Alexandria in Action: A heartfelt thanks

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By John Porter

During my life, I’ve had the distinct pleasure of working with many exceptional individuals. I think back fondly to the many caring and dedicated teachers, administrators and support staff during my days in education.

Now in my second life with ACT for Alexandria, I continue to be amazed at the number of tireless and committed individuals who devote their lives and careers to helping others in our community. From those providing education, food and shelter services to addressing quality of life issues for seniors and animals, we have much of which to be proud and so many deserving of thanks.

Not working for fame or fortune, these individuals devote their lives to the service of others, epitomizing W.H. Auden’s quote, “We are all here on earth to help others; what on earth the others are here for I don’t know.”

I am brought to this moment as ACT for Alexandria acknowledges Brandi Yee’s 10 years of service with enormous gratitude and appreciation. Currently serving as chief program officer, her labor over the years has become the foundation for ACT’s important work in the community. She has been both the brains and the brawn behind such initiatives as Spring2ACTion, the annual IMPACT Forum and ACT’s capacity grants program.

Through her work with Spring2ACTion, online giving through this event has grown from $104,156 in 2011 to $1.3 million in 2016 — quite a rate of return. This single day is so valuable in helping to support the important work of over 150 local nonprofits.

Her current efforts to convene around the issue of early child care and education promises to have a lasting impact in our community for years to come. We are fortunate to have Brandi at ACT and in our community, working each day on behalf of others.

ACT board chairwoman Lauren Stack summed it up succinctly: “Brandi’s calm leadership has brought people, organizations and our city government together to leverage resources for the greatest impact in our community. … I can only say ‘Thank you Brandi,’ for all you do and have done for our wonderful city.”

As Brandi, like many others, shies away from the limelight. But I asked my colleagues in the nonprofit community for others who worthy of acknowledgement anyway, and while the following is certainly not an exhaustive list, I invite you to join in applauding the work of:

• Kathy Seifert, vice president of development at the Alexandria Seaport Foundation. She recently celebrated her 10th year with ASF. A longtime Old Town resident and veteran sailor, Kathy has been a stalwart, working to assure her foundation’s programs are sustained through private donations and grants.

• Rosie Borders — another 10-year veteran — of Senior Services of Alexandria serves as transportation supervisor, handling reservations for the DOT Paratransit Program, which provides low-cost, taxi-based transportation to more than 1,600 disabled individuals every year.

• Abbie Hubbard started at the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria a decade ago as a part-time adoption counselor and now serves as deputy director. Her work has resulted in a 400-percent increase in the number of dogs and 140-percent increase in the number of cats transferred to the animal shelter.

• Tarsha Rice is the child development specialist for The Campagna Center’s family child care partnership program. Tammy Mann, president and CEO of the center, said Rice “is a relentless advocate, who is deeply committed and passionate about her work with children and families.” Her 13 years of service have been marked by her work to guarantee children and families are protected, happy and well served.

• Teresa Starr, who has covered weekends, evenings and holidays at Carpenter’s Shelter for 13 years, was lauded by executive director Shannon Steene for her dedication and being “a great ambassador for our work.”

• Ann Caulkins of Stop Child Abuse Now has served in a variety of positions during the past 16 years, from CASA advocate assistant to case supervisor. She is a lifelong advocate for children who has provided a temporary, loving home for more than 60 foster children.

• Carrie Diggins, whose work at ALIVE! began 25 years ago, currently serves as lead teacher for life at the organization’s child development center. Carrie’s work in preparing children for kindergarten is unsurpassed, according to executive director Diane Charles. “Anyone who enters Carrie’s classroom knows that much purposeful, fun-filled activity is taking place,” she said.

Please take a moment and join me in thanking these, and the many other exceptional individuals in our nonprofit community, who every day give their time, energy and expertise to help others. Thanks so much!

The writer is president and CEO of ACT for Alexandria.

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