April is Volunteer Appreciation Month -- a big THANK YOU to our volunteers!

The Partnership for a Healthier Alexandria has over 200 members and community partners.  Our work would truly not be possible without all of their leadership, support, and participation.  April is Volunteer Appreciation Month.  This month we want to say a BIG THANK YOU to all of our volunteers and partners for ALL that they do. 

In recognition of Volunteer Appreciation Month, we would like to highlight some of the work that our “Volunteer Stars” have been doing this year!

Derek_volunteer 2012Derek Bibbs, a TC Williams high school student, serves on SAPCA’s Board. He has been active with SAPCA since 2008. Derek participated in all of the coalition’s Project Sticker Shock Campaign. He emceed the coalition’s National Recovery Month Event. Derek attended the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America’s National Leadership Forum in February. He was a co-presenter in the forum’s session, “Engaging Youth and Creating Community Partnerships Through Community YouthMapping.” Currently, Derek is an active member of the Providing Information, Policy and Marijuana Prevention Workgroups.


Health coach, professional personal chef, and owner of The Regal Fig Food Company, Beth Donnelly has been leading monthly “healthy” cooking classes with teens and adults at ARHA’s Ruby Tucker Center for the last year.  For adult residents, the classes are planned in coordination with what’s growing in the ARHA garden. Beth has also hosted healthy cooking classes at monthly teen nights covering topics like “healthy snacks” and “dessert alternatives.”


Friends_volunteer 2012Susan Drachsler, Co-Chair of the Friends of the Alexandria Mental Health Center, and her fellow volunteers with Friends have been critical in planning and supporting the Mental Health Anti-Stigma HOPE Campaign’s upcoming art exhibition: “Art Uniting People: A Celebration of Mental Health and Creativity”.  In the last three months, they have worked with local frame shops to get over 60 frames donated to support low-income artists who want to enter their work in the show but need assistance with framing.  They also sought significant food donations from Alexandria restaurants and grocery stores for the art exhibition’s opening reception.

Master Gardener Don Horne has been volunteering in the adult community gardens at Alexandria Redevelopment Housing Authority’s (ARHA) Ruby Tucker Center since they were established three years ago.  He has organized workshops on gardening topics for residents, coordinated volunteers to assist the gardeners throughout the growing season, and this year, tilled each one of the beds himself to ensure that each was ready for spring plantings.  He has devoted countless hours to helping the gardeners have a successful experience growing their own food.

CAC logo_volunteerSusan Britton, Program Coordinator for the Center for Alexandria’s Children, has been a leader in ensuring that the voices of parents and family day care providers were represented in this year’s Alexandria Playspace Assessment.  She helped organize lunch focus groups and made sure time was available after playgroups when participants could learn more about how they could participate in the playground Photovoice project.  Susan served on the advisory committee for the Alexandria Playspace Assessment and now is a founding member of the newly formed Project Play Taskforce.Shelly_volunteer_2012

Shelly Morgan has worked with SAPCA since it was formed in 2007, and has served as Vice-Chair since 2008. She leads the parent and community chat groups for SAPCA which has involved over 50 parents and community members. Shelly also presents, “Preventing Risky Behaviors” workshops in collaboration with the Alexandria Campaign on Adolescent Pregnancy and the Gang Prevention Task Force, and wreckED presentations to high school youth. Thus far, she has presented to 18 parent groups with over 230 participants and to over 280 students. Since September, 2008 Shelly has volunteered more than 360 hours of her time for SAPCA.

Alice Reid, Master Gardener, coordinates the children’s garden at ARHA’s “I Can Shine Garden” at the Ruby Tucker Center.  Since it was installed three years ago, she has organized weekly activities for resident children in the garden.  She teaches them about gardening, food production, and healthy eating, weaving math and science concepts in the activities.  She fosters a caring environment for the children to explore the natural environment, learn about fresh foods, and develop life skills.Tom_volunteer_2012

Tom Shaw, President of IIR, is a founding member of the Mayor’s “Get Healthy Alexandria!” Initiative.  As a member of Get Healthy, he has been an active planner and participant in key events that provide Alexandria community members an opportunity to learn more about ways to get active and eat healthier.  Tom also led the planning for the Top of the Town Walk Around – an event held at the George Washington Masonic Memorial each year in November to honor veterans and encourage families of all ages and abilities to be active together.

Sissy_volunteer_2012 Sissy Walker is founding member of the Alexandria Childhood Obesity Action Network.  As a partner of WISE Education Services, she has volunteered her experience and expertise in early childhood education to help launch the Healthy Preschool Network.  In collaboration with over 16 Alexandria preschools, Sissy has worked to support healthy programming for preschoolers.  Two healthy programs – Color Me Healthy and Active Play! are benefiting over 1,000 Alexandria children. ACTion Alexandria

Tracy Viselli, Community Manager for ACTion Alexandria, led Project Play’s Spruce Up Grant Initiative earlier this year.  Through her leadership, over 17 playgrounds were nominated for Spruce Up Grants and residents submitted over 4,000 votes for playgrounds they thought most needed improvement.  Tracy helped raise awareness about the importance of playgrounds in the community and is a founding member of the Project Play Task Force.

Kick Butts_volunteer_2012In the last two months, members of the Alexandria Coalition for Clean and Smoke-Free Air successfully advocated to City Council for the placement of "Thank you for not smoking" signs in all City parks and bus shelters. On March 21, in conjunction with national Kick Butts Day, the Coalition, in cooperation with SAPCA, Y-Street and the Partnership for a Healthier Alexandria, sponsored a ceremonial event to recognize City Council's actions in this area and to begin the implementation of the placement of the signs in all the City's bus shelters. The Mayor and Councilwoman Del Pepper addressed the 50 plus individuals (Coalition members, youth and other community volunteers) gathered at the event.


Special thanks to our leaders!  The leaders of the Partnership for a Healthier Alexandria’s work groups provide critical leadership and coordination support to their groups’ work.  Without their vision and determination, the Partnership would not be as successful as it is today.

  • Allen Lomax, Chair, Partnership for a Healthier Alexandria and Chair, Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition of Alexandria
  • Janet Bezner, Vice Chair, Partnership for a Healthier Alexandria and Co-Chair, Mayor’s Get Healthy Alexandria Initiative
  • Fran Dean-Bishop, Co-Chair, Mayor’s Get Healthy Alexandria Initiative
  • Richard Merritt, Chair, Alexandria Coalition for Clean and Smoke Free Air
  • Shay Holman, Chair, Mental Health Anti-Stigma HOPE Campaign
  • Tricia Rodgers, Co-Chair, Alexandria Childhood Obesity Action Network