by Olivia Overman
Action 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 really see the support from the community for the work we do,” said Steven Liga, chief executive officer of ACTS. “We are not just your normal charity looking for donations, we want people to know that if they invest their money in ACTS, their return will be safer, healthier and more stable lives for their neighbors,” Liga said.
The event included video recordings from some of ACTS very early volunteers from the 1970s, commentary from current staff members and clients and, of course, a little taste of what is coming in the near future.
Awards were also presented to five long-term community partners including:
- The Cecil and Irene Hylton Foundation – “This foundation has been providing support and help to ACTS for many years,” said Liga. “Many of our the most significant capital projects, like the Family Services Center and the Hunger Prevention Center, have all been made possible because of their financial backing.”
- Image Church – Partnering with ACTS for ten years, Image Church holds an annual fundraiser, IWALK for ACTS at Stonebridge at Potomac Town Center. In 2018, over $150,000 was raised for ACTS.
- Prince William County Police – “The PWC Police Department has been great partners with us for decades,” said Liga. The partnership has grown from strength to strength and, in 2018, led to the launch of a new initiative, the Lethality Assessment Protocol (LAP) program, allowing police officers to contact trained ACTS employees 24 hours a day, so they can provide safety planning and support by phone to victims of domestic violence while officers are still on the scene.
- Wegmans – “All the grocery stores in Prince William support us,” said Liga “but Wegmans takes it to a different level,” he said. Lead sponsor of the IWALK fundraiser, Wegmans staff are also known for “really getting behind initiatives such as the Annual Check Out Hunger Campaign, which raised over $60,000 for ACTS last year and even donated their time on several occasions to help us set up our new Hunger Prevention Center,” Liga continued. One of the new initiatives that is just about to get off the ground is cooking classes with the Wegmans chefs. “This course will be for approximately 30 of our clients [who receive food assistance from ACTS]to learn the tricks of the trade from Wegmans chefs,” said ACTS Health and Wellness Case Manager, Johnte Davis. “Essentially, it will teach people how to cook and eat healthily with the food they receive.”
- HomeAid of Northern Virginia – “is a super organization that works with builders, contractors and suppliers to help build many of our much-needed capital projects,” said Liga. Projects have ranged from two new kitchens, to new flooring and painting, as well as, most recently, the near complete remodeling of the Women’s Empowerment Center.
The gala raised over $230,000, making it the largest fundraiser in ACTS history, demonstrating this region is committed to investing in ACTS’ vision to create a ‘community where no one goes without or suffers alone.’
For more information on donating to ACTS, please visit actspwc.org