Nonprofits Help People ‘Begin the Journey to Healing’: Fairfax City Councilman Sang Yi donates salary to two groups

Because of his job and seniority level in the federal government, Fairfax City Councilmember Sang Yi is professionally prohibited from taking a salary for his Council services. So each year, he donates it to worthy organizations.

For FY 21, he’s giving $9,000 of his $12,000 stipend to SafeSpot Children’s Advocacy Center of Fairfax and $3,000 to Adaptive Fitness Legion (AFL). Both organizations are nonprofits in Fairfax City.

“SafeSpot helps sexually abused children,” said Yi. “And hopefully, we can break that cycle of abuse by providing them with the resources they need [to help the victims]. Most often, they get referrals from schools. I recently took a tour of the facility, and they’re doing really important work.”

AFL provides $1,500 scholarships to its affiliated gym, DPI Fitness, geared toward the physically disabled. “A few years ago, a friend of mine gave birth and, afterwards, lost the ability to walk,” said Yi. “Then, encouraged by her doctors, she found this gym with adaptive fitness trainers and equipment – such as treadmills for people in wheelchairs – and now, she’s starting to walk again. It’s amazing.”

SafeSpot Managing Director Heather O’Malley said the money would go directly to children who’ve experienced the tragedy of sexual or severe physical abuse. “One in 10 children will experience abuse before age 18,” she said. “Right here in our backyard, the child-abuse hotline for Fairfax City and County received over 7,000 reported allegations of child abuse last year.”

She said her organization works with various agencies, including Fairfax City police, to accomplish its mission via a public/private partnership. “We provide a safe, friendly location where children can tell their stories and feel heard and supported,” she explained. “We also provide crisis counseling, support and community referrals to the non-offending family members and caregivers so they can offer the best support to the child.”

AFL President Joanna Bonilla discussed her organization, saying its goal is to empower people of all abilities through adaptive fitness and training. “We help them continue their physical progress after their insurance [coverage for physical rehabilitation] runs out. With the donated money, we’ll be able to give scholarships to two people.”

“This gym gives them a place to better themselves, continue giving back to the community and keep moving forward with their own, functional abilities,” [says Devon Palermo, AFL’s founder].

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Sang Yi is a member of the U.S. Navy Reserve. Use of his military rank, job titles, and photographs in uniform does not imply endorsement by the Department of the Navy or the Department of Defense.