Community Meeting: Developing New Commission to Serve Children & Youth

On Monday, January 24th, the work group established to make recommendations to the City Council and School Board is holding a public meeting to give interested residents, parents, youth, youth service professionals, City and community leaders a chance to discuss the needs of children and youth before they submit their final recommendations.

At the meeting, members of the Work Group will share the draft governance structure for the proposed Commission. The draft will be posted on both the City and the Alexandria Schools’ websites prior to
the meeting. You will be notified when the draft is available.

When: Monday, January 24th, 7:00pm

Where: Charles Houston Center, 901 Wythe Street, Alexandria, VA 22314

Contact: Department of Community and Human Services’ Office of Youth Services or the Office of Early Childhood at 703.746.5970 or 703.746.5437.

Persons who are unable to attend are invited to send their comments to Ron Frazier, Director, Office of Youth Services, Department of Community and Human Services at: ron.frazier @

Children and Youth Community Meeting Invitation

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.

30 Minutes A Week Can Change A Life: Become A Reading Tutor

Do you love to read?  Have you ever watched a child’s imagination come to life when they first begin to read on their own? Unfortunately, many children in Alexandria City Public Schools are at risk of not reading at grade level by the third grade.  Fortunately, The Alexandria Tutoring Consortium’s mission is to provide a foundation for future learning success for first and second grade students.  They need your help, your love of reading, and your enthusiasm!

Alexandria Tutoring Consortium works!

Of the 120 first graders tutored by ATC volunteers last year in the Book Buddies based program, 78% reached or exceeded their literacy benchmarks by the end of the school year.

Why be a tutor?

Learning to read in the first and second grade prepares a student to read to learn during the rest of his or her academic career.  Some children need extra help and just 30 minutes a week from you can give them the advantage they need to succeed.  ATC notes that “first-graders who receive intensive, targeted intervention, even those who have the most difficulty reading, can reach grade-level reading by the end of second grade. With early intervention, more than 90% of children can read at grade level, or better!”

How Alexandria Tutoring Consortium works.

The Alexandria Tutoring Consortium pairs volunteer tutors with Alexandria school children who need help to get up to grade level  reading. Volunteers read one-on-one with a student once or twice a week during the day at school (now through May).  The Alexandria City Public Schools trains all volunteers and provides access to all the necessary materials, volunteers just need to bring a love of reading and a desire to make a difference in the life of a child

Become a tutor today!

New tutors can download an application form and register at the ATC website, or contact them by phone at 703-549-6670 x119.  The website also offers their newsletter, annual report and more information on how you can make a positive difference in the life of an Alexandria child.

Mentor a Child, Change Two Lives: Alexandria Mentoring Partnership

The teenage years are often a lonely and confusing time in one’s life. And according to the Alexandria Mentoring Program, 50% of Alexandria’s young people live in situations that put them at risk of not living up to their full potential. With mentoring, that risk is dramatically reduced.

That is why, in 2006, The City of Alexandria and Alexandria City Public Schools officials sought to strengthen programs for youth throughout Alexandria by starting the Alexandria Mentoring Partnership.

Why Mentor?

Just 4 hours a month can change a young person’s future!

Mentoring decreases the risk of crime, teen pregnancy, gang involvement, drug abuse and poor school performance. By becoming a mentor, you are changing two lives and making an investment in your community. Each mentored child has the potential to give to others like them the same support and care they have received. There’s a reason 99% of mentors recommend becoming a mentor to others.

How Mentoring Works

No prior experience is required, the AMP provides you with extensive training on how to be an effective mentor. Mentoring can be one-on-one, school-based, activity based, or group based. Professional guidance and support is available for all mentors. The Alexandria Mentoring Partnership offers several mentoring programs including the iMovie Mentors, which produced the video above.

Become A Mentor Today!

To help make their vision a reality, and to truly change a young person’s life, visit the AMP website, call (703) 746-4506, or email


Note: Tracy Viselli contributed to this column.

Taste The Wines of Italy & Help Homeless Families

Here’s a fun way to support Community Lodgings, a great local organization that helps homeless and low-income families, especially if you like wine. Community Lodgings is holding their 7th Annual Wine Tasting event at historic Christ Church in Old Town, Alexandria. Most of us already enjoy Italian wine, but imagine how much better your wine will taste when you know every drop will benefit a homeless or low-income child and their family.

Each year, Community Lodgings helps 25 homeless families in Alexandria reach the ultimate goal of self-sufficiency. Community Lodgings also helps 90 homeless and low-income children and their parents to increase academic achievement and decrease at-risk behavior in their Family Learning Center. To find out more about this great support organization, visit Community Lodgings’ website.

What You Can Do

Attend Community Lodgings’ 7th Annual Wine Tasting event

When: Sunday, November 7th—5:30pm to 7:30pm
Where: Christ Church at 118 N. Washington Street, Alexandria, VA 22314
Tickets: $75 in advance or $85 at the door. Contact Jim Dempsey at 703.549.4407 or

Wine selections will be provided by Downey Selections and Rick’s Wine & Gourmet, and guests will have the opportunity to order the sampled wines at discount prices, for pickup at Rick’s Wine & Gourmet.

Image courtesy of Wikicommons