Opinion: Commentary: 10 Years of Service, Worth $500,000

Opinion: Commentary: 10 Years of Service, Worth $500,000

“I hope that everyone will join me as we celebrate the 10th anniversary of Spring for Alexandria. It is fun and meaningful to be with friends, neighbors and local businesses in giving back to our community,” said Mayor Allison Silberberg. “This is a great opportunity to ‘spring forward’ and to help make a difference in our beloved city.”

2007 … Alexandria, the night when a group of four happy, committed and visionary community leaders, having a meal together, broached the idea of engaging residents city-wide in giving to the beautiful little city that sheltered them and kept them safe. It would take planning and communication, a good organizer and recruiter to gather volunteers to make it something worthwhile. Realizing they couldn't muster enough people at that late point, they sat off to plan for the following Spring. In fact, they even named their soon-to-be-born baby, "Spring for Alexandria" (SFA) — a celebration of giving of service in our community.

“Spring for Alexandria was the brainchild of a few of us who wanted to celebrate and coordinate efforts of giving back to nonprofits here in Alexandria,” said Allison Cryor DiNardo, one of the early organizers. “It was a bit ambitious, but launched in 2008 in partnership with ACT for Alexandria, Volunteer Alexandria, the city, the chamber, Rebuilding Together and Lemonaide. We wanted to promote and encourage our community’s enthusiasm for volunteering and local philanthropy.”

During the first great get together in 2008, 400 eager and willing volunteers arrived, spreading out to different sites across the city, performing necessary upkeep and repairs. Marine Captain Sam Moore, who took a day of leave as part of The American Legion Post 24 team, was heard to say, "I love being a part of this. I know how much I appreciated so many strangers volunteering to send packages when I was in Afghanistan — so this is one small way of giving back." Did I mention that in that same year, Spring2Action, a 24 hour online donation drive raised $320,000 for our local charities? Spectacular!

In 2013, our sixth year, the Alexandria Sheriff's Office's Helping Hands Team sprang into action cleaning the fields and woods behind a middle school, getting "down and dirty" to help keep the students safe.

Are you getting excited yet? Can you feel the spirit? Since its inception, the event continues to be steady. Last year, more than 600 people, who love the safety and friendly spirit of our town, arrived with work gloves, sun hats, pruning shears and happy hearts, to add their "two cents worth."

Commonwealth Attorney Bryan Porter said, ““Having a team of my employees volunteer for Volunteer Alexandria and city-supported events like Spring For Alexandria accomplishes a number of important goals: it builds a connection between my office and the Alexandria community, it provides my employees with a very real feeling of having accomplished something important for the community and, because while volunteering can be hard work, it is also really fun, and it therefore improves the morale of my employees. Volunteer Alexandria is an incredible organization and I truly appreciate what it does for the Alexandria community.”

Every year, in average of 600 volunteers contributing 2,200 hours, which resulted in more than $470,000 in nine years in economic impact. I am sure we will reach $500,000 worth of services this year.

Today, SFA is hosted by Volunteer Alexandria, in collaboration with the City of Alexandria, and includes the Annual Business Philanthropy Summit – Invest in our Community, a breakfast event that brings together approximately 220 businesses and nonprofit organizations to discuss community needs and celebrate local philanthropy on April 27 from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. at the George Washington Masonic Temple. David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool, will be the keynote speaker. A Community Service Day where hundreds of city and business employees and individuals volunteer their time helping nonprofit and city agencies on May 12 and a Service Day for youth and families on May 20. To be a helping hand, you only need to go online and sign up at http://2017springforalexandria.kintera.org. You'll be glad you did. It's good medicine for the soul. Looking forward to meeting you there. For more details and to view sponsor opportunities, visit www.VolunteerAlexandria.org or call 703-836-2176.

“It’s amazing that in 2017 it still continues … yet another example of how Alexandria truly is a special place,” says Cryor DiNardo.