My View with Heather Peeler: Working together for a vibrant Alexandria

My View with Heather Peeler: Working together for a vibrant Alexandria
Heather Peeler

To say that the past year has been unpredictable is an understatement. At the onset, few could have predicted that this fall we would still be figuring out how to navigate COVID-19 and its impacts on Alexandria.

Some aspects of normalcy have returned for some of us, but many Alexandrians continue to be challenged by unemployment, housing instability and food insecurity. Access to affordable childcare is an urgent need. And personal health and safety remain a concern.

Amid this uncertainty, we have turned to one another. ACT was founded on the idea that when people come together, they can achieve big things. The Sept.11 tragedy was catalytic and sparked philanthropic generosity as well as ACT’s founding. That event changed our lives in ways we could not predict; the pandemic has also ushered in unprecedented change and uncertainty.

Over the years, the spirit of action and giving back have remained constant. They are the foundation for what my colleagues and I call Team Alexandria. Over the past year, Team Alexandria – comprised of hundreds of Alexandrians, businesses, the faith community, nonprofit organizations and city government – worked together to address the basic human needs of our neighbors. Alexandrians from every neighborhood supported each other, found creative solutions to challenges and donated time, money, food and more.

Team Alexandria continues to organize, respond and assist our community. Back-to-school drives, assistance for refugees and aid for those navigating natural disasters are recent efforts led by community members. The Alexandria Resilience Fund and Sleeves Up ALX, a partnership between ACT and the Alexandria Health Department, are supporting vaccine outreach efforts led by community organizations that have trusted relationships with residents.

As we look to the future, we are focused on ensuring a just recovery to the pandemic. We are working with partners to make investments in solutions that address the underlying issues of inequity that were exacerbated by the pandemic. Income inequality, economic mobility, housing affordability and educational opportunity are top priorities. For example, the City of Alexandria’s Guaranteed Income Pilot is an exciting opportunity to think differently about how we help all Alexandrians thrive.

Finally, we are also thinking differently about who is at the table and how we can be more inclusive in our work. That is why ACT is forming a Youth Advisory Council to ensure that young people are at the forefront of philanthropy and community solutions in Alexandria. Designed by youth for youth, the advisory council will provide workshops, training, mentorship and resume-boosting skills to youth who want to make a difference. Visit to learn more.

ACT’s founders could not have predicted the needs of our community today and how ACT as an institution would respond. They had faith that Alexandrians would deploy their generosity and creativity in big and small ways to make a difference.

Thank you, Team Alexandria! We celebrate you and all you do to make Alexandria a vibrant place for all.