President's End of Year Message – 2020

Worldwide, nationally and in Arlington, as we all know, 2020 has been a tragic and difficult year. Besides sickness and deaths, the Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in severe economic hardships.  Disproportionate impacts have illuminated stark socioeconomic inequities.
 
Along with businesses and many others, Arlington Rotary had to move quickly, and creatively, to adapt and continue our mission of service. Our virtual meetings have been successful, and our club membership has continued to grow.
 
We thank everyone for their support of of Arlington Rotary Club’s work with our partners in service. We also thank our guest speakers who have joined us in our weekly meetings that continued by Zoom. We look forward to continuing to serve the Arlington Community through this challenge and into the future.
 
Chelsi Dildine

President

  * * *

Project Briefs

Arlington Rotary Club contributes to the Arlington community in many ways, seeking high-impact opportunities to improve the lives of our neighbors.  Here are selected highlights for calendar year 2020.  The list is not complete.
 
  • For the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, Arlington Rotary recruited 200 volunteers to make no-sew blankets for AHC, Inc. and A-SPAN. Rotary District 7610 presented us with a Special Achievement Award.  (We will do this again in January 2021.)

  • We donated school supplies to 47 teachers at Key Elementary-Escuela Key School, the County’s bilingual Spanish immersion school for grades K-5.

  • For Key School’s Book Fair, we purchased $1,500 worth of books for classrooms and $500 worth for kids who couldn’t afford any to take home as their own. We provided scholarships for 16 Key students to participate in Empowering Enrichment’s after-school program.

  • An anonymous donor matched up to $5,000 for every dollar donated through our website. We raised $5000 for AFAC and $6500 for Bayou Bakery’s free meals for Real Food for Kids.

  • We awarded a $10,000 scholarship to an Arlington high school student to attend a four-year college and $8,000 for another to attend community college. To learn more, click scholarships in the main menu.

  • In the fall, we contributed $750 to APAH’s Ready to Learn Fund to help 15 students purchase school supplies for on-line schooling. We donated $1600 for headphones to help Key School students in at-home schooling.

  • Masked and safely distanced, club members continued to pack food at AFAC and supported bloodmobile drives for INOVA.

  • For AHC’s annual holiday drive we purchased hats, scarves, gloves and Target and Giant gift cards for 32 teenagers who live in low-income households.

  • We gave Arlington Thrive a $5,000 grant to help with same-day assistance needs of Arlingtonians.  In 2020 it was to pay for prescription medications. 

  • During the summer, we began an initiative with Northern Virginia’s non-profit Challenging Racism organization. It since has been folded into Arlington County’s “Dialogues on Race and Equity.” The chair of our Peace-Building Committee serves on Challenging Racism’s board of directors. Our club is a vital center for community leadership and networking.

  • We worked this year with CEDA Washington (Centro Esperanza de Argentinos) to leverage grants from Rotary District 7610 and the international organization to support sanitation and water projects for a small vulnerable community in Salta, Argentina.

  • We donated $500 to a Rotary Club in Turkey to help it and other clubs buy a $50,000 pediatric enteroscopy system for Aegean University Hospital. The machine will benefit 55,000 children per year and be the only such machine in a troubled region with a large refugee population.

More About Selected Projects

(Click on Links to learn more about our partners.)

 

AFAC - Several times a year, members of the club volunteer at Arlington Food Assistance Center to pack food for AFAC to distribute to Arlington residents in need of food assistance.  We weed the garden, bag apples, pack oats -- and have a good time doing it.

In the photo, Rotarians and friends are packing oranges.  AFAC purchases (or is gifted with) donated food in large quantities.  We are packaging it into smaller quantities that can be used by client families.
 
In addition to our volunteers, we provide financial support to AFAC.
 
 
 
             AHC Inc. is a non-profit affordable housing developer of low- and moderate-income housing in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C.  With over 40 years of experience and more than 7,000 apartment units,  AHC takes pride in its long-time partnerships and quality developments that strengthen neighborhoods and boost property values.
 
At the end of the year Arlington Rotary usually adopts a family in AHC housing to provide a bit of extra assistance getting through the sometimes difficult extra expenses of the holidays. At the end of 2020 we instead purchased hats, scarves, gloves and Target and Giant gift cards for 32 teenagers.
 
 
APAH - Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing collects backpacks packed with the required school supplies for Arlington students to give to students in their affordable housing units at the beginning of the school year. 
 
 
 
(Pictures taken before pandemic.)       
 
 
 
 
 
Key Elementary PTA - The club donates books and supplies to Key Elementary School teachers to help them build libraries for their students' use without having to use their own personal funds.
 
Likewise, we donate classroom supplies to Key Elementary teachers, including Clorox Wipes, hand sanitizer, and tissues.  And we recognize an Educator of the Year every Spring.  Finally, we provide students who otherwise wouldn't be able to participate with funds to make purchases in the school's book fair.
 
 
 
 
 
 
To kick off our service projects for 2020, we led a project during Volunteer Arlington's Martin Luther King JrVolunteer Day.  Volunteer Arlington invites Arlington community groups (such as ours) to host a service project to allow fellow Arlingtonians to use their day off on MLK Day (Jan 20th) to serve their community. We provided over 200 no-sew fleece blanket kits that our volunteers assembled.  We donated the completed blankets to AHC, an affordable housing company that will give the blankets to kids in their housing developments.  For more pictures click Here.
 
 
 
 
We provide need-based scholarships for students at Key Elementary School that give them the opportunity to participate in the Empowering Enrichment after-school program.  The scholarships allow dozens of kids to benefit from a structured, educational opportunity.
 
"Many of our students have benefitted from the Rotary scholarships your group has generously provided over the years. The little girl in kindergarten, who was so obsessed with ballet that she wore skirts everyday and called them tutus, is the 4th grader who still loves dance classes. The shy, new student who came last year is an outgoing artist in the sketching class. The student who told me that she loves sewing and weaving because she learned it from her grandmother, is continuing to grow her skills in the sewing class. Thanks so much for all you do."

-- Key Elementary Teacher
 
 
 
Quarterly Blood Drive
 
Arlington Rotary partners with an Rock Spring UCC church to run a blood drive for INOVA Hospital. The club promotes the bloodmobile visit, registers donors, and helps administer the event.  The blood drive is held three times a year.
 
Club President Chelsi Dildine didn't get to drive the Bloodmobile, but the summer blood donation event with Arlington’s Rocky Spring UCC congregation to benefit INOVA was a huge success.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Arlington Thrive
 
Arlington Thrive is the only organization in Arlington County that provides same-day, emergency financial assistance to County residents who experience a sudden financial crisis such as temporary unemployment or illness.  Most clients are the working poor, elderly and disabled people on a fixed income, and the homeless and formerly homeless who need Arlington Thrive’s funds as a “safety net” until they are able to get back on firmer financial footing. Arlington Thrive’s clients are among Arlington County’s most vulnerable residents. Families with children are given the highest priority, and one-third of the individuals served by Arlington Thrive are children.
 
We give them a $5,000 grant every year.  In 2020 it was to pay for prescription medications.  For 2021 it will be for clothing and school technology (laptops, etc.).  100% of donated funds stay in Arlington County.  
 
This picture is from 2019.
 
 

We are working with CEDA Washington (Centro Esperanza de Argentinos) to support a public health project in a vulnerable Native community in Salta, Argentina. Our club’s president-elect is a former Rotary high school exchange student to Argentina. Other members also have connections to South America, including Bolivia, from which there are many immigrants in Arlington.
 
Rotarians everywhere have an international outlook.  That is especially true for the Arlington Rotary Club, in a close-in suburb of Washington DC.  Many of our members were born in another country, lived in another country or worked for the Department of State, US AID, DoD, etc.