that and work within that context. Certainly the Health Department has for all of its services not just the affordable healthcare program. The number of languages you know when we look at the clients we get reports on that and the number of languages that are of the clients in the affordable healthcare program is enormous. I mean of course the largest except for English speaking the largest group is Hispanic, or Spanish speaking. But there are other significant you know there is Urdu and Farsi and Vietnamese and you know Asian languages and African languages. It's a huge variety. And then there are cultural differences as well; and when you are providing healthcare those cultural differences not just language, language is a barrier and the County has worked on that. And definitely there are a lot of different techniques that they use. They have interpreters, they have there is our medical interpretation lines that they subscribe to where you can call and its phone system. Cause some of the languages they have bilingual and trilingual staff in all the centers and the health department does in general at their clinics as well. But there are also cultural differences. And they have had to adapt to that both from the education point of view the affordable healthcare program has a nutritionist, a nutritionist slash health educator.

And so there are folks that come here from other - who've move here from other countries and they go to the super market and they don't know what they are looking at. So the nutritionist will actually take - has a class - usually of women because they are the ones who do the shopping and the cooking in the immigrant families - take them on a field trip to the super market. And talk about the vegetables for example that are available here as opposed to what might be available in Guatemala or in Africa - which are different and how to you use them, how to cook them, how you know how to make them more interesting to their families. Or more acceptable from a taste point of view - so things like that you know you don't even think about. If you are going to eat a healthy diet and you are new to this Country, well any of us who have lived in another Country we've had the same experience; it's just this is sort of massive.

There are other cultural issues that come up both in how you feed your children, in women's healthcare in particular, there are cultures in where a woman really cannot go to a male physician and so the County has over the years, initially this was not a problem, and initially I think there was to some extent some people said well too bad you know and then the awareness - no, no we can't say that; and so there was a big effort and it was successful to have health providers in both the nurse practitioners and physicians who are female. Not all of them I mean but obviously there is a mix; but there are enough female physicians in the Center so that if you need to have - someone really has to see a female physician that's entirely possible. And nobody says no no you can't do that. And there are other, it use to be that like the hospitals and other where basically the interpretation - they would tell you to bring a child, your kid with you and interoperate for you.

And there was a growing awareness, oh yes, oh hospitals do this - there is a certain amount of it that still goes on - not in the, not in the Health Department, but it still goes on elsewhere. It is really inappropriate - it is - and not just for healthcare services - for other County services and I've come across it - every now and then you come across it in other health - in other human services in the County and we need to protest, and some of us have protested - that is very, it's unreliable it's embarrassing it's undignified. And it is just totally inappropriate it is unprofessional. You don't do that to people - you don't have someone have an eight year old interpreting for - can you imagine in health care?

Linda: No, No.

Marlene: That was very, very common; fortunately it is no longer done. So those are some of the you know; and then there is a lot that the Health Department as a whole does working within that community. They have set up some, they have done a lot of - they have in some of the immigrant communities they have health sort of councils where local folks work together. And of course what's also happened is that there has been a concerted effort to bring those folks who grow up in the immigrant community, who are members of those minority communities into healthcare provision themselves.

And to recruit them, whether they are nurses aides or physicians or nurses whatever. And so that's grown also. You can see that over time the local college of G.M.U. and the community college working with the county and others have made a concerted effort to recruit folks like that into training. And so that's been a big help too - so all of that is very good - more needs to be done but its definitely - its been a challenge but I think that people actually - that it has actually made it a stronger and richer program. You can see that it is so much more responsive to the community and it became more responsive to the community as a whole because they had to do different kinds of outreach and they had to pay more attention to what people's real need were rather than say here's what we have you take it. They had to say well what do you need and we'll provide it. You know they had - it became much more a two way street because of this increasing diversity. So it's actually a stronger and better program and I think everyone in the Health Department would agree with that. So I am very proud of what they have done, I think it is great.

Linda: I interviewed Roxanne Rice from Food for Others and do you all - well I know you know about each other - how does that work within the County and also Volunteer Fairfax which kind of oversees the almost 800 non profit groups that we have in the area. Through this program when they see a need for food how do you work together?

Marlene: Well the Health Care Advisory Board - I don't want you to misunderstand doesn't do that kind of work it is advisory to the Board of Supervisors like a lot of the other groups and the groups I am involved with don't provide direct services. There are some like Roxanne's group that is. Where I am involved with advocacy groups they are all - a lot of folks are involved with groups that go out there into the community and provide the direct help. So we don't - in a sense that we are the Alliance for Human Services for example a lot of the other human services groups whether they are advocacy or direct service participate. They belong to the Alliance and support its work. So we work with them and they get involved in advocacy too, so we advocate for those services but we don't provide them directly. Now what happens, I don't know if Roxanne told you and you probably are familiar with this. It use to be much more fragmented then it is. And I think there is still a certain amount of it but a lot of it has been helped when they re organized County Human Services they involved the Community a great deal and so the County now has coordinated services planning. So if you call - do you know about the 2220880 number?

Linda: Tell us about that.

Marlene: Well that's the number that the County - it's called Coordinated Services Planning; so when you call - let's say you are in need, you need, you have, you have an apartment but for whatever reason you can't pay the rent or your electrical bill this particular month. Somebody's lost a job somebody's been out sick, didn't get paid full salary this month. So you are panicked because you don't want to be evicted. You call that number

Linda: Which is?

Marlene: 2220880 I believe. (Shortly after this interview the number was changed to 211). You will speak to a County social worker trained County social worker who will ask you a lot of questions about your need and essentially if you are new - if it's the first time you have ever called to ask some intake questions to get some specifics from you. And they have both the expertise the knowledge and expertise as well as direct access to services so they will link, these people up, you up with services. Now it might be a County service maybe they have discovered in talking to you that you are eligible for certain benefits so they might link you up with somebody in the department of Family Services to help you apply for benefits. They may be State or Federal benefits. They might link you up with one of the helping organizations in your area of the County like ACCA (Annandale Christian Community for Action) or Fish (Fairfax FISH is an ecumenical outreach program begun in 1975) or the Citizens helping Others in the Vienna area that help people on an emergency basis with say a rental payment on a one time basis who might have some funds to do that- they are running out of them by the way, buts that's because of the economy but that's another whole story. Or who might link you up - or with a church. Maybe there is a church in your area of the County - so what they have done is - they don't leave it to chance - all of these - there has been a real strong effort over the last 7 or 8 years I guess to link - to make sure that those groups that provide those services are linked together.

That the County - that there is a central place where that information is available and can be used. I'm not going to say that it is full proof - and people still fall through the cracks and it could even be better than it is - but it is a lot better than it use to be. So that's to some extent how people get help. Some people call the organizations directly and that's still okay. They may have been in the system before. They know who helps and they call the people who help with food directly and say I need food. But that's often how they help. Somebody may call and say they need food, you know I'm - what's happening I understand right now because of the crummy economy is that people who didn't need help who are brand new to this - the 222 number is getting calls from people - a lot of new people who've never been in the system before, because they haven't needed to be. They've lost jobs or they have lost their home because of mortgage problems and so they are really in dire straights. So they are hearing from people who were not in the system before. So that's how people work together. I think a lot of the non profits that provide direct services also work with one another, you know, particularly in any region of the county they all know one another. And so they help, they work together and they help people find help. Linda: Great. Over the years you have done some other kinds of volunteer work in the political arena.

Marlene: Yes, indeed.

Linda: Do you want to talk about that a little.

Marlene: Sure, yes, I did - I got involved - how did I get involved- well I had been involved, somewhat, a little bit in politics in - well let me go back further. When I was a kid, my parents weren't heavily involved in politics but somewhat and certainly it was a topic of discussion. And that's not true in every family; in my family it is very much a topic. And there was a lot of awareness of who was in office and what they were doing or not doing, and criticism if criticism was needed. There was a lot of outspokenness about it; so I was very aware of that. When I was in college I got involved in young Democrats in college. And then in graduate school too. And I got modest - when we lived in New Jersey after I had kids, I got a little bit involved in some local politics in a very modest way. You know I helped on some campaigns. And when we moved back here, initially I wasn't very involved in Party Politics because I was on the board of the League of Women's voters. And in those days - I don't think the league is as strict now as they use to be - I think now it is just the officers. But in those days, even if you were just on the board you couldn't be involved in Party politics. And I took that very seriously so my husband got involved. And that's how we got to know a lot of people, because he got involved and he was on our District Democratic Committee. And so that was interesting and then I guess at that point he was - it wasn't just when we moved here but he worked for the, he worked from 1976 to 1980 for the Carter administration in the Department of Energy and then left and went into private stuff so that he could get involved in politics.

He did! And when I left the League Board I then also got involved because by that time I knew a lot of the people I had already been working with - like Jim Scott and Kate Hanley on issues; and it became a natural, sort of a natural thing to want to then get involved in helping them get elected and that's how like a lot of people I started out - not by working on Party issues but by working on somebody's election campaign. So that's how. I think the first one I worked on; I have to think for a minute. I think the very first one I worked on was to re elect - it was in the 10th District - because we have all been redistricted - Joe Fisher - and that's how I got to know Kate because she was, I believe, running his campaign. I know she was involved, she may have been running the Carter campaign in Fairfax County. But anyway, or no, it wasn't the Carter but anyway that was way back and then I went on the League boards - I stopped for a while and then I went back to it. So anyway - but that's how I got involved in politics. I worked on some campaigns and then I joined the Party and I have just kept it up. That's all.  Mainly it started - and I think it does this for a lot of people with having to serve a politician or several politicians, elected officials who you respect a great deal you'd like to help them - they are running for election or reelection and you want to help; and so you get involved. And then you see well yeah even a little bit helps. So you do that. So that's how I got involved in politics.

Linda: Great. Is there anything you would like to say to people that will be moving to Fairfax County in the future?

Marlene: Oh, I would say - well first of all Fairfax County is a great place to live and bring up your kids and do work in. But it's not perfect, things are good but they can always be better; and if not for yourself then for the rest of your community. Really and truly there is always work that needs to be done. It's a huge community, there are a lot of people here and there is always a lot of change. And this is a community where if you get involved you will have an effect; you will also have fun because you will meet interesting people. And you will also be doing good work - it will be fun, it will be interesting and the good news is you can really make a difference. And that's very rewarding. You know, you feel, you know, I think human beings most of us for whatever reason we are wired that way - we feel good when that happens we can see that we can make a difference - a large one or a small one in the world we live in. But there is always work to be done no matter how good things are.

I mentioned earlier that my son and daughter in law live in Reston with two of my grandchildren and they are very involved in the school and they moved here because of the good schools. And they are very involved in my grandson's school. But my daughter in law who has been a teacher herself said to me "well you know there are problems", there's a teacher who's not or something's not inadequate - so they've gotten involved. They are trying to make things better for the school. They've gotten involved. You know they are working on PTA helping to fundraise for the PTA and things like that. So, you know, as good as things are they are never perfect - you can always make them better - so I would say get involved and you will not only make a difference but you also have fun doing it.

Linda: Thank you

Marlene: Oh, your welcome, you're welcome.

Linda: for all the work you have done in the past and for what you continue do for us.

Marlene: You're welcome.

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