Why Our Volunteers are Top-Notch

Check out this year’s Gratitude Grille awardees

Every April, NVFS takes the time to recognize our incredible volunteers who help our organization make an even stronger impact in Northern Virginia.

More than 6,000 volunteers have dedicated more than 79,000 hours this past year and today, we’re celebrating them and their impact. Today, we’re celebrating you.

Our annual Gratitude Grille lunch is April 21. At the event we will be recognizing four outstanding volunteers who made an especially tremendous impact at NVFS last year.

And the awardees are:

Lighthouse Award
Impact Award
Community Champion Award (Civic Group)
Community Champion Award (Corporate Group)

Lighthouse Award: Mickey Heyward

Award Criteria: Recognizes a dedicated, longtime NVFS volunteer who exceeds expectations by being there day in and day out to tirelessly support NVFS. Each nominated volunteer served more than 150 hours last year.

For more than a decade, Mickey Heyward has been sharing his handyman talents multiple times per week, completing countless work orders for the operations team at the SERVE Campus. His volunteer duties range from fixing wheels on the grocery carts at the Hunger Resource Center to changing light bulbs or replacing smoke detectors, installing door knobs and more. He even uses his skills to manage the shelter’s bike inventory for clients. In addition to tracking the bikes, he maintains them in safe working order. He even seeks bike donations from the community and will salvage usable parts from rundown bikes.

Mickey puts a tremendous amount of thought and care into every project. His attention to detail is such that we know his projects will always be completed to high standards. Mickey is so dedicated and thoughtful in every way that the operations team often seeks his opinion when faced with challenges or tough decisions. Without pause, Mickey researches the best possible solution and creates a plan for implementation. For instance, when the SERVE Family Shelter needed guardrails for the bunk beds, Mickey researched the options, compiled a detailed list of all necessary parts with prices, and built a sample guardrail to test his proposal. Thank you, Mickey, for you tireless support and passion!

Impact Award: Dr. Bob Weigl

Award Criteria: Recognizes a volunteer whose efforts have made a particularly significant impact.

Bob’s natural empathy, sensitive communication style and keen desire to learn were apparent from day one; we knew he would be an invaluable resource for the Healthy Families team. He immediately set out to learn as much as possible about the Healthy Families program, infant mental health and child abuse prevention, and even took Healthy Families America online trainings. In order to ensure he was putting his talents from a career in clinical psychology to best use, Bob also took time to meet with staff, even shadowing a few of them on home visits and attend staff meetings to clearly understand their needs.

As a result, Bob led a two-part training on cultural competence, one of his areas of expertise, which exceeded expectations. This training helped staff thinking deeply about their intercultural experiences, how they may influence their work with families and how to channel those insights to improve program services. Since then, Bob has regularly participated in reflective group supervision sessions by sharing his insights and practical advice, as well as meeting individually with staff to help them cope with the trauma they are exposed to in the course of their home-visiting work. Staff said it best: “Bob has the kindness of heart to listen and share his experience to help us understand ourselves and others.” Thank you, Bob, for your invaluable expertise and genuine passion for others!

Community Champion Award (Civic Group): Hunger Resource Center Monday Crew

Award Criteria: Recognizes formal and informal civic or faith groups whose collective effort makes a significant impact.

When Betty Duke, Audrey Clark and Carol Flom — a phenomenal volunteer trio — realized that the Hunger Resource Center was particularly short-handed during its Monday afternoon service hours and saw the strain on staff, they happily stepped up to the plate to fill the gap.

These women don’t just assemble food packages and process the families receiving assistance; they create a welcoming experience for these families by always greeting them with a warm smile and making sure those with dietary restrictions have the foods they can eat. Staff remarks, “They are the perfect team — so flexible, easy to work with and really engaging with the families. This Monday Crew gets the week kicked off on the right foot, setting the tone for the days to follow.” Thank you, Betty, Audrey and Carol for your commitment to serving our clients with such care!

Community Champion Award (Corporate Group): Apple Federal Credit Union

Award Criteria: Recognizes a corporate volunteer group that exceeds expectations and makes a significant impact.

The phrase “Community Champion” embodies the spirit of the employees at Apple Federal Credit Union. Apple Federal Credit Union volunteers are actively involved with several NVFS programs and often ask what more they can do to help. They volunteer once a month at the Hunger Resource Center, serve as email mentors for adult job trainees, lead financial education workshops for parents, and provide snacks for the Healthy Families program’s quarterly playgroups. They enjoyed this so much that they also asked to lead a game night for the families in the SERVE Family Shelter, which was a resounding success. And last summer, they provided snacks for the children at the shelters during their summer camp.

Their efforts provide clients with not only base level needs, but moments of enjoyment during a trying time in their lives. According to staff, they are “adaptable, fun and engaging … their team is full of laughter and joy,” which is just what the families we serve need during a time of crisis. Thank you, Apple Federal Credit Union, for your immense support for so many NVFS service areas, as well as your generosity and endless enthusiasm!


Lighthouse Award

Award Criteria: Recognizes a dedicated, longtime NVFS volunteer who exceeds expectations by being there day in and day out to tirelessly support NVFS. Each nominated volunteer served more than 150 hours last year.

Anh Du, Multicultural Center Greeter & Receptionist
Anh is a friendly, calming presence at the Multicultural Center reception desk, always greeting clients with a smile. Anh truly cares about each person who comes through the door and even learned Spanish words and phrases most commonly used in the office so she can best help them. Anh’s kind demeanor is so affecting that visiting clients often remark how welcome they make her feel.

Ruth Gascoyne, SERVE Family Shelter Support
Ruth is willing to go above and beyond in her tasks as a shelter support volunteer on the SERVE Campus. Her attention to detail and willingness to help with whatever is needed — whether it is greeting visitors, filling client supply requests, even keeping the book library organized — has been a tremendous gift to the staff and clients. In addition to being such a compassionate, attentive and kind person, Ruth is so hard-working and fills an essential need at the shelter with efficiency and expertise.

Nura Hamid, Classroom Volunteer at Early Head Start Arlington Mill
Nura is a committed parent who volunteers many days a week at Early Head Start Center in Arlington. She willingly helps in all three classrooms, not just her son’s, depending on which class needs the most support that day. Her love for the children and enthusiastic attitude are invaluable to the team at Arlington Mill!

Impact Award

Award Criteria: Recognizes a volunteer whose efforts have made a particularly significant impact.

Liz Fenning, Children Activities Specialist at the Hilda Barg Homeless Prevention Center
Liz’s creativity and passion has brought many fun kids activities to the Hilda Barg Homeless Prevention Center for the last two years. She volunteered weekly last summer to lead crafty activities for the children’s summer camp, Camp Discovery, and leads weekly after-school activities during the school year. Liz never runs out of creative ideas; she even organized a “Reptiles Alive!” visit, much to the enjoyment of the children and parents alike.

Christina Gardner, Classroom Volunteer at Head Start in Arlington
A volunteer of five years with the Head Start program in Arlington, Christina helps the teachers facilitate new learning experiences and creates an interactive learning environment for the kids. She even thinks of and leads new educational activities. The young children love her, and the classroom teachers are very grateful for her dedication, patience and compassion.

Community Champion Award (Corporate Group)

Award Criteria: Recognizes a corporate volunteer group that exceeds expectations and makes a significant impact.

Vulcan Materials Company, Operational Support at the SERVE Campus
Vulcan volunteers readily lend their time and talents to maintain the grounds of the SERVE Campus. Throughout the spring, summer and fall, they regularly mow the lawn, and in the winter they promptly arrive to plow snow from the parking lot. They even made a special trip to trim a rose bush that had grown through the playground fence and made the playground unsafe for the children.

We would like to thank and congratulate our Gratitude Grille nominees and winners, as well as the remainder of our supportive, passionate and outstanding volunteers who help strengthen and broaden NVFS’ impact year after year.

Thank you for your continued support in ensuring individuals and families in Northern Virginia have access to the tools and resources needed to build brighter futures. We couldn’t do the work we do without you.


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