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Board Recognizes Vienna Youth for Homeless Outreach

Fairfax Supervisors commend students' participation in "Fast Shacks" last summer.

After Fairfax and Vienna youth raised awareness for homelessness over the summer by constructing makeshift shelters from discarded materials and sleeping under the stars, they were recognized Tuesday for their efforts before the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.

About 50 middle and high school students from Emmanuel Lutheran, Fairfax Presbyterian and Vienna Presbyterian Churches were honored for their participation in the “Fast Shacks” program.

Students spent a day building their shelters from cardboard, wood, tarp, twine and other recycled materials. The youths were split up into teams and allotted a $5 budget for the building supplies, but many were foraged.

They also abstained from solid foods during construction and through the night they spent outside in their shelters.

Supervisor Cathy Hudgins commended the students for building the improvised shelters and gaining an understanding of what many homeless people must do every night. She hoped their work would give Fairfax County residents some perspective on “shelter that we take for granted.”

“It really helps establish an experience and a value that I hope they’ll take with them as they grow up in our community,” she said.

Bulova applauded area churches for their involvement in the initiative to help Fairfax County’s homeless residents.

“The fact that our faith communities have become personally involved in serving the homeless has made a real difference in the way community feels about that issue,” she said.

Andrew Buck, Emmanuel’s youth director and one of the founders of the “Fast Shacks” idea, told supervisors he hoped it could become an annual event.

“It was just so powerful for our students, as well as our adults,” he said.

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