United Way Volunteers Honored

United Way Volunteers Honored

Programs, Individuals Recognized at Awards Night

Governor Mark Warner joined US Congressman James P. Moran (D-8) and Alexandria Mayor Kerry J. Donley in presenting this year’s Alexandria United Way awards, held June 12.

“This is an excellent way for us to recognize our volunteers for their outstanding work and to take special note of agencies and people who have made outstanding contributions to the community,” said Nancy LaValle, the director of the Alexandria United Way. “This year, it was particularly important.”

It was important because of Sept. 11, and because of the recent scandal that has rocked the United Way of the National Capitol Area, of which the Alexandria chapter is a member. The regional organization has been under scrutiny because of what has been characterized as “poor management practices and inadequate internal controls.”

“I think we have begun to address the issues,” said Alexandria Councilman William D. Euille, who is a board member of the United Way of the National Capitol area. “We have developed some policies and the Board will be given financial reports on a quarterly basis, at a minimum. This has not been available to us in the past. I think that real reform will take some time, but Board members are going to be more involved so there should be some substantive changes in the way the organization does business.”

EUILLE AND FELLOW BOARD member and Alexandrian, Donna Kloch, have been instrumental in calling for reforms. Both Moran and Donley praised the efforts of local volunteers in bringing about changes. Warner spoke about the importance of the United Way and the necessity of the organization having a local presence. Euille echoed these sentiments.

“Without local volunteers, the regional organizations would not exist,” Euille said. “Local volunteers support local agencies and local businesses like to see their dollars spent in their community.”

Last Wednesday, these organizations and individuals were recognized. Arlene Hewitt received the Alexandria United Way Outstanding Community Service Award. She has worked at Inova Alexandria Hospital since 1967 and has been involved with over 30 organizations, civic groups, commissions and committees in Alexandria and the region. She is a former chair of the Alexandria United Way, creator of the Eureka Award for Innovation and a lifetime member of the Alexandria United Way. She has also served on the Board of the United Way of the National Capitol Area.

Hewitt is one of Alexandria’s foremost advocates of providing needed social, medical and health services to all, especially the disadvantaged and the elderly. She accepted the award with her grandsons.

THE EUREKA AWARD went to the Campagna Center’s Wright to Read program. The program partners with the Alexandria Health Department to bring books to children who are receiving healthcare at Health Department clinics. The goal of the program is to bring the gift of literacy to all children. Wright to Read also received a James P. Moran grant of $1,250.

“I nominated us for the grant but didn’t have any idea we were being considered for the Eureka Award,” said Ginny Biggs, the program’s volunteer coordinator. “I guess we do, though, because we are an innovative program and we do partner with other organizations.”

The program brings “the gift of literacy” to children who visit the Alexandria Health Department’s public health clinics. “We believe that this is an excellent way to reach children,” Biggs said. “We ask pediatricians and nurses to speak to parents about the importance of reading to their children and we make sure that every child gets a book when they visit the Health Department. We have volunteers who read in the waiting rooms at the clinics on Monday and Wednesday.”

Ty Brickhouse, a senior at St. Stephens-St. Agnes, received the Bill Perkins Award. Perkins, who died last year, was a voice for the voiceless of Alexandria for many years. The award recognizes outstanding service contributions of young Alexandrians. Ty has worked with the Northern Virginia AIDS Ministry (NOVAM) since she was a freshman in high school. She became a certified peer HIV-STD educator, teaching her friends and peers about sexual health. She is a member of NOVAM’s youth community planning group, which advises the Virginia Department of Health on issues relating to HIV-AIDS. Last year, Ty attended the National Ryan White Youth Conference on HIV-AIDS to learn as much as she could to bring back to share with her community.

THE 2002 OUTSTANDING Community Service Award, sponsored by the Alexandria Gazette Packet, was presented to the Alexandria Red Cross' Most Friendly Visitor Program. Julie Wright, executive director of the Alexandria Red Cross, accepted the award. The program, now in its third year, has been a lifeline for the more than 120 seniors participating as well as a rewarding experience for the 65 engaged volunteers who make the program happen. Many senior citizens live homebound, are socially isolated are low income. The Red Cross' program volunteers visit seniors once or twice a week and participate in activities with the seniors such as talking, reading, writing letters, playing games and walking.