Dave Borowski, director of the investments and capital markets division of Freddie Mac, attributes much of his success to just being an amiable guy: He says he never hesitates to introduce himself in a group of strangers. Striking up conversation quickly, says the Vienna resident, is a good way to get people to know him better and see beyond the scars on his face and body.

That's the same approach Borowski recommends to participants in the Flicker of Hope Foundation support group, an Alexandria-based nonprofit aimed at helping children and adults with burn injuries. Borowski, who was burned in a fire accident at 6 weeks old, founded the group last year.

Flicker of Hope, he says, helps participants overcome feelings of isolation that are common among burn survivors, many of whom are seriously disfigured and self-conscious with peers and strangers. Meetings are open to family and friends. The group also raises scholarships for burn survivors.

The group even affords members "a chance to talk about dating. It's hard for everybody," but especially for those who have sustained burn injuries, said Borowski. "But it will happen." He prides himself on being proof of that: "My wife is a pretty lady," he said.

Each year, 30,000 American children receive burns to 70 percent or more of their body, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Flicker of Hope's next meeting is Wednesday, Sept. 8, from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., at the American Red Cross, 123 N. Alfred St. in Alexandria. The group meets the second Wednesday of every month. To register or learn more, call 703-698-1626, e-mail info@flickerofhope.org or see www.flickerofhope.org.

-- Samantha Ganey