11, 2001 had an enormous impact on the lives of many
Americans whether they were close to the tragic
events or far away and did not even know any of the
victims who were killed or injured.
Many, many people wanted to do something so
their overwhelming frustration at not being involved
in making things better could be eased.
One man in rural Michigan, Bob Van Oosterhaut
had an idea and communicated that idea to his
Senator, Debbie Stabenow.
She and her office worked with him and USA
Act was born. USA
stands for Unity in the Spirit of America, and it
was given official status on January 10, 2002 by
President George Bush when he signed legislation
charging the Points of Light Foundation with
organizing several thousand volunteer projects, each
to be named in honor of one or more of those who
lost their lives in the attacks.
for more information.
Ms. Jean Berg,
Coordinator of the Arlington Volunteer Center, and the
kickoff, and Elsie from the VFW Auxiliary get ready
for the influx of volunteers.
National organization and the local chapters,
decided to participate in this “Spirit” to pay
tribute to the 14 members we lost, as well as those
who were injured.
The kickoff event was held on June 20, 2002 in
each of thirteen cities, including Arlington, VA.
The Potomac and Washington
Chapters sent workers to Shirlington where two
organizations who serve people in the area were joined
by several groups of volunteers to help flesh out Bob’s
original idea and give real service to those who were
Bob explains to Clara
Weston how his idea became this great endeavor.
two organizations are the Arlington
Street People Assistant Network (A-SPAN) and
specifically its Emergency Winter Shelter clothing
bank, and the Arlington Food Assistance Center’s (AFAC)
food bank. Both
of these agencies use many volunteer groups
throughout the area, and both experienced a large
increase of individuals needing aid following 11
September. Many of the workers at the airport, local
hotels, motels and restaurants were laid off while
the airport was closed and the tourist industry
slowed to a standstill.
both the short ceremony at the kickoff and the work
performed by the many assembled volunteers was
meaningful and useful and greatly appreciated by the
people who assist those who are in need in
Points of Light
volunteers arriving in a convoy of cabs.
extra influx of volunteers from the Points
of Light (who came in a convoy of cabs due to the
limited parking in the area), the VFW
and its Auxiliary,
various church groups who volunteer on a regular
basis, and ASMC members were put to work doing those
jobs the regular volunteers never seem to find the
time to do. We
washed down shelves, cleaned out the walk in
refrigerator, washed entry ways, cleared areas so
shelves are more accessible, and sized, folded and
The office got vacuumed and dusted, the
volunteer database was automated, etc.
Us resource managers could learn a thing or two
about efficient utilization of resources.
While Coy (my husband) was waiting for his ride
home, Tyron put him to work folding up boxes.
Nancy, one of the managers of the food bank
quickly realized that I was not going to be much use
for heavy work so she had me add up all the volunteer
hours logged for the month.
Ms. Jean Berg
making opening remarks
Member of the Arlington County Board and its past
of the “dignitaries” who came for the kickoff was Arlington
County Board member and past chair, Jay Fisette.
One of the nicest comments I heard that day
was, what a wonderful and helpful person Jay has
always been to these agencies who help the needy, to
which the lady added, and he was like that even before
he became an elected official.
of our group took home work to help the AFAC automate
its volunteer database and calendar.
In all, it was a great beginning to community
service projects that will honor our fallen members
and help us do something positive to help ourselves
overcome the trauma of September 11.
We will be scheduling other opportunities to
help these organizations and will discuss how best to
honor our members.
If any members or coworkers have
recommendations on this, either specific projects or
commemorating specific fallen members, please let me
or a Washington Chapter board member know.
Thanks to all who helped!!!
Weston, Community Service Chair,
from Senator Stabenow’s office, Pam Warwick, Senior
VP of Knowledge Leadership and Model Program of Points
of Light organization, two unidentified volunteers in
the foreground, Bob and Clara
Senior VP of Knowledge Leadership and Model Program of
Points of Light making her remarks and explaining how
all the groups and organizations fit together
One end of the
group of volunteers, including Virginia Oleszek a
corporate member form PFCU of the Washington Chapter
and in the back John Raines from the Potomac Chapter.
The other half
of the group with Clara Weston of the Washington
Chapter on the far left.
sizing and sorting clothing.
Washington Chapter member, Hettye Kirkland
worked folding clothes but missed having her picture
Director of Operation Place, A-SPAN
This is part of
the food bank – not a glamorous spot by a long shot
-- getting ready for the day’s clients.
the Warehouse Manager of AFAC, who directed the food
bank area cleaning.
Oleszek (with red shirt) of the Pentagon Federal
Credit Union and Washington Chapter Corporate member,
getting ready to scrub out the walk-in refrigerator.
Later she put on a coat to continue the work.