It is such a joy to be a part of the A-Span community. In Buddhist philosophy, I have been taught to love everyone equally and in the same way, unconditionally---as a mother loves a child. This is my goal each day. A-Span has given me a place to be loving. Love is a simple thing. It is wanting others to be happy, and it is giving. A-Span gives my life great purpose and meaning. I urge anyone who is seeking a life of joy to volunteer with A-Span. As I continue to become more involved, it is becoming a central part of my life.
I have done volunteer work all of my life. A-Span is one of the most special communities I have been a part of. I am new and just getting to meet and learn from incredibly loving people like Ahmed, Marvin, Michelle, Carolyn, Anna, Amanda, and Kinney. They are such wise people. They are my teachers. I view each of them as humble heroines/heroes. The clients are also very loving. I receive so many smiles. Those smiles are very connecting. I certainly do not expect smiles from everyone. People who live on the street often live extremely stressful lives. They are frequently outsiders. Low self-esteem is common. Many have serious mental illness. Many sleep outside and expose themselves to dangers. Many are lonely and have been mistreated by others. The suffering that some of our clients have experienced is so horrible. Many have mental scars that are not always shared. Every person has their own story. I always try to encourage clients and to be a light. Where there is despair, I try always to give hope. Sometimes where there is great sadness, joy can also find a place. It is truly in giving that we all receive. A-Span is a place of incredible joy. I have heard that word, joy, from the mouths of many staff members and volunteers. A favorite quotation that sums up A-Span for me is this: “I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.” -Rabindranath Tagore- If you are looking for a magnificent organization to volunteer with or to donate to, please contact A-Span. With loving kindness, Bruce Johnston
A-SPAN's bagged meal program is a wonderful opportunity for Cherrydale Baptist Church's Vacation Bible School children to serve others in the community. For the past eight years, we sub out a craft session one day so all classes can participate. The preschoolers decorate bags, the kindergarteners make cards, the first graders pack non-perishables and second-sixth graders make the 160 sandwiches. In the evening, a group of teens deliver the meals and help serve at the Oakland mini-park location.
Our VBS draws children from the greater Arlington and Fairfax communities. Before each A-SPAN session we explain to the children that our service is an opportunity to be the hands of Jesus to our less fortunate neighbors. We pray for the people who will receive the meals, encourage the children to offer their best efforts, and demonstrate showing love by packing nutritious meals as well as a few extra items into each bag -- a pack of tissues, some mints, hand wipes, etc. We have the teens then show up with milk and sometimes extra dessert to give them an opportunity to interact with the recipients.
Personally, I have been humbled each time I arrive at the park. When you hear the stories, it is truly an example of "But for the grace of God, go I." I have been impressed with how A-SPAN takes care of these needy, providing opportunities for showers, supplying hygiene items, and maintaining decorum with the orderly lineups and "ladies-first" policy. My favorite memory is the time we arrived with our white lunch bags full of crayon scribbles and stickers and I heard an exclamation of "It's the Cherrydale bags!" I joyfully reported to our students the next day that their work on behalf of the Lord had made an indelible memory on others.
Thank you for allowing us to partner with you,
"I care about A-SPAN! Thanks for sharing your love with each person on the streets of Arlington. As an A-SPAN volunteer, you have all shown me new ways to care. Thank you, for it has helped me feel more at home in my life. Love you guys! Happy Valentines Day! " (my 2014 Valentine message to A-SPAN)
Since April 2013 I've been helping A-SPAN fill apartments -- for their formerly homeless clients -- with donated furniture and furnishings that I've received through my church and neighborhood. A-SPAN staff has been amazing to work with! I've learned much from their "housing first" philosophy, from their commitment to furnishing the apartments, and from seeing the respect they show each person.
I enjoy working side by side with A-SPAN staff on move-in days, moving the furniture, setting up the apartments, surprising the clients with the furnishings, and sharing A-SPAN's excitement over yet another client housed. I feel appreciated by A-SPAN staff, and have grown much richer as a person because of this opportunity to help A-SPAN in their quest to end homelessness in Arlington.
Review from Guidestar
For many years, I saw A-SPAN deliver brown bag supper to the street people gathered across the street from my church. The street people in the park could count on A-SPAN's presence every day, every month of the year, whatever the weather...in the blistering heat, bitter cold, rain, sleet, or snow. A-SPAN always goes one step further, approaching my church to establish a partnership that provides its clients a space where they can eat their meal with dignity, sheltered from the elements.
And A-SPAN went one step further again, providing their clients gathered for the evening meal, access to caseworkers, clothing, medical care, a shower and a place to do their laundry. And A-SPAN goes one step further still, working to place their clients in their own apartment. The power of having a place to call your own, was particularly brought home to me this spring when A-SPAN found an apartment for a member of our parish, who lived on the streets for many years, a place where he could live with dignity in the months before his death.
A-SPAN is a lifeline for so many who have none.
I became a Board member after years of volunteering for A-SPAN. With my dual insight into the needs and difficulties those facing life without a home encounter, I understand the importance of A-SPAN's many approaches to service. A-SPAN employees and volunteers are trusted by all constituencies as a group of people who respect their clients, support the community at large, and work with the county government to resolve the issue of those who are without a home. A-SPAN is very effectively led by a dedicated director and staff. Those who receive A-SPAN's help are always grateful and often empowered to move back into a home on which to build a recovery. Whether serving warm soup on a cold day or counseling a client about how to resolve medical issues or moving someone into a real home, the A-SPAN community is an asset to our county. The personal touch that A-SPAN always provides is its ultimate strength.
A-SPAN began to emerge as a force for kind and dependable service to the homeless in our county many years ago. It started with a simple question,"What do people without ANYTHING need most?" and proceeded to answer systematically. While food and shelter come to mind, the first order of business for ASPAN has always been dignity and dependability--products delivered simultaneously with warm soup and showers and good counsel. ASPAN solves individual problems, case by case, while keeping an eye on the larger social issues with heartfelt advocacy and energetic fund raising. I am continually impressed with ASPAN's sincere activity in behalf of an almost invisible, even more silent, but frighteningly increasing community.
I have had the pleasure of working with A-SPAN over the past few months through a variety of different opportunities - including helping organize donations, painting the EWS, and engaging friends and neighbors to volunteer at the EWS during the evenings. The experiences I've had with this group are extremely rewarding and each time I find the staff to be welcoming, professional and organized, in regards to ensuring that their volunteers time is valued and used effectively.
I have had the pleasure of working with A-SPAN for several years now. The experience has been very rewarding. I find the staff to be universally caring and professional. They are knowledgeable and follow through on commitments made to either my organization or to their clients.
I have been on the A-SPAN Board for 2 years and have been impressed with the continual improvement of all of A-SPAN's programs. A-SPAN has separated the sleeping area for the women at the Shelter to the first floor which has tripled the number of women they are serving because the women feel safe. A-SPAN provides Nurse Practicioners who are onsite at the Shelter to meet with clients 3 nights a week. A-SPAN has increased the number of clients in our Permanent Supportive Housing program from 15 to 21 over the last year. A-SPAN is very focused on providing the best services possible and they do it.
As a long-time ASPAN Board member, I have seen firsthand how ASPAN has become one of Arlington County's most vital human services organizations. Through the tireless commitment, passion, and dedication of its incredible staff, ASPAN continues to evolve and is literally the life-line for countless homeless individuals in Arlington County. The number of people losing their homes and struggling to sustain their livelihoods continues to rise at an alarming rate; yet, ASPAN has remained a constant resource for anyone in need. With its no-barrier approach to services, ASPAN has built strong relationships with its clients built on trust and respect and, in turn, has helped numerous clients secure permanent housing. The amazing ASPAN staff continues to inspire me and I am extremely grateful for all that they do.
I have been a volunteer with A-SPAN for over 15 years. I worked on the Homeless Bagged Meals delivering meals to Arlington street homeless. I also serve on the Board of Directors and on various Board Committees