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Volunteer Alexandria: Breaks With Impact, Civic Engagement for Middle and High School Students

(Photos: Vol ALX)

By: Marion Brunken

Alexandria, VA – Did you know? Only one in five youth feels valued by adults in the community. The City’s Children and Youth Masterplan 2025 includes research and strategies to strengthen youth. Offering volunteer opportunities is one strategy to achieve this goal.

Breaks with Impact (BWI) is a program for youth focused on community engagement. Students in grades 6 through 12 learn about their community’s issues and how to do something about it. Participants will learn about social problems facing Alexandrians and how nonprofits address these issues, earning direct service and service-learning hours.

We use the PARE model, which offers a structured approach to high-quality service-learning experiences, which include the key components of Preparation, Action, Reflection, and Evaluation. This exposes students to new realities that open their eyes and challenge what they thought they knew. We want students to notice their discomfort, discuss it within a supportive community, and finally consider how they might live differently because of the experience.

Projects have included removing invasive species, exploring careers, packing groceries, cleaning up a local park, sorting donations, advocating for pedestrian safety, and learning about mental health. BWI is a chance for Participants to engage with nonprofits, city agencies, and people from all walks of life as they earn service hours and explore career paths.

Spring 2023 Information: Registration is OPEN for Spring Program Days.

Tuesday, April 4 – Human Services Day

Wednesday, April 5 – Environmental Day

Thursday, April 6 – Food Insecurity Day

Why is this important? Children and youth who engage in community service develop compassion as they learn the value of giving to others. They learn to appreciate what they have and to work with others. They learn how to be a valued member of their community. Growing up with a greater sense of social responsibility makes young people more likely to volunteer throughout their lives.

Dante, a past participant, enjoyed making packages for people who are struggling financially because many people are not getting paid. Another student, Lee, felt happy that she was helping out people in need. These are just two responses from students who learned about a need in our community and then had the opportunity to volunteer their time to give back.

Support civic engagement for young people and donate at

For more information on volunteering with Breaks With Impact, visit or email [email protected]. Support volunteerism and donate by visiting

Engagement Opportunities Available Now

Visit for the details

Exploring the Impact of Race on Recognizing and Eliminating Biased Behaviors and Practices Training for Volunteers and Volunteer Engagement Professionals – Data has shown that approximately 70% of volunteers are white. Those we serve are mainly Black and Brown because of racial injustice. These sessions will explore the social construct of race and how race plays a role in one’s implicit and explicit biases every day. When we can recognize and reflect on our biases as adults, we are better equipped to assess and address instances of bias (explicit or implicit) to ensure a supportive and inclusive learning environment.

FREE Health Fair on March 25 to help uninsured residents get basic health checkups and information about other available resources. Alexandria has a lot of uninsured residents. This fair will provide free screenings (vision, dental, mammograms), as well as provide groceries and other resources. Volunteers are needed throughout the day to assist vendors and visitors, translate into Spanish, and help with set-up and clean-up.

Assist Visitors at New DCHS Building – Greet and guide visitors at the new Department of Human & Community Services (DCHS) building as they enter and locate services. Orientation provided.

Work in the Preschool Classroom– The Child & Family Network Center seeks volunteers to engage children in games and activities.

Volunteer Drivers Needed – At Home in Alexandria is looking for drivers to take older adults to appointments, the grocery store, and social gatherings.

Tutor Students after school – Tutor elementary, middle, or high school students after school at Community Lodgings.

Mentor Students after school– Community Lodgings seeks people to mentor small groups of boys or girls, grades 7 – 12, and promote positive youth development.

Mentor Students focusing on careers – The ENDependence Center seeks people to mentor students with disabilities and help them prepare for workplace readiness.

ICYMI: Campagna Center Requesting Donations for Major Renovation


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