My View – Forever Young/Joseph F. Viar, Jr.


Unlike individuals who are getting on in years and who might find themselves slowing a bit, organizations that reach the age of 75 are sometimes more dynamic and youthful than ever.  That is certainly the case with The TWIG a women’s auxiliary founded to support Alexandria Hospital in 1933.   

Last Thursday evening I attended a splendid celebration of TWIG’s anniversary held in Alexandria’s museum of history, the Lyceum.  TWIG celebrated its outstanding success in fulfilling its mission over all these years having contributed more than $2,000,000 in just the past 20 years to various hospital projects including the Cancer Center and the Emergency Department. 
Rather than “resting on its laurels” at a grand old age, TWIG is actually picking up the pace of its support by giving $1 million in just the past five years.  The TWIG Neurovascular Stroke Unit was established with a grant of $250,000 in 2003.  That facility along with the hospital’s CVIR program helped the hospital become the first Accredited Stroke Unit in Northern Virginia in 2005.  Then later in 2005 TWIG pledged $750,000 to build the TWIG Pavilion, a unit of 16 single-bed, telemetry-monitored rooms.  This facility has greatly eased the strain on the overflow of patients in the Emergency Department because it provides a higher level of technology than is available in normal patient rooms.  TWIG extended a challenge to the community to match its gift and I am pleased that the community has responded to the challenge.  We are within $100,000 of completing the match.
As valuable as such monetary support is, leadership is even more valuable.  TWIG’s support for the acquisition of the CT Simulator in the Cancer Center, the Emergency Department’s hazardous materials treatment equipment and isolation room following 9/11, the Stoke Unit and the TWIG Pavilion have helped our hospital stay ahead of the curve.
Through its visibility TWIG also creates public awareness of the hospital and draws thousands of our citizens into the effort to provide the best health care in this community.  The primary source of revenue is the TWIG Thrift Shop located at 106 N. Columbus Street in Old Town.  The shop, operated solely by volunteers, sells donated clothing, jewelry and house wares.  The TWIG shop uses all forms of modern technology including the Internet and E-bay to move its merchandise.  In addition to raising money the Thrift Shop provides a marketplace for those with lower income. Several years ago there was a program to train and secure jobs for lower income women in Alexandria.  The Thrift shop provided the appropriate workplace attire to allow these women to present themselves in a professional manner on job interviews. 
The Annual Tour of Historic Homes in the fall is another source of income.  TWIG is a sponsor and beneficiary of the Annual Antiques Show in Alexandria to be held this year at Episcopal High School on March 14.  In addition TWIG has published several very successful and creative cookbooks.  Stop by the Thrift Shop and buy them while you look over their wonderful display of fine clothing.   
Back in 1938 one of the early money-makers for the TWIG was a carnation sale.  At 10 cents each it raised $140.  Rumor has it that the members think they can do better and that the carnation sale might be revived in 2008. 
Hats off to an outstanding, dedicated, hard working group of women — The TWIG.
Viar is Chairman of the Alexandria Hospital Foundation. He lives in Mount Vernon.