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 …

Join the Celebration of Service in Honor of 9/11

In the chaos that followed the Sept. 11 attacks 14 years ago, some things came into exquisite focus. We suddenly knew what really mattered — our loved ones, our country, our heroes and the huge loss we had all just suffered. We came together, bonded by an urge to counteract an unspeakable act of violence with countless acts of kindness. Every year since, on Sept. 11, millions of volunteers across America recapture that spirit of unity by exercising the healing …

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 Warm Atmosphere at a Hypothermia Shelter

Soft, melodic piano chords fill the sanctuary of the Church of St. Clement in Alexandria, Va., early one morning. I get up from my cot to investigate. A man is thoughtfully creating music on the church piano. He pauses between chords, listening, thinking. “That’s beautiful,” I tell him. “You must be a professional.” Yes, he was, the former hip-hop musician tells me. He continues, speaking softly, gesturing with his hands. “Creating music is like building with Legos. It’s all about building …