Columns Opinion Your Views — 17 February 2014
Alexandria in ACTion: Giving where your heart is

By John Porter

John Porter

Valentine’s Day is tomorrow, a special time to demonstrate our love for those who mean the most to us in a variety of creative ways — big and small.

Love is certainly a powerful word and emotion. It can inspire us, frustrate us and help us see the very best in others.

That’s why Valentine’s Day can be a time for reflection about the things we love about our community. What is it that you love about Alexandria? What frustrates you, yet inspires you to make a difference? How do you express your love for your community?

Having lived here my entire life, there is much I love and appreciate. In addition to the wonderful amenities and opportunities the city offers, the people are what make Alexandria unique. In my first career in education, and now in the nonprofit arena, I continue to be awed by the many caring people in our community who exhibit their love and concern — not only for our city, but also for their neighbors in need.

I see how they demonstrate their love for Alexandria and others by delivering Meals on Wheels through Senior Services, volunteering at Carpenter’s Shelter, collecting and distributing food through ALIVE!, or providing financial support to Alexandria nonprofits.

I love seeing my fellow Alexandrians demonstrate their unfailing commitment to making our community an even more wonderful place to live. People like you make this happen. And you do it without much fanfare or praise, but with the satisfaction of knowing you are making a difference.

Will Bailey, a local firefighter, is one of those concerned, unassuming Alexandrians who makes a difference. Each year, Will provides backpacks to kids as school begins, coats to them as the temperature drops, and food and toys to their families for the holidays.

Will works with colleagues, business leaders and community organizers in the city and the Route 1 corridor south of Alexandria to provide these important resources to families that otherwise wouldn’t be able to provide them. And he does it without the desire for notoriety or fanfare.

Each year, he encourages others to get involved, offering nothing but the satisfaction of helping kids and families.

People give money and time to different causes for different reasons — from personal to practical and professional. But this Valentine’s Day, we should contemplate how the power of love also can be a motivating force, used to get us involved in the lives of others throughout our community.

Take a moment to think about what you love about Alexandria, how you express it and what else you might be able to do. Be sure to listen to your heart — as well as your head.

The writer is executive director of ACT for Alexandria.

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