LCAC partners with GMU on writing classes


LCAC team members, Fairfax County staff and George Mason University instructors kick off day one of a persuasive writing class for elementary school students. (Credit: LCAC)

Since moving to the new Lorton Community Center last October, the Lorton Community Action Center (LCAC) has wasted no time in partnering up with other organizations — both inside and outside the facility — to relaunch in-person classes and pilot some new ones.

LCAC’s latest venture involves a partnership with George Mason University (GMU) and Fairfax County Neighborhood and Community Services (NCS) to provide writing classes for elementary school students throughout the community, including from NCS’ School Age Child Care (SACC) program, also located at the community center. 

Using a technology-based curriculum called WE-GORIITE and computers provided by NCS/SACC, students are learning the art of persuasive writing and gaining confidence with the help of GMU faculty and doctoral candidates who are meeting with them at a community center classroom from January through April.

LCAC’s director of development, Jessica Cogen, described the collaboration as “entrepreneurial” and said it’s an example of how the nonprofit is “always looking for ways to help clients.”

Healthy cooking and eating are other areas in which LCAC is working with partners to offer community education to clients. Town halls held with clients last October showed that families want healthy, affordable food options.

LCAC began the next series of nutrition and cooking classes in January 2023. (Credit: LCAC)

In mid-November, LCAC’s community outreach coordinator Yareli Alvarez — who has culinary training expertise from Johnson and Wales University — rebooted the nonprofit’s on-site nutrition and cooking classes with the help of a partnership with the Potomac Health Foundation and Good Shepherd Housing, as well as a volunteer who’s a registered dietitian nutritionist. LCAC’s classes for adults and children filled up quickly and were recognized by the Fairfax Food Council as a “healthy success” that enabled participants to return home with ingredients to prepare the meals they learned to cook.

Starting the week of Jan. 16, LCAC launched a new series of nutrition and cooking classes aimed at cohorts of children and adults.

To fulfill clients’ preferences for more nutritious food options, LCAC’s food pantry is seeking donations of fresh produce (contact nutrition director Josh Henry ahead of time at (703) 339-5161 Ext. 1900 or and healthier versions of traditional staples: dried instead of canned beans, low-sugar and low-sodium foods, proteins and gluten-free items.

LCAC, which helps low-income individuals in Lorton, Fort Belvoir, Newington and other portions of Southeast Fairfax County, is located in the Lorton Community Center building at 9520 Richmond Highway.

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