has made a difference for young and old, women and minorities
Living Legend Mollie Abraham’s 50 years as an advocate have one common thread: she speaks for those who need a voice from youth through seniors. She speaks out against bigotry and intolerance wherever she finds it and encourages minorities and women of all ages to effect change by becoming involved in the political process.
Born in Baltimore in 1926, Mollie met her husband Mike on a blind date and they married in 1949. Shortly thereafter, they moved to Alexandria where he worked in the White Star Market, his family business on King Street. Mollie eventually worked the cash register. Soon afterwards, they took over and made a success of Tom’s Garden, (aka The Sportsman's Grill), a restaurant on lower King Street that catered to working class people. After they sold it, they undertook many family enterprises: restaurants, slaughterhouse, and markets including the Vienna Inn which Mollie and Mike owned and ran from 1960 to 2000.
Despite her busy work schedule, Mollie found time to serve the community. She began by chaperoning B'nai Brith youth at her synagogue Agudas Achim. She and Florence Price started the Valley Drive preschool at Agudas Achim when Mollie’s son, one of her three children, was small. She also became active with the PTA especially as an advocate for the integration of the Alexandria City Public Schools – “whatever it took,” she said. “I always spoke out for anything that benefited women and minorities of any sort, whether of race, gender or religion.”
Mollie helped start the Alexandria Chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW) in the mid-1970s and served as state coordinator of Virginia NOW in 1976-77. She remained active in both organizations for years. Mollie worked at Common Cause for almost 16 years. She was appointed to the Alexandria Commission for Women in 1994 and is the only person to serve three terms as chair. She advocated for equity in pay and benefits for women to prevent their impoverishment as they age and led the Commission in advocating for retirement benefits for part-time city employees. She represented the Women’s Commission on the Human Rights Commission and served on the Alexandria Youth Policy Commission. Under Mollie's leadership, the Commission supported the efforts of the Commission on Aging for inclusion in the City's Affirmative Action Plan and Utilization Analyses
Mollie's awareness of the increased risk of breast cancer for older women and the importance to survival of early detection led her to serve on the City Manager's Breast Cancer Awareness Committee. In this capacity, Mollie advocated for legislation to require that women diagnosed with breast cancer be provided adequate information to make treatment decisions. In 1994, this Committee initiated the annual Walk to Fight Breast Cancer to raise funds for mammography for women who cannot pay for them and for the education efforts about the importance of mammography, especially for women over 50. As a cancer survivor, Mollie is a strong supporter of this annual walk.