On Wednesday, October 2, 2019, the Dulles Expo Center doors opened at 10 a.m. and over the next several hours, 400 people poured in and began their Venture into Volunteering. They met with representatives of 94 organizations who offered a huge variety of opportunities to serve their community.
There were also opportunities to serve onsite. A group of retired school teachers from the Beta Delta chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma donated funds for food and then assembled 300 power packs for food-insecure school children. Sixty-nine people participated in the American Red Cross blood drive and others donated hearing aids and eyeglasses to the Lions Club.
This was the county's 16th Venture into Volunteering Fair. Conceived by Fairfax Area Agency on Aging's Volunteer Solutions as a one-stop-shop for volunteer recruitment, the idea caught on and generated multiple collaborations with local government agencies, the faith-based community, nonprofits and the business community over the years.
This year's sponsors included AARP, Chesterbrook Residences, and the Dulles Expo Center.
Check out Channel 16's coverage of the event.
Volunteer Solutions is deeply grateful to the following volunteers who devoted decades of their lives to serving Fairfax County older adults and adults with disabilities, and to the many others who do so as well! Your dedication to making a difference in your community is very much appreciated by those whom you help and by the Department of Family Services.
Dolly Gregory delivered meals for 40 years!
Bernadette Weston and Grace Battaglia will be retiring after nearly 25 years of delivering meals!
Please email Tanya.Erway@FairfaxCounty.gov if you (or another VS volunteer) will be retiring after 15+ years.
On Tuesday, September 10, 2019, another lucky group of Volunteer Solutions volunteers were fortunate to have been trained in Mental Health First Aid for Older Adults. Lori Naveda and Amy Smith of Fairfax County's Community Services Board (CSB) gave them valuable information and tips. The Mental Health First Aid training model was first created in Australia and is now being taught around the world. We are grateful to the CSB for providing this valuable service to our dedicated volunteers!
On Friday, June 28, 2019, Neighborhood and Community Services hosted a presentation on "Emergency Preparedness" at the Little River Glen Senior Center in Fairfax and helped celebrate a wonderful collaboration between multiple agencies. At the start of 2019, the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) and Fairfax County's Area Agency on Aging (AAA) partnered with a goal of assisting older adults and adults with disabilities to be prepared for any emergency or disaster. An impressive 1,000 kits were assembled for AAA clients and Senior Center participants during the 2019 Fairfax County Employee Field and Fitness Day! OEM and the Health Department are also providing emergency preparedness presentations while giving out the kits at various senior centers.
Thank you to all involved in this endeavor!
"Today is such a special day for me! My house is so beautiful now. Thank you SO much. I will remember you for my whole life." Those were the words of an extremely grateful older woman who fought back tears as she repeatedly conveyed the depth of her gratitude to the Helping Hands volunteers who cleaned her home this past May.
Volunteer Solutions' Helping Hands program was created to honor and highlight Older Americans' month by assisting older adults and adults with disabilities with home improvement projects to age in place safely and with dignity. These hard-working volunteers bring light and comfort to people, sometimes, quite literally by removing overgrown plants, as shown in the photo. Group projects ranged from cleaning and decluttering smaller, indoor spaces, to sprucing up outdoor spaces with debris removal, painting and much more.
Our Helping Hands projects would not have been successful without these invaluable partners: 1-800-Got-Junk, Paxton Companies, Nestle Water, Fairfax County's POD Team, RSVP, Parkwood Pounders, YMSLVO, Richard's Tree Service, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Fairfax City's Office of Public Works.
Thank you so much to all our volunteers for your time and dedication to improving the lives of others!
Points of Light describes National Volunteer Week (April 7-13, 2019) as, "an opportunity to celebrate the impact of volunteer service in our communities and the power of volunteers to be a force that transforms the world." Volunteer Solutions' volunteers are that force and to let them know how much they are cherished, we held a recognition luncheon in their honor on Tuesday, April 9 at the Country Club of Fairfax.
As volunteers entered, they were greeted with live music played by our treasured volunteer harpist, Chris Van Dyke. Attendees entered a door prize raffle, enjoyed getting to know each other with an ice breaker activity, and were provided a delicious lunch.
Several Star Volunteer and Partner Awards were presented:
Never underestimate acts of kindness. Volunteers do change the world and we recognize how valuable you all are! Thank you.
On Monday, April 8, 2019, Volunteer Solutions' staff members participated in the large-scale annual Positive Aging and Wellness Fair. Fair participants listened to the keynote speech, attended a multitude of interesting workshops, and walked around learning about positive aging from vendors. Volunteer Solutions' Director, Theresa Brown, moderated a workshop titled, "Looking for a Meaningful Volunteer Experience." To see more details and photos, check out the RSVP Northern Virginia blog.
Keynote speaker, Pat Collins from NBC 4, had an empowering message for his audience, "Seniors are still relevant. You know why? Because we have a lot of experience. We have a lot of wisdom. We have a lot of buying power."
Thank you to all who participated in making this year’s fair a successful one!
A large group of Volunteer Solutions' volunteers who routinely work with older adults and adults with disabilities, attended an invaluable training packed full of useful tips for helping a person in the midst of a mental health challenge. We are grateful to the talented staff at the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board (CSB) for training our dedicated volunteers in Mental Health First Aid for Older Adults. Our trainers, Alex Marshall and Chad Christian, excelled at explaining concepts and keeping our group actively engaged for 8 hours. We all learned so much utilizing the Mental Health First Aid USA platform.
The CSB offers a variety of trainings in Mental Health First Aid, suicide prevention, opioid overdose reversal and more. Visit this site for details: https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/community-services-board/training.
Several local businesses were kind enough to provide refreshments to keep our energy up throughout the day. A big “thank you” to: Ledo Pizza (Hybla Valley), Sherwood Gourmet, El Paso Mexican Restaurant, Giant, Safeway, Shoppers, Bestway Supermercado and Food Lion.
When you’re out there volunteering day-to-day in your communities, we hope you realize the real and lasting impact you’re making on the people’s lives you touch. On a broader scale, we collect data so that you can get a “snapshot” of what the Volunteer Solutions “family” does as a whole. The following 2018 statistics tell an impressive tale!
Did you know that we have nearly 4,000 registered Volunteer Solutions (VS) volunteers - 3,909, to be exact- and the active ones donated a total of 121,202 hours in Fiscal Year 2018? There was an increase of 396 volunteers last year. We are very appreciative when our volunteers tell their family and friends about VS and its many opportunities.
Here are the volunteer hours broken down by programs/tasks:
Adult Day Health Care Hours = 3,032
Adult & Aging Direct Client Service Hours= 34,260
Fairfax Pets on Wheels Hours = 4,626
Meals on Wheels Hours = 35,904
Senior Center Hours = 41,552
One-Time Events/Projects= 1,828
We know that the real value of what you all do cannot be fully measured and that your time and efforts are priceless. However, it was still fun to use the 2017 Virginia Average Hourly Value of Volunteer Time rate of $26.75 to calculate that the approximate value of our volunteers’ time was worth a whopping $3,242,153.50 in 2018. Thank you very much for all that you do and we look forward to more growth and enrichment in 2019!
Many grateful people are smiling more brightly and feeling cared about due to the efforts and contributions of these fabulous groups, organizations and stores! A BIG ‘thank you’ to all who helped us with another successful holiday project, including: St. John Neumann Catholic Church (Reston), The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints – Great Falls Ward, Weber's Pet Supermarket (Fairfax), Pet Supplies Plus (Falls Church-Tysons), the Fairfax County Animal Shelter (in Fairfax), Young Men’s Service League of Vienna-Oakton, Girl Scout Troops 1389, 1951, 5658, and many other generous donors! More than 300 older adults and adults with disabilities received gift cards, homemade cookies, pet treats/toys, emergency kits and more. Every donor, volunteer and social worker who was involved in this special endeavor played an important role in improving the lives of others.
We would like to thank Dan and Jenny Combs and Jo-Ann Duggan for coordinating an Interfaith Day to Serve between the Great Falls Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and St. John Neumann Catholic Church in Reston. On Saturday, October 27th, over 50 volunteers (of all ages!) joined together at St. John Neumann and worked side by side for the final assembly of the emergency preparedness kits. The bags include: a complete first aid kit, hygiene supplies, a hand crank radio, flash light with batteries, whistle, water, rain ponchos and an emergency blanket. This wonderful day of service and fellowship resulted in 250 assembled emergency kits that will be distributed by Fairfax County’s Division on Aging and Adult Services to older adults and adults with disabilities. The two congregations collected a large amount of donated supplies and also received generous financial donations for the kits. These kits will be very helpful during times of weather-related power outages and other possible emergency scenarios. A BIG "thank you" to all who were involved in this endeavor!
The Fairfax CarFit event was held at Mott Community Center on October 16. We are grateful to our newly trained and certified volunteers, E.C. Buckminster and Albert Elgamil for “paving the way” in this exciting new partnership between Volunteer Solutions and Neighborhood and Community Services! Several local community members and center participants brought their cars and received guidance on how to maximize their vehicles’ safety.
Volunteer CarFit technicians review a 12-point safety checklist, promote CarFit priorities and goals and work under the supervision/guidance of CarFit event coordinators. This program was created as a partnership between AARP, American Automobile Association and the Occupational Therapy Association. The next local CarFit event will be held in spring 2019. If you have questions, call 703-324-5600, TTY 711.
Thanks to the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board and two of their stellar trainers, Lori Naveda and Chad Christian, 29 of our volunteers are now certified in Mental Health First Aid for Older Adults. We sincerely appreciate everyone who gave up two Saturdays to learn (or teach!) these valuable skills. With more than 3,900 volunteers working with older adults throughout the Fairfax area, there is an overwhelming demand for this training. We plan to offer this course to our active volunteers again this spring. Explore all of the Community Services Board's available trainings here.
Our Meals on Wheels volunteers had a beautiful day for a lunch provided by the Cabot Creamery Co-operative’s Gratitude Grille! Thank you to Cabot’s dairy farmers for showing our volunteers such appreciation! And thank you, volunteers, for contributing so much to our community. Some of our Meals on Wheels volunteers have been assisting the program for nearly thirty years. We are grateful for each and every one of you for ensuring that isolated adults in our county receive healthy meals – in the last year, you helped 922 individuals. We at Volunteer Solutions would also like to thank RSVP Northern Virginia for your support and the Fairfax County Park Authority for providing us a pavilion at Mason District Park.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Anthony Antwi, an employee of Service Source, a nonprofit organization that supports individuals with disabilities and their families. Anthony is known by all for his smile and dedication. He and his team of participants deliver Meals on Wheels every Monday. He expressed how important it is to get “my guys” out into the community, daily. The participants look forward to delivering the meals every week. Not only do they take pride in the fact that they are helping others, the clients that are receiving the meals look forward to seeing them as well. Their smiles tell it all. His team volunteers in other capacities throughout the county as well, including providing meals to the homeless. Anthony has built close relationships with his participants and their families, describing them as being, “like family”.
Prior to working at Service Source, Anthony worked at the Northern Virginia Training Center for many years. He started there as a custodian. While working full time, he completed his education to become a Licensed Practical Nurse (L.P.N.) in 2006. On weekends, he works as a private LPN for a family that has two children with disabilities. When I asked Anthony what drew him to this work, he responded, “I like to help people. I want to help make them as independent as they can be. Every moment is a teaching moment.”
He has been encouraged to interview for management positions and is grateful for the confidence that others have in him. He explained that as a father of five he knows how important it is to have balance and he wants to be available to his wife and children in the evenings. There is no doubt Anthony Antwi is having an immeasurable impact on all of the lives he touches. Thank you, Anthony, for all you do for so many, with a smile!
A hearty “thank you” to all our volunteers who participated in the annual survey. We were pleased to see an increase in respondents and positive satisfaction rates. Here’s the breakdown:
We’ll have more stats to share with you in January. Thank you for taking the time to respond. It helps us to serve you and our clients better.
If you are 50+ and interested in volunteering but not sure where, this event is for you. Meet representatives from local volunteer organizations including the county’s Volunteer Solutions at the United Baptist Church, 7100 Columbia Pike, Annandale, 10 a.m. – Noon. No RSVP needed.
Questions? Email Volunteer Solutions.
On Monday, April 30, 2018, over 500 participants came out to the Jewish Council for the Aging (JCA)'s 50+ Employment Expo at the Fairfax Marriott at Fair Oaks. They were welcomed by Fairfax County Springfield District Supervisor, Pat Herrity. The former, popular Washington Post columnist, Bob Levey, was the dynamic keynote speaker.
Event participants met potential employers, learned about community resources, listened to workshop speakers, had their resumes reviewed, had their photos taken for Linked In, and more. Several community partners supported this venture (including Volunteer Solutions and RSVP-Northern Virginia).
This annual event is largely successful due to the invaluable support of large numbers of volunteers! Thank you to all who contributed to this endeavor.
Volunteer Solutions is grateful to all the volunteers, businesses and partners who helped make this year's Helping Hands Project a success! Thank you for helping our clients live in cleaner and safer environments. A huge thanks to the following: DLT Solutions, Fannie Mae, Nestlé Waters North America, Virginia International University, Parkwood Baptist Church, Young Men's Service League Vienna-Oakton Chapter, RSVP-Northern Virginia, Fairfax County Solid Waste Management, and the Fairfax County employees who participated.
We’re always excited when volunteers take on enormous projects with an eagerness to succeed – and you didn’t disappoint. On just one project, 50 volunteers (in shifts) filled THREE 30-foot dumpsters with debris! Incredible.
Through this endeavor, we created two new partnerships and engaged 139 volunteers, including 29 Fairfax County employees who used volunteer leave. All combined, these volunteers lent their “helping hands” for a total of 726 hours – which equates to $17,525.64 worth of work!
We can’t say “Thank you” enough to our 3,513 Volunteer Solutions volunteers who donated 124,530 hours valued at $3,357,328.80! Though we are enormously grateful to our volunteers and community partners all year long, we had a great time celebrating your service during National Volunteer Week at two enjoyable events.
We were pleased to welcome our Volunteer Solutions’ (VS) volunteers to our Volunteer Appreciation & Recognition Luncheon on Tuesday, April 17th at the Country Club of Fairfax. We celebrated your sweat and labor during Helping Hands, a program that enables older adults to live more comfortably and safely in their homes. We cheered on our Meals on Wheels volunteers who regularly give of their time to ensure more than 950 residents receive nutritious meals. We applauded our center volunteers who provide an enriching environment, our office volunteers who patiently provide helpful information, and those who assist our clients directly with a range of services from transportation to household tasks to respite care. We awarded one organization with the VS Partner Award and one volunteer from each of the four regions with the Star Volunteer Award. Congratulations to the following award winners!
MVLE is an internationally accredited agency which envisions a future with limitless opportunities for adults with disabilities. MVLE partners with 200 plus organizations to provide daily work opportunities and rehabilitation services to over 630 adults with disabilities.
MVLE’s partnership with VS began in 2007. Their participants and staff load and deliver multiple times per week for the Meals on Wheels (MOW) program. Their service supports multiple MOW routes located throughout the county. To date, MVLE has contributed over 2000 hours of service! Thank you to MVLE staff and participants!
Since Jona began with VS nearly 4 years ago, she has logged 140 hours and hundreds of miles delivering Meals on Wheels and providing medical transportation. Her consistent medical transportation efforts have enabled numerous clients to attend crucial appointments that they otherwise could not have kept. She is committed to serving older adults and is delighted to have the time and ability to make a difference. We treasure Jona’s efforts and appreciate her greatly!
In an average year, Dean serves approximately 200 hours with VS, or about 4 hours a week. Having volunteered with VS for 10 years, he has experience helping with a wide variety of tasks, including, but not limited to: community outreach, medical and general transportation, Meals on Wheels, grocery shopping, and social visiting. We greatly appreciate Dean’s thoroughness and how he does not hesitate to call a VS staff member if a well-check is needed. When Dean serves as an outreach volunteer, he is always willing to learn more about the work of VS, the Area Agency on Aging and Fairfax County Department of Family Services. Dean is willing to do whatever is needed for the client or situation, even when last minute needs arise. Thank you, Dean!
Nancy contributes her “free time, tirelessly,” as said by one of the clients Nancy serves. Nancy is currently serving four clients consistently with grocery shopping, errands, and medical transportation. She is also quick to assist with one-time opportunities. When a client goes into an assisted living facility, that is not the end of the relationship for Nancy. She will continue to visit the client while picking up new tasks. Nancy has been volunteering with VS since 2015 and easily gives 20+ hours per month of her time to our clients. They, and we, are grateful for the positivity and joy she brings to staff and clients.
Lance has been consistently volunteering for VS for 6 years, giving more than 1000 hours of his time to multiple clients. Primarily focused on nutrition and medical needs, Lance drives for Meals on Wheels, delivers Ensure, and provides medical and non-medical transportation to clients, assisting with a wide range of needs. He is extremely patient and accommodating to each person he serves and is willing to help out with urgent, last minute requests. We greatly appreciate Lance’s dedication to his community and are fortunate to have him on our team.
Stan Severance was publicly recognized by Mari de Leon (and Volunteer Solutions) for his 22 years of volunteering with the Virginia Insurance Counseling and Assistance Program (VICAP)! Not only does he spend hours on the phone or in person counseling people on Medicare and insurance issues, but he even has to take and pass a challenging State Certification exam, annually. Thank you very much, Stan, for giving so much of your time, imparting your invaluable knowledge and for your dedication to the residents of Fairfax County! We are very lucky to have you and your fellow VICAP volunteers.
If you thought the fun ended on Tuesday, think again! On Thursday, April 19th, Cabot Cheese treated Fairfax County volunteers to a delicious meal of macaroni and cheese with all the fixings. It was just the warmth we needed in our bellies to stave off the sudden chilly and windy weather. We appreciate Cabot’s generosity and the volunteers who came despite the unpredictable elements.
Nearly 300 attended and we learned a lot about areas in which Fairfax County volunteers make a difference: as emergency responders, in libraries, with Parks and Recreation, just to name a few. We enjoyed hearing your stories and appreciated hearing from Patricia Stevens, director, Office of Public Private Partnerships, who spoke on the importance of our partnerships throughout the county – and beyond – with organizations and citizens alike.
While at the picnic, we asked attendees how volunteering makes them feel. To see their response, click here.
This event was made possible through a combination of efforts from sponsors and partners throughout the county. Thank you to the following:
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