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...
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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...
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Thank you IWALK Sponsors

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We are excited to report this year’s IWALK for ACTS 5K and Family Festival, set for  Saturday, October 7 , has raised over $84,000 to date and the total is growing daily! These funds are incredibly important to ACTS’ work because dollars raised through this event allow for flexibility in how funds are invested. We can use this money when and where it is needed most!  A special thank you to our Platinum Sponsors  Wegmans  and  Image Church . Your visionary support makes this event possible. Gold Sponsors  What’s Up Prince William ,  Dominion Energy ,  Stonebridge at Potomac Town Center  and  The Bodai Group  have helped us build the event’s presence and we’re incredibly grateful! Please check out the list below of the many companies, organizations and individuals who have played an important part in supporting ACTS and be sure to give them your patronage! Hunger, homelessness, domestic violence,...
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Operation Turkey: 2017

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Fall is approaching fast, and the holiday season will soon be upon us! Many families in our area will be without basic essentials during the upcoming fall and winter months, and we'd like to let you know more about how ACTS' Operation Turkey is our way of combating hunger for our neighbors in November.    Operation Turkey is ACTS' largest annual food giveaway, and during this event, we provide Thanksgiving staples such as stuffing, cranberry sauce, and instant potatoes to low income families who visit our food pantry. This food is provided from organizations, businesses, churches, and local donors like yourself to ensure no family in our area goes without a holiday meal.    In 2016, the Food Pantry served 818 families, giving out 1,049 Operation Turkey bags, each weighing about 12 lbs.  The pantry distributed over 72,000 pounds of food, of which over 12,000 pounds consisted of Thanksgiving staples. In addition, each family...
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IWALK 2017: A Message from Image Church

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We are so excited for this year's 7th Annual IWALK for ACTS on  Saturday, October 7 ! Our Church first began in Dumfries down the street from ACTS' headquarters. We started working with the shelter and food pantry right away. ACTS has a tremendous impact in the community and we knew we wanted to partner in a bigger way. We had a vision for bringing together our neighbors to benefit ACTS and the idea for what is now IWALK was born. Fast forward several years and Image Church is now based in Woodbridge and our annual event will fill the streets of Stonebridge at Potomac Town Center to raise funds and awareness for ACTS' important work.We are looking forward to a record breaking year in participants, attendees and funds raised. Last year's event raised $65,000 and we can't wait to see final numbers this year! We've seen more partners than ever...
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ACTS Nominated for Prince William Living's Giving Back Award

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ACTS is very excited to announce that  Prince William Living Magazine has nominated our organization as a potential recipient of their 2017 Giving Back Award! The goal of this award is to raise awareness of what local non-profits contribute to local families, how they enhance Prince William and introduce their readers to new opportunities to give back to the community. The voting process also encourages volunteerism among readers, and ACTS needs your support! A combination of public voting and ratings by Prince William Living judges will be used in determining the winners. Each voter may vote once per day until voting is complete on  September 15th . If you would like to vote for ACTS or one of its departments , please click the link below.      How does ACTS support Prince William County? Last year, our organization:  Provided 729 families with utility and prescription assistance , which estimated to $220,000 in funds. Distributed over half a...
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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, Pixabay Losing 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...
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ACTS Events: September

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  September 2nd: ACTS' partner for the IWALK , Image Church, will be sponsoring "Movie Under the Stars," which will feature the film Babe. During this FREE event, Image Church will be giving out water and popcorn, as well as IWALK promo materials. This is a great way to learn more about Image Church, the IWALK, and to enjoy a great film with your family.    Time: 7:00pm Location: Stonebridge at Potomac Town Center, 15201 Potomac Town Pl, Woodbridge, VA 22191       September 8th: Come join ACTS' Director of Suicide/Helpline Will Harms as he and representatives from Prince William County hold a panel discussion on suicide awareness and prevention.    Time: 7:00pm-9:00pm Location: Jirani Coffeehouse: 9425 West Street, Manassas, VA 20110         September 9th: Image Church will have an IWALK booth at the Stonebridge Chili Cook Off and Fall Festival. They are the official water sponsor for...
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An Interview with ACTS' Food Pantry Manager

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In the fall of 2016, former food pantry volunteer Melissa Napora (pictured above to the far right corner) became ACTS' Food Pantry Manager just weeks before Operation Turkey began. This annual event is ACTS' largest food give-away, and the idea is to provide families with holiday meals who would otherwise be unable to afford it. Needless to say, it was a very busy time for her, but thanks in part to her leadership, the food pantry was able to provide meals for 818 families. Since that time, Melissa has made the position her own with her dedication and warmth towards both clients and the volunteers that serve at the pantry. I recently sat down with Melissa to discuss why she decided to take on such an important role at ACTS, as well as what the future holds for her program.  Ethan: You were a volunteer, why did you decide to...
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Remembering Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington

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I love Soundgarden, it was one of the first bands I was exposed to. My mom would blast her tape of Superunknown on the way to bringing me to school every day in her 1992 Festiva (I never really figured what the cover was supposed to be of). Chris Cornell’s voice could go from a low growl to a high crescendo in a matter of seconds without missing a beat. My mind was completely blown when he and Tom Morello teamed up when I was 11. When Chris Cornell killed himself a few months ago, it was something you couldn’t ignore. Especially after Chester Bennington killed himself a few weeks ago. It underscored how no amount of money, fame, talent, or power makes you immune from depression and mental health problems. How someone with so much success in their life could still die. Social media was quick to echo this...
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Compton & Duling Supports ACTS in its Work with Domestic Abuse Survivors

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Compton & Duling recently launched a Community Champion project in support of ACTS, which offers counseling and education for community members experiencing crisis. Through its involvement with ACTS, the Prince William-based law firm is bolstering services offered to families affected by domestic abuse . Compton & Duling Partner Maryse Allen recently did a presentation for ACTS' Adult Victim Group , helping group members to better understand the divorce process in Virginia. “While I am unable to give specific legal advice during a presentation, I can provide insight into preventing common pitfalls,” said Allen, who heads Compton & Duling’s family law practice. “Another goal is to demystify the court process. We never want anybody to feel that they are trapped in a domestic violence situation due to lack of information or resources.” Many of those in attendance had questions about their own situations. Often, Allen’s advice was to seek legal counsel....
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ACTS and Image Church Gear Up for 7th Annual IWALK

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One of our favorite days of the year is around the corner! We are excited to partner with Image Church to host the 7th Annual IWALK for ACTS on  Saturday, October 7  at Stonebridge at Potomac Town Center (14900 Potomac Town Place, Woodbridge, VA). Last year’s event drew together hundreds from our local community and raised over $65,000 for ACTS' outreach efforts. Registration for the 5K run/walk begins at  8 a.m.  and the event starts at  9 a.m.  Registration is $20/individual, $15/team members (4+ per team), or $50/family. Following the walk, the community can enjoy a free family festival on the main street in Stonebridge from  10 a.m. – 2 p.m.  Attendees will enjoy food vendors, various performances, and kids activities such as face painting, moon bounces, carnival games, crafts, and much more.To register for IWALK, click the link below or e-mail  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  for more information.
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ACTS To Hold Back-To-School Supply Drive

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Our Emergency Assistance Office is pleased to announce that they will be running a school supply drive before school begins! They will be accepting the following school supplies from July 25th to September 4th during open hours at the Food Pantry location in Dumfries.    Our clients will need:   Composition notebooks Subject notebooks Pencils Pens glue rulers scissors loose leaf paper erasers pencil sharpeners small hand sanitizers   The available backpacks with the supplies in them will be distributed on : Friday, August 11, 18, 25 and September 1, between 9am-12pm, and Tuesday, August 15, 22, and 29, between 5-7pm. *Backpacks will be distributed while supplies last. One backpack per child. All backpacks will have the donated items in them, no requests for school items will be accepted. All families must come during the distribution days to register for the backpacks through EA. No appointments needed. With your help, we can send...
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Say It Out Loud!

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“Thank you for sharing your story.” “You are so brave.” “You are helping other people by letting them know that they are not alone.” These are some of the most common statements heard from people who have just listened to a survivor tell their emotional story of sexual abuse or assault . In fact, helping others is a huge reason why survivors decide to open up. However, telling your trauma story can be one of the most effective coping strategies for dealing with trauma related stress and a significant step in the healing process. With the support of a professional, shaping and sharing your story helps organize memories and feelings into a more manageable and understandable narrative. Plus, the process of creating the story is in itself beneficial.  Additionally, listeners provide much needed interaction and support with their willingness to hear what the survivor has to say. Not everyone has...
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Self-Injury: Let’s Talk About It

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With the popularity of 13 Reasons Why on Netflix and the announcement of a second impending season, I think talking about self-injury is very relevant. It’s a difficult topic to discuss, but an important one. When we talk about “self-injury”, most people have a stereotypical image come to mind, usually the way Skye Miller talked about. However, this can be an oversimplification of the reality of self-injury. Here are some things to think about (if you aren’t already):   1. It takes a variety of forms   This includes scratching, biting, burning, head banging, and cutting. These things are all done for some form of an emotional release. If you haven’t struggled with something like this yourself, odds are pretty good that you know someone who has. A 2010 study estimated that around 15% of teens engaged in some form of self-injury; this is a conservative estimate at best and is...
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Real Estate Team Donates $1K to Beverly Warren Shelter

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AJ Team of Keller Williams Realty , recently featured on an episode of HGTV’s popular show House Hunters , announced viewers helped raise $1,000 for ACTS Emergency Family Shelter in Dumfries, VA. Because one of the team’s Core Values is to “Be A Blessing”, they donated $1 for every social media post viewers tagged to the team’s Facebook or Instagram pages during the 22-minute live show. On July 20th , the AJ Team will present the check to shelter representatives at their office located in Lake Ridge, VA.  The journey which led the AJ Team to HGTV began when CEO Allen Johnson met Makya and Delmar through a network of friends. The couple had almost given up on finding their dream home after a year-long search because they were frustrated with their previous realtor and the home-search process. Johnson convinced them to give his team a chance, and fellow AJ...
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Understanding Dating Violence

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-Linda Neice, Community Educator, ACTS Domestic Violence Services “Is this really what you want? To leave me?” he shouted. “If you leave me, I will kill myself. You are so cold. How could you be so cruel to me?”  With that he left, slamming the metal front door in my face. I had no idea what he would do, and I was terrified. I was only 21. Little did I know I would hear his threats over and over again, like a horrible song on repeat. It was not always this way. Like other girls, I wanted the love story that people talk about in novels. The kind that sweeps you off your feet, complete with passionate romance and the “happily ever after.” And that is what it was like during the first year. We would go on trips together, have long meaningful conversations, he would buy me extravagant gifts, and...
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Mornings at Emergency Assistance

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Every day begins the same; wishing a “good morning” to the clients in front of the Family Services Center as we open the building, getting ready for the day, loading up the coffee maker, all before 8:30! Emergency Assistance, or “EA” as we affectionately call our home away from home, is bustling with preparation. We cross the “t’s” and dot the “i’s” of yesterday, as well as make copies and primp offices before the day gets busy, and trust me; every day is busy for us. At 9am the day begins, the door is held open and the line of clients is ushered in. Upon entry, each client gets a smile. This is very important; our clients should know we genuinely care they’re here. In too many instances, the people we serve feel forgotten. Financial hardships that deny us our basic human necessities can leave the human spirit quite broken. We...
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Summer Fun Volunteering with ACTS

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At ACTS, we're always happy to host groups that serve at our warehouse through our Volunteer Program. While there, our volunteers sort the generous donations which members of our community have provided to their neighbors, mainly non-perishables and clothing.  Since February, we have been lucky enough to welcome the members of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity’s Social Action Committee twice a month.  They show up, rain or shine, with exuberance and excitement at the difference they are making in people’s lives through their relationship with ACTS. The 2017 goal of the Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Omicron Zeta Sigma Chapter’s Social Action Committee is to ensure we make a tangible, social impact within the DMV area in general, but specifically in Prince William County. In the words of Phi Beta Sigma’s Jermaine Jackson: “Our chapter’s social action volunteerism impact focus includes a partnership with Action in the Community Through Service (ACTS). ACTS provides...
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ACTS Recognizes World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

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Today is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, and ACTS wants to join with local agencies and leaders to highlight the problem of elder abuse, neglect and exploitation that many older adults face in our society. Agencies and organizations that specialize in elder care also seek to understand the challenges and opportunities presented by an ageing population. Their goal is to bring together senior citizens, and their caregivers, national and local government, academics, and the private sector to exchange ideas about how best to reduce incidents of violence towards elders, increase reporting of such a buse, and to develop elder friendly policies. The World Health Organization's (WHO) data suggests that 4 to 6 percent of elderly suffer from some form of abuse, a large percentage of which goes unreported. As many as 1 in 10 Americans aged 60+ have experienced some form of elder abuse. While this includes physical, emotional or sexual...
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