Summer Goodness: Donated Fresh Produce Delivered by Bike

Pearl Turner, 85, is excited on this clear, sunny, Saturday morning. Soon the lobby of the Annie B. Rose House, an apartment complex where she lives with residents who are older or have disabilities, will overflow with fresh kale, okra, bread, cantaloupe, berries and peaches, all donated by area farmers who sell produce at the Old Town Farmers’ Market in Alexandria, Va. Four blocks away at the market, Sara Rhoades, the city’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) coordinator, is already …

A Recipe for Success: Cookies and Second Chances

Mary Jane Ward is receiving a very special present on her 55th birthday — a graduation certificate from Together We Bake (TWB), a nonprofit that teaches life and culinary skills to women who need a second chance. Once homeless and despondent over her future, Ward is excited to see where her new skills in baking, food safety and customer service, along with her ServSafe certification, will take her. All 12 women who started  the eight-week course completed it, and about 75 …

Alpha Phi Alpha Developing Future Leaders

I had the honor this past weekend of attending the Alpha Phi Alpha Eastern Region Leadership Development Institute’s Ecumenical and Awards Program. The program is designed to equip young African American males, ages 15 to 19, with leadership skills. This year’s theme was “Leadership: Learning, Leading and Leveraging.” The program was on the campus of Howard University, in Washington, D.C. The young men, called ambassadors, one of whom was my cousin, were from Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. They participated …

Volunteering in a Garden Brings Friendship, Peace and Beauty

Ronnie Gardstein dons her gardening gloves and pulls her pruning shears out of her gardening bag. A beautiful and overgrown pendula, or weeping hornbeam, is in her sights. She sits in the middle of the U.S. National Arboretum’s Asian Collections, eager to begin her volunteer work on a beautiful spring morning. “It’s an honor,” says Gardstein, 64, as she snips a wayward branch, referring to the privilege of spending one morning a week at the Arboretum’s 446 acres of cultivated …

Showing Compassion Makes a Difference to the Homeless

The steps of the bank seems like a perfect place to sleep. Mark (not his real name) stretches across the concrete. His belongings, stuffed into a luggage cart and grocery bags, spill out around him. He snuggles under a blanket and adjusts his wool cap. The blanket, his fleece jacket, three sweaters and his long pants should keep him warm. Twenty feet away an electronic billboard displays the time and temperature: It is 1 p.m. and 80 degrees. Emily Powers, …

A Tutoring Adventure With AARP Experience Corps

Beth Dugan, 58, loved volunteering at her kids’ elementary school. Now that her kids are adults she wanted to help out in a classroom again. A friend pointed her to AARP Experience Corps, a program of the AARP Foundation that tutors and mentors more than 20,000 kids in disadvantaged schools in 23 cities across the country. Dugan liked the structure, the 25 hours of pre-service and ongoing training and especially the kids. “I have grown very fond of the children,” …