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There are a number of ways to volunteer in Alexandria this fall.

Art lovers can get their fix by volunteering as gallery guides at the Torpedo Factory Art Center, and sports enthusiasts can become volunteer sport coaches. The Carlyle House also needs a volunteer tour guide.

There are also a number of tutoring and mentoring positions available, in addition to available food distributor and donation sorting positions.

“We need hundreds of people per week,” Volunteer Alexandria Executive Director Marion Brunken told ALXnow. “More people are in need now than ever.”

Here’s a list of Volunteer Alexandria’s new and upcoming opportunities.

  • Teach Kids to Read — “Wright to Read is a literacy tutoring-mentoring program that works to match volunteer tutor-mentors with Alexandria City Public School students who need extra support in their literacy skills. Our goal is not only to help give this child support along their reading journey (including access to books, resources, and a larger reading community), but also a mentor through elementary school and beyond.”
  • Distribute Food With ALIVE! — “Volunteers are needed to assist with multiple programs relating to their Food Program, ALIVE! House, and Alexandria Eviction Prevention Partnership Program will distribute food at Mobile Pop-ups and Truck to Trunk events, etc.”
  • More opportunities at ALIVE! — The nonprofit also needs drivers, a furniture moving attendant, and warehouse volunteers.
  • Theater group needs support — Momentum Collective is looking for a new board member, a costume designer and a set builder.
  • Youth Sport Coaches — Preside over team activities including all scheduled practices and games. Adhere to RPCA policies, rules and objectives Responsible for maintaining care of all RPCA Sports equipment. Lead by example among team parents to support the responsibilities of the referee and league leadership. Coach an assigned group of children and focus on skill development, safety, fair, play, sportsmanship and fun.”
  • 4-H Youth Development Club Volunteers — “We are currently looking for volunteers that would like to build clubs on any topic of interest, such as, dogs, sewing, robotics, or sports.”
  • Food Rescuer — “Food rescuers pick up surplus food from food donors in Northern Virginia and the District of Columbia (businesses, restaurants and grocers) and deliver it directly to receiving agencies (community kitchens, food pantries, etc.) that feed our hungry neighbors. In your own vehicle and on your own time, it usually takes only 30 to 60 minutes to complete this incredibly rewarding and essential mission. Get started on the website and app to see the complete schedule of local food rescue opportunities.”
  • Arise outreach volunteer — “ARISE is a new guaranteed income pilot program that plans to give $500 a month to 170 City of Alexandria residents for two years. A research team will evaluate the ARISE program outcomes which will inform future efforts and policy decisions.”
  • Sexual Assault Center Hotline Advocate — “Volunteers staff the 24-hour hotline on evenings and weekends. Volunteers provide accompaniment, emotional support, crisis intervention, advocacy, and referrals to empower survivors of sexual violence in person at the hospital/police department or over the phone. Volunteers must attend a 40-hour training.”
  • Shelter Supervisors with Alexandria Domestic Violence Program — “As a program that operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, volunteers play a key role in providing services to those affected by domestic violence. Volunteers with our program interact personally with individuals in need–an opportunity that many find extremely fulfilling.”
  • Alexandria Library opportunities — The Alexandria Library needs a volunteer to run a games program for seniors, a volunteer with the Trash Trekkers program, a Knit Night volunteer, a computer class volunteer, and gardening support.
  • Tour Guide at Carlyle House Historic Park — “Looking for a fun and relaxing volunteer opportunity? Carlyle House Historic Park, a colonial house museum in Old Town Alexandria, seeks volunteer docents to give public tours of this historic building. Carlyle House, built in 1753, interprets the home and family of John Carlyle, a merchant and town founder.”
  • Sixth Annual Spooky Science Expo — “The Watergate at Landmark Youth Committee will be holding its sixth annual science event (Spooky Mad Science Expo) for kids and teens (October 15). The event will celebrate science and Halloween… As in every year, we are looking for volunteers to help us plan and run the event.”
  • Casa Chirilagua Volunteers — Casa Chirilagua is looking for one-on-one mentoring, their kids club, a volunteer to oversee the teen study hall, help with the high school program, a volunteer for teen bible study, and assistance with their middle school program.
  • Dog adoption event needs volunteers — “Lucky Dog Animal Rescue has an adoption event the FIRST Sunday of every month at the Potomac Yard PetSmart – 3351 Richmond Hwy, Alexandria, VA 22305. Come spend the afternoon with a Lucky Dog!”
  • Torpedo Factory Gallery Guide — “Gallery Guides must feel comfortable interacting with the public about the work at the exhibition with potentially sensitive content and handling artwork sale inquiries. Gallery Guides must be at least 18 years of age or older.”
  • Food and grocery volunteer — “For over 15+ years, as part of its Outreach Ministry, the Meade Memorial Episcopal Church has been committed to the Emergency Food Assistance Ministry, to help transform our community, our neighbors, and ourselves. The church provides lunches to residents from 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. We need help to setup tables and distribute lunches every weekday, except on certain holidays. We are asking all volunteers to arrive at 11: 15 a.m.”
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Alexandria City High School Friday Night Lights at Alexandria City High School on September 17, 2021. (Via Elijah Walter Griffin, Sr.)

The final community meeting about a proposal to add lights to multiple athletic fields is coming up later this month.

The City Council has approved funding for lighting of two athletic fields, pending the permit approval process, with other locations open for consideration down the road.

The fields being considered are:

  • Francis C Hammond Middle School, 4646 Seminary Road
  • Patrick Henry K-8 School & Recreation Center, 4643 & 4653 Taney Avenue
  • Jefferson Houston K-8 School, 1501 Cameron Street
  • George Washington Middle School, 1005 Mt. Vernon Avenue
  • Eugene Simpson Stadium Park, 426 East Monroe Avenue

Feedback to the proposal has been mixed, with some saying the lights would add extra hours for fields that are in great demand. Some neighbors at the fields have shared concerns, though, that lights at the field could create noisy activity late into the evenings.

The meeting will be held virtually on Wednesday, Sept. 21 at 7 p.m. The project is scheduled to go to the Planning Commission on October 6 and City Council on October 15.

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Hensley Park concept plan (image via City of Alexandria)

Joseph Hensley Park (4200 Eisenhower Avenue) is slated to get some major upgrades to the athletic fields benefitting not only park users, but neighboring car windows.

The park is set to get a ring of 30-foot netting and fencing around the park alongside a renovation of the park. Those plans are headed to the Planning Commission for review on Tuesday, Sept. 6.

According to the staff report:

The applicant proposes to install safety netting and fencing around the three athletic fields at Hensley Park in order to protect adjacent roadways from errant soccer balls, softballs and baseballs, and similar sporting projectiles that typically travel through the air during sports games and practices. The request involves two proposals. The first proposal is to install 20-foot tall netting on the east side of the multi-purpose field, 20-foot tall backstop fencing behind the two softball field home plates, and 20-foot netting along the first and third line for the two softball fields.

The report said the netting and fencing are already covered in the funding for the park renovation.

The staff report said the park is slated to have its three softball diamond fields replaced with two regulation-sized adult softball fields along with the replacement of a synthetic turf multi-purpose field. During that planning, though, it became apparent that heavy vehicle traffic around the site warranted netting higher than the city’s 15-foot height limit.

“Due to Hensley Park’s location near heavy vehicle traffic at its borders, special accommodations are needed to protect traffic from athletic balls that may leave the athletic fields,” the report said. “The proposed SUP application request and updates on the Park’s renovation were shared at the July 21, 2022, Parks and Recreation Commission meeting, with no comments or issues raised.”

The permit application says fencing of up to 30 feet could be required as the project goes through development, though that extra height hasn’t been accounted for in the project budget.

“Staff supports the request to install new safety netting and fencing at the Hensley Recreational Fields, which requires SUP approval given that its height would exceed 15 feet,” the report said. “The proposal includes common recreational accessories found around recreational fields that will reduce the likelihood for damage to adjacent roadways and parking areas due to athletic projectiles.”

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Wanna be like Troy “The Transformer” Isley?

The former Lyles Crouch Traditional Academy troublemaker transformed himself into a champion, and on Thursday (August 25) he returned to his old school to talk about his boxing career and last year’s Tokyo Olympics.

“Troy worked very hard,’ Principal Patricia Zissios told students in an assembly. “Troy had some really difficult times when he was here.”

Isley agreed with his former principal.

“I didn’t know how to keep my mouth closed, so I was always in the office with Dr. Zissios,” he said. “I couldn’t control myself, I was always getting into fights. I was all over the place.”

It was the second time that Isley returned to talk to students at his former elementary school since he joined the U.S. National Team. The 23-year-old middleweight went pro in February, and has a perfect record of seven wins and no losses, with four wins coming by knockout.

Zissious presented Isley with a principal’s award, as well as a championship boxing belt from the school PTA.

Isley trains out of the Alexandria Boxing Club in Charles Houston Recreation Center in Old Town. His next fight is in October in Madison Square Garden in New York City, and says that a title fight is at least two years away.

“I feel like I’m getting more comfortable as a fighter,” Isley said. “I’ve been working on a few things. The pro level is a lot of rounds, and you can figure out another boxer after six or seven rounds and they can figure you out.”

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Soccer practice (photo via Alexandria Soccer Association/Facebook)

As local students head back to school, the Alexandria Soccer Association is launching pre-season practice sessions this week.

The season starts on Tuesday, Sept. 13, but pre-season practices are scheduled to start tomorrow (Tuesday, Aug. 23).

“Ball Mastery participants work on soccer skills in a productive and fun learning environment with professional coaches,” the local sports league said on its website.

The program is open to PreK-2nd grade students.

“Pre-season Ball Mastery is an accelerated season to prepare kids for the kickoff of the Rec League,” the website said. “Open to PreK-2nd graders. In-season Ball Mastery provides an extra practice per week for PreK-2nd graders who are interested in getting extra touches on the ball.”

Registration is $135 per player.

A separate program, the Alexandria Growth Program (AGP), is aimed at students from 3rd-6th grade.

“The Alexandria Growth Program (AGP) bridges the experience between the Recreational League and Academy programs for 3rd-6th graders,” the website said. “The AGP is for players interested in trying out for the Academy in the future OR for kids looking for an extra practice + game per week in a professional environment. AGP focuses on individual and small group development drills to increase kids’ technical skills and understanding of the game.”

The AGP program has sessions that run from $180 per play to $480.

Photo via Alexandria Soccer Association/Facebook

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Want to lend a helping hand? Alexandria is full of summer volunteer opportunities.

Volunteer Alexandria’s website lists plenty of ways for residents to give back.

Here’s a roundup of some of the opportunities this summer:

Distribute food for ALIVE! — “Assist ALIVE! feeding food insecure City of Alexandria residents in local Alexandria neighborhoods throughout the city during weekdays. Volunteer roles include bagbing food, handing out perishable and nonperishable items, breakdown after the distribution, load and unload the truck.”  Click Here to sign up.”

Sexual Assault Center hotline operator — “The Sexual Assault Center (SAC) offers support to victims of sexual assault and their families and friends. Trained volunteers and staff are available 24 hours a day to provide crisis intervention and emotional support, advocacy with medical, police, and court systems, short-term individual and group counseling, and information and referrals. In addition to services for individuals, the staff is also available to provide training, information, and presentations to local schools and organizations. The Sexual Assault Center offers information and support for sexual assault (i.e. rape, attempted rape, fondling, indecent exposure, etc.) survivors and their family and friends, sexual harassment and stalking victims, and individuals of any age, race, ethnicity, immigration status, sexual orientation, gender identity, physical ability, etc. Click HERE to learn more.”

Mentor for girls — “Space of Her Own is looking for mentors to build long lasting bonds with 9- to 11-year-olds through art projects after school.
Information sessions are scheduled at August 9 and 10 at the Lee Center. Click HERE to sign-up.”

Volunteer for Back to School Community Day — “On Saturday, August 27, UNCUT Youth needs volunteers to setup, breakdown, and provide support for their event – a day of food, games, raffles, and giveaways. Click HERE to sign-up.”

Youth sport coaches — “Coach an assigned group of children and focus on skill development, safety, fair, play, sportsmanship and fun. Work to esatblish and improve team unity and spirit. Click HERE to learn more.”

Tour guide at Carlyle House — “Carlyle House Historic Park, a colonial house museum in Old Town Alexandria, seeks volunteer docents to give public tours of the building. Carlyle House Docents commit to volunteering at least 2 weekday shifts per month or 1 weekend shift per month. Click HERE to express interest.”

Mentoring and tutoring at Casa Chirilagua — “The Arlandria-based organization Casa Chirilagua is seeking volunteers for its after-school programming. Click HERE for a full list of opportunities.”

Job counselor at Together We Bake — “Are you looking for a meaningful way to get involved with TWB? We are recruiting volunteers to act as Job Counselors for our upcoming sessions. This is a great opportunity to work one-on-one and build impactful relationships with Team Members while helping them discover and expand their career goals. Click HERE to learn more.”

Alexandria Symphony Orchestra concert volunteer — “The ASO needs your help to usher at performances and perform other duties. You can watch the performance once patrons are seated. Come hear this great orchestra if you love symphony. Click HERE to learn more.”

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Field lighting proposal at Hammond Middle School (image via City of Alexandria)

After several community meetings and discussions, the Department of Recreation, Parks & Cultural Activities (RPCA) is moving forward with permit requests for new lights on five athletic fields.

The suite of special use permits is scheduled for review at the Thursday, Oct. 6, Planning Commission meeting.

The RPCA is requesting permits for lights on the following fields:

  • Francis C Hammond Middle School
  • George Washington Middle School
  • Jefferson Houston Elementary School
  • Patrick Henry Elementary School and Recreation Center
  • Simpson Stadium Park Athletic Field

The new field lighting is part of the City Council 2022 Community Priority to Support Youth and Families, which outlines goals of extending capacity for youth programs and providing more equitable access to facilities and services.

City officials have previously said that it’s unlikely that all five fields will get lighting simultaneously. As the program is rolled out over the next few years, Jack Browand, division chief of Parks and Cultural Activities, said the two middle schools and Jefferson Houston are better positioned to get lighting sooner rather than later. Ongoing work at Patrick Henry and Eugene Simpson Stadium mean the fields can’t be lighted until 2024 and 2025 respectively.

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Blink and you’ll miss it. Alexandria’s Noah Lyles broke the American record in the 200 meter race at the track and field World Championships in Eugene, Oregon, on Thursday (July 21).

Lyles clocked in at 19.31 seconds, breaking Michael Johnson’s 200 meter record of 19.32 seconds, which was set at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996.

“This year, all me and my coach was talking about was we’re going after that record,” Lyles told reporters after the race.

The 25-year-old Lyles also won the race in the 2019 World Championships in Doha, Qatar.

Lyles, the winner of the bronze medal in the Tokyo Olympics, is a 2016 graduate of T.C. Williams High School (now Alexandria City High School).

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Alexandria City High School Friday Night Lights at Alexandria City High School on September 17, 2021. (Via Elijah Walter Griffin, Sr.)

The City of Alexandria is planning to host a meeting later this month to discuss plans to light athletic fields around the city.

The idea behind adding lighting is to provide additional capacity to accommodate an increasing strain on the city’s fields. The meeting is scheduled for Thursday, July 21 at the Patrick Henry Recreation Center (4653 Taney Avenue).

“The addition of athletic field lighting will provide additional capacity to accommodate current and increasing scholastic and community program needs within the City’s fixed field resources,” a release said. “The project will support the City Council 2022 Community Priority to Support Youth and Families by expanding for capacity for youth programs, and the City’s goal of providing equitable access to facilities and services.”

But the prospect has already been met with some community pushback from neighbors who say the lights create a nuisance, in part because they allow athletic activities to continue late into the evening. Plans to light an athletic field at Alexandria City High School were the subject of a long-running battle between the school system and neighbors that was eventually settled in 2020, with games played under the new lights starting in 2021.

The City Council has already approved funding for the lighting of two athletic fields pending a special use permit approved by the Planning Commission and City Council. The release said the lighting of additional fields would likely be a three-to-five-year process.

City staff said in earlier meetings that there are three fields that could be lighted as early as FY 2023:

  • Francis C Hammond Middle School, 4646 Seminary Road
  • George Washington Middle School, 1005 Mt. Vernon Avenue
  • Jefferson Houston K-8 School, 1501 Cameron Street

Two other fields, one at Patrick Henry K-8 School and Recreation Center (4643 and 4653 Taney Avenue) and Eugene Simpson Stadium Park (426 East Monroe Avenue) can’t be lighted until 2024 and 2025 respectively.

“If you are unable to attend the public hearing, comments will be accepted by mail or email [[email protected]] until 5 p.m. on Wednesday, July 20, 2022,” the release said. “Please mail written comments to RPCA, ATTN: Jack Browand, 1108 Jefferson Street, Alexandria, VA 22314.”

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Hensley Park concept plan (image via City of Alexandria)

Plans for the revitalization of Joseph Hensley Park (4200 Eisenhower Avenue) are headed to review at the Planning Commission and could see new field nets added to the popular athletic fields.

The Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities (RPCA) is requesting three 20-foot tall netting and fencing structures, with two backdrop structures along the first and third baselines of the two diamond ballfields and another netting structure along the east side of the rectangular field.

The goal is to keep athletic equipment contained to the recreational facility and not crashing through nearby windows and cars.

“The netting provides additional safety to pedestrians, park users, vehicles, and the adjacent roads including I-495 from aerial projecting balls associated with the normal use of athletic fields,” the application said.

The RPCA is asking that additional height be allowed to raise the nets up to 30 feet in height if necessary. The application said after the fences are constructed, the RPCA will determine if the additional height is needed for public safety.

The new structures are scheduled for review at the upcoming Sept. 6 Planning Commission meeting.

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