In this week’s TALK series, McLean Today sits down with Steve Mournighan, the newly elected president of Share of McLean. Share of McLean is a volunteer-led,  non-profit organization that runs a series of programs to meet the emergency needs of McLean’s residents and those in nearby areas of Northern Virginia. Our neighbors in need are economically distressed families and individuals, seniors living on limited pensions (often facing medical issues), recent immigrants, victims of spousal abuse, and formerly homeless persons.   If you are looking to volunteer in your community, Mournighan encourages everyone to join in the effort whether by helping in the food room, delivering furniture, or donating to Share of McLean.

Q. Share of McLean began with various faith communities working together — tell us about that and how they integrate with each other?

Share was founded in 1969 by about 10 churches and the Jewish synagogue, Temple Rodef Shalom, who were the original founders. The faith communities work well together to support us and they have been very generous, not only with financial support, but in providing us with volunteers. For instance, the Latter Day Saints church on Great Falls Street provides us with young men and women who speak Spanish. At the food room, that is invaluable. Our food rooms are open on Wednesdays and Saturdays at the McLean Baptist Church, which provides us with a lot of space for our food room and our clothing room. The Board and the volunteers all come together from all these different faith communities and work well together.

Q. Do you have to be a member of a faith community to volunteer for Share?

You don’t have to be a member of one of those faith communities. Our volunteers come in from all over McLean whether a part of a faith community or not.

Q. Who are the neighbors outside McLean that Share also serves?

There are four zip codes that we focus on. There’s McLean, Great Falls, Pimmit Hills, and the other side of Route 7 around George C. Marshall High School. The county government has divided the county into areas of emphasis. So Share of McLean has been dedicated to those zip codes by the county government. There are organizations in Vienna and Reston much like us that have been designated those areas.

Q. How do you receive support from the McLean community?

Two parts to that. The first is the people of McLean have been very generous over the years with giving individual donations. Some of the local community groups, like the Rotary, the Women’s Club, and the Knights of the Round Table have all been very generous over the years.

I want to particularly give the McLean community kudos for their support during the pandemic. We were facing a lot of serious issues helping people. The McLean community and our Great Falls neighbors really stepped up and they have continued to step up.

Second part: We’re always amazed at how we are not known to the McLean community. There are a lot of people in McLean and Great Falls who have never heard of us. We’ve been around this 1969 and we continue to inform our neighbors that Share exists and that we do help our needy neighbors.

Q. Is there a publicity campaign that you all engage in get the organization on people’s radar?

The answer is yes! We have secured two younger volunteers who are proficient at social media and they are starting to really go out and make our name known in the community. We do have a website and we continue to get people coming to that website [interested in] volunteering, so that’s very pleasing to us because we always need volunteers. There are no paid people at Share. Everybody in the organization, including myself, is a volunteer. The website has been successful to some extent but we are taking more positive steps in more areas of social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to try to get our name out there.

Q. How many people volunteer on a regular basis?

I’d say around 250 people. All are doing various things. They’re in the food room at the McLean Baptist Church helping stock shelves, sorting clothes, delivering donated furniture to people in McLean and Great Falls. We’ve got some high school kids who are refurbishing computers. We have a lot of people working in about five or six different programs. [There are] program chairs who supervise, but it’s a collaboration of people who are working in the various programs under some level of managing volunteers. For instance, the food room and the clothing room is run by Nicki Watts, a retired Air Force Officer, and she does a great job at organizing both rooms like clockwork.

Q. Who are the suppliers that you’re in contact with? Are they also a local to McLean as well?

It varies program by program. In the clothing room, people just donate clothes they don’t use anymore. We get food donations from the local community. People just drop off food. Also, we ask local stores, Giant, Walmart, and Lidl to provide us food. Food drives are run by us, the postal service out of McLean Post Office, and the Boy Scouts, which brings in a tremendous amount of food. We’re also partnering with DC Central Kitchen to help us get food. We’ll stand outside food stores and we’ll hand out a list of things we need in particular. Say we have a shortage of diapers or toothpaste, we’ll stand outside of stores and say to people going in “Hey, if you want to donate, Share needs these items and we’ll be right here with this cart”. You’ll be amazed at how effective it is. People will come out and put items in the truck. I want to emphasize the support we’ve gotten from Giant, from Walmart, and from Lidl. They have really helped out.

I had a cup of tea at Greenberry’s with Nicki who said the food supply is pretty steady except in the summer when people go on vacation and schools are closed. But we make it and get through with our support from volunteers.

Now as far as the furniture program is concerned, it’s basically folks from McLean and Great Falls folks donating. If you’re buying a new couch, call us up and we’ll come pick up the old couch Saturday morning. The next Saturday morning, it’s going to be delivered to somebody who needs a couch. The donations are from individuals and organizations. I know the Rotary club provides support.

Q. What is the best example you’ve seen that represents what Share of McLean does?

The furniture program is where you physically see the importance of the work being done. You pick up a couch from a billion dollar house and deliver that furniture to an area with no billion-dollar houses. You really get to see the housing needs people have through furniture donations. I can speak from experience. I dropped off a couch once at an apartment with nothing in it. No bed, no chairs, and the lady looks at me and she says “I have nothing”. So I told her to just go to the back of the truck and pick out what she needed. We gave her a bed, tables, and anything else that would help.

Another one, where we really see the need is the family assistance program where we are paying people’s rent, paying people’s utility bills. They’ve got a notice from Dominion saying Fairfax Water is going to cut off their water supply. We help pay the bill once or twice a year.  It works very well with the Fairfax County government as a good collaboration effort. Those are the programs where you really get to see people’s needs.

.Q. How have you personally been involved in the development of the Share of McLean?

I’ve been with Share for 30 years. I started off driving the truck for the furniture program one Saturday a month. I’ve been with Share for a long time. Why do I do it? Because somebody has to help.

When I was starting, my kids were in high school and I wasn’t coaching soccer anymore, so I was looking for something to do. Share was a local organization. It’s focused out of the McLean Baptist Church, so it was very easy to enter and get involved in it. A lot of hauling furniture, but I had a good time. About 18 years ago, I got elected as the Recording Secretary. I took that job as I continued to volunteer with the furniture program. I started volunteering to stock shelves, run food drives. I was having a good time. I was helping people out and that was my motivation.

Q. Do you have any lasting message for the McLean community?

I’ve lived in McLean for 48 years and it’s a great place to live. A lot of nice people live here. If I were going to deliver a message, I’d ask my neighbors to remember that there is an underside to McLean. There are a lot of people in Great Falls and Pimmit Hill who need help. I’d ask my fellow citizens of McLean and Great Falls to keep that in mind. I also want to say thank you to all of those people, who over the years, have been the volunteers and sent donations to Share.

Steve Mournighan, Share Inc

Interview by Sam Marks — Sam Marks is a  third-year student at the University of Edinburgh. He’s a D.C. resident, passionate about American political history, and has dual citizenship with the United Kingdom. Journalism has been a passion of his for many years and he’s excited to meet the friendly faces of McLean while writing for McLean Today. Outside of his academic pursuits, Sam is a keen swing dancer and DJs on a local radio station in Scotland.

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