By Marion Brunken
Alexandria, VA – What a year! It started out great. Three hundred volunteers celebrated MLK Day of Service with us and in partnership with NoVa Community College. Then COVID-19 hit with an impact on every aspect of our lives. Everything changed. Communities of color were hit a lot harder than Whites, with infection and death rates out of proportion to their numbers. Many individuals and families lost jobs and struggled to keep their housing, feed their families, and stay safe.
Our community’s readiness to respond helped and continues to help those in need. Human services are critical to our survival as a community. Many agencies have increased services to address food insecurity, employment, physical and mental health, racial injustice, and housing. Volunteer Alexandria’s mission is to inspire and mobilize people to volunteer for a stronger Alexandria community. We activate people to help our nonprofit partners to serve those in need.
While COVID-19 limited the involvement of many volunteers, our community needed extra help for families who are most in need. Volunteer Alexandria quickly established protocols for anyone working with volunteers and thousands of people were able to safely volunteer.
In 2020, more than 4,500 new people registered to volunteer and some 10,000 people were connected to a volunteer opportunity. These volunteers donated over 15,000 hours of service, a value close to $430,000 in service to Alexandria. Hundreds of volunteers had ready-to-go status, able to jump in at the last minute to fill a need. Without volunteers, this community wouldn’t be where we are today.
· Over 50,000 masks were distributed to 52 agencies to keep people safe
· 40 volunteers sewed over 900 masks for children and adults
· Over 1,000,000 pounds of food were bagged and distributed
· More than 800,000 meals were distributed through the school system March-August
· Volunteers assisted residents by translating in Spanish, Amharic, Arabic, Farsi, and French to assist residents
· 9,800 loaves of bread distributed to the community
During the pandemic, we continued to offer projects for youth and families and even launched the youth-led ASCEND Alexandria program.
In late October, 11 families and 15 individuals participated in the annual Make a Difference Day. We couldn’t have done this without our donors, supporters, and volunteers. You made it happen and helped us help others. Thank you!
Visit www.VolunteerAlexandria.org to search for volunteer opportunities and to donate to support us.
What Volunteers Say About Volunteer Alexandria
After committing time and effort with a nonprofit through Volunteer Alexandria, volunteers are asked to evaluate their experiences. Most responses to the survey are anonymous, while other critiques include names:
“The show of joy and gratitude you received from those you are serving and the feeling that you were able to contribute to a worthwhile cause.”
“Meeting new, friendly people and being able to see the community that I am impacting.”
“We felt that for our first event, the cleanup went well. We are very excited for ASCENDs future! We have lots of ideas and believe that it will be a great way to engage the youth in Alexandria in environmental issues while also encouraging volunteerism.” Fatima & Ian, ASCEND Leaders.
“The opportunity to do something for our community that we were able to do from home and still felt like we made an impact.”
“My daughter enjoyed employing her artistic skills, spending time with a friend, and hopefully bringing joy to a senior this holiday season. I am glad to have opportunities in which young teens can participate and give back to the community.”
“Volunteer Alexandria is the easiest and most involved volunteer org I’ve ever been involved with. Everything is so clear and the group of volunteers I work with is great.”