Arlington County is celebrating National Volunteer Week next week.
Running from April 6-12, National Volunteer Week aims to “celebrate the ordinary people who accomplish extraordinary things through service,” according to the Volunteer Arlington website.
Arlington County Board Chairman Jay Fisette signed an official proclamation deeming the week the time to “celebrate the invaluable work that volunteers perform every day, to commit themselves to do even more through the many volunteer programs in our community, and to continue strengthening Arlington through volunteer service.”
In his proclamation, Fisette also notes that “volunteer service is needed now more than ever to tackle the tough social, economic, cultural, and humanitarian needs of our residents.”
A county-produced video promoting the week, above, boasts that 32 percent of Arlington residents volunteer each year — performing tasks like leading summer camp activities, teaching U.S. history and civics in preparation for the citizenship exam, and educating residents about emergency preparedness. Arlington residents donate more than 500,000 volunteer hours to Arlington County government each year, the video says.
The Columbia Pike Branch Library is seeking a volunteer finger puppet craftsperson.
From the Volunteer Arlington listing:
If you enjoy working with your hands, consider creating finger puppets for children’s story time. They will be used for singing songs or saying nursery rhymes. Some favorites are “Jack & Jill”, “Little White Duck” and “This is the Beehive.” The puppets may be knitted, crocheted, cut out of felt, or drawn on paper.
The work place is of your choosing as our the hours.
We need someone who enjoys working with their hands and is dependable. Felt will be supplied. Those 18 years and older must consent to a background check.
Interested parties should contact volunteer coordinator Barbara Dean via phone (703-228-7688) or email.
There’s an immediate need for people to help this week with sorting and distributing donated coats, or next week with distributing donated children’s holiday gifts. In the coming months, people are asked to help out with tasks like income tax preparation.
Numerous opportunities can be found on the Volunteer Arlington website, such as the following:
- Children’s Gift Distribution — Volunteers have already sorted most of the donated children’s gifts for the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree holiday program, but help is needed for distributing the items. Distribution takes place next Wednesday, December 18. Volunteers must be at least 13 years old, and those between the ages of 13 and 16 must be accompanied by an adult. Contact Luisa Slay at 703-979-3380 or online.
- Coat Drive Distribution — Nauck Community Services Center has collected hundreds of coats and had them cleaned, and now volunteers are needed from 7:00-9:00 p.m. this Friday, December 13, to help sort the items. Volunteers are also needed from 8:00-10:00 a.m. this Saturday, November 14, to help neighbors in need pick out the perfect coat for themselves and family members. Contact Bri Sheffey at 703-229-5650 or online.
- Ship Bicycles to Africa — Bikes for the World is looking for people to help load hundreds of donated bikes and bike parts into 40 foot shipping containers. The items are used for health, education and jobs programs in Africa. Training will be provided. A number of dates are available over the next few months. Contact Yvette Hess at 703-740-7856 or online.
- Income Tax Assistance — Volunteers are requested by the DC EITC Campaign for helping people with income tax preparation early next year. A number of positions exist, including tax preparer, client coordinator, greeter and savings promoter. Training will take place in January and helpers must pass an IRS volunteer test. Shifts vary throughout the 2014 tax season. Contact Elizabeth Rosenberg at 202-547-7773 or online.
- Tutor Young Adults — Helpers are needed for assisting students in trying to earn their high school diplomas. Communities in Schools of Northern Virginia requests tutors to work on-site at a local high school to assist students with English, reading, science or math. A commitment of 2-10 hours per week is required. All tutors must be 18 or older and have a high school diploma. Volunteers must also complete a background check. Contact Daphne Charles at 703-228-8694 or online.
There are numerous opportunities for donating your time to a good cause around Arlington, including serving Thanksgiving meals.
In addition to those listed below, other volunteer opportunities throughout the county can be found on the Volunteer Arlington website.
- Thanksgiving Celebration Hosts — Helpers are needed from 11:30 a.m.-3:00 p.m. on Tuesday, November 26, for the Clarendon House Thanksgiving celebration. Volunteers will assist with tasks such as decorating, cleaning up and preparing or serving food. Clarendon House is a community-based rehabilitation program for adults diagnosed with serious mental illness. Volunteers must be at least 18 years of age and must show compassion and caring for, as well as comfort interacting with and learning from, adults with serious mental illness. Volunteers should have a positive attitude, be responsible, use good judgment and maintain strict client confidentiality. For more information or to sign up, contact Susan Stolpe via email or at 703-228-1760.
- Deliver and Serve Thanksgiving Dinners — The Knights of Columbus seeks people to help ensure all members of the community — particularly the needy, elderly and home-alone — can celebrate Thanksgiving with a hot meal. Volunteers are needed on Thursday, November 28, to serve and deliver meals for around 3,000 people. Volunteers should be flexible and willing to help out where needed. Those who volunteer as deliverers should have their own vehicle to transport meals. Contact Mary Jo Galvin by email or by calling 703-532-8498.
- Food Drive Hosts — The Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC) seeks residents in condo and apartment buildings to host holiday food drives. The volunteers would coordinate with building management to host a food drive in November and/or December to benefit AFAC. Volunteers would be provided with food collection bins and fliers that can be posted around the building. Those interested in helping should contact Danielle Rampton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Jefferson (900 N. Taylor Street) senior independent living community is looking for people to help its residents feel beautiful. It’s seeking volunteers to help give manicures.
The Jefferson will provide all the necessary manicure supplies, volunteers just need to show up and help to do the residents’ nails. Volunteers of nearly any age are welcome, but those under age 16 must be accompanied by an adult. Anyone interested should contact Jocelyn Hunt at 703-741-7585 or via email.
There are numerous other volunteer opportunities available on Volunteer Arlington’s website, including those listed below:
- Turkey Trot Volunteers — Helpers are needed for Arlington’s 8th annual Turkey Trot race on Thursday, November 28. In addition to those who can assist with tasks like setup and water station attendants on the day of the race, volunteers are needed on Tuesday, November 26, and Wednesday, November 27, to register participants. No special training is necessary, but volunteers must be able to stand during the event, which will take place rain or shine. Any helpers under age 16 must be accompanied by an adult. Volunteers can register online or contact Mark Riley at 703-927-0328 for more information.
- Shelving at Westover Branch Library — Westover Branch Library needs people to help put returned materials in numerical order and prep the materials for re-shelving. Volunteers must be dependable and should enjoy working on detail oriented projects. Two-hour shifts are available on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Helpers who are 18 and older must consent to a background check. Anyone interested should contact Barbara Dean at 703-228-7688 or via email.
- Mentor Latino Youths — Helpers are needed for Edu-Futuro’s Emerging Leaders Program. The program assists youths who are contemplating attending college with applying for scholarships, submitting college applications and improving speaking/writing skills. Mentors will meet with their assigned students on six Saturday mornings this fall. Applications can be found online and are due on Wednesday, October 23. Applicants must undergo a background check and attend an orientation. For more information, call 703-228-2560 or email email@example.com.
There are a number of new volunteer opportunities available throughout Arlington, including several positions with an organization whose mission bring opera to the masses.
Opera NOVA, an all-volunteer non-profit organization, aims to make opera affordable and accessible to all residents of Northern Virginia. The group is currently seeking a Schools Coordinator for Children’s Opera. The volunteer will introduce Opera NOVA’s programs to schools, plan school outreach strategies and assist in creating marketing materials for schools and families. Those interested can apply or request more information online.
More volunteer opportunities throughout the area can be found on the Volunteer Arlington website. A few others are listed below.
- Read to Children — Volunteers are needed to read to children in homeless shelters and affordable housing complexes. The one hour reading sessions each month engage children in the books and hands-on activities. Volunteers must be at least 18 years old and will undergo a background check. For more information or to sign up, email or call Stephanie Berman at 703-528-8317, extension 10.
- Library Circulation Support — The Westover Library needs someone to help with the circulation of library materials. The helper will prepare items to be sent to other branches, search for lost items and unpack items received from other branches. Shifts are available on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Anyone interested should contact Barbara Dean via email or at 703-228-7688.
- Visual Arts Facilitator — A creative volunteer is wanted for developing and providing art instruction to groups at Parks and Recreation community centers. Volunteer must attend training for skill building, arrive in advance of the program to prepare materials and a sample of projects, and assist in preparation of art exhibition for participants’ work. The helper must be able to stand for three hours at a time and lift and/or carry material bins weighing up to 20 pounds. To sign up or learn more, contact Milada Weaver at 703-228-4730 or via email.
The library recently began lending American Girl dolls and the toys are getting a lot of play time. Volunteers are needed for upkeep of the dolls, including combing their hair, washing their clothes and replacing worn out parts. The position posting reads: “We need someone who enjoys working with dolls and their belongings and who is dependable.”
There would be a weekly commitment, but hours are flexible. Ideal candidates are teens or a parent/child team. Those 18 years and older must consent to a background check.
Interested volunteers should contact Barbara Dean at 703-228-7688 or put in a request online.
Below are a few other new volunteer opportunities around Arlington:
- Community Picnic Volunteers — The Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing is looking for helpers at a picnic it is hosting for residents at Columbia Grove on July 15. Volunteers would help with setup and cleanup, leading games for children, face painting, cooking and distributing food and drinks. The picnic is designed to help residents meet their neighbors and build a sense of community. The event runs from 3:30-7:30 p.m., but arrangements may be made for those who can’t stay the entire time. Anyone interested in helping should contact Liz McElwee at 703-851-3635 or send an online request.
- Angel Tree Family Registration — Although it’s summertime, the Salvation Army is already looking for people to help with its Angel Tree holiday gift program. The program identifies needy children and matches each one with a sponsor who will provide holiday gifts for the child. Volunteers will register needy families for the program and help make holiday wish lists. Helpers must be available on weekdays from September 16-October 11, but the schedule is flexible. Although volunteers who are available on a recurring basis are preferred, those who are only available on a one-time basis will also be considered. To sign up, call Brittney Drakeford at 202-756-2615 or send an online request.
- Spanish Academy Teacher Assistant — Volunteer teacher assistants are needed for Edu-Futuro’s Spanish Academy — a two week (August 12-23) summer immersion camp that provides cultural and academic enrichment and Spanish language skills to rising kindergarteners through fifth graders. Volunteers will perform tasks such as assisting with student registration, helping with classroom activities and watching over students during activities and recess breaks. Applicants should have Spanish language skills (verbal and written), experience working with children and must go through a background check. To sign up, contact Eneida Alcade at 703-228-2560 or send an online request.
Photo via Facebook
The Volunteers of America Residential Program Center at 1554 Columbia Pike is offering fitness classes to its residents and is looking for volunteers to help instruct.
The shelter is looking for qualified Zumba and yoga instructors. It describes the ideal candidates to teach Zumba as “fun, engaging and passionate,” and says all forms of yoga are welcome. The center writes in the volunteer announcements that it can be flexible with scheduling.
In addition to the fitness classes, the center is also hoping to start planting a garden in its backyard. It is looking for someone with gardening experience to work with the residents and teach them the finer points of starting a garden.
Those interested in applying should contact Volunteer Coordinator Joe Onyebuchi at 703-228-0017.
It’s that time of year when Sherlock Shad (pictured left) begins appearing more frequently in Arlington neighborhoods. But the county needs help attaching the storm drain markers bearing his likeness.
Arlington marks many of its more than 10,000 storm drains as a reminder that anything going into a drain heads directly to local streams that flow into the Potomac River. The river is the source of tap water for Arlington and much of the D.C. metro area.
Nothing should be dumped into storm drains, per Arlington County Code Section 26-5, which reads: “…it shall be unlawful for any person to discharge directly or indirectly into the storm sewer system or state waters, any substance likely, in the opinion of the County Manager, to have an adverse effect on the storm sewer system or state waters.”
Arlington partners with the neighboring jurisdictions of Fairfax County and Alexandria to all order the same style of markers. Ordering the markers in bulk helps each jurisdiction keep costs down. The costs vary each year based on how many markers need to be attached.
Arlington County Department of Environmental Services Stormwater Outreach Specialist Jen McDonnell said in addition to affixing the markers to currently unmarked drains, volunteers replace some markers that are damaged or have come loose from the pavement.
“Whether it’s snow removal or new construction, these markers do come off with time,” said McDonnell. “Not only are they [volunteers] affixing the markers, but they can tell me which streets need new markers or what is unmarked.”
The markers list different streams depending on which neighborhood they are placed in. Some of the waterways include Lubber Run, Four Mile Run, and Gulf Branch.
The glue used to attach the markers to the pavement does not work in cold, wet conditions. Therefore, the markers only can be applied on dry days during the late spring, summer and fall.
Nearly anyone can volunteer to help out, including adults, scout groups or middle school and high school students wishing to fulfill service hours. Volunteers receive all the materials necessary to attach the markers. Once finished with the task, volunteers report which drains they have marked so the locations can be entered into an electronic database.
“This project allows the citizens to be involved and clues them in to all the storm drains. It makes them think about if there are things in the street, where it all goes,” McDonnell said. “It’s a great, easy program that people can get out and do whenever they have time for it.”
Anyone who would like to volunteer to affix the markers in their neighborhood should contact Jen McDonnell at firstname.lastname@example.org or 703-228-3042. Residents can also contact her to report a storm drain in need of a new marker.
It’s that time of year again — kitten season. The Animal Welfare League of Arlington (AWLA) needs people willing to offer foster care for the young animals.
Because of the possibility the vulnerable animals may contract an illness, AWLA cannot keep kittens under the age of eight weeks in its shelter. Young kittens also cannot regulate their own body heat, eat on their own or go to the bathroom on their own. They must be fed every three to four hours and kept warm. AWLA does not have overnight staff, so it is seeking volunteers who can care for the animals around the clock until they are old enough to be adopted.
AWLA Foster Care Coordinator Sara Emery explained that cats can only go into heat a few times each year and only during warm weather, so March usually brings a spike in births. Kittens typically continue being born and brought to the shelter through November, depending on the weather. Twelve kittens have arrived at the shelter in the last week alone and Emery expects around 60 more throughout the summer.
Anyone can fill out an application to foster a kitten. AWLA staff will then interview candidates and examine the home environment to find a good animal-human fit. There is no cost to the person fostering a kitten; all supplies (including litter boxes and toys) are provided and will be replenished as necessary. The average time commitment is about three to four weeks, but will not be longer than eight weeks.
Those who provide foster care will have the opportunity to adopt the kitten at the end of its stay, or suggest someone who may be able to provide a permanent home.
Anyone interested in becoming a part of the kitten foster program should contact Sara Emery at 703-931-9241, extension 245, or by emailing email@example.com.
Volunteers are needed for a number of opportunities around Arlington, from helping with Spanish immersion classes to participating in a dance performance. More information about these opportunities and others can be found online.
- Edu-Futuro seeks teaching assistants for spring semester (January-May) Spanish immersion classes. The classes take place on Saturdays, and immerse children in Kindergarten through eighth grade in the Spanish language through games, songs, and art projects. Volunteers will assist teachers with projects, maintain a safe classroom environment and communicate with students and parents. Volunteers should have experience with children and must be fluent or advanced in speaking and writing Spanish. Call 703-228-2560 for more information or to sign up.
- Arlington Public Library needs assistance at a couple of its branches. Circulation support is needed at the Columbia Pike Branch, and includes duties such as checking in materials, sorting materials by call number, shelving items and preparing items to be shipped to another branch. Volunteers must be able to use a computer, should be detailed oriented and must be able to bend, stretch and stand for long periods of time. The Cherrydale branch needs someone who can take care of materials that must be sent back to other branches. Call Barbara Dean at 703-228-7688 to inquire about either opportunity.
- Jane Franklin Dance is looking for teenagers interested in being part of a children’s production. Interested performers will learn two dances for the production, which takes place on January 27, February 2 and April 13. Anyone age 12 or older may volunteer and will be asked to attend a few rehearsals. Participation in all three performances is not required, but is preferred. Contact Jane Franklin at 703-933-1111.
Members of the non-profit group Wreaths Across America coordinated efforts not just here, but at cemeteries across the country. The organization’s website states: “Fresh evergreens are a symbol used for centuries to recognize honor, and a living tribute renewed annually. To use plastic wreaths that are put in storage each year is exactly the kind of tradition we want to avoid – it makes for great photos but misses the point… We want people to see the tradition as a living memorial to veterans and their families, whom we remember amid the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. We believe that the sacrifices they made are more than worth the effort.”
The wreaths are currently on a solemn week-long journey from Maine to Arlington in what is sometimes referred to as “the world’s largest veterans’ parade.” The convoy stops at schools, monuments and veterans’ homes along the way as a reminder of the importance of remembering, honoring and teaching. Other trucks will head to participating cemeteries in all 50 states.
Donations can be made online through Thursday (December 13) for sponsoring wreaths to be laid on Saturday. A representative for the organization said “anyone and everyone is welcome” to show up on Saturday to assist with placing the wreaths. The convoy should arrive around 8:30 a.m. and volunteers are asked to arrive prior to the 9:30 a.m. opening ceremony and briefing. More information, a map and a schedule can be found online.
Last year, more than 15,000 volunteers spent nearly two hours placing around 90,000 wreaths. This year’s total of wreaths and volunteers is expected to exceed last year’s. The organization hopes to reach the 100,000 mark with wreaths this year.
From gift wrapping to assisting Santa, volunteers are needed to help with a number of upcoming holiday events. More information about the items listed below, as well as other volunteer opportunities, can be found online.
- The Holiday Project of the National Capital Area seeks volunteers for one-on-one visits with local nursing home residents on Christmas Day. Many of the residents will not have any other visitors during the holidays, so they consider this time a special treat. Children are welcome and pets are welcome with advance notice. For information or to sign up, contact Robin Wiley at 703-370-0370.
- Deliver gifts to local children with incarcerated parents as part of Offender Aid Restoration‘s annual Project Christmas Angel program. Volunteers pick up the gifts on Thursday, December 13 from 8:00-10:00 p.m. and deliver them from December 14 through December 23. Each child receives a gift with a personalized note from their parent. Volunteers must have a car and a valid driver’s license. A partner is suggested (though not required) because parking in some neighborhoods can be a challenge. Contact Emily Freeman at 703-228-7031.
- The Civitan Club of Arlington needs help at the Photos with Santa booth at the Ballston Mall. Volunteers are needed from now through December 24 and must be at least 15-years-old. Helpers will perform various tasks including processing orders, taking photos, printing photos and directing people through the process. Contact Leandra Finder at 703-473-7245.
- The Reading Connection (TRC) seeks “Gift Wrap for Reading” volunteers for various shifts from December 8-24. Volunteers will gift wrap purchases at the Clarendon Barnes & Noble in return for donations to TRC. Contact Stephanie Berman at 703-528-8317 x10 or sign up online.
There are several interesting volunteer opportunities available around Arlington in the coming weeks. Among them:
Dogtober Day — The annual Dogtober Day event will be held at Lacey Woods Park (1200 N. George Mason Drive) on Saturday, October 6. Volunteers are needed from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. to set up and break down, register participants, hand out prizes and help with dog games. For more information, contact Hadyn Kihm at 703-228-4724.
Language Teachers – Native Arabic speakers are wanted to lead a conversation group at the Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street). The ideal candidates should be able to speak Arabic clearly and correctly, have an interest in meeting new people and be able to work both independently and as part of a team. Training will be provided. The sessions are tentatively scheduled for Saturdays from 11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m., but could be changed to accommodate the group leader. Anyone interested can fill out the volunteer application online. Questions can be directed to Barbara Dean at 703-228-7688.
For more information about these or other opportunities, visit the Volunteer Arlington website.
The main event is being called the “Hunger Challenge,” during which residents are asked to try feeding themselves on $4.03 per day. That’s the amount of assistance the average Arlington resident would receive from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Participants are asked to try the challenge all month, for a week or even just a day, in an effort to understand the difficulty some of their neighbors have with feeding themselves and their families.
“If you struggle to eat well on $28.21 per week, you’ll understand how glad AFAC clients are to be able to fill the gap in their food budget with the milk, eggs, produce, meat and other items distributed by AFAC,” said Charles Meng, AFAC’s Executive Director.
AFAC currently helps about 1,600 families per week, which continues its recent trend of serving an all-time high number of people. Mona Bormet, AFAC Outreach and Research Manager, noted that it’s difficult and often embarrassing for people to receive assistance, but they may not have other options.
“They don’t really want to come here for help, they come here because they need to,” Bormet said. “Most people would rather be able to take care of themselves and their families on their own.”
AFAC is also offering the following volunteer opportunities to help fight hunger throughout September:
- Help collect food donations at local Safeway stores from September 8-11.
- Help pick fresh produce from area farms and gardens that will be used for food donations, on September 8, 15, 22 and 29.
- Eat at Pete’s Apizza (3017 Clarendon Blvd) on Monday, September 17, from 11:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m. and 25 percent of the proceeds will be donated to AFAC.
- Attend movie night at Arlington Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street) on Wednesday, September 19th, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Join AFAC and filmmaker Cintia Cabib in the main auditorium for a screening of “A Community of Gardeners.” The film highlights D.C. community gardens and their vital role.
- Join AFAC’s Young Professionals on Thursday, September 20, from 6:00-9:00 p.m. at Whitlow’s on Wilson (2854 Wilson Blvd) for Mug Night.
- Try the California Dreaming Wine Tasting at Screwtop Wine Bar & Cheese Shop (1025 N. Fillmore Street) on Monday, September 24, from 6:00-8:00 p.m. All of the proceeds will be donated to AFAC. The event is limited to 45 people, and costs $15.99 to sample 10 wines and cheeses.
Anyone interested can get involved with these and other AFAC volunteer opportunities by signing up online.