Frequently Asked Questions: Advocacy and Concerned Fairfax
What is the foundation/guiding philosophy of Concerned Fairfax?
What does the advocacy function of Concerned Fairfax look like in action?
Who is a part of Concerned Fairfax? How do I become a member?
What is discussed in Concerned Fairfax meetings?
Who runs the meetings and how do they proceed?
What is the nature of the relationship between Concerned Fairfax and NAMI Nova?
Our goal is to provide for people in the community who have been touched by mental illness and/or substance abuse. It provides a forum for community members to discuss their concerns and an opportunity to develop strategies to try to improve the situations for people suffering from different disorders. We are citizens looking for ways to make positive change through advocacy. Our organization is one of collaboration, with members learning from each other as we work.
We interact with the Community Services Board, acting as lobbyists for people living with mental illnesses in the Northern Virginia area. We begin with open discussions amongst ourselves in meetings, sharing our own experiences and concerns. Gradually we refine these discussions to the most important tasks that need work, and distinguish the biggest problems. Once we specify our goals as a group, someone in a position of authority can take action with our guidance. We take vague expressions of dissatisfaction and turn it into action. Change is not made by simply going to a Board of Supervisors. We are a grassroots organization that provides opportunities for each member to make their own path to successful advocacy in issues they, and the rest of the group, are passionate about.
Concerned Fairfax is a part of NAMI Northern Virginia, the local affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Initially placed under the organization’s advocacy efforts, we have grown to a sustained group of passionate community members committed to spreading NAMI’s mission. Our membership is 100% voluntary and free. When you come to a meeting, you will sign in and promptly be put on our mailing list for information and events. We are always striving to expand membership, so our primary goal is letting people know we exist and are open to hearing their voice.
We work to agree on what the problems are. For example, it took a while, but we boiled our current priorities down to housing, providing information about services that the community is unaware of, and working with the local criminal justice system. Once we agree on the problem, we brainstorm ways to reduce these problems and find plausible solutions. We plan on distribution of materials, including putting CSB literature in public places so people have access.
Bill Taylor chairs the meetings. An agenda is created for order and gives people a chance to talk in a structured setting. The meetings occur monthly. Dates can be found on our main page.
We are the advocacy committee of Falls Church and Fairfax. We get a huge boost in reputation and influence from the structure and name of NAMI. We do the advocacy work on the ground that NAMI wants to happen. We have the same interests as NAMI, and view Concerned Fairfax as being supportive of NAMI initiative.