Fairfax County officials recently came together to honor the late Carmen Fernandez, a longtime pillar of the Culmore community who also has strong ties to Arlington, renaming a conference room at the Woodrow Wilson Library in Falls Church to her honor.
The Fairfax County Public Library Board voted in June to bestow the honor on Fernandez, who died last year.
Born in Cuba, Fernandez came to the United States in 1960 and worked as a social worker in Arlington for 25 years before founding the nonprofit organization Hispanics Against Child Abuse and Neglect (HACAN).
She spent many Saturday mornings in the hall of the Woodrow Wilson Library that now bears her name, leading community programs and activities for elementary school-aged children through a HACAN program known as Morning Star, as well as as parenting classes through the Morning Star Mothers program.
“It was Carmen, always willing to give time and effort to her community,” Fairfax County Supervisor Penny Gross (D-Mason) said. “Her legacy is here, in the faces of the many children she inspired.”
In addition to her work with HACAN, Fernandez has also been active in a number of organizations, such as the Kiwanis Club of Arlington.
HACAN is a nonprofit educational and advocacy organization dedicated to strengthening families in Northern Virginia through parent education and after-school activities that serve and support youth, according to its website.
Carmen Paredes, executive director of HACAN, also praised Fernandez, calling her “an extraordinary woman who could see the potential in people and believe in them.”
Fernandez’s children – Silvia Brugge, Celia Fruchterman, Javier Fernandez and Jorge Fernandez – were present for the unveiling of the plaques.