Monthly Archives: September 2014

Bridges to Independence Leadership Academy Takes the Lead…



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“I pledge my HEALTH to better living.”

In the early morning hours of Saturday September 27, hundreds of eager runners took to the starting line of for the Annual Clarendon Day 5K. Among the masses were the members and volunteers leaders of the Bridges to Independence Leader Academy 4-H Club.  This race marked the end of the club’s health and nutrition project, a three month long journey where club members strived to improve their overall well-being and physical fitness.  For many of the club members this was their first official race, so of course nerves were running high. Despite their apprehensions everyone was in great spirits and determined to reach their destination. After five tough kilometers each and every member and volunteer crossed the finish line, achieving their overall goal, and one step closer to being physically fit. Congratulations are due to everyone that competed, job well done!


A few members even placed, here are their result.


Nya Bucksell – 1 Place – Females 11-14 – Time: 19:43


Brook Yimer – 1st Place Tie – Males 15-19 – Time: 19:43


Aziza Hasen – 2nd Place Females 15-19 – Time: 31:46


Sabreen Saeed – 3rd Place Females 15-19 – Time: 33:38

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National and state awards recognize local work

On September 18 Arlington Family and Consumer Sciences agent Jennifer Abel accepted the national Extension Housing Outreach award at the conference of the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences in Lexington, KY. This award recognizes the work of the Arlington Energy Masters program, a partnership between Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) and Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment that began in 2011. The goal of the program is to improve the energy efficiency in low-income apartments. Teams of trained volunteers conduct energy- and water-saving retrofits. In the past three years they have made these improvements in 404 units in Arlington.

NEAFCS poster and award

Jennifer Abel shares information about the Arlington Energy Masters Program at the NEAFCS conference in Lexington, KY.

Volunteers have installed 2,463 compact fluorescent light bulbs, 5,136 outlet and switch plate gaskets, 493 faucet aerators, 221 low-flow showerheads, 272 toilet tummies, and given out 240 power strips. These improvements are saving an estimated 75,267 kilowatt hours of energy 4,551,890 gallons of water each year.

In October 25 people will get trained as new Energy Masters volunteers. Plans are in place to expand the program into Alexandria in the summer of 2015. To learn more about this program, contact Jennifer Abel:


This summer Nutrition Outreach Instructor Megan Mauer (based in VCE’s Alexandria office) was honored with the state Family Nutrition Program team award. Megan trains volunteers in Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax, Prince William, Spotsylvania, and Stafford to conduct nutrition education programs in schools and recreation centers. The other team members recognized with the award are Program Assistant Ellen Matthis; Master Food Volunteers Kim Frey, Casandra Lawson, Sara Knopp, Ruth Schulman, Cindy Palmerino, and Susanne Gonzalez; Extension Agents Jennifer Abel, Reggie Morris, Nancy Stegon, Katie Strong, and Alyssa Walden; and District Director Cyndi Marston.

Megan is leaving VCE as of September 26th to pursue her dream of becoming a Registered Dietitian. She has made tremendous contributions to nutrition education during her two years here and will be sorely missed.




Volunteer Spotlight: Joan Smith

Each month Extension’s financial education program is profiling an outstanding volunteer. To nominate someone, please email Megan Kuhn at

Name: Joan Smith

Lives: Suitland, Maryland

Works: Arlington County Government

Joan Smith has served as a Master Financial Education Volunteer since April 2012. She recently taught a money management class at Alexandria Community Shelter, an emergency shelter near Old Town.

Master Financial Education Volunteer Joan Smith

Master Financial Education Volunteer Joan Smith

Q. What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?

A. That I’m an Extension volunteer not just with financial literacy but 4-H in Arlington and Fairfax County.

Q. Were you in 4-H growing up?

A. No, I was a Campfire Girl.

Q. What’s your favorite thing to save for?

A. An emergency. I’ve had emergencies and wasn’t prepared. I had to use a credit card, or there was something I had to hold off on. I’ve made saving for an emergency a priority. We can’t control things, but it is good to try to be somewhat prepared.

Q. What’s your favorite splurge?

A. Chocolate ice cream and fabric.

Q. How did you become interested in financial literacy?

A. When I lived out of state, I used a credit counselor. Most of my financial trouble came through layoffs. I was drawing unemployment, but it cannot pay for everything.

My personal experience propelled me to volunteer. I saw a lot of misinformation. People not knowing they can dispute things. Not knowing they can get a free credit report. Not knowing their rights when debt collectors harass you.

Q. How do you help a client who is juggling multiple financial challenges at once?

A. My approach when they have a half dozen things going on is to listen first. Then I tell them they did the right thing to attend counseling.

We take one situation at a time. Try to tackle something that has a quick result. When the client sees something small happen, that will encourage them to keep going.

Q. We have a new crop of volunteers who underwent training in September. What advice do you have for them?

A. Whatever volunteer event they do, pair up with a seasoned volunteer. Ask questions. Exchange emails with other volunteers. I learn all the time from other volunteers.

Try different things. That’s how you’ll know what may be a good niche for you. Some prefer one-on-one counselling. Some prefer money management classes at the shelter. Some prefer Kids’ Marketplace. I know a volunteer who prefers one-on-one counseling with the elderly because that is her age group.


New Volunteers, Round 2

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We trained 34 new volunteers to serve as financial coaches in early September. Our regular fall training followed our expedited training for financial professionals in August. Eight financial professionals joined our ranks last month.

This brings us to a record 42 new volunteers! Volunteers make our programs possible, so the turnout makes my heart sing.

E and J

A very big thank you to our friends and partners who spread the word about our recruitment drive. An especially big thanks goes to Community Tax Aid‘s Teresa Hinze who sent an email blast to her volunteers. Community Tax Aid was our top source of volunteers — 13. Our second biggest source of volunteers was the Virginia Society of Certified Public Accountants, with 6 volunteers. Thanks to David Bass for including our recruitment drive in his group’s message board.

We also owe thanks to: DC-Hispanic Employee Network, the Hispanic Committee of Northern Virginia Family Service, Volunteer Arlington, The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors DC study group, Arlington Neighborhood College, Leadership Arlington, Care 4 Your Future and Georgetown University Center for Continuing & Professional Education Certificate in Financial Planning. Say that five times fast.

Our next training for Master Financial Education Volunteers is April 18 & 25, 2015. Both sessions are mandatory. To register, please contact me at or call 703-228-6421.

R M and E

#IAM4H Afterschool Leadership Training Series


Are you 4-H? If you answered no… here’s your chance to get involved. With start of the 2014-2015 4-H Year only a few days away, Alexandria 4-H would like to give everyone an opportunity to join the Revolution of Responsibility! Our adult volunteer leaders are the true backbone of our program and without their caring and positive attitude we wouldn’t have the ability to impact the lives of so many youth; BUT we always have room for more.

The #IAM4H Afterschool Training Series is a series of learning sessions designed to introduce a 4-H programming opportunities available to: parents, teachers, afterschool programmers, childcare providers, faith-based organizations, and other caring adults wishing to improve the quality of their current youth development program. 4-H Afterschool is unique in that it “trains the educators” so that you can go back and implement 4-H programming in any youth development setting.

NYSD 2014

These sessions are FREE and OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. Each session is from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Lee Center Exhibit Hall (1108 Jefferson Street, Alex. VA 22314). The first training, on Monday October 6, 2014, will focus on the 2014 4-H National Youth Science Experiment: Rockets to the Rescue. Registration deadline is Wednesday October 1, so SIGN UP NOW. To register please log on to:

For information please contact Reggie Morris, Alexandria 4-H Youth Development.

Check out the link below to learn about additional training sessions!

IAM4H Afterschool Leadership Training Series