Books Program Exposes Kids to the Joy of Literacy

Some people take a fitness class before heading to work. Others jog a mile or two. Jennifer Kenealy, 45, gets her morning workout by hauling boxes of children’s books to schools, recreation centers, youth-focused nonprofit organizations and other sites. These are spots where children of low-income families congregate as part of Alexandria Book Shelf (ABS), a citywide literacy program run by the uber-creative DreamDog Foundation. It is 8 a.m. on a humid, 90-plus-degree morning as Kenealy and I meet in …

Join the 9/11 Celebration of Service and Help Lift Up Neighbors in Need

Washington is a city of monuments, but it’s also a city of neighborhoods, each with its own distinctive style. Those of us who live and work in the D.C. area often take these emblems of our heritage for granted. We barely even see them as we go about our busy daily lives. I remember, after the Sept. 11 attacks 14 years ago, looking at our nation’s monuments with renewed appreciation, even with a sense of protectiveness. And when I moved …

Lights, Action … Volunteer at a Community Theater

Men in tuxedos and women in sparkly jackets mingle in the Green Room of the Little Theater of Alexandria (LTA) in Virginia. A pianist in the far corner plays show tunes on a baby grand piano while a small group sings “Hello, Dolly.” Other guests sip wine and nibble on artistically presented hors d’oeuvres. It’s opening night! The show: In the Heights. Jayn Rife only ushers on opening night now at the LTA and other theaters. “It’s just fun,” she …

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 …