Arlington’s pandemic-stressed safety net organizations received an infusion of funds from the Kiwanis Foundation of Arlington this month. The Foundation, the charitable arm of the Kiwanis Club of Arlington, distributed more than $50,000 to the Arlington Food Assistance Center, Arlington THRIVE, The Salvation Army, ASPIRE, Bridges to Independence, PRS Crisis Link, Doorways, Capital Caring, YMCA, Arlington 4-H, National Capital Treatment & Recovery, VHC Pediatrics and other non-profits serving children in the community.
“Kiwanis, according to its mission statement, is a global organization of volunteers dedicated to improving the world one child and one community at a time,” says Jason Harrington, president of the Kiwanis Club of Arlington. “Our Club has a 90-year history of supporting the youngest and the neediest among us.”
In previous years, grant checks were presented at Club meetings but, because it has been unable to hold in-person meetings during the pandemic, the Club sent funds directly to the grant recipients in 2020 and 2021. There have been virtual meetings, however, and in recent weeks, members have heard from Deborah Taylor, president & CEO of National Capital Training & Recovery, Tara Hoit, director of Capital Caring Kids, and Andrew Schneider, executive director of Arlington THRIVE, about the work they are doing to improve the lives of children in Arlington.
Young people dealing with addiction have been severely impacted by the pandemic. Speaking via Zoom to the Club in January, Taylor, a registered nurse specializing in chemical dependency, reported, “For nearly a year, individuals with substance abuse disorder have faced an epidemic of addiction within a pandemic. Substance abuse disorder is a disease of isolation.”
Children’s bereavement during the pandemic has taken on a whole new dimension as children have watched loved ones succumb to the virus. Capital Caring provides an annual children’s grief camp and family-centered bereavement events. “By supporting them along their grief journey, we are creating a pathway to healing and hope,” said Hoit.
As thousands of jobs were lost to the pandemic, Arlington THRIVE found that writing same-day checks for needy citizens was not enough. The organization, which provides emergency financial assistance to Arlington residents who experience sudden financial crisis, found that recipients needed help over a longer period of time. “The pandemic has lengthened the time period that assistance was needed as well as the types of assistance needed,” Schneider said. “Many of the people were working, but the pandemic closed many facilities where the people worked.”
Kiwanis Foundation funds are also helping meet the rising needs of hungry families, homeless families, victims of domestic abuse, and many others during this critical period. Captain Alvaro Porras of the Salvation Army writes, “Lots of families are coming to our doors seeking relief in this stressful situation. Your [Kiwanis] generosity is truly a great example of love, willingness, and caring, ready to help when people need it most.”
The Kiwanis Club of Arlington raises funds for their community grant programs through a variety of activities, most of which have been curtailed during the pandemic. However, they were able to conduct a successful blueberry sale last year following CDC guidelines for no-contact delivery and safe distancing, and plans are underway for the 2021 blueberry sale. This year, fresh blueberries will arrive the last week in June. Order online at www.arlingtonvakiwanis.com and help support Arlington’s kids.