Tuesday, November 17, 2009

helping the homeless and the hungry

This month's meeting of our neighborhood civic association RAFOM featured Kathleen Sibert of the Arlington Street People's Assistance Network and Fred Jones of the Arlington Food Assistance Center.

The Arlington Street People's Assistance Network (A-SPAN) has outreach worker Terrence Toussaint (TToussaint@A-SPAN.org 703-663-0247) working in the Rosslyn area. He gets to know homeless persons in the area and seeks to find ways to help them. A-SPAN's bagged meal program hands out meals every night at 6:30 pm at Gateway Park in Rosslyn. On S. Nelson Street, just off Four Mile Run Dr in South Arlington, A-SPAN runs a facility that offers homeless people a mailing address, phone, showers, and laundry facilities.  You can help homeless people with acknowledgment of their presence, with friendly conversation, by buying them some food if they want some, and by contacting A-SPAN to let them know about a person's need.  A-SPAN number for calling to request assistance for a homeless person is 703 820-HELP (4357).

With the nation-wide economic downturn, A-SPAN's corporate and foundation support has declined, but its individual contributions have increased.  You can help A-SPAN with your donations of money, volunteer time, and clothes, blankets, toiletries, and food.  See the A-SPAN website for more information about these opportunities.  The Help the Homeless Walkathon is this Saturday morning starting at 9am.  You can register online for a minimum donation of $25.  For a $100 donation, you can attend A-SPAN's Help the Homeless Holiday Gala at the Top of the Town on Thursday, Dec. 10th, 6:30-9pm.

The Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC) distributes groceries to people living in Arlington who cannot afford enough food for their basic needs. AFAC distributes food Monday through Saturday from its warehouse in S. Nelson St, next to the A-SPAN facility.  It also distributes food at the Clarendon United Methodist Church every Saturday, 9:30 am to 10:30am.  Of the food AFAC distributes, 65% is donated by individuals and local businesses, and 35% is purchased.  Fred Jones spoke passionately about AFAC's concern to respect the dignity of the persons it serves and to provide them with nutritious, healthful food.  One program that helps AFAC to provide persons with fresh vegetables is its Plant A Row for the Hungry Program. It enlists gardeners in producing fresh vegetables for AFAC.   That senior citizen who was going on about gardening might have been worth listening to after all.

AFAC serves clients through referrals from Arlington County government agencies, churches, schools, and other social service agencies.  Two-thirds of AFAC referrals are through Arlington's Department of Human Services.  This past week AFAC served 1,283 families, up from 759 two years ago.  Within these hungry families, 39% of the persons served were children. You can help AFAC with donations of money, food, and volunteer time. 

Other items discussed at the RAFOM meeting:
  • A 12-story apartment building with 100-110 housing units has been proposed to be built in the parking lot of the Wakefield Manor Apartments, just off Rt. 50, in the Courthouse Rd., 13th St., N. Troy St. block.  Site plan may be submitted to the County this spring, with construction possibly starting in 2011.  Meeting attendees discussed concerns about parking availability and stress on water and power infrastructure.
  • The neighbor sign design depicting Iwo Jima won the neighbor sign voting with 60% of the votes.  RAFOM will now work with the County to determine sites for the signs, which will be placed on both sides of Rt. 50.
  • RAFOM's annual holdiay party for low-income families in the RAFOM neighbor will take place on Dec. 11.  The holiday party will feature music, food, Santa and elves, and toys for children.  Local restaurants are generously donating food to this event.  To help with this happy, fun event, contact Stan Karson at RAFOM.
The next RAFOM meeting will be in February.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The senior citizens who read your report will no doubt be delighted that you favorably acknowledged "That senior citizen who was going on about gardening".