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St. James parishioner honored for 25 years of service

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As if raising four boys and working full time wasn’t enough, Janet Qualters gave years of service to St. James Church and the greater Falls Church community. 

A walk around the neighborhood in 1991 led to the establishment of the St. James Food Distribution Program, which Qualters started with Nancy Stock.

Qualters, who retired from the parish Social Outreach Committee (SOC) last year, was honored for her 25 years of continuous service to the church and community at a reception at St. James May 9.

“I’m very pleased and I am grateful that they wanted to do something,” she said. “It’s a wonderful group of people.”

The amount of work Qualters did over the years is becoming more apparent to those who are trying to follow in her footsteps.

“Janet has been the heart and soul of the Social Outreach Committee for so many years and it’s taken three of us to try and continue to run the committee after her,” said Laura Stricker, SOC co-chair. “We are discovering things she quietly did on her own. She was just a tireless, selfless worker.”

“I think what stands out with Janet is the capacity not only to lead the group but also her care and compassion for those in need,” said Ron Brousseau, who worked with Qualters on SOC and the Falls Church Homeless Shelter. “It’s an important factor. She did most of the work on these committees when she was working full time (for the post office).”

Qualters recruited volunteers to help with the parish programs, including baby bottle and diaper drives for HOPE House, a local pregnancy assistance center; drivers for Meals on Wheels; and sock, underwear, shoe, linen and towel drives for area homeless shelters. Her committee also assisted with prison ministry.

“She’s been such a wonderful leader,” said Angela Dinkle, a SOC member and coordinator of the Kairos women’s prison ministry. “Qualters and her group have been instrumental with helping me with supplies like Christmas gifts and praying for us. Some are baking cookies. She helped me out tremendously at Christmastime. I think she’s a wonderful person and I’m here to pay tribute to her.”

Quarters said faith is the basis of her volunteering. “My mom and dad were active in the church in Ohio,” she said. “They were very active, and I learned from them.”

Friends shared things they appreciate about Qualters, who was presented with a necklace and a book of memories.

“It’s a magnificent honor to be here in this room and hear the things she has done,” said her son, Tom, who surprised her by flying in from Atlanta. “Mom, you’ve been an example to us in our faith. This is a bar we will never reach but will give us something to strive for.”

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2019