Category Archives: Volunteer Spotlight

Reflections on Gratitude, Service: Words from a Community Lodgings Volunteer

As the holiday season nears, many of us prepare for the traditions we’ve grown to love. Whether it be spending the entire day cooking with your family on Thanksgiving, decorating gingerbread houses with friends, or even just sharing stories around the fire on a chilly day–the season is filled with reasons to smile.

However, these holiday “normalities” are anything but normal for a sizable population of Alexandria. For those less fortunate, Thanksgiving and Christmas signal not a bounty of family, friends and food, but a stark reminder of loss and difficulties to overcome.

This presents a wonderful opportunity to weave into our traditions — volunteering.

Truth is, stepping away from the table, the fireplace, and our holiday comforts can be one of the best gifts we can give not only to others, but also to ourselves. It all begins with setting aside time to volunteer. From there, the possibilities in our city are endless. Helping provide needed food, supplies, and companionship is more rewarding than even  the most monumental portion of turkey and mashed potatoes.

Aiding another person or family to have the same chance for a joyful holiday embodies the concept of holiday cheer. What’s even better? Giving back elevates our own mood, and it has a ripple effect of encouraging others to do the same. At a time when it seems our differences often are being over-emphasized, let’s use this Thanksgiving as a time to remember the bonds that connect us all. We all, no matter who we are, need help at some time in our lives.

Thanksgiving is a holiday expressly devoted to expressing gratitude. There is no better way to show this thankfulness than to give someone else the opportunity to do the same.


About the author:  

Although I have only worked with Community Lodgings for a short time (since summertime), I feel so connected to this organization that is trying to bring about so much positive change to my community. Their dedication and passion is inspiring, and I encourage you all to come in and volunteer! — Jacqueline O.

BB&T Lighthouse Project: providing kids with emergency food in a time of need

Spring Break is meant to be a fun time for students to kick back and relax… but that’s hard to do when you don’t have enough to eat. For the families in our housing and education programs, Spring Break can be a challenge, because most of the kids in these programs normally receive free or reduced-price lunches… Continue Reading

From Ziplining to Graduation: A Mentor’s Perspective on the Girls’ Mentoring Program

By Stephanie Hemmert, Girls’ Mentor  A little over five years ago, I walked into an Alexandria City Volunteer Information Session knowing I wanted to help in some way and do something, but I wasn’t sure what.  I had participated in some literacy tutoring a few years before that, and was looking to get back to… Continue Reading

Girls Just Wanna Have Fu-un! 

Girls Just Wanna Have Fu-un! 

When our Girls’ Mentoring Group volunteer Holly Musurick (pictured center) began with us three years ago, we’ll bet she never expected a surprise bridal shower! Katherine, a mentee with the group says that Holly “is always positive and smiling.” Maybe that’s why her (lucky, in our opinion) fiancé popped the question! It was exciting for… Continue Reading

January Volunteer Spotlight – Jack Westcott

January Volunteer Spotlight – Jack Westcott

This month’s volunteer spotlight shines on Jack Westcott. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for the past 4 1/2 years, Mr. Jack has volunteered his time to work with our elementary students. Over the years, Mr. Jack has spent nearly 425 hours chaperoning summer field trips, helping our kids with their homework, and assisting staff with daily tasks to help our after school and… Continue Reading

Joyce Rawlins – A Living Legend

Joyce Rawlins – A Living Legend

Joyce Rawlins has volunteered with Community Lodgings’ Transitional Housing Program for over five years, teaching Parenting Education to our clients. Joyce has been a strong supporter for parents of low income and the underserved, and has given our transitioning mothers the tools they need to be better and more responsible parents to their children. Many… Continue Reading

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