Alexandra Minor needed a new challenge. The West Point graduate and Army veteran with two deployments to Iraq had served honorably for five years, completed her master’s degree in business administration from Yale University and worked for a major consulting firm to the federal government.
Carl Goldston is happy this Saturday morning. He is delivering food to Kuehner House, an affordable housing apartment complex for very-low-income seniors (age 60 and over) managed by the nonprofit SOME (So Others Might Eat) in Washington. It’s the holiday season, so there is extra excitement. And he gets to visit his three friends and former roommates, Greg, Fred and David.
Judith Haskins, 70, couldn’t wait for Monday. As a teacher at the Cora Kelly School for Math, Science and Technology in Alexandria, Va., she knew her first-grade students would burst into her classroom with excitement. That’s because over the weekend, the nearby Hume Springs Park was transformed from a worn-out playground into a vibrant, multigenerational open area, complete with benches, shade, an inviting playground and adult exercise equipment.
As a foreign service officer, George Frederick lived in the Middle East, Africa and other exotic places during his 25-year career. His job was to observe and report what he saw, sometimes several times a day, whether it was groundbreaking or mundane. “You see a lot,” he said.
There’s a special connection that comes with preparing meals for others too heartbroken to cook for themselves. Making those dinners with a group of volunteers brings an intimacy and humility that cannot be matched. And one of the best spots I know to do that is at the Ronald McDonald House in Falls Church, Va., a place that offers comfort, refuge and care for families whose children are battling life-threatening illnesses.
Lexi Jadoff, 31, is a driven, ambitious Washington, D.C., consultant with a unique way of de-stressing. She volunteers with The Reading Connection (TRC), a nonprofit that promotes reading for at-risk families. Jadoff is among the Read-Aloud volunteers who read each week with children at shelters and affordable apartment complexes.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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