Some Talk About Being Neighborly, this County Neighbor Acts

Contributed by Judy Fish, Lake Monticello News

Laker Connie West said that she signed up for the Fluvanna Leadership Development Course (FLDP) soon after moving to the area because she wanted to get involved in the whole county. “I wanted insight into the whole community—the whole county,” West, a FLDP Class 10 grad, said. “And that’s what I got. I strongly recommend this course. I am from Fluvanna County, not just Lake Monticello.”

West has taken the insight gained from FLDP and ran with it. She volunteers on her church missions’ team (Salem United Methodist) and with the FSPCA, as well as with the Lake Monticello Beautification Corps—most notably coordinating the organization’s largest annual fundraiser with Yvonne Arcement—the Holiday Home Tour. But it’s the work she and a group of her friends do that probably makes the biggest impact county-wide.

West spearheads the Lake Monticello “Gifted Ladies” Group—an informal group of friends that started small and has grown to 32 members.

West said she still remembers when she first learned what poverty looks like.

“I was volunteering with the Big Sister/ Big Brother Program when I was in college I got my first glimpse of real poverty,” West said. “At the time, I had a 10-year-old sister at home and a 10-year-old Little Sister through the program. The differences in the two girls’ Christmases were startling and made a huge impression on me.”

“Gifted Ladies began in 2017 when we realized we didn’t need to exchange gifts with each other anymore—none of us need anything—so, the question was asked how could we help families in need provide Christmas for their kids,” West explained. “We were able to get information through Fluvanna Social Services and have provided Christmas gifts to kids of all ages since. Last year seven Fluvanna County children received everything on their Christmas lists bought, wrapped and delivered.”

Gifted Ladies has also donated to Peaceful Passings, Charlottesville Shelter for Help in Emergencies and Habitat for Humanity. Last year the group hosted a yard sale to raise money to buy more than $1,700 in school supplies and snacks for both Fluvanna County elementary schools and the middle school and delivered Easter Goodie Bags for Fluvanna Meals on Wheels clients.

West and the Gifted Ladies also coordinate Bubble Events for children at Lake Monticello.

“It feels good to give back to our community in both big ways and small ways,” West said. “Each of us can make a difference.”

Those interested in this year’s FLDP class can get additional information and sign up at about the class is also available by calling 434-589-1732.

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