Guest View – A $4 million gift to the community

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This week at Gadsbys Tavern, more than 125 Alexandrians gathered to celebrate and help raise funds for the Alexandria Volunteer Bureau (AVB), a small but popular organization that links volunteers with community non-profit organizations and local events. Hidden among the toasts and live auction items is a revealing fact: the AVB identifies, coordinates, and supervises volunteerism in Alexandria that is conservatively worth $4 million dollars in donated time and services.

More than 2,000 volunteers are registered with the AVB; 596 area organizations are eligible to receive voluntary help, 300 of these in Alexandria alone. If each volunteer contributes just over two hours a week, using the hourly voluntary rate established for Virginia by the think-tank Independent Sector, the yearly total in donated volunteerism for Alexandria is a staggering $4 million.

In order to maintain and expand this community gift of volunteer time and energy, the AVB itself must raise funds. Popular events such as last nights Evening in the Heart of Alexandria, are critical to support the work of the AVB. Newly hired executive director Melinda Patrician has re-energized the AVB and has fostered a healthy outlook for the bureau.

New activities, such as partnering with T.C. Williams to introduce 11th grade students to community service, will bring new people and new ideas to the citys proud tradition of volunteerism. This year, the AVB will expand its annual Business Philanthropy Summit, co-sponsored by the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce and the Alexandria Community Trust, to launch a Day of Service in Alexandria, bringing 500 or more volunteers to service projects for such organizations as Rebuilding Together Alexandria and others. 

Alexandrians are rightfully proud of their tradition of voluntary service. Visitors to our city are impressed with the number of highly visible civic boards and commissions. But the heavy lifting of the citys volunteer services is accomplished through the AVB. And, while the it receives funds from the City of Alexandrias Fund for Human Services and private grants,  most of the funding for the bureau comes from the same source as the non-profit organizations it servesthe generosity of Alexandrias citizens.

Drop by the storefront office on Mt. Vernon Avenue, visit the web site, and consider making a donation or enrolling as a volunteer. The Alexandria Volunteer Bureau will continue to do its part in delivering its $4 million gift.

Peter Smeallie is a member of the board of directors of the Alexandria Volunteer Bureau which is located at 2210 Mt. Vernon Avenue, (703) 836-2176, . 

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