Sometimes All It Takes Is 18 People

It’s easy to forget how important our individual actions can be, but if you look around Alexandria closely, you can see people making an impact in the lives of people in need in our community everyday. That is what ACTion Alexandria is all about-helping individual acts make a big impact in our community.

Last week, I heard about ImagineDesign, a Manassas-based design firm giving away a website design to a DC area charity. All you had to do was nominate your favorite charity using their Facebook form.

I also knew that the Center for Alexandria’s Children was trying to figure out how they could afford a redesign of their current website to better meet it’s needs. It was a perfect storm if you will-a local nonprofit needed a website and a local design firm was donating a website to a worthy nonprofit. All we had to do was make sure the Center for Alexandria’s Children was selected as the winner by ImagineDesign.

The Center for Alexandria’s Children is a worthy organization if there ever was one. Their purpose is the elimination of child abuse in the City of Alexandria. The CAC works collaboratively through a public-private partnership to protect children and strengthen families by coordinating the investigation, prosecution, treatment and prevention of child abuse in one safe, child-friendly facility.

So, using email and Facebook to quickly mobilize supporters, 18 people nominated the Center for Alexandria’s Children to win ImagineDesign’s contest, making sure to include personal testimonials describing why they support the CAC.

Thanks to good timing, a great organization, and some help from loyal supporters, The Center for Alexandria’s Children was selected by ImagineDesign as the contest winner, and is well on it’s way to getting the new website it needs.

An important take away from the Center for Alexandria’s Children’s good fortune is that it doesn’t always take hundreds or thousands of people to vote for your project or organization, or thousands of dollars in donations. Sometimes it only takes 18 people to make all the difference in the world.

ACTion Alexandria Is Looking for Interns


Are you, or do you know a high school or college student interested in an internship that will provide them with valuable hands-on work experience in marketing, communications, social and new media, online content production (blogging, photography, video)? If so, send them our way.

Online Civic Engagement/New Media Intern

Are you interested in civic engagement and social media?  Would you like to be part of an innovative project helping citizens solve community problems using Web 2.0 technology and strategy?

Location: Alexandria, VA (1 office meeting per week, work virtually the rest of the time)

Hours and Duration:  15-30 hours per week

Salary: This internship is unpaid, you should eligible to earn college credit through an academic program

ACTion Alexandria
ACTion Alexandria is a new online civic engagement project in Alexandria, Virginia that is committed to helping citizens and organizations solve community problems using Web 2.0 technology. Interns will have the chance to be a part of an innovative, community-focused project while earning valuable hands-on experience in online community building, social media, website and community management, online strategy and outreach, web publishing, blogging, and more!

Online Civic Engagement/New Media Intern Duties

  • Assist with the design and implementation of online and traditional community outreach strategy
  • Assist with website editorial and community management (comments, content, community)
  • Develop and grow online social network that supports the work of ACTion Alexandria using Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.
  • Measure the effectiveness of engagement strategies
  • Research and compile social media and media outreach targets
  • Gain experience with Drupal content management system
  • Research and produce website content including: blog posts, Facebook and Twitter updates, videos, and photographs

Required Skills and Qualifications

  • Motivated self-starter, ability to work independently and to be proactive
  • Very tech-savvy and extremely comfortable with social media applications and sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc.
  • Excellent writing and research skills, proficiency in Excel
  • A strong belief in community-building and civic engagement
  • Willing to commit for 3 months or more
  • Must have own laptop

Desired Skills and Qualifications

  • Experienced online writer, particularly as a blogger
  • Previous website administration experience
  • Proficiency in HTML, PHP, CSS, Java or related languages
  • Web design and video editing skills
  • Previous experience using Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator

Candidates seeking experience in social media/new media and civic engagement, and who have a desire to impact communities are required for this position. The Civic Engagement intern works collaboratively with the project’s Community Manager.

How to Apply

Email resume and cover letter to actionalexandria @ gmail.com with your name and “Application: Online Civic Engagement Intern” in the subject line.

Sneak Peek: ACTion Alexandria’s Home Page Design

We have entered a very exciting phase of the ACTion Alexandria project. We’ve signed off on our homepage design!

If you’ve been through the website design process, you know how important, but often how tedious it can be to hammer out all of your functional requirements. “Functional Requirements” even sound tedious, don’t they? But important they are, and I still wake up at 3:00 am with a gasp remembering some crucial function I’ve left off my list. But I digress.

During the wireframe phase, you start to get an idea of what your website pages will actually look like wireframes are more about placement than anything. They represent progress, but, let’s face it, wireframes are still not very exciting.

The design comp phase is when things really get fun because you finally get to see what is just short of a working model of your project. We’ve been happy to work with the, well, rad, folks at RAD Campaign on the development of ACTion Alexandria, and Alex Kowal’s homepage design exceeded our expectations.

While ACTion Alexandria is an online portal for community action, most of that action needs to take place offline, in the community. Alex captured that mission beautifully by incorporating the idea of a community bulletin board into the design-the kind of bulletin board you might see at St. Elmos or Mishas while picking up your morning coffee. Over all, we feel we got the community-focused design we asked for, all wrapped up in an easy-to-use, friendly, and vibrant package.

We hope you like it as much as we do.

Note: Titles, headings, and text are still not final. If only I did read Latin.

Click on the image to see it full size.

Families Still Need Your Help This Holiday Season


If you are still looking for ways to help local families over the holidays, the City of Alexandria’s Department of Community and Human Services has some great opportunities for you. To make the holiday distribution, your items should be dropped of or mailed in by this Friday, December 17th.

  • Grocery Cards: with rising food prices, many families are struggling to make ends meet. These cards will help us ensure that our kids, elderly and disabled can have food on the table.
  • Gift Cards: Maybe you can remember being a teen or have tried to buy for a teen lately-it’s hard. They have wants and needs, yet can be very difficult to buy for. Teens in foster care are in
    the same situation. They enjoy the holidays as much as others, but are often overlooked in favor of younger children. We will be happy for your donation of gift cards to stores such as Best Buy, Target and Old Navy, in denominations of $25 and $50.
  • Jackets, hats and gloves/mittens: The line from the holiday song sums it up-”baby, it (will be) cold outside.” Foster kids, at-risk kids, and others need coats. There are great sales and you can
    keep someone warm this year.
  • Toys: you may have been hitting the sales and couldn’t resist buying a few toys. With our partner, Community Partners for Children, we will be distributing toys to over 300 families. We especially need toys for children under the age of 4 and for those aged 10-12. However, we would be grateful for any toys that you purchase.
  • You can also donate a via online echeck

If you still have toys or apparel items your want to donate after December 17th, you can still drop them off at DCHS offices at any time. Please drop items off at:

Community Resources Program
Department of Community & Human Services
2525 Mt. Vernon Ave
Alexandria, VA 22301.