Impact Stories

Spring2ACTion is celebrating its 12-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.

Impact Stories

Casa Chirilagua



Imagine moving to a new country where you do not know how to speak the language and you’re starting 1st grade through a computer screen all by yourself in your home.
That’s how Lucia* began her first year of school after her family recently immigrated from Guatemala. As Kids Club Director, I see first-hand the many hurdles young children have to navigate when it comes to online learning. For Lucia, these challenges are greater since she doesn’t speak English.

There have been many students throughout the years, similar to Lucia, who have joined Kids Club with very little experience with the English language. With the help of Kids Club staff and volunteers, students would complete homework assignments and improve on their reading skills in person, making it easy for students to make progress on their English.

Due to safeguards against COVD-19, Lucia hasn’t had that same in-person experience with Kids Club. However, she has faced this school year with determination. Not once has she missed an online Kids Club tutoring session or online Family Room time. She has been very consistent with school and Kids Club attendance, despite the challenges she faces every day.

Lucia is very responsible; she knows what days and times she needs to log on for Kids Club by using her very own calendar. Most children her age require parental assistance getting logged on, but for Lucia, it’s her brother who helps her while their mother works. She also attended all the Kids Club in-person learning hubs we hosted for the first-grade students this fall where she received extra help from our attentive Casa team during her online school days.

I have been impressed by her confidence and how well she communicates with me and other Casa staff. She speaks up to let others know whenever she does not understand something or whenever she needs a translation.

You wouldn’t know how challenging this year has been for her because she’s full of joy and excitement anytime you see her. She lives close to me and makes sure to shout “Hi Miss Diana!!” whenever she sees me out and about in the community. She tells me how excited she is for Kids Club and how much she really likes it!

Lucia’s mom works a lot and is very thankful for Kids Club. During our first parent meeting, she shared about wanting to participate in the Parent Committee. She went on to say how amazed she is with Casa and what we’re doing with Kids Club, and was very appreciative. She said, “this is an amazing program that’s really helping our kids.”

Lately, I’ve noticed the reward Lucia’s hard work and determination have produced. She has picked up a lot of English and can understand so many words and phrases. I look forward to the day we will be able to have conversations in English, which, with her eagerness and intelligence, will be very soon.

Whether it’s online, on the street or at the community center, we’re cheering on Lucia and every child we have the privilege of knowing and working with at Kids Club as we enter a new year!

– Diana Segovia, Elementary Programs Director

The Alexandria Singers



The Alexandria Singers bring artistry, education, and service to the City of Alexandria and the greater metro area through the unique choral genre of pops! As an education organization, we not only perform popular music, show tunes, and well-known traditional choral works, we also aspire to teach the many physical and mental health benefits of group choral singing within our membership and patrons communities. Spring2ACTion has historically been our largest and most important individual donor fundraiser, helping us fund our educational initiatives, community singing workshops, and musical programming. The pandemic has required us to radically rethink how we perform and deliver our mission in a time when singing has become a super spreading event. With the support of the 2020 Spring2ACTion campaign, the Alexandria Singers were able to pivot operations online, master new technical and production skills, develop virtual choir pieces with individual home recordings, and deliver full online productions. In a time when many choral groups shuttered, we continue to keep the art of pop choral music alive thanks to ACT for Alexandria and Spring2ACTion. We are so grateful to this community of donors for raising us up during this challenging time.

Upcycle Creative Reuse Center



"Spring2ACTion was vital in helping us overcome the challenges we faced due to the pandemic! In addition to having to cancel all art-making programming, we had to close the UpCycle Shop for three months.
Because of the generosity of Spring2ACTion donors in 2020, we were able to reopen the UpCycle Shop in the Durant Center once safety restrictions were relaxed and pay our shop and donation employees. This enabled us to pivot away from programming and events (our main focus pre-pandemic) to our shop as our main area of service to the greater Alexandria community.
Spring2Action donors also enabled us to do virtual programming and pay shop employees to create materials kits for creative art projects available via curbside pickup. We were also able to create mask-making kits and provide them for free to the community."


Jane Franklin Dance celebrates movement and makes dance accessible to a wide range of audiences through performances, education, community engagement and collaborations with artists from other disciplines. We’ve been a staple in the Northern Virginia and Greater DC arts community since the company was founded by Artistic Director, Jane Franklin, in 1997. Through JFD’s programs, audiences, students, and professionals of diverse backgrounds find a safe, inclusive space where they can share learning, engage in creative collaboration, and stage accessible yet complex art-making.

Support from previous Spring2ACTion campaigns has helped us sustain our after-school movement classes with ACPS LINK Club partner schools, as well as serve older adults with in-person and virtual movement workshops at St. Martin de Porres Senior Center and for Alexandria Senior Services. We enjoy a strong partnership with the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Association at the Athenaeum, located in Old Town Alexandria, to broadcast free live performances during a time when in-person viewing is not yet safe. We look forward to deepening ties in the Alexandria community and participating in Spring2ACTion once again this year!

Computer CORE


 

Getting Free Computers to CORE Students

CORE’s 2020 Spring2ACTion campaign focused on the imperative to get computers into the hands of our students as soon as possible after all our in-person classes were paused over a year ago on March 13, 2020 due to the pandemic. Spring2ACTion’s annual online giving campaign allowed us to quickly pivot to this all-important objective. Funds were used to purchase refurbished computers until we re-established a steady stream of donated computers to be refurbished. We met students one by one in the parking lot outside our office and handed them free laptops they could keep – for the purpose of accessing online learning and a variety of pandemic related social supports, such as telehealth. Over 350 computers have been given to our low-income adult students since March 2020.

Carpenter's Shelter



Carpenter’s Shelter has historically relied on Spring2ACTion as our sole fundraiser for David’s Place. David’s Place is operated by Carpenter’s and serves as the only day shelter in the City of Alexandria, allowing chronically homeless individuals a safe place to shower, do laundry, access a free medical clinic, and have a physical mailing address. In 2020, we placed our focus on general fundraising, as we adapted to an ever-changing landscape without lapses in our service to the community. We were overwhelmed by the generosity of our community and exceeded our goal of raising $40,000! These funds went to supporting our emergency residential shelter, providing shelter for families and individuals, and keeping our residents safe throughout 2020, even as we transitioned into our new, purpose-built shelter. Through our fundraising efforts, we have been able to provide services to those in need 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. We are so thankful to be a part of such a generous community, ones who are willing to extend a helping hand to their homeless neighbors. Thank you to Spring2ACTion and all of our supporters.

Local Motion Project



Local Motion Project’s mission is to bring people together in dynamic, collective movement experiences that effect personal growth and social change. LMP is dedicated to the belief that all people benefit from moving their bodies and having the opportunity to partake in creative experiences.

Spring2ACTion donors allow LMP to actively pursue a future for dance education that includes students diverse in race, gender, age, body type, intellectual/developmental ability, and other aspects of identity, who are confident, collaborative, creative thinkers and engaged citizens in their communities and the world.

The support received through Spring2ACTion allows us to sustain programming that welcomes people to dance at all ages and stages of life.

"Before the pandemic, I remember wishing that I had learned something else as a kid - maybe sports, music, or visual arts - something that I could continue to pursue as a creative outlet alongside my job. I had researched the dance community in the DMV area, but didn't feel like I could succeed in most of these spaces with my non-ballet background and not-so-perfect flexibility. Local Motion Project has helped me reconnect with my passion for dance and expression through movement. Their focus on mindfulness and creative exploration brings me joy - I feel like an artist again and am excited to continue investigating movement in my ever-changing body." -Shruti Carr, current LMP student and work-study intern

Space of Her Own


 

The Covid-19 pandemic launched Space of Her Own, Inc. into a new and scary place. We are a mentoring organization for vulnerable girls in grades 5-8, and suddenly had to put a stop to all in-person programming. Our staff started working from home and developed virtual group meetings and classes, but we quickly learned from our girls that many of them and their families were suffering mightily due to job losses and health issues. We decided to redirect a great deal of the year’s funding toward emergency support for our girls’ families just as Spring2ACTion was getting underway, and we weren’t sure how donors would respond to this shift. The support showed during the campaign was nothing short of overwhelming! Thanks to Spring2ACTion and the generosity of donors, we were able to deliver family meals, Target gift cards and essential household items along with art and science project supplies for our virtual afterschool programming.

Through this challenging time, we have managed to develop an effective approach to virtual programming, strengthen our organization and community partnerships, and continue to offer essential aid to SOHO families. Thank you to Spring2ACTion and SOHO donors for helping us make the most of this year.

Alexandria Families for Safe Streets



As a small non-profit that is fully volunteer run, Alexandria Families for Safe Streets relies on Spring2ACTion as our main fundraiser for the year. In 2020 we wanted to be respectful and encourage donors to only give if they were able and donate to COVID-related causes first. We were overwhelmed with the generosity of our community however when we exceeded our goal of raising $2,500. With those funds we were able to purchase and distribute over 1,050 three-way blinking lights to community organizations such as ALIVE!, Casa Chirilagua, Carpenter's Shelter, Senior Services of Alexandria, West End Food Pantry, St Joseph Church and more. This helps pedestrians be visible at night and during the dark days of winter when car crashes are more common. We also completed a volunteer audit of crosswalks in Alexandria over 3 months in coordination with the City's Vision Zero program. Through our fundraising during Spring2ACTion we were able to continue our important work of making Alexandria's streets safe for all in our community. We are very grateful to ACT and our generous donors.

Alexandria Housing Development Corporation


 

During Spring2ACTion 2020, the Coronavirus pandemic had already started affecting many of the residents at all our Alexandria Housing Development Corporation properties. Residents started losing their jobs in March and had their places of employment closed without any severance pay or immediate assistance. Many of the children of our communities were out of school and daytime childcare became a concern for roughly 50% of our families. Since many of our residents had no form of income, they were unable to pay rent normally (in addition to other bills and essential items for their families), so the funding we received in 2020 was essential to helping keep residents’ balances down. With the assistance we were able to provide for rent assistance, residents were able to keep themselves sustained though the pandemic. For most of our residents 2020 and 2021 have been unpredictable and devastating, but with help from ACT for Alexandria and our Spring2ACTion donors, we have been able to keep all families effected by COVID-19 hardship, safe in their homes.

Center for Alexandria's Children


 

"On April 15, 2020, the Center for Alexandria’s Children had its’ most successful Spring2ACTion Campaign to date! In just 13 days, 142 donors gave over $46,000 to support Alexandria’s kids and their parents through our Learn and PlayGroup Program.

Previously in-person, over the last year we have hosted 5 ZOOM LPG’s each week, providing virtual LPG’s in real time via Zoom, provided access to pre-recorded YouTube videos of Learning Together activities and disseminated weekly text messages with parenting tips, as well as provided one-on-one support as needed. 88 children from the New Brookside, Brent Place and Chirilagua neighborhoods participate in our Learn & PlayGroups with their parents.

“Salvacion,” one of our participant mom calls it. “Because there’s nothing else to do.” “This is good because my little girl was jealous because my older girl had activities with their school.” “My daughter is so happy when she sees the videos and sees Ms. Aida singing the same songs because she misses the PlayGroups a lot.”

For those families who have been unable to join us during our live online playgroup, they have been able to access our recorded lessons on YouTube. And we can see that we average about 10 views a week for the English and Spanish videos, and as many as 20 during some weeks. One parent has said: “I apologize we haven’t been at playgroup. It’s hard with me managing all three kids since my husband is back in the office and traveling a lot for work. I just wanted to let you know we watch the videos sent to us and we really appreciate it even though we can’t make it on Thursdays. Thank you guys for all you do we really appreciate it.”

2021 will mark our 11th year of participating in Spring2ACTion and each year we outperform our results from previous years. Every dollar that we raised in the past year thru Spring2ACTion has enabled us to keep our Learn & PlayGroups going for the 88 Alexandria children and their parents that we reach each week."

Neighborhood Health


 

Thanks to Spring2ACTion 2021 and the support of so many generous donors, we raised critical funding for Neighborhood Health’s prenatal program. As the COVID-19 pandemic continued throughout 2021, we provided critical primary health care to over 32,000 patients throughout Northern Virginia, including more than 850 pregnant women served by our prenatal program, which is located at the Casey Health Center in Alexandria.

More than 300 of our pregnant patients in 2021 were uninsured, and we’d like to give a little background on one patient, called “Maricela,” to demonstrate how Spring2ACTion supported our team in her care. Maricela is originally from South America and was excited to be expecting her first child. She transferred her care to Neighborhood Health’s prenatal program when she was 21 weeks pregnant because she had lost her health insurance; she was worried that she was not going to be able to receive high-quality care without that insurance coverage. Our team immediately sprang into action and Maricela was assisted by one of our Medicaid Enrollers to apply to help cover her pregnancy-related medical costs. Before her Medicaid application was approved, Maricela was able to receive all the services she needed at Neighborhood Health at no cost to her. She took advantage of nutrition counseling from our dietician to ensure healthy eating habits; she also was assessed for perinatal depression and accepted counseling to learn techniques to regulate mood swings brought on by pregnancy. Neighborhood Health even supported her with accessing physical therapy for pregnancy-related pain from a community partner by helping her to complete their charity application so that her therapies were affordable for her. Because her family’s income is very limited, Maricela received a free crib, baby sleeping supplies and onesies, as well as an infant car seat in the last month of her pregnancy – all items funded by generous donors. As a primary medical home, our providers take a woman’s entire health into account during pregnancy. While receiving prenatal care, Maricela was diagnosed with gallstones, and once she gave birth, the prenatal team transferred her care to a Neighborhood Health adult medicine provider who referred her for surgery. Her continuity of care was seamless.

The funds raised through Spring2ACTion 2021 supported this type of comprehensive prenatal care for 317 uninsured pregnant women last year..

Thanks to recent changes in Medicaid eligibility in Virginia, now all pregnant women living in the state who meet income criteria can receive Medicaid regardless of immigration status. This expansion, plus the generous contributions made through Spring2ACTion in 2021, are having a significant positive impact on the sustainability of our prenatal program.

"Many of our patients continued to experience significant pandemic-related challenges during 2021 but we are so grateful for the support from ACT for Alexandria and Spring2ACTion, which played a pivotal role in helping us provide patient-centered prenatal care while continuing to expand our maternal medical home services.” Certified Nurse Midwife Whitney Osborn, WHNP-BC Prenatal Clinical Team Lead, Neighborhood Health

The Spitfire Club


 

Spring2ACTion has been such a gift to us. As a small organization, Spring2ACTion gives our supporters a reason to rally around us, while also giving us a platform to tell our story and share our impact. Last year, alone, we were able to fund one third of our annual budget through Spring2ACTion.

Volunteer Alexandria



Inspire and mobilize people to volunteer for a stronger Alexandria community” is our mission. And Spring2ACTion 2021 helped us to do just that! Volunteer Alexandria has been able to continue to serve our community throughout another challenging year. The pandemic might have changed the way we interact with one another, but the need for volunteers was and is still there.

In 2021, the generosity of our donors enabled us to:

  • Distributed more than 1,000,000 meals feeding seniors, families, and ACPS students,
  • Engaged more than 80 students in service-learning and hands-on activities,
  • Trained 1,300 citizens in emergency preparedness,
  • Mobilized more than 14,000 Alexandrians as volunteers to help each other through tough times,
  • Shoveled snow and removed ice for over 30 homebound residents through our Snow Buddy Program,
  • Served over 90 households and 200 children, one month to three years old, and provided new books and educational toys, and much more.

We connect people to community causes every day, 365 days a year.

“I am honored to have the means to help others in need.” – Margaret Powell

Today, due to growing food insecurity, increasing emergency preparedness needs, and continuing economic and health-related repercussion from COVID, the need for services and volunteers continue to rise. And we are ready to serve!

Communities in Schools of Northern Virginia (CIS NOVA)



Steffan's Full Circle: From CIS NOVA Student to Site Coordinator

"I tell my kids all the time that I’m proud of them, that they’re capable, that just because things are hard now doesn’t mean they’ll be hard forever."

Steffan Barahona's senior year of college was quiet. The pandemic emptied out Washington College campus and classes were virtual, leaving him a lot of time to think about how he could most meaningfully apply his psychology degree after graduation. He kept coming back to a big reason he was graduating from college to begin with, his CIS NOVA site coordinator from high school, Amanda Gallardo.

Steffan met Amanda at a FAFSA assistance night where she was guiding families through the federal aid application process. And after that I was in her office like, twenty times a week. For the first time in my life I felt like someone was listening to me," he says.

Amanda's open door policy is something Steffan is replicating as a site coordinator specializing in re-engagement. “The number one thing I tell my students when I first meet them is that I am an alum of CIS, Steffan says. "I still live in the community, too, so I can really relate to what my students are experiencing."

Steffan case manages 25 students who are most at risk for dropping out after the extended period of virtual learning. If CIS NOVA is a safety net for at-risk students, Steffan is the safety net beneath the safety net; an extra layer of protection made necessary by the pandemic, which has caused some kids to fall behind.

Steffan describes his work as a site coordinator with two interesting verbs: Unraveling and reaffirming. "I'm unraveling years of students' negative self and academic perception. Then I'm reaffirming their abilities." The school environment, he notes, can be focused on what students can't do. But Steffan focuses on what students can do, "That’s what drives me in my job, I tell my kids all the time that I’m proud of them, that they’re capable, that just because things are hard now doesn’t mean they’ll be hard forever."

Thanks to ACT, Spring2ACTion and generous donors, CIS NOVA has grown in Alexandria, from serving students in one ACPS school - to four schools, including Alexandria City High School. We ensure that students have a caring adult, like Steffan, to turn to - and everything they need: basic needs, access to technology, healthcare and social emotional support so they can see a path to a bright future.

In schools, in the community - and everywhere in between, CIS NOVA is All In For Kids. Join Us!"

Safe Space NOVA



This will be our second time participating in Spring2ACTion and we are excited to get started! In our previous experience with Spring2ACTion, the funds that were raised helped us:

  • Develop recreational, educational, and wellness initiatives for LGBTQ+ youth
  • Collaborate with local organizations to support LGBTQ+ youth
  • Provide resources about suicide prevention, bullying, harassment, discrimination and violence against LGBTQ+ youth
  • Partner with advocacy organizations

Safe Space NOVA is dedicated to providing a safe, accepting, and supportive environment to combat social stigmas, bullying, and other challenges faced by LGBTQ+ youth. Our goal is to ensure that 14–18-year-old LGBTQ+ youth in the Northern Virginia area have access to an organization and activities that promote equality.

Heard



Last year was our first experience with Spring2ACTion and it was amazing! Our generous donors helped us offer a record-breaking 216 arts classes to people in need throughout Alexandria. As just a few examples, we brought creative writing to the girls of Space of Her Own, the residents of Friends of Guest House wrote and performed their original spoken word poetry, the kids at Casa Chirilagua created art projects during their Fun Friday afternoons, and residents of ALIVE! House learning improvisation. So many people benefit through Heard’s work. We support local artists who offer our classes, we bring creativity, life skills, and self-expression to people in need, and we help our nonprofit partners become more impactful.

Washington Metropolitan Philharmonic Association



Washington Metropolitan Philharmonic Association (WMPA) brings LIVING. BREATHING. MUSIC to the City of Alexandria and surrounding area. We are a diverse, semi-professional orchestra with paid principals and soloists that presents five programs in ten concerts each year, offering an intimate musical experience for all audiences. Now in our 50th anniversary season, Washington Metropolitan Philharmonic is especially known for championing American music, music by living composers, and music by women and BIPOC composers.

The COVID-19 pandemic required us to radically rethink how we maintain our connection with our community and beyond. With the support of the Spring2ACTion campaign, WMPA was able to pivot operations online, master new technical and production skills, and deliver over 50 full online concert productions. We believe it is important to continue WMPA’s online presence post-pandemic by offering free, monthly online concert premieres. Visit wmpamusic.org/onlineconcerts to enjoy them on demand.

Spring2ACTion is WMPA’s largest and most important individual donor fundraiser, helping us support the Philharmonic, our two Youth Orchestras for middle school and high school students, our summer chamber music series at the Alexandria History Museum at the Lyceum, and now, our Online Concerts series!

Funds raised from Spring2ACTion also helps support our outreach efforts, including our Outreach Tickets Program that provides free admission for those unable to purchase tickets to Philharmonic concerts. WMPA provides need-based tuition scholarships for our two Youth Orchestras. Tickets to Philharmonic concerts for Youth 18 & under are free, and we offer free tickets to Alexandria City High School musicians and their families.

Thanks to Spring2ACTion, WMPA continues to enrich lives with LIVING. BREATHING. MUSIC. We are so grateful to our community of supporters for making this possible!

Community Lodgings, Inc.


Mateo is not pictured


Meet Mateo (not his real name).

Mateo was born in the United States to Hondouran parents. He, his mom and his step dad came to Alexandria when Mateo was quite young. He has been part of Community Lodgings for a few years now.

Last September, the site coordinator for the New Brookside Learning Center, Ms. Mahiyat Murshed, was out supervising her students playing dodgeball. Mateo, age 11, approached Ms. Murshed and asked if he could be part of the afterschool program. Unfortunately, New Brookside was full and Mateo would be put on a waiting list. Fortunately, a space opened up within the month.

Mateo was having difficulty in school. His GPA for the first quarter of school was 1.42. However, after two full quarters in our program, his GPA has shot up to 2.93. We are so proud of Mateo.

Community Lodgings Youth Education Program is vital for children like Mateo. He loves learning and the volunteers love teaching him. He is passionate about science and when he gets older, would like to create something that would stop pollution. He also enjoys STEM, coding and cooking.

Today, Mateo is thriving.

Friends of Guest House



Helping Justice-Involved Women

Friends of Guest House has been a proud participant in Spring2ACTion every year—and a proud member of the Alexandria community since our founding here in 1974. Spring2ACTion 2021 raised record funds, exceeding our goal by 25%! That support has saved lives through the Guest House program to help nonviolent female ex-offenders travel the long, hard road from incarceration back into society. We also help women still behind bars. And their children benefit, too. This year, your donations went to:

  • Assistance to 200 reentering women and 240 children.
  • Programs for housing, employment, healthcare, education and family/community reconnection.
  • Job and life skills programs for incarcerated women.
  • Special programs from peer support to parenting, from employer partnerships to emergency food and shelter.
  • Results: The national re-offense rate without reentry help is 70%; in contrast, less than 15% of Guest House graduates re-offend.

Friends of Guest House is Virginia’s largest incarceration-to-community reentry program for women. And in Northern Virginia, we are the only residential program for reentering women. We have helped more than 4,000 justice-involved women since 1974.

Friendship Veterans Fire Engine Association


Before there was a United States, there was the Friendship Fire Company. Founded in 1774, the Company was created by the citizens of Alexandria to fight fires and serve the community. Friendship has provided continuous service to Alexandria for two and a half centuries and its contributions are visible today. Its members are no longer expected to rush into burning buildings, but they are involved in educational programing, philanthropy, and promotion of civic engagement. At present, Friendship is engaged in an effort to save the 19th century firefighting equipment showcased in the Friendship Fire House Museum at 107 South Alfred Street. Your contribution, which is tax deductible, will help with this restoration work.

Project Discovery of Alexandria



Spring2Action made a huge difference in the lives of our students. Project Discovery of Alexandria is a club within Alexandria City High School that helps first-generation, low income students 9th - 12th grade on the path to post-secondary education. It is supported by Alexandria City staff and an Advisory Board made up of community members whose efforts are to support the program through fundraising and mentorship. During COVID, Spring2Action and the grant offered by ACT allowed us to help our students in one of their toughest times. For the first time, we were able to provide students PPE, food, and -- most importantly -- technology support in the form of laptops for our seniors, wi-fi hotspots, and chargers. These things made a tremendous difference for the kids in the program and we wouldn't have been able to achieve this without Spring2Action and the galvanizing force for good it provided. We're grateful it gave us to opportunity to bring just a little joy to these kids.

Alexandria Seaport Foundation



Danielle came to the Seaport Foundation after three years of homelessness. She was hopeless, depressed and had experienced little success in her life. In her early days in the Apprentice Program, Danielle struggled with anger management resulting from childhood trauma and could often be found walking the park to settle her emotions before resuming work. Danielle pushed through many difficult days, living in a homeless shelter for a period of time and doing everything she could to make ends meet....but she never gave up. Danielle graduated from the Seaport Foundation's Apprentice Program and was hired as a boat builder at Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. She lives in a beautiful space and has formed a healthy community in St. Michael's, Maryland!