By Denise Dunbar | [email protected]
Northern Virginia Family Service was one of six organizations chosen by the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation to receive $25,000 in matching funds on Giving Tuesday, which is Dec. 3.
The Washington Nationals hold a 50/50 raffle at every home game, with half of the proceeds going to the winning raffle ticket buyer and half to the Dream Foundation. Record-setting 50/50 Raffle jackpots during the three Nationals home World Series games on Oct. 25, 26 and 27 raised more than $300,000, enabling the foundation to give away half of those funds, according to a press release.
NVFS Chief Executive Officer Stephanie Berkowitz said she was thrilled her organization was selected as the Northern Virginia recipient.
“It was magical getting that email and that phone call from them,” Berkowitz said. “What I appreciated about the Giving Tuesday gift is that they looked at the six organizations in a way that they could really reach the entire D.C. metro region.”
Berkowitz said the Dream Foundation was intentional about their outreach and partnerships.
“This is philanthropy at its best, when you know that you have a moment in time when you can leverage people in the community around something that’s already exciting,” Berkowitz said. “Really, they’re building around all the excitement that’s already in the air around the World Series and turning that into greater good.”
NVFS was founded in 1924, the same year the Senators claimed Washington’s only other World Series title, and is celebrating its 95th anniversary. It provides an array of services to 42,000 individuals and families in Northern Virginia, including in Alexandria.
“We have 571 people come to us that represent about 1,400 actual people in the City of Alexandria,” Berkowitz said. “So if there’s the resident of the City of Alexandria and they’re hungry and they come to our food distribution center, we provide food for them. Our job is not just to provide the food, but to find out what caused that hunger and to work with them on their journey to mitigate those root causes.”
NVFS views its clients as individuals with their own stories, Berkowitz said.
“When somebody comes in and receives services, I look at it as a window of opportunity. … Whatever the situation is that’s going on with the family, we’re going to wrap services around that and figure out how to help get them not just out of the crisis but into economic independence,” Berkowitz said.
NVFS has a Healthy Families team on the ground in Alexandria.
“They are providing abuse and neglect services, prenatal through early childhood. And they are physically located in the City of Alexandria,” Berkowitz said. “We also have staff that are co-located in the Alexandria [City] Public Schools. … We’ll partner with the health department and with the court system. We’ll partner with ACT for Alexandria. We’ll partner with Carpenter’s Shelter.”
Berkowitz said she’s impressed with the generosity of Alexandrians.
“Every community has its personality and we find that the folks in the City of Alexandria are just so generous and so thoughtful. We’re so appreciative of their support,” Berkowitz said.
To donate to NVFS on Giving Tuesday, go to the dedicated Washington Nationals Dream Foundation page at mlb.com/nationals/community/dream-foundation/giving-tuesday.
“You put in the amount you want to give and 100 percent of the proceeds are going back to the organizations, which is also pretty unusual,” Berkowitz said. “Typically, folks take an administrative fee. So it’s another gift that 100 percent of the proceeds are going to the organizations.”