Spring2ACTion is celebrating its 13-year anniversary and highlighting stories about the impact of Alexandria’s Giving Day has had on our community. If you have a story to share, send in your story here.
The money raised through Spring2ACTion was used to offer after-school service-learning activities to over 80 middle and high school students in 2022.
Dante enjoyed making packages for people who are struggling financially because many people are not getting paid. Lee felt happy that she was helping out people in need.
These are two responses of students who learned about a need in our community and then had the opportunity to volunteer their time to give back.
Every Spring and Summer break, Volunteer Alexandria implements an alternative spring and summer break for middle and high school students. Participants engage with speakers, community leaders, and do a variety of service-learning projects across the City of Alexandria. 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.
Why is this important? Children and youth engaged in service, develop compassion as they learn the value of giving to others. They learn to appreciate what they have and learn to work with others. In addition, they learn how to be a valued member of their community. Growing up with a greater sense of social responsibility makes them more likely to volunteer throughout their lives.
Project Second Chance
Project Second Chance is an Alexandria-based nonprofit dedicated to rescuing, rehabilitating, and finding forever homes for homeless dogs in Puerto Rico and kill shelters across the US. PSC also focuses on special needs dogs with severe medical challenges. These rescues require substantial financial support to provide specialized care—support from S2A makes their rescue possible! PSC helped a very special dog named Bunny with S2A support. Bunny was abandoned at a vet clinic for euthanasia with only one front leg and an untreated spinal cord injury leaving her back legs paralyzed. Despite her injuries and severe neglect, Bunny had a zest for life and was pleading for a second chance. We could not say no. We flew her from Puerto Rico to Virginia for care. We never gave up on her even after neurologists told us there was nothing we could do. Instead, we turned to holistic care and physical rehab. She was given acupuncture, laser therapy, PT, time to heal, and tons of love. She fought for a better life and we never gave up on her. After just a few months, she showed us that she no longer needed her mobility cart and started running on all 3 legs! Bunny is just one success story, but a huge reminder to us that this is why we rescue! You can learn more about PSC at www.project-secondchance.org
Last year, the Alexandria PTA Council (PTAC) raised money to support our Equity Fund which allowed us to:
- Provide approximately $12,000 in direct budgetary support to three Title 1 PTA units that fell below a minimum student/dollar ratio established by PTAC's Executive Board
- Establish a grant program that subsidized PTA membership dues for two of our PTA units;
- Provide back to school/welcome breakfasts for staff at two of our Title I Schools;
- Provide grants for various programs among several of our Title I PTA units, including membership drives, movie nights, 8th grade promotion T-shirts, school T-shirts for new refugee families, and equipment to support a winter coat drive;
- Provide small end of year grants to all ACPS Title I PTA units, including ACHS:
- Host a Spring Fling at the John Adams Playground for all Beauregard Corridor families (Ramsay, FTD & John Adams) that featured enrichment activities, field day fun and community resource tables, including a Neighborhood Health COVID vaccination booth;
- Provide trainings for all PTA leaders on communications, leadership and Memberhub; and,
- Host a Safety & Security Forum at George Washington Middle School.
ENDependence Center of Northern Virginia (ECNV)
This will be our second time participating in Spring2ACTion and we are excited to be back. The funds that were raised in our previous experience with Spring2ACTion helped us to coach individuals within our multicultural families. Here is a testimonial from an individual:
"I have the opportunity to say a few words to you, Miss Fajardo. That day you answered my phone call, I was hopelessly walking with my physical pain and my heart was very heavy because I couldn’t find an answer to my questions. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for answering my call and making an appointment with me. Thank you for letting me know more about the ECNV program that you are a part of, I knew that there are professional people, leaders who work with heart who guide visitors to have confidence and hope with professionalism. Miss Fajardo, I sincerely appreciate the way you are guiding me and the time you took to make sure I feel comfortable and being bilingual gave me more comfort to express myself. I will continue advancing in my vocational rehabilitation by putting your advice into practice. Thank you for accepting to be my coach, it is a great impact on my life. I will remember your words when we say goodbye, Úrsula never turn off the light of your heart. Have faith we will work together to keep it lit and move forward! Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2023, to you Miss Fajardo and the ECNV Staff.”
This year, we hope to continue our efforts in providing support and advocacy to several individuals within the disability community.
The Miracle League of Alexandria
From Deb and Brian Riley: Our son, Tucker, has cognitive, visual and physical disabilities and he uses a wheelchair. He has been part of the Miracle League since its inception over ten years ago. We are so lucky to have this very special sports program as it is the only one available in Alexandria that Tucker is able to participate in. The rubberized field with flat bases makes it easy and safe to push his wheelchair around the bases. Tucker loves the clapping and cheering that happen at every game and he loves being around his teammates as they experience success. As a parent, it has been an incredible joy to see the participants grow to understand the game of baseball with many now able to hit pitched balls and run independently around the bases. The Miracle League has also had a profound impact on the many young volunteers who have come out to support the team as “Angels in the Outfield”. Their expressions during the game and comments afterwards show how meaningful this experience is to many in our community.
Alexandria City High School Orchestra Boosters
The Alexandria City High School Orchestra Boosters used funds from the 2022 S2A campaign to recover from the pandemic and return to in-person concerts and competitions.
One of Casa Chirilagua's second graders came in the last two hours of the day and donated her entire piggy bank to Casa Chirilagua. She saw the number all day apparently and then ran home to tell her mom that she had to give to Casa. It's one of the most beautiful gifts we've ever received. We still have the jar that we received the donation in..
William Ramsay PTA
The William Ramsay Elementary PTA is an integral part of supporting the hard-working students, families and teachers of the wonderful William Ramsay Elementary. And 2022’s Spring2ACTion allowed us to be there for our school community even when prices were rising and budgets were squeezed. As a Title I school on the West End of Alexandria, there is plenty of need for resources, events and activities to help our students and teachers thrive. The funds raised from Alexandria’s Giving Day not only helped us start the 2022-2023 school year right with a back-to-school popsicle event, but it allowed for the real possibility of providing school supplies, classroom resources, fun family engagement events, and funding for field trips. Thanks to community support and donations, the PTA has hosted or supported the following events:
- Family Movie Night
- Literacy Night
- Fun Fridays
- Teacher Appreciation
- Family Bingo Night
Local Motion Project
What has been years in the making, has finally come to fruition this year thanks to Spring2Action support and grants from Alexandria Office of the Arts and Virginia Arts Commission. Driven by our commitment to increasing equity, accessibility and inclusion in the dance field, we launched our pilot program for a no-cost year-long dance program at William Ramsay Recreation Center in the West End of Alexandria. This program removes financial and transportation barriers by providing access to students in their own neighborhoods and at no cost to their family and aims to provide long-term investment in the students.
Currently, we offer 3 weekly classes in hip hop, creative dance and ballet. This program has been nothing short of amazing. One of our students, Emily, always comes to class early and eager to learn. She is still learning English and recently grabbed the dance dice and was practicing counting in English with jumps around the circle. These classes provide so much more than just the physical benefits of a dance class. Students develop their ability to interact with others, communicate effectively, regulate emotions and behavior, solve problems, and increase self- confidence and feelings of being valued.
Students and parents have expressed how grateful they are for this program, even asking for added classes on the weekends. Over the course of the past 6 months, attendance has steadily increased. We have witnessed the confidence of students to create dances and ability to respond to dance improve steadily since we started in September. We are so grateful for the support from Spring2Action that allowed us to get this off the ground and are thrilled to continue to expand it and share our outcomes as we grow.
OAR is a community-based nonprofit organization that envisions a safe and thriving community where those impacted by the legal system enjoy equal civil and human rights. Through our Upstream work, we are confronting and dismantling individual racism and racism in the legal system and across all systems. Our Downstream work allows us to be on the journey with individuals of all genders returning from incarceration and their families. We also offer alternative sentencing options (including community service) and diversion programs so people can avoid the trauma of incarceration and instead help the community thrive.
Thanks to your S2A support, OAR was able to be on the journey with Allen*. Allen was released during the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic after serving a 20+ year sentence. OAR Collective members supported Allen throughout his reentry journey upon his release back into the community. OAR provided Allen with emergency service items, including clothing, food, metro and bus fare, helped him retrieve his identification documents and connected him to other resources in the area that would support him in his journey back into the community. We also provided Allen with a smartphone with minutes and data and a laptop which is necessary to survive in the world these days and also worked with him to learn to navigate the technology which was all new to him. Allen also enrolled in OAR’s virtual employment program where OAR Collective members and volunteers assisted him in resume building, interview skills, and job applications. Even with everything Allen had to deal with coming out of incarceration, he wanted to make sure he set aside time to stay connected with OAR and other participants during his reentry journey so he joined OAR’s Men’s Support Group. This support group, facilitated by OAR Collective members, is held weekly in a virtual setting where a group of OAR participants who have been recently released from incarceration gather to be in community be a support system for each other. Allen is so grateful for this group and is still a part of it today and remains a huge support system for others who are just starting their reentry journey.
Today, Allen has stable housing, a job he loves where he can support those in recovery and returning home from incarceration, and is celebrating many years of sobriety. OAR is so grateful we can continue to be on the journey with him thanks to the community’s support.
*OAR does not use the real names or pictures of any participants or their family members to protect their privacy in alignment with OAR’s Ethical Storytelling Policy.*"
Alexandria Choral Society
The funds raised through Spring2ACTion help us continue in our mission to enhance the cultural life of Alexandria through diverse and engaging vocal music programs. We do this through collaboration with other local arts organization, such as with the Virginia Chamber Orchestra this past winter; through our Sing-Off Grant Program, which provides targeted support and performance opportunities for student singers; by adding new work to the musical canon through commissioning local composers and composers from underrepresented communities; and by offering multiple programs free of charge and all others on a pay-what-you-can pricing model. We could not do this without the support of our Spring2ACTion donors year over year.
Washington Metropolitan Philharmonic Association
From Washington Metropolitan Philharmonic cellist Amy Medearis: I am extremely grateful and proud to have played the cello in the Washington Metropolitan Philharmonic for 25 years! I want to share with you what the orchestra means to me and how it has impacted my life. I’m not a musician by profession and have a demanding full-time job and a busy family life – but playing in the orchestra has been my creative outlet over these many years. It is something I do for myself, and at the same time it is my primary way of giving back to my community. I find it incredibly rewarding to play at rehearsals, to play at concerts, to play for everyone who comes to our concerts. I treasure the discovery of music, particularly new music, music by lesser-known composers, and the many female composers that we feature. And I love to share that discovery and the gift of music with the audience. I’ve known Music Director Ul James for 25 years and counting! Ul has put his heart and soul into building WMPA, and I am looking forward to celebrating Ul at the “farewell” concert he will conduct in May. I am also confident WMP’s next Director will carry on the tradition of the orchestra’s congeniality and strong community spirit. I hope very much that WMPA will continue to perform in our community for many years to come. Please think about our performing arts organization and how the presentation of live musical performances can make a difference in our community - to both the people in the orchestra and our audience - and remember to support us during Spring2ACTion this year on April 26.
Run Geek Run
RUN! GEEK! RUN! benefits a different Alexandria-based nonprofit each year. In 2019, the National Industries for the Blind was our beneficiary. Here is what they have to say about the impact we had on their organization...
The benefits to National Industries for the Blind (NIB) of being selected as the recipient of proceeds from the 2019 RUN! GEEK! RUN! event were beyond what we imagined. RUN! GEEK! RUN! not only helped advance our mission to enhance the personal and economic independence of people who are blind, it helped NIB establish a new employee engagement program.
Today, nearly 70% of working age Americans who are blind are not employed. Proceeds from RUN!
GEEK! RUN! went to NIB’s Business Leaders Program, which prepares people who are blind for careers in business by providing educational and employment opportunities through professional development. Since its inception in 2003, the Business Leaders Program has provided training to hundreds of people who are blind in everything from business fundamentals to developing critical business perspective and management abilities.
In addition, RUN! GEEK! RUN! played an important role in the formation of the NIB Road Runners, our employee-led running team launched in 2019. Thirty NIB employees participated in the race, the first event for the newly formed team, and more turned out to cheer the runners on. RUN! GEEK! RUN! not only supported a critical NIB training program that empowers people who are blind to build careers of their choosing, it helped establish a program that empowers our staff to not only pursue fitness goals, but also to give back to our community. Today, many NIB Road Runners continue to participate in the annual RUN! GEEK! RUN! event to benefit other Alexandria nonprofits.
Historic Alexandria Museums
Year after year, Spring2ACTion allows the community to support their city museums. Last year, we were able to expand our Hospital Exhibition because of the generous gifts from the City of Alexandria residents. Dollars allow us to keep museums open so that we can share the history of what made Alexandria what it is today. Additionally, it is a great way to promote our work and meet our colleagues across the city. You never know what future joint effort could come from the friendship and networking formed because of Spring2ACTion!
Fly Minds opens students up to endless opportunities in the city of Alexandria. The support generated by Spring2ACTion supported Fly Minds efforts to expose youth to STEM activities and career fields. Our impact comes to life when we revisit past members like Ibrahem Hayat. Ibrahem participated in many of our community robotics competitions over the years and his time with Fly Minds empowered him to continue studying the world of technology. The knowledge he gained led him to a scholarship from the private school St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes in Alexandria. Ibrahem shared some words based on his experience with Fly Minds, “I feel like I learned a lot of practical stuff from Fly Minds, like things I use today”, he said, “I think a lot of the things promoted and taught in Fly Minds have helped me get better with things I have to do now”. The foundational education embedded in our everyday programs assists our students more than we could imagine. Every volunteer opportunity, group learning experience, and after-school program impacts each child in unique ways. Our programs encourage students like Ibrahem to further their educational opportunities and explore new subjects. Today Ibrahem is thriving as he completes his high school education at St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes and prepares for college. He still participates in many extracurricular activities and is interested in exploring the world of Information Technology in the future. Fly Minds partners with families and youth in Alexandria’s by providing easily accessible summer and after-school programming, from building robots and drones to exploring the metaverse, our programs encourage students to reach their highest potential.
Athenaeum | Northern Virginia Fine Arts Association
Funds raised in 2022 Spring2ACTion were used to help us complete a much needed restoration project of repointing bricks in the Athenaeum's courtyard. We extend a big THANK YOU to all of our Spring2ACTion supporters - this work will keep our historic courtyard walls in great condition for many years to come
Thanks to Spring2ACTion 2022 and the support of so many generous donors, we raised critical funding to support Neighborhood Health providing primary health care for our uninsured patients and the Covid-19 vaccine outreach program. As the Covid-19 pandemic continued throughout 2022, we provided critical primary health care to over 34,600 patients throughout Northern Virginia, including over 11,000 City of Alexandria residents. To date we have administered over 88,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccine.
It Takes a Village: Provider and Support Team Patient Advocacy
Neighborhood Health Pediatrician Dr. Megan Prior was meeting a new 5-year-old patient who needed a school form for a Head Start program. Her Medical Assistant took vitals on the patient and suspected that the child could not see. The family had been in the U.S. for two years but because the child was uninsured and they could not afford a visit with an eye doctor, the family had accepted this disability. However, the Neighborhood Health care team sprang into action. While the boy was in the office, the team secured an appointment with an ophthalmologist and a Family Support worker assisted with the Financial Aid application for specialty care. The ophthalmologist referred the patient to specialists at Children's National Hospital. Neighborhood Health staff was able to arrange for the family to see all three specialists in one day and helped them navigate public transportation to get there. The child was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder and after ongoing treatments of rheumatologic medications, he can now see! At least six Neighborhood Health staff members ensured that this patient got the care – and future - that he deserves.
The funds raised through Spring2ACTion 2022 supported this type of comprehensive care we provide to all of our patients regardless of health insurance status.
"For twenty-five years, Neighborhood Health has provided health care to the most vulnerable and lowest income residents in our community. As we continue to expand access to care, we remain grateful for the support of our partners including ACT for Alexandria and Spring2ACTion. We couldn’t do this without you!” – Dr. Basim Khan, Executive Director, Neighborhood Health