The following Letter to the Editor was written by Heather Peeler, the President and CEO of ACT For Alexandria.
If you’re like me, the last few weeks have been an emotional roller coaster.
One minute I’m over come by concern and fear. I’m worried about my sister, an ICU nurse in New York City, and all the other health care workers putting their own personal health at risk in order to serve our communities. I’m worried about the families that were already on the financial edge before the pandemic and the additional hardships that they will encounter with layoffs and school closures.
The next minute I’m filled with hope. I’ve been inspired by the volunteers organized by Volunteer Alexandria who are lending their time with patience and flexibility. I am also awed by the grit of our local business community that is finding creative ways to serve customers while supporting their employees. For example, Alexandria Restaurant Partners has raised more than $10,000 through the purchase of gift cards; 50% of the gift card value will be dedicated to an employee relief fund.
ALX at Home has a listing of the many innovative offerings from Alexandria’s business community. My days are also filled with gratitude. Alexandria’s nonprofits have demonstrated incredible responsiveness, compassion and commitment during the crisis.
This week, the ACT Now COVID-19 Response Fund awarded $245,000 to 25 organizations who are providing emergency food and household supplies to families in need. They are reconfiguring their program delivery models in compliance with social distancing guidelines and hiring staff to replace volunteers. As they face significant financial challenges due to canceled fundraisers and other revenue-generating activities, they are also ramping up their outreach to community members hardest hit by the outbreak.
I am grateful for the City of Alexandria and ACPS staff who have been working quietly behind the scenes to keep basic public services functioning while implementing new operations, policies and programs that will help Alexandria be resilient in the face of crisis.
I am filled with appreciation for the Alexandrians who are supporting one another in unprecedented ways. More than 400 people have donated to the ACT Now COVID-19 Response Fund which has raised $470,000 to date. People are reaching out through Facebook groups and community listserves to collaborate and lend a hand.
We are likely weeks away from fully understanding the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our nation and community. That’s why I’m also filled with determination. We can’t let our foot off the gas. We must resolve to be there for the community we love now and in the months to come.
If you would like to support nonprofits on the front lines of the emergency response, please consider donating to the ACT Now COVID-19 Response Fund. A gift of any size will make a big difference. And starting on April 3 you can directly support your favorite nonprofit through Spring2ACTion, which celebrates our community spirit through an online 24-hour giving event on April 15.
As we navigate crises together, I am proud to be part of a community that recognizes our shared humanity through generosity and love.
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