ACTS Commitment To Our Community During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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While some of ACTS services will be reduced, the demand for others will likely increase - in particular, our Senior Link and Hunger Prevention Programs (especially home delivery to shut in seniors). This will be occurring at the very same time many of our most consistent older volunteers will choose to stay home.  Thus, we are asking staff to consider redeploying to one of these areas:Senior Link: These are simple five to ten minute calls to home-bound seniors to check in to see how they are doing, offer services, or simply to provide personal contact. The demand for these is likely to increase (as we will be advertising the service), and we do not expect to be able to meet the demand with current staff and volunteer levels.It requires very little training to make these types of calls - the are NOT crisis calls.These calls can be made from either our...
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Human Trafficking Symposium

Human Trafficking Symposium
In a standing room only meeting at the McCourt building, volunteers, educators and elected officials attended a human trafficking symposium to learn about what is happening in Prince William County to help prevent and address Human Trafficking. Mary Ellen Smith is the Human Trafficking Prevention Specialist for PWCS. Previously a social worker, Smith coordinates the Human Trafficking Program for the schools. This program is in the middle and high schools, case management for identified victims and public awareness and education for students and community agencies.Click HERE to read the rest of the article.By Rebecca BarnesWednesday 1/29/2020
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TIPS FOR FAMILY GIVING

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By Anna Hargrave, Executive Director for Montgomery County“How can we get our children involved in giving?” This is one of the questions we hear frequently from our donors, especially around this time of year. We hear it about children of all ages—because parents never stop thinking about how to pass on their values.And we have plenty of ideas to offer from our many years of working with individuals and families to maximize the benefits and impact of their giving. Here’s a taste:TAKE YOUR CHILDREN WITH YOU when you volunteer or attend an event sponsored by an organization you care about, such as a site visit, presentation, or fundraiser. The rides to and from the event provide the perfect opportunity to prepare them for the experience and then to debrief. Be sure to tell them why you care, and ask about their reactions.HOLIDAY GATHERINGS are the ideal setting for starting a conversation....
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HPC Holiday Hours

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ACTS Hunger Prevention Center will be CLOSED from December 24, 2019 through January 1, 2020.  It will reopen on January 2nd from 1:00pm - 3:00pm and resume regular operating hours beginning January 3rd.  Thank you to all who donated food items over the past two months giving us the ability to distribute 2,300 pounds food to 1,832 individuals during Operation Give Thanks! Of those we helped, 579 were children and 189 were single adults. We are ready for another year of helping the food insecure in our community.Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year from the entire HPC Team!
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Today is #GivingTuesday

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We are able to provide FREE services to over 80,000 individuals every year through the generosity of our Donors!  Today is a special day for giving.  Would you be willing to consider making one more donation as the year comes to an end?  Every dollar makes a difference.85% of our Revenue --> Programs and Services15% of our Revenue --> Operational ExpensesYour donation provides:  food, housing, emergency assistance, domestic violence and sexual assault services, 24/7 crisis helpline support, court advocacy, suicide support, and emergency shelter for our neighbors in crises. We hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday season! ------->  Donate Now <-------                                          
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Milestone: 100,000 Pounds of Food Rescued!

Milestone: 100,000 Pounds of Food Rescued!
For Immediate Release:100,000 Pounds of Food Rescued by Prince William NonprofitPrince William Food Rescue announces the milestone of 50 tons of food diverted from landfills and into food pantries.Dumfries, Virginia – 12/2/2019 – Prince William Food Rescue, a local initiative to mobilize volunteers to reduce food waste, is excited to announce the delivery of its 100,000th pound of food rescued. This benchmark comes less than four months from its inception in August 2019.A program of Action in Community Through Service (ACTS), the Prince William Food Rescue organizes small deliveries - or “rescues” - from grocery stores and restaurants to distribution locations that include churches and schools. Volunteers are notified of rescues through a mobile app, where they can claim and track their rescue.“We’re amazed by the support that our community has given to the Food Rescue program”, says Aaron Tolson, Director of Development for ACTS.  “The Prince William region is full...
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Operation Give Thanks 2019

Operation Give Thanks 2019
ACTS Hunger Prevention Center seeks to help food insecure families enjoy the upcoming holiday season.  November 1st - 20th is our annual Operation Give Thanks initiative where we provide Thanksgiving bags to families we serve, in addition to the regular bags of food they would normally receive.   Last year we provided Thanksgiving meals for 1,000 families in our community and we anticipate reaching that number again this year.  Our goal is to ensure every family we serve has a meal to share on this special holiday.  Every year we rely on donations from our community in order to share the joy of the season with our neighbors who may be struggling, and we are looking to you again this year!  Individuals, families, faith-based communities, schools, civic groups, businesses and other organizations are welcomed to donate items from the list below and can be dropped off Monday through Friday from 9:00 am...
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IWALK for ACTS 2019

IWALK for ACTS 2019
The 9th Annual IWALK for ACTS is taking place this coming Saturday, October 5th at Stonebridge at Potomac Center!  The day begins with a 5K Run/Walk starting at 8:00am followed by a free Family Festival from 9:00am to 1:00pm down the main street at Stonebridge.  There will be vendors, activities for kids, police and fire vehicles, face painting, live music, food and more!  Additionally, all 5K participants will receive a $5 Off Coupon to attend Youth For Tomorrow's Country Fair that same afternoon in Bristow!  So, grab the family and have fun this Saturday supporting two amazing organizations serving our community.Registration is still open online and you can even register Saturday morning before the race.  Visit www.iwalkforacts.com/register and signup today!Image Church founded the event eight years ago with the idea to raise funds for the many programs of ACTS directly helping thousands of individuals and families hurting in our community.  Last year they...
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ACTS Helpline: Ready to Listen Every Hour of Every Day

ACTS Helpline: Ready to Listen Every Hour of Every Day
According to the Center for Disease Control, 44,965 people died by suicide in the USA in 2015; that is approximately one suicide every 12 minutes. One of the top 10 causes of death in the United States and the second leading cause of death in the world for those aged 15-24 years, suicide is a disease that is preventable with some help and assistance. ACTS Helpline is one of the tools available to the Prince William community and is a tool for all to use. As September is Suicide Awareness Month, knowing more information about our services can be beneficial.What ACTS Helpline Offers  A free, confidential, 24-hour help line for people to call when they need someone to talk toTrained, compassionate staff and volunteers who are ready to listen any time of the day or nightNon-judgmental, non-advice-giving staff who listen and offer information about resources availableCrisis intervention for trauma, suicide, sexual assault,...
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How to Make the Most of Assisted Living

How to Make the Most of Assisted Living Photo Credit: Pixabay.com
Guest Blog by Sharon WagnerMoving to an assisted living facility is a wonderful way to find an instant community of people who are in your age range and share your interests. Such a built-in social network becomes especially valuable in your golden years.According to this National Poll on Healthy Aging, one in three adults aged 50 to 80 feels lonely. It’s further been shown that older adults who are isolated from the world are more likely to experience depression. Get inspired by the tips below and make the most out of the wonderful opportunities offered by assisted living.Take Advantage of a Chance for ExerciseMost assisted living centers offer some sort of physical activity program. This could include anything from nature walks to senior yoga or even swimming excursions. If you’re able, take part in these course offerings on a regular basis. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, exercise...
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ACTS: On a Mission to End Homelessness in Prince William

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Here are some frightening stats about homelessness in Prince William County and beyond:On any given night in the state of Virginia there are 6,067 people suffering from homelessness.In the general population, 7.2 out of every 10,000 people are homeless.Prince William County’s homeless numbers represent 7.8 out of 10,000 people alone, according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness organization, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization committed to preventing and ending homelessness in the United States.Homelessness is a national problem. However, here in Prince William, ACTS is helping change our neighbors’ lives through the shelters and services offered one person at a time.ACTS Works to End HomelessnessFrom emergency shelter to transitional housing to permanent housing, ACTS is providing services throughout Prince William County, Manassas and Manassas Park. Whether it’s a safe place for just the night, or a few weeks, ACTS provides not only the shelter necessary during a difficult period, it also provides...
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Anxious. Heartbroken. Unbearable. Angry. Painful

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That’s how women described listening to the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, where Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testified that Supreme Court nominee (now Justice) Brett M. Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her when they were both in high school. Dr. Blasey’s story triggered strong emotional reactions of fear, shame, shock, anger and worry – common feelings when survivors are made to remember something bad that happened to them in the past. Triggers can be physical too; chemicals and hormones released in the body during a traumatic experience can also be released when the experience is remembered.It should come as no surprise that The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) reported a 201 percent spike in calls the day Dr. Blasey testified as well as “unprecedented wait times” for its online chat. Their Crisis Text Line, which provides crisis intervention, saw the numbers of people reaching out with stories of sexual abuse double...
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ACTS Celebrates 50 Years Serving Prince William

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by Olivia OvermanAction in Community Through Service (ACTS), a Dumfries-based non-profit, celebrated 50 years of service in Prince William with a 50th Anniversary Gala event held on Feb. 28 at the Hylton Performing Arts Center. Local officials, partners, donors, volunteers, and staff celebrated the past, present and future of an organization that contributes in so many ways to the community.   Created in 1969 after 13 churches came together to help a family whose house had burned down, today ACTS provides assistance to thousands of families in crisis in Prince William, Manassas and Manassas Park. In 2018 alone, ACTS assisted nearly 80,000 individuals in crises, providing food to over 700 families a month, nearly $300,000 in utility assistance and taking 40,000 calls through their Helpline. ACTS also helps people with housing assistance, those dealing with domestic violence and sexual assault, as well as offering items through their thrift store.“It was exciting and humbling to...
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ACTS 50th Anniversary Gala

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Tickets Available!We are just a few weeks away from a once-in-a-lifetime event to celebrate ACTS 50th Anniversary!  Plans and preparations have been underway for months to create a moment where the past, present, and future are recognized and celebrated simultaneously.   What a wonderful evening this is going to be at the Hylton Performing Arts Center!The Gala will begin with a cocktail hour accompanied by live music provided by the Old Bridge Chamber Orchestra’s string quartet.  While guests mingle in the grand foyer, they can enjoy delicious hors d'oeuvres and an open bar, place bids on the silent auction gift baskets, browse the history of ACTS through photographs, or explore the tables of information about all the programs and services offered to our community.  A photographer will be making the rounds to capture the tuxes and evening gowns that are sure to make the evening sparkle.Soon the doors to Gregory Hall will open...
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Food Waste: How Finding A Solution Could Improve Lives in Prince William

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Shocking Statistic Alert! One-third of all food produced in the world goes to waste! That is enough food to feed three billion people in a world where 805 million people go hungry every year. Statistics reveal that 40 percent of all food produced in the U.S. is wasted on an annual basis. That leaves one in seven people hungry. According to the United Nations, if we recover all the food that is lost or wasted, we will have enough to feed all those who are hungry, four times over.  Read More
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What A Whir

Sound-Machine Sound machines provide privacy for our Crisis Listeners
I impatiently wait as my computer logs onto our server, mentally preparing for the emails that need a response.  I already know what they are – my cell phone was kind enough to deliver them to me earlier.  I sip on coffee and enjoy the temporary calm and quiet of the office.  The only sound I hear is the muffled whir of several small sound machines located outside of our Helpline rooms just down the hallway – evidence that some staff have been here all night long, behind closed doors, answering crisis phone calls.Prior to working at ACTS I had no idea there even was a crisis helpline in the county.  I didn’t know that, for over thirty-five years, there have been staff and volunteers on a constant rotation talking to people in our community dealing with all sorts of crisis – many contemplating (or about to go through with) suicide. ...
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Answering Crisis Calls This Holiday Season

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The holidays can be extremely tough for those who have lost loved ones, are struggling to pay bills, or dealing with other stressors in their lives.  Our Helpline Program allows us to come alongside our neighbors as they work through deep mental and emotional pain.  It is run by a dedicated staff of seven and volunteer team of fourteen.  Our trained Crisis Listeners are available 24/7 and receive nearly 2,000 calls per month - 39% of which are suicide related.  Encompassing four different resources, the Helpline program, with the help of donations received, provides:Crisis Listeners: Thirty-nine percent of calls received per month by the Helpline are suicide related. All ACTS crisis listeners are trained to help people deal with their feelings and to talk through their issues.Resources Listeners: Providing a wealth of information on the availability of resources available to people who are in crisis, such as hospital locations etc.Senior Link: A completely free service,...
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DAWSON Helps Organize ACTS’ New Hunger Prevention Center

October 16, 2018A group of about 30 employees from the DAWSON company came down from Alexandria, VA on September 20th and spent the entire day at our Hunger Prevention Center (HPC).  They helped move food from other storage locations into the HPC, then sorted, organized, and shelved pallets and pallets of food.  Once they had gone through all of the pallets and boxes of donated foods, they noticed several shelves were still empty.  Going above and beyond, the team of volunteers chose to go shopping and then returned to stock those shelves with the needed items!  This group of employees rocked it at our warehouse and we are so thankful for their support in such a tangible way!In addition to having a group volunteer at the HPC for a day, DAWSON has also begun helping ACTS through sponsoring training, supporting our Sexual Assault program, and sponsored the IWALK just a few...
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Working to End Domestic Violence in Prince William County

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Step out with ACTS Domestic Violence Services (Turning Points) by joining our 2018 Purple Purse Challenge! Together we can help put an end to domestic violence in Prince William County!2018 was a big year as we launched a new and vital partnership with the Prince William County Police. The LAP program, or Lethality Assessment Protocol, allows us to reach high danger victims with safety planning and advocacy as never before. But the need is greater now. Many have no where to go in order to stay safe. Your support will provide needed resources to help high danger victims who need safe shelter and transportation, sometimes in the middle of the night.Your gift will help people like Laura, a survivor of domestic violence: “My bruises were in my head.” Laura told us. “It felt like love at first, but then he became jealous and suspicious of me,” she said. “He kept track of my...
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Operation Turkey 2018

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Now that ACTS' Hunger Prevention Center is officially open, Thanksgiving will soon be around the corner, and we'll need your help to ensure that every family receives a Thanksgiving meal this year! Last year, 783 Total Families were assisted, which included 1,379 adults and 1,123 children. This year, our goal is to provide meals for 1,000 local families, and we hope that, with your help, we can achieve this!Thank you for helping us alleviate hunger this upcoming (though it doesn't feel like it!) holiday season!
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Operation Turkey '18 Underway!

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Now that ACTS' Hunger Prevention Center is officially open, Thanksgiving will soon be around the corner, and we'll need your help to ensure that every family receives a Thanksgiving meal this year! Last year, 783 Total Families were assisted, which included 1,379 adults and 1,123 children. This year, our goal is to provide meals for 1,000 local families, and we hope that, with your help, we can achieve this! The following items are what we need most:Canned Sweet Potatoes (15oz)Boxed Corn Muffin Mix (8.5oz)Boxed Stuffing Mix (6oz)Boxed Pie Crust Mix (9oz)Canned Pumpkin Pie Mix (15oz)Gravy Mix PacketsCranberry Sauce (14 oz)Instant Mashed Potatoes (13.75oz)Pie FillingEvaporated Milk (12 oz)Please bring all donated food to ACTS Hunger Prevention Center location at 17958 Dr. David Cline Lane in Dumfries by October 12th during the facility's hours of operation. These times include:Drop Off Hours:Monday: 9-11:30am / 1-3pmTuesday: 1-3:30pm / 5-6:30pmThursday: 9-11:30am / 1-3pmFridays: 9-11:30amDistribution will begin on...
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ACTS To Hold Grand Opening of Hunger Prevention Center

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We did it! After two years of planning, purchasing, constructing, and more planning, I’m very happy to tell you that our Hunger Prevention Center (an expansion of our food pantry program) has now been operational for a month. It makes me even happier to say that we will be holding our official grand opening of this massive undertaking this week on August 15th from 11am-1pm, and you’re invited.Two years is a long time to be committed to a project. Thanks to your donations, the Hylton Foundation, and the unwavering support of ACTS’ volunteers, we were able to achieve something spectacular. I think the first lingering question in the community is, “Why did we do it?” On the outside, our food pantry was running pretty well. There was a location for clients to pick up food, as well as one for donors to drop off food. Local grocery stores and individuals always...
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Suicide and Self-harm in the Media Today

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If you’ve been struggling with thoughts of suicide, feeling hopeless, feeling lonely and isolated, worried about someone you care about, you have help available through ACTS Helpline. Your call will be greeted by a compassionate trained listener. This person is there to help clarify your problems, offer suggestions, and most of all, listen. Call our helpline, day or night, at (703) 368-4141.Anthony Bordain, Kate Spade and 13 Reasons Why have all brought attention to something we should all have awareness of by now; suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention 45,000 Americans die by suicide yearly. Numbers are expected to be higher since under reporting is known to occur. Impacts of these tragedies shock people in different ways. Kate Spade and Anthony Bordain were both lost within one week of each other.There has also been discussion in the media...
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Raising Awareness in Prince William County with International Belly Dancing

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In May, ACTS Domestic Violence Services took part in the world’s largest international belly dance event – the Shimmy Mob! Created to raise awareness about domestic violence, the Shimmy Mob celebrates world Belly Dance day by joining groups across the globe in dance performances designed to raise funds for shelters and victims of abuse. On May 12, patrons of the Manassas Mall were treated to a performance by the Prince William Troupe that included all styles of Belly Dance, and a short show full of fun and variety.Tina Bauch, Team Leader for Shimmy Mob Prince William 2018, said that each year her dance troupe participates in the Shimmy Mob, along with groups across the country. One of their goals is to break the record for flash mob Belly Dancing, which they do each year. On the same day, having the same goals, troupes unite by dancing the same song, using the...
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Life After Losing Your Spouse

Life After Losing Your Spouse
Read the whole article at:ACTS Helpline provides numerous support lines to ensure that no one is ever alone.Your call will always be greeted by a compassionate, trained listener. This person is there to help clarify your problems, offer suggestions, and most of all, listen. All calls made are confidential and anonymous, allowing you to be completely open about what you’ve been going through. If you would like to sign up for ACTS Senior Link service, call 703-441-8606 ext 210 and ask for Senior Link.IntroductionThe death of a spouse is one of the most difficult challenges many of us will have to face. Your world is turned upside down, and it’s not easy to come to grips with the many emotions that you will inevitably feel. This is especially true if you had been married to your spouse for a significant amount of time.Nobody likes to think about it, but the reality...
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Updates & News about the Volunteer Program

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As ACTS fiscal year comes to a close, we're excited to share that our volunteer program is being revamped! Currently: We are working on ways to expand our Senior Link program by means of senior visits. Our intention is to have friendly visits of fellowship or an activity, like BINGO where we give out gifts or treats and information about Senior Link. This event is open to all including youth and families. Registration will be offered via sign-up sheet and dates will be announced on Facebook.July is the launch of volunteer orientations. This is a one-time hour session offered on Monday Mornings or Thursday Evenings to give an overview of ACTS, our services and information about the various ways to volunteer and give back within the organization. Sign upWe continually look for ways to improve our volunteer programs and recently emailed a survey to active volunteers that can be found here. 37%...
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Volunteer Spotlight: June

Anita-Cooper
This month’s Volunteer Spotlight is on the Volunteer Program.I have been a part of the ACTS team since September 2017; in my short time, I have had a lot of assistance making sure that our vast number of volunteers have undergone intake, feel appreciated and have information about our growing number of events and programs. I want to especially thank, Ethan Vick, who is a staff member and has been incredibly patient and helpful as I learned and developed within the Volunteer Program.The volunteers I want to spotlight are new to my program as Group Leaders but not new to ACTS, as they worked previously under the manager of the Thrift Store for the last few years. The Group Leaders are Natita Knight and Anita Cooper.The purpose of a Group Leader within this program is to assist groups during their day of service. Leaders also give instructions on “how” to volunteer,...
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My Partner Is Trying to Make Me Seem Crazy. Am I Crazy?

Am I crazy?
As seen in:ACTS Domestic Violence Services' Adult Advocacy Program focuses on your safety, helping you set boundaries, and empowering you to lead an abuse-free life using resources we can help you attain. Individual and group support are both available. Call anytime: 703-221-4460Sarah’s* abuser made her sleep facing him in bed. It started innocently enough. He said he liked it when she slept facing him so he could watch her fall asleep. It was romantic. But what started out as a request quickly turned into a demand. He convinced her that rolling over meant “turning her back on him,” and he’d become furious, even if she did it unthinkingly in that period between wakefulness and slumber. Sarah used to lie awake until she was certain he was asleep and then quietly roll over onto her right side, which is how she preferred to sleep.Sarah had to take two Tylenol PMs every night for...
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Make IMPACT

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ACTS makes the impact it does in our community because our staff, volunteers, supporters, faith communities, businesses, and other partners have joined together.  We could not do what we do alone, but together we each do our part, and it adds up to something spectacular.A year ago, I joined a brand-new organization that has taken this concept to a whole new level.  It is called IMPACT Club.  Founded right here in Woodbridge, it has already spread around the world, with local chapters as far away as New Zealand!  The concept is simple: four times a year, individuals commit to donating $100 to a local nonprofit.  Three nonprofits are then chosen at random from a pool of nominees and invited to give a five-minute presentation to the group.  The club votes, and the winner takes home the entire collection.It’s simple.  $100 is a nice donation to a nonprofit.  One hundred people each...
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Volunteer Spotlight: Joline Doedens-Combs

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Co-written by (listed alphabetically): Tamika Martin, Linda Neice and Gine Ryan.This month’s volunteer spotlight is: Joline Doedens-Combs. Because of her incredible services, she is also the Volunteer of the Year for Domestic Violence Services (DVS). We cannot begin to describe how Joline’s selfless work assists both ACTS and our clients; so I want to describe a day at our offices:Nearly every day at the ACTS Court Office, there is a flurry of activity in brief crisis counseling for walk-in clients who are seeking protection from their abusive family members. Because of the nature of the cases, often it is necessary that we operate within a very short window.  It is a race against time for: preliminary protective order hearings, faxing the client’s paperwork to qualify for pro bono legal aid, finding an attorney who will represent a client for their permanent protective order hearing. Often, we receive pro bono attorney requests...
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ACTS Partners with Birdies for Charity for Dominion Energy Charity Classic

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From now until October, ACTS will be participating in a charitable fundraising program offered by the Dominion Energy Charity Classic. The program, called Birdies for Charity Presented by TowneBank, will pay us a 10% bonus on the funds that we generate! When you donate through Birdies for Charity, we receive your donation plus the 10% bonus. Birdies for Charity offers the option to gift a flat amount or an amount based on the number of birdies made by PGA TOUR Champions players at the Dominion Energy Charity Classic in October (a birdie is one stroke under par). PGA TOUR Champions players made 789 birdies at the last year’s tournament. So as an example, if you donated $0.10 per birdie in 2017 your total donation would have equaled $78.90, to which the PGA TOUR adds the additional 10% bonus.If you would like to make your donation online, please click here for more...
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SAAM VOLUNTEER SPOTLIGHT OF THE WEEK: Edward McGovern

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For the month of April, nationally recognized as Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM), ACTS Sexual Assault Services will highlight the work of several of our program volunteers who give freely of their time and talents to support survivors of sexual violence. This week’s Volunteer Spotlight features Edward McGovern, ACTS Sexual Assault Services Volunteer of the Year. Ed not only volunteers his time on our hotline, he is also a powerful speaker, which has enabled ACTS to connect with an audience that is typically hard to reach. In addition, Ed serves on the Sexual Assault Awareness Month committee and represents ACTS at community outreach events. According to Terry Swirchak, Community Educator for ACTS Sexual Assault Services; “Ed is kind, humble, gracious, empathetic and willing to put himself out there in an effort to help others. Those who have worked with Ed know him to be a great teammate and someone who can always be counted...
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SAAM Volunteer Spotlight of the Week: Iris Coleman

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For the month of April, nationally recognized as Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM), ACTS Sexual Assault Services will highlight the work of several of our program volunteers who give freely of their time and talents to support survivors of sexual violence. It is never easy to hear someone’s story of sexual assault. This is what Iris Coleman has been doing over the last 2 ½ years as a Volunteer Crisis Listener for the ACTS Sexual Assault Hotline. Sometimes, Iris is the first person the survivor tells about their assault. Her job is to let the caller know that she is there to listen, believe them, and provide support. Sometimes support means offering resources, such as how to reach ACTS Sexual Assault Services. Other times it involves helping the person to make their own decision as to whether or not to seek medical attention, or involve the police. But often, listening is the best way...
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SAAM Volunteer Spotlight of the Week: Paige Meade

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For the month of April, nationally recognized as Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM), ACTS Sexual Assault Services will highlight the work of several of our program volunteers who give freely of their time and talents to support survivors of sexual violence. This week’s Volunteer Spotlight highlights Paige Meade.Paige first learned of ACTS Sexual Assault Services in 2006, when she joined a survivor’s support group to help her work through the aftermath of a violent sexual assault that happened in Manassas in 1992.  “I was at my lowest, and the group welcomed me and helped me work though long-buried issues,” says Paige.  “I’m not sure what I would have done without that support, so I believe it’s important for me to give back to my community.” Currently, Paige volunteers 96 hours per month. She is routinely on call for hospital accompaniment visits to provide support during the sometimes-lengthy forensic exam. Paige is also a...
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#MeToo: 25 years ago in Prince William County

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According to Susan Sullivan, Prevention Campaign Specialist for The National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC), “With the #MeToo movement transforming the way our society is talking about the issue of sexual violence, the theme of April’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM), Embrace Your Voice, feels like a perfect fit.” The voice you will hear below is that of Paige, a former ACTS client and current volunteer. In 1992 a man followed me home from work and broke into the basement of my dad’s townhouse in Manassas.  I was 19.  It was my dad’s birthday.  These are the facts that are easy to recount.  Harder to tell is what one human being has to do to another to earn two (two!) life sentences in the Commonwealth of Virginia.  But I did tell those things – to the police, and eventually in a courtroom to secure those two life sentences.  Afterward?  I packaged up those awful facts and tried to hide them...
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Volunteer Spotlight: Alexis

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Helpline is a free and confidential 24/7 crisis service. Since the Helpline does not close, it is crucial that there are an adequate number of staff and volunteers to cover the Helpline at all times. There are certain times of day that callers tend to call in more frequently and more listeners are needed during those times. The topics of conversation are varied and listeners need to have the ability to discuss different types of crises. Volunteers are always appreciated.Alexis is an intern for the Helpline. She has to complete 120 hours for her internship and is more than halfway done at the time of this writing. Alexis has been willing to do her internship hours based on the needs of the Helpline. Whether that means a shift that begins at 5 AM or at 5 PM. She has a full-time job and she goes above and beyond to make sure...
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How Police Are Trained to Respond to Domestic Violence

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Last year, ACTS Domestic Violence Services initiated the Lethality Assessment Program (LAP) to help train Prince William County officers how to respond to situations involving domestic violence. The LAP is a multi-pronged intervention program that consists of an evidence-based tool called the Lethality Screen that helps law enforcement more clearly assess a victim’s risk of intimate partner homicide, and an accompanying referral process that proactively connects victims to community-based domestic violence services. The Screen is adapted from Dr. Campbell’s Danger Assessment, a screening instrument used by clinicians and counselors to assess a victim’s risk of being killed by an intimate partner (Campbell, 1986). The LAP aims to translate clinical research on lethality predictors into practical tools that will help first responders respond more effectively to dangerous and potentially lethal incidents of domestic violence. As seen in: Domestic violence has been found to constitute the single largest category of police calls in some cities. When police officers respond, they know the situation...
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Volunteer Spotlight: Byron Ross

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In this month's Volunteer Spotlight, we are highlighting the selfless work of Byron Ross, who volunteers with the Children's Program for ACTS' Domestic Violence Services Program. The Children's Program provides a support group to youths ages 5-17, and its focus is on building self-esteem, growing problem-solving skills and exploring one's feelings.April Vandover, who is the Children's Program Specialist, describes Byron as a great asset to her program;"He has volunteered for over a year, working well with youth of all ages but he shines with the teen group. Byron has an effortless way with connecting to youth, his guidance helps those around him open up, share, and feel comfortable. Byron's efforts with the teenagers has not gone unnoticed by ACTS or those in the group.  Any time he is away (which is an extremely rare occasion), his presence is truly missed. Part of the success of the teen's group can be attributed...
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Change on the Horizon for ACTS' Housing Program

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By: Denarsha Clarke and Laurel Turay; ACTS' Sustainable Housing Case ManagersAs ACTS prepares for its 50th Anniversary, one of our longest running programs, the Beverly Warren Emergency Family Shelter, will be experiencing some changes this year. Our organization began at the Emergency Shelter, and during ACTS' history, it has been the site of a thrift store, a hub for families to receive emergency financial assistance, but most importantly, it has been a refuge for all who would otherwise be homeless in our area.The change has already begun. Last year, Valria Martin became the supervisor for the Emergency Shelter as well as the Domestic Violence Shelter. Ms. Martin has been with ACTS for 10 years and her dedication to its residents has been unparalleled. The shelter will also be under renovation soon. While the building has been a beacon for those needing a safe place to stay, 50 years of constant use...
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Life Unlocked

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As seen in:At a recent women’s conference in Phoenix, Ariz., Erin Brockovich was one of the featured speakers—you know, the woman made famous when Julia Roberts portrayed her life story in the 2000 Academy Award-winning film Erin Brockovich.Brockovich was there to talk about how women can overcome even the toughest of situations. “We have to learn to persevere when we want to give up,” she said.During the Q&A that followed, Suzanna Quintana, 49, raised her hand. She had a story to tell about persevering. She had been stalked by her abusive ex-husband, she said, for two years, maybe longer—she couldn’t be exactly certain when it started, or even if it was over. In part, he had used the identity theft protection company, LifeLock to do so.Quintana had explored every avenue to get him to stop—the police, the court system, anyone at LifeLock who would listen. It seemed no one was overly concerned....
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Keeping Your Mental Health in Mind

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By: Peter LineberryIt’s been said that not every disability is visible, and this can often be true when it comes to mental health. Some illnesses are readily diagnosed and treated with therapy and medication; others can be vaguer in the minds of those affected and often remain unknown to a person’s loved ones. Anxiety and depression can take many forms, and while sometimes triggered by sad events, might start just because, well, life happens.One reason that symptoms are undiagnosed, or purposefully hidden from the wider world, is the fear of stigma: that the person will become a social outcast at work or at home. Yet, in our county, there are numerous organizations dedicated to fighting this perception and providing needed help. Prince William Living wanted to highlight some of these organizations and show the good they are doing in the community, and share a few self-realized therapies that have made a positive difference for some coping with mental illness.Because, as Cynthia Dudley of Woodbridge’s Trillium Drop-In Center notes,...
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Volunteer Spotlight: Mark Victorson

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The Volunteer Spotlight is a new, monthly segment where ACTS recognizes the outstanding service by volunteers who go above and beyond the call of duty.In this Volunteer Spotlight, we are highlighting the time selflessly given by those who serve on the Crisis and Suicide Helpline. The Crisis Helpline is a free, confidential telephone service available 24 hours a day. The extensive training for those who answer these calls is 40 hours, but the wonderful thing about this program is you work directly with the lives you touch and after the initial training, you have a very flexible schedule! Last year, our Helpline staff and volunteers answered 8,200 suicide-related calls, over 11,000 Senior Link calls, and over 7,000 calls related to crisis issues. We want to acknowledge the awesome work of Mark Victorson, who is a longtime volunteer with the Suicide Helpline. In 2016, Mark gave over 836 hours of service and has...
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A Guide to Volunteering During the Holiday Season

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I want to thank you for donating your time, items and energy; what you do makes a measurable impact for both ACTS and the community.The holiday season is a wonderful time to give back; this is the season for giving and as the year ends we reflect on both the good and bad and how to do something outside ourselves. However, in general, ACTS is not open on federally observed holidays so volunteering is limited at those times.So, what can you do to volunteer?Fill out our individual  or group application. If you are interested in working with a specific program- like the Adopt A Day on holidays you must follow up with the scheduler directly and as far in advance as possible.After filling out an application, schedule yourself, your family and friends to work the days before and following the holidays at departments like the Thrift Store, Food Pantry and at events...
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Celebrate Domestic Violence Awareness Month?!

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“You’re celebrating Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM)?” a friend asked in the midst of a flurry of activities being planned in October for DVAM.  “Isn’t that an oxymoron?”  My only answer at the time was yes of course! We are celebrating the survivors of domestic violence as well as the work going on in our community to combat the epidemic of intimate partner violence.  But his comment got me to thinking. Is celebrate really the best word to describe such a sober subject as domestic violence? The recent church shooting in Texas reminds all of us how dangerous domestic violence-related behavior can be, and how vital it is to remain alert and recognize the signs before violence escalates. Indeed, it is a life and death matter, and not to be minimized.  So, thinking it through, I did what every Millennial would do (even though I am actually a Baby Boomer) – I went to...
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#MeToo

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If you are on social media or you’ve turned in to the news this week, perhaps you've seen or heard about the hashtag that’s spreading like wildfire, #MeToo. If, like me, you are a survivor of sexual assault, it can be both empowering and triggering to see SO…MANY…PEOPLE…raising their hands and saying “it happened to me, too.” And yet, I know that there are so many others who are survivors, who are ashamed, or afraid, or pressured to keep their victimization private.I have never spoken of it myself.When I was in elementary school, I had a friend who had a horse. No one else I knew had a horse so I loved going to visit her, and we would groom and ride her horse. She had an older brother who was super cool in my eyes, mostly because he paid attention to me and made me feel special. I didn’t know...
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Best Ways to Provide Support When One of Your Volunteers Suffers a Loss

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While it can take months or even years to come to terms with the loss of a loved one, most people realize that time doesn’t pause during that period. Life and responsibilities go on and require attention. While some people find returning to a regular routine helpful, it can be extremely challenging for others. This can be a tricky situation for a manager when a volunteer suffers a loss. But with a little planning, you can make the transition easier for your returning volunteer.Why It’s Hard Whether it’s working or volunteering, everyone knows that the first day back with an organization can be a bit of a challenge. Especially when one expects colleagues to react with sympathy and questions. It’s typical for people to have the same automatic, though well-intentioned, reaction of, “I’m sorry.”  They may ask how the volunteer is doing or what happened. Try to anticipate some of the...
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IWALK Festival To Enter Final Lap

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We can’t wait for Saturday’s 7th Annual IWALK for ACTS. There’s still time to register for the 5K! Following the 5K, the community at large is invited to join us for a FREE family festival from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at Stonebridge at Potomac Town Center (14900 Potomac Town Place, Woodbridge). We will be filling the main street with activities and entertainment for the entire family. You won’t want to miss this fun, fall Saturday!We have a few vendor spots still available. Interested in partnering with us? Learn more here.Here is a look at what to expect at the festival:Minecraft activities by Animated ChildBounce House and Bounce House Slide from Castle Bounce LLC Virginia Party RentalsCharacter appearances by: McGruff the Crime Dog, Star Wars characters, Superheroes, Sparky the Fire Dog and moreMeet and Greet with Queen Elsa Science experiments with Chemistry for KidsCrafts hosted by Girls on the RunPainting by Edgemoor Art StudioFace painting by Hope Hill ChurchGagaball provided by...
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Volunteer Program Blog Introduction

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Welcome all ACTS employees, volunteers and prospects to the Volunteer Program Blog! My name is Tamika Martin, I am the Volunteer Coordinator. My job is volunteer: engagement, recruitment, placement, development, recognition and retention. This blog will feature: ACTS at events and volunteer days, recognition of excellent service from current volunteers by staff and information about programs that have immediate needs or are season specific (like Operation Turkey).With the year winding down and the weather cooling; we know the holidays are right around the corner. This is the time where collectively we think outside ourselves and give to those around us. ACTS can be a great  vehicle for you and you loved ones to make a difference in the community. Here are some of programs available for single or ongoing terms: Adopt-A-Day Program - Provide breakfast, lunch or dinner and after-school snacks for children staying at the Beverly Warren shelter.Administration - For those who seek...
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What I Have Learned My First Year As A Crisis Listener

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It is amazing to me that whoever calls and whatever time it is, there is always room for compassion, even at 3:00 a.m.  Sometimes the callers at this hour are lonely and cannot sleep, other times the caller is in emotional distress.                                              We have a diverse background for our Crisis Listener team.  Many of my coworkers have past experience with working in the mental health field, serving as an encyclopedia of knowledge and resources.  One of them in particular, who has a calm spirit and years of experience, ended up talking to me about an active suicide I took. He was able to assess the call with me and gave me hope that the caller was talking about the future, so there is a chance the caller did not end...
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Helping Seniors Deal with the Loss of a Spouse: Tackling the Paperwork and Understanding the States of Grief

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Photo Credit: vlanka, PixabayLosing a spouse is unimaginable. It’s one of the hardest things that an individual can go through in life, and watching your loved one suffer with the grief of losing his or her spouse isn’t easy either. If your senior loved one has recently become a widow or widower, your support is important. You can help with paperwork and other tasks. Your loved one will also need your support as he or she goes through each state of grief.When a person dies, there are certain tasks that must be taken care of, such as planning the funeral, contacting the insurance company, obtaining death certificates, and more. While you should offer to help, don’t try to take control of the situation. Handling the planning gives many people in grief a sense of control and a source of distraction. Instead, sit down with your loved one to figure out which...
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