Monthly Archives: October 2013

Alexandria Parks & Recreation Power On! & Power Up! with 4-H

Alexandria 4-H and Alexandria Recreation Power-On & Power-Up Programs partner to offer 4-H educational opportunities to the participants of these out of school time programs. Power-On & Power-Up programs sites are located in recreation centers and schools throughout the city of Alexandria. Students participate in a wide range of activities from creative and performing arts to fitness and health, all designed to provide a safe and wholesome atmosphere for youth to thrive in during the hours directly following dismissal from school. On Wednesday October 16, 2013 representatives from each of the programming sites assembled at Mt. Vernon Recreation Center to learn what it takes to be a 4-H after-school leader. Training attendees completed a variety of hands on activities and discussed several different ways to implement 4-H programming at their site. Alexandria 4-H looks forward to continuing this working relationship with Alexandria Parks, Recreation & Cultural Activities and expanding the reach of the program to a new audience. IMG_20131016_173537_723


Maps & Apps… Leading the way to success in science!

Arlington and Alexandria 4-H programs combined to celebrate Columbus Day by participating in the Maps and Apps science experiment. 4-Hers ages 8-14 came out and learned about GPS and GIS principles met new friends and got a glimpse of what 4-H can offer in their local communities. Arlington County Forester Vincent Verweij provided a brief presentation on how he utilizes GIS technology as a part of his job and showcased a hand-scrupled clay model of the park where are event took place.IMG_2991 IMG_2990 IMG_2987 IMG_2986


Enjoy Your Food, But Eat Less: Right-Size Your Portions

Over the past 20 years, as restaurants and food processors have competed to give you more for your money, portion sizes have dramatically increased. What began as a single-serving snack or drink now contains two or three servings. Studies show that we unintentionally eat more when faced with larger portions, so along with these oversized portions comes oversized waistlines.

What’s a Portion Size vs. a Serving Size?

A portion is the amount of a single food item you choose to eat during a single meal or snack.

A serving is a measured amount of food–such as a cup or an ounce–used on the Nutrition Facts labels of packaged foods.

For example, bagels or muffins are often sold in portion sizes that constitute at least 2 servings. We often eat the whole portion, thinking that we have eaten a healthy amount, when in fact, we’ve overeaten.

What is a Standard Serving Size?

Standard serving sizes differ by type of food. One way to get a feel for serving sizes is to measure a fixed amount of some of your favorite foods and drinks to see what they look like in your plates and glasses. For example, measure 8 ounces of juice to see what this amount of liquid looks like in your favorite glass. The National Institutes of Health also provides a serving size wallet card that can help you estimate serving sizes.

Avoiding Common Portion-Size Pitfalls

  • When Eating Out: Split an entrée with a friend or ask the waiter for a “to-go” box and wrap up half your meal as soon as it’s brought to your table.
  • When Eating In: Serve portions on individual plates, instead of putting the serving dishes on the table. You can also try using smaller plates and bowls, which make small portions look larger. 
  • When Snacking in Front of the TV: Don’t eat directly from the package. Put a reasonable amount into a bowl and leave the rest of the package in the kitchen.
  • When Counting Calories: It’s easy to check the calories on a food label without noticing the serving size the calories are based on. Don’t assume the calories equate to what is packaged as an individual portion.

Source:  How to Avoid Portion Size Pitfalls to Help Manage Your Weight, Center for Disease Control and Prevention,

By Sue Gonzalez, Master Food Volunteer

VCE Master Volunteers Teach “Garden-to-Fork”

At this year’s Reading Carnival Day, Arlington Traditional School students learned about growing and eating healthy food with books and hands-on activities, thanks to Master Volunteers at VCE.

Five Master Food Volunteers led activities on choosing foods from different food groups and identifying edible plant parts.

Master Food Volunteer nutrition activities

Students observed plants in action! Sprouted lentils demonstrated the power of seeds, when the conditions are right.

Sprouted Lentils

And, celery in a little food coloring demonstrated how stems transport nutrients through plants.

Celery & Food Coloring

To provide a full “garden-to-fork” experience, students also rotated through outdoor activities with Master Gardeners and Master Naturalists. Activities with VCE Master Volunteers complemented fabulous fruit and veggie books, featuring illustrator Chris Arbo.

What's in the garden?

VCE Arlington Welcomes New Staff Member

On October 10 Deb Toms-Helm began as the new Financial Education Program Associate in the Arlington VCE office. Deb takes over the position that was formerly held by Wendy Peichel before she moved to Minnesota. Deb is not new to VCE; she has been serving as a Master Financial Education Volunteer and in that role has provided financial counseling to individuals, helped with our Reality Store and Kids Marketplace financial simulations for youth, and has taught money management classes.

Deb has an MBA and a professional background in consumer products marketing. In her position as Financial Education Program Associate she will be coordinating the financial counseling piece of our program, helping to arrange continuing education opportunities for volunteers, helping to coordinate money management classes in the community, and assisting with spreading the word about our financial education programs. Deb can be reached at; 703-228-6421.

The Financial Education Program Associate position is a half time, 20 hour/week position that is grant funded. We currently have funding for the position through 2014 and are waiting for news on two grants that would extend it to 2016.

The next time you are in the VCE—Arlington office, please stop by to welcome Deb!

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How to bring up a delicate subject (finances) to a loved one or friend

By:  Joan C. Smith/Volunteer Financial Counselor


A friend recently lost their main job. They had another job on the side providing a service to customers, however, their main job suddenly closed.


This person had two other housemates.


This friend had been concerned for some time about the increasing cost of utilities more specifically the electric, gas, and cable.


When they mentioned their job loss, one of the first thoughts that came to mind was possibly reducing the cable.


I knew that they had at least about 500 channels that they weren’t even watching.


Even though I’ve known this person for several years, I struggled with whether or not I should mention downsizing the cable as an immediate and quick solution to saving money.


Why did I struggle with mentioning this? Was it because I was familiar with their job loss and saw what could immediately reduce?


Was it because I was fearful of mentioning it to them as they would have to present the idea to the other housemates? By the way, the cable was in the friend’s name.


As economic times overall seem to be getting worse, at any given time, you may be faced with trying to assist a friend and/or loved one with some budget cutting solutions and/or financial decisions.


Are you prepared?  Is there any real way to prepare for this?


The answer is Yes and No.


How can that be?


Let’s start with “No.” When we say no, there’s no way for us to predict the economic pulse, let alone our own future financial status. Who’s to say we won’t experience a job loss, lay off, reduction of work force, furlough, etc?


Now to “yes” in the sense of preparing ourselves to speak to a loved one or friend on this delicate subject.


If this is someone you know well, most likely you know their personality. Are they the type that is receptive to an open conversation? Or, are they more receptive to an article, website, or link emailed to them?


Are they open to something like” Have you considered reducing your cable” as opposed to “You need to call your cable company now and have them put you on another plan.”


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Know the person and/or personality type that you are dealing with. That ALONE may eliminate some of the fear and/or anxiety in approaching them.


In conclusion, there are some options as to how to deal with a delicate topic such as finances and money with friends and loved ones.


You may be curious as to how I handled my own situation. Fortunately and miraculously, within a week of getting the news of the job elimination, this person got another offer from a longtime colleague in their field. To date, they are both working together regularly and business (thus far) has been good.