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.

Community Lodgings and HomeAid Partner to Renovate Housing Units

         Alexandria, Va. – Sept. 19, 2017 – Formerly homeless families now have newly upgraded residences in the City of Alexandria, following the completion of renovations to a Community Lodgings multi-unit supportive housing property led by HomeAid Northern Virginia (HANV). An onsite “learning center” was also upgraded, enabling families to take advantage… Continue Reading

We’re breaking ground…

On May 9th, we officially held a groundbreaking for our property at 607 Notabene Drive! We are so excited to begin renovations to the building which will allow us to increase our supply of affordable housing by one additional unit. Renovations are expected to be completed by September and will result in six fully renovated… Continue Reading

Volunteers: the Question and Answer to Our Success

When you hear the word “volunteer,” what do you immediately think of?  Event organizers in neon shirts or running around with clipboards? Folks in aprons and hairnets ladling soup? People sitting at desks, stuffing envelopes and making cheerful-sounding phone calls? If any of these images sprang to your mind– among many, MANY more– you’d be right.… 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

Kids Explain “What Community Lodgings Means” to Them

“Community Lodgings is loving, safe, and super awesome.”  “This is truly something special because it’s only certain people dedicated to giving, and that’s Community Lodgings!” “I am thankful for the chance I was given to be a voice for my community and to tell others about Community Lodgings, its programs, and how it’s been a… Continue Reading

You Make a HUGE Difference!

You know that starfish story where a little boy tries to throw as many starfish as he can back into to ocean one morning before the sun shrivels them? Then when an old man points out to the young boy that he can’t possibly save all of the starfish, the boy throws another starfish into… Continue Reading

Top Ways to Give to Community Lodgings This Year

  Want to make a difference this Christmas? Here’s what you need to know: Support our Holiday Appeal. Contribute to our holiday fundraising campaign with an end of the year tax-deductible donation. Join our Open Doors Multi-Year Giving Society. Pledge as little as $83.33 per month for the next five years to give the “gift that… Continue Reading

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3912 Elbert Ave. Suite 108

Alexandria, VA 22305


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601 Four Mile Road

Alexandria, VA 22305


Fifer Family Learning Center

607 Notabene Drive

Alexandria, VA 22305


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