A volunteer from the Oct. 28 Clifton Haunted Trail in western Fairfax County
noticed local resident Kathy Jasien sweep out her barn Saturday for an upcoming charity event.
As he handed her $20, Jasien learned the generous donor heard through the grapevine how her annual barn sale helps a veterans hospital cause on the other side of the Potomac River. Jasien said he thanked her — and her partner-in-creativity, Liz Shaw of Burke — for collecting donations for the Fisher House Foundation of Rockville, Md.
The charity builds homes at military and veterans hospitals around the world, so families can have a free, temporary place to stay while they comfort their servicemen and women battling medical crises.
Jasien and Shaw are daughters of retired Marine and Navy officers, respectively. They are drawn to the art of junk, and use their knack for turning trash into treasure to serve other military families.
They aren't furniture restoration fairies who flick their magic wands. They are Southern gals who wave their paint brushes and transform discarded pieces of furniture into keepsakes for their family, friends and neighbors.
JASIEN AND SHAW spend their summers on reconnaissance missions for old
cabinets, tables, chairs and other curios they find at yard sales, flea markets, thrift stores and the side of the road. Online tool craigslist helps with their search.
The Jasien garage is their workshop, where they wield electric sanders and other woodcraft tools to restore diamonds in the rough into sparkling home accents they can sell in order to feed their healthy addiction to buy more junk and hone their skills for the sake of their art.
They formed a partnership — called Poppy — in a quaint town that once boasted a quirky antique store called Judy’s Junque in a pink house on Main Street. Jasien and Shaw joined forces with the daughter of an Army officer with the same hobby.
Clifton resident Sharon West owns A Painted House Vintage, through which she sells custom furniture designs. Some of her artwork is for sale this weekend in the Jasien barn.
West and her mother stayed at the Fisher House in Bethesda, Md., while her dad fought cancer at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Retired Army Lt. Col. Thomas Cato West — a test pilot and master aviator, who served in Korea and Vietnam — died May 31, 2016.
A couple of years ago, West collected cash and in-kind donations of toiletries for Fisher House guests. The Poppy crew decided cash is better to help staff provide their residents with basic needs.
All proceeds from a $10 admission to their Nov. 3 sneak preview benefit the Fisher House. Last year’s barn sale raised more than $600, Shaw said. Last week, a donor walked out of the woods, donated $20 then vanished into the Clifton Haunted Trail. It wasn’t the Bunnyman — just a community volunteer serving two projects at once.
The Poppy crew can beat last year's numbers if just 70 visitors show up Friday from 2:30-6 p.m.
Sightseers have their pick of four country roads — Clifton, Newman, Chapel and Henderson — that offer a scenic fall drive through Virginia horse country in far less time than it takes to get to the Blue Ridge Mountains. Barn sale customers should make this a day trip so they can stop through historic Clifton for lunch, dinner and more shopping excursions. Or drive up Kincheloe Road to sample the latest vintage at the Paradise Springs Winery around the corner on Yates Ford Road.
THE FALL CLIFTON BARN SALE also is held Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 7421 Dunquin Court in the Glencairn neighborhood — which is bursting with colorful autumn leaves as visitors meander up and down pretty Dunvegan Drive for nearly a mile until it ends at Dunquin Court. Turn right then drive beyond a cul-de-sac then down a steep pipestem. Make a right then immediate left into the Jasien driveway. Parking is in the yard by the barn.
Please drive like your kids live there and go slowly. Glencairn is south of town, where Main Street becomes Kincheloe Road. Old school navigational tools — like a map and compass — are useful. Modern technology is not and GPS may lead you down an unpaved road to nowhere along Popes Head Creek, which yields tricky maneuvering for Y-turns.
Visit the Fisher House Foundation online at www.fisherhouse.org for facts about their 70-plus houses in the United States and abroad. Call the Fisher House at 301-295-5334 for a list of items they need for guests at their five houses on the Walter Reed campus in Bethesda, Md.
See what the barn sale has to offer Friday and Saturday at www.facebook.com/poppysquare.