Celebrating a shared history

Greenspring’s DAR chapter recognizes 20 years of service

Created date

May 29th, 2020

Organized at Greenspring in October 2000, the George Mason Chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) plays a pivotal role in the Erickson Living-managed community’s ability to serve the local community, support veterans and students, and preserve and honor American history. Membership in the George Mason Chapter is composed of both Greenspring residents and members of the local community.

Instrumental in starting the chapter at Greenspring, community member Mary Elizabeth Seip, the organizing regent, continues to support members and oversee the growth of the club. 

“Our chapter began as a way of providing Greenspring residents who already belonged to a DAR chapter before their move to continue participating,” says Mary Elizabeth. “Now, almost 20 years later, we’ve expanded both our group and our outreach well beyond those initial goals.”

Proud heritage

Founded in 1890, the DAR is a nonprofit, nonpolitical volunteer women’s service organization and one of the most inclusive genealogical societies in the country. According to the DAR website, the organization “boasts 185,000 members in 3,000 chapters across the United States and internationally. Any woman 18 years or older—regardless of race, religion, or ethnic background—who can prove lineal descent from a patriot of the American Revolution is eligible to join.”

The George Mason Chapter, named after the Virginian who authored the Virginia Declaration of Rights, the basis of the Bill of Rights and the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution, leads numerous programs in support of veterans in the local community.

One popular program, Stamps for Veterans, generates support not only from members of the chapter but from the entire Greenspring community.

“We ask community members for help collecting stamps, which are then cut and sent to wounded veterans around the country for recreational rehabilitation,” says Mary Elizabeth. 

The program, in operation since 1942, accepts any U.S. or foreign undamaged postage stamps. A typical Greenspring collection amasses more than 2,000 stamps, each of which are counted and trimmed before sending them on to the veterans. 

A recent article promoting the program in the resident-run newspaper, the Villager, generated a larger than usual collection. 

“As a chapter made up of many Greenspring community members, we often turn to our neighbors for help in supporting our efforts,” says Mary Elizabeth. “The response is always very positive.”

The Greenspring chapter also supports veterans in their recognition of Vietnam War Veterans Day. Since the launch of the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War commemoration in 2012, DAR has been a committed commemorative partner, vowing to meet the group’s primary objective to “thank and honor Vietnam veterans and their families for their service and sacrifice, with distinct recognition of former prisoners of war and families of those still listed as missing in action.” 

Reaching out

In addition to supporting veterans, the George Mason chapter of DAR leads the collection of donations for Bethany House, a local spouse abuse shelter and school supplies and clothing for two local schools. Chapter members also work with Fairfax County elementary educators to encourage presentation of DAR Good Citizenship Medals at the end of the scholastic year.

Another effort supported by the greater-Greenspring community is the collection of Box Top Labels for Education. These labels, which can now be collected electronically, are sent to DAR-supported schools that exchange the labels for much needed funds.

“We are so grateful for all the help we received from our neighbors,” says Mary Elizabeth.

Fulfilling the educational aspect of their mission, members of the George Mason chapter lead an annual celebration of Constitution week, an American observance to commemorate the adoption of the United States Constitution, held September 17-23.

“We create posters for display throughout the Greenspring community,” says Mary Elizabeth. “We also develop programming for our in-house cable station regarding the Constitution. When we first started, we created a 30-minute program. But we had so much information and were so well received that we now create an hour-long special.”

Program topics

George Mason chapter meetings at Greenspring include programs that cover a wide range of topics, such as the history of individuals or national monuments, travelogues highlighting a specific historical region, or current events. 

“We invite both local and Greenspring community speakers to address our members,” says Mary Elizabeth. “Residents Gray Parks and Len Kalkwarf are favorites. We’ve hosted a speaker from the White House visitors center and held a Jeopardy game meeting, where participants had to answer DAR-based questions. It was so much fun. We will definitely do that again.”

Looking forward

Celebrating the chapter’s twentieth anniversary this fall, Mary Elizabeth credits the group’s dedication to supporting new members for their continued growth. 

“Our chapter helps potential new members prove their eligibility, including genealogical research,” she says. “We continue to provide this support until an application is complete. It’s never too late to join our chapter. Thanks to the commitment of our members and the support we receive from the Greenspring community, we will no doubt continue to grow and serve.”