Planting Seeds and Spreading Joy

By: LeaAnn Kutz

Langley Residential Support Services (LRSS) is a Northern Virginia based nonprofit that offers residential and community support  enabling neurodiverse adults to live active lives and develop self-confidence and independence. LRSS has been a Junior League of Washington (JLW) community partner for more than 25 years.

Every Tuesday, the JLW Langley Committee hosts a book club with LRSS residents to help promote literacy, confidence, and fellowship. Since early 2020, Tuesday Book Club has been in a virtual Zoom format, and committee members have done their best to keep the meetings engaging for the nearly two dozen residents who regularly participate. 

Over the past year, in addition to Tuesday Book Club, the committee planned several new and different events to keep things interesting and help members and Langley residents build relationships, even virtually. In October, they hosted a Halloween costume contest and trivia night.  A JLW volunteer attended the event dressed as a spider and creatively converted her home office into a giant spider web! In December, the committee partnered with the JLW Kids in the Kitchen Committee for a bingo and trivia night. JLW volunteers and residents donned ugly holiday sweaters and enjoyed interactive holiday bingo, with sugar-free candy as bingo chips, while learning facts about Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Christmas.

Another notable event was the Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson reading and sing-along. “It is widely known that the LRSS residents are some of the biggest professional wrestling fans you’ll ever meet, and they are especially big fans of The Rock,” said Kristyn King, LRSS Committee Chair. “As we were planning our books for the year, adding Dwayne Johnson’s autobiography was a must!”

Through reading the book, residents and JLW volunteers learned  about Dwayne’s illustrious film career, which highlighted his most recent animated hit, Moana. This gave JLW volunteer, Mikke Rozenman, along with her husband Sebastian, inspiration to learn how to play “You’re Welcome” from Moana on the guitar. They surprised the residents and committee members, and everyone got to enjoy a sing-along together—an unforgettable Tuesday Book Club favorite!

Fortunately, COVID-19 rates dropped in the summer and early fall of 2021, giving the committee and LRSS the opportunity to plan a truly special and memorable outdoor event. This allowed committee members to visit the Langley residents in person for the first time since February 2020.

On Saturday, October 23, 2021, a handful of JLW volunteers from the Langley Committee, the New Member Committee, and their spouses, partners, and children gathered at two residences in McLean and Annandale, Virginia. LRSS had recently received a donation of 100+ tulip bulbs from Holland, but they were not sure what to do with this generous donation. So, armed with shovels and extra helping hands, JLW volunteers planted bulbs in the front yards of the residences.

Committee member and tulip planting participant, Anne Parsons, said, “It was a great experience to plant tulip bulbs with the residents after two years of virtual meetings. As a member of the committee who has only known virtual encounters, this was a rewarding experience to finally be able to interact with some of the residents in person.”

As we approach warmer seasons, committee members look forward to the residents sharing when the first bulbs start to peek out of the ground, a sign of hope for new things to come. They also look forward to resuming in person activities, starting with a bowling event with Langley residents and donors at the end of March.

You can learn more about or donate to LRSS by visiting their website.