First Laudato Si Champion Award

Creation Care Ministry Recognizes George Getek for First Laudato Si Champion Award

George Getek was born in Alexandria, VA and spent much of his childhood in DC, graduating from Archbishop Carroll HS then working for Riggs Bank until he was drafted into the Army. The Army sent him to Germany where he served with the Military Police. Upon completing his military service in 1968, he returned to the DC area and resumed work at Riggs as a programmer in their IT department. This was in the early computer era when programs were written on coding sheets and transferred to punched cards. In effect, he was a pioneer in the computer industry!

During this time, George met his future wife Ellen. In 1974 they were married at St Mary’s in Alexandria, the church where he was baptized. They bought a house in Burke and joined Nativity, having to worship at Hunt Valley School (Holy Hunt) since the church had not yet been built. Their daughter Kathryn was born a few years later.

While working full time, George attended George Mason University at night, graduating in 1990: he then pursued master’s studies at Marymount. Deepening his involvement in parish life, he joined the Knights of Columbus in 1989 and became Grand Knight in 2008 at which time he began leading the annual parish yard sale, a role he has continued to this day.

He has always appreciated the beauty of nature, God’s handiwork and recognizes the need to care for creation so that the natural resources of the earth will be available for his grandchildren and for all future generations. He is also aware of Pope Francis encyclical issued in 2015, Laudato Si, On Care of Our Common Home. In this encyclical, the Pope laments environmental degradation that disproportionately affects the poor and he exhorts all peoples to “take swift and unified global action.” Acknowledging Pope Francis pleas, George is prompted in his personal practices: turning down the thermostat to save energy, using reusable bags at the grocery store, recycling as many items as possible and donating used but wearable clothing to charities that serve the needy.

His environmental commitment is most evident in his running of the annual yard sale. By it’s very nature, the sale allows parishioners to donate unused household items for re-use by others, giving them a second lifespan. During the course of accepting and processing the donations, care is taken to place all glass, metal and plastic products in the parish recycle bins for collection by the waste management company. Plastic bags are separated and returned to the collection bins at local grocery stores. Any clothes hangers that have not been sold are recycled: plastic ones to stores such as Walmart, metal to dry cleaners and wooden hangers to nearby motels. Likewise, items that remain after the sale are distributed where they will be best used. Vases and small baskets are donated to a local florist for their use; men’s clothing is taken to a local shelter.

For the past several years Nativity has partnered with Gracing Spaces, a ministry of a local Lutheran church that furnishes apartments that the county provides to formerly homeless individuals. Their truck arrives shortly after the sale, to take leftover items that will fulfill their mission: provide furniture, linens, kitchen and other household goods. Whatever items still remain, are taken to thrift stores that give Nativity a small reimbursement.

While much progress has been made in using best environmental practices in conducting the yard sale, George realizes that there is always more that can be done to fully live the message of Laudato Si. He agrees that more emphasis be placed on avoiding the use of Styrofoam cups or plates and recycling plastic bottles, soda cans and bottles at church events. Parish staff and parishioners alike must be more diligent in avoiding the contamination of recycle bins with garbage and trash, thus making them unrecyclable.

So, in view of his deep commitment to environmental responsibility, the Creation Care Ministry of Nativity Parish has selected George Getek for its first Laudato Si Champion Award.

Congratulations George on your ongoing commitment and service to Nativity parish and to the less fortunate in our community. George was recognized for this award by Father Bob at the 5:00 pm Mass on Saturday, February 8, 2020.

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