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AHC Renames Gates of Ballston Community Center to Honor the Rinkers

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(June 5, 2015 – Arlington, VA) – AHC Inc. today dedicated the Gates of Ballston Community Center to Charlie and Lora Rinker to honor their 40+ years of working tirelessly for social justice in Arlington. Thanks to their efforts, countless Arlingtonians live in affordable homes and those needing emergency shelter can find a warm bed and decent meal in a clean, safe place.

“After Charlie’s death, AHC decided to honor Charlie and Lora in a more permanent way, and we felt there was no better place to do that than here at The Gates of Ballston,” said AHC President and CEO Walter D. Webdale.  ”Charlie was instrumental in saving this beautiful 17-acre property from redevelopment so that it could remain affordable to young singles, families with children, and retirees.  He devoted his life to advocating for affordable housing for low-income families and individuals. Lora, too, believed in stable and decent housing and she focused her energies on establishing and running a shelter for the homeless and providing needed services for those in greatest need.”

Charlie was committed to preserving affordable housing in Arlington and co-founded AHC Inc. (Arlington Housing Corporation) in 1975.  He later co-founded A-HOME (Affordable Homeownership for Everyone), and BRAVO (Buyers and Renters Arlington Voice) to give low-income residents more housing choices and a public voice.  Charlie was instrumental in saving The Gates of Ballston from conversion to market rate housing in 2001, making it possible for AHC Inc. to purchase the property in 2002 and preserve it as affordable housing.

Lora shared Charlie’s passion for social change.  While raising her young family, she co-directed the Center for New Creation, a peace and justice center.  She began to focus on hunger and homelessness in the 1980s, handing out food to those in need from her front porch.  In 1991 she co-founded A-SPAN (Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network) and served as its first Executive Director until 2007.  During those years, she also created Arlington’s first emergency winter shelter for the homeless.

Attendees included community activists, local leaders and members of the Rinker family who described how important social justice was to Lora and Charlie. “Both my parents were very much role models,” said Jeremy Rinker. “They exemplified the philosophy that one person could make a real difference.”

Also on hand at the ceremony were County Board members Mary Hynes, Jay Fisette, Walter Tejada and Libby Garvey, along with state Sen. Barbara Favola and former Virginia Del. Karen Darner.

Many of the same attendees had gathered at the Gates of Ballston in December when Senator Favola presented the Rinkers with Joint Resolutions from the Virginia General Assembly for their “leadership and devotion to the community.”

Photo left to right: Walter D. Webdale, Matthew Rinker, Natalie Rose, Lora Rinker, Jeremy Rinker and State Sen. Barbara Favola.